As a personal trainer, you don’t take unnecessary risks. You don’t make clients train with weights that are too heavy for them. You don’t leave your equipment in full view in your car when you park it. And you certainly don’t train clients without having specialist insurance. Or at least, that’s what we thought.
However, our survey of over 700 personal trainers has found that more than 1 in 3 personal trainers in the UK don’t have specialist insurance (35%). This is despite the fact that you could end up losing thousands of pounds if a claim were made against you and ended up in court.
Let’s remind ourselves of a quote Paul Wood, owner of Gym Owner Monthly, gave us:
You’ve got to have insurance – I can’t stress that enough. Think of it like your car – you wouldn’t drive without insurance, so don’t put yourself at risk in your work either. You spent a lot of time and money to become a PT, so protect yourself and your clients.
However, it wasn’t just this finding that caught our eye. There are some other statistics you might find very interesting.
Here are the survey results in more detail…
What does a typical personal trainer look like?
Most of the personal trainers we surveyed have worked in the industry for two to five years. A further 34% have worked in the industry more than five years, while nearly a fifth (18%) have been a personal trainer for more than 10 years.
In terms of age, an overwhelming 68% of personal trainers are 25 to 44. However, more than a quarter of our respondents (26%) are 45 and above. This shows it’s not ‘one age fits all’ when it comes to being a personal trainer.
Most personal trainers work than 40 hours a week and see between five and 10 clients per week, on average.
Somewhat surprisingly, nearly half (47%) of our survey’s respondents revealed that being a personal trainer was not their only job. Some of the positions they hold in addition to personal training include:
These results confirm that there’s no such thing as a ‘typical personal trainer’, despite some of the obvious stereotypes.
What areas are personal trainers interested in?
The most common qualification personal trainers want to attain is a Level 4 Certificate in Advanced Personal Training. Nearly a third (32%) of respondents indicated that they would like to gain this qualification in future.
In addition, more than a quarter (28%) of personal trainers want to attain a Level 4 Certificate in Obesity & Diabetes Management. Interestingly, 27% want to gain a Level 5 Certificate in Life Coaching, suggesting many of today’s fitness professionals are looking to go above and beyond for their clients.
When we asked respondents what other qualifications they wanted to gain, these are among the responses we received:
- Level 3 Pre and Postnatal Exercise Instructor Course
- Level 4 Strength and Conditioning Coaching Course
- Level 5 Certificate in Sports Massage Therapy
Nearly half of respondents (45%) would consider specialising in a particular area in future, while 44% already do. Here are some of the areas they specialise in…
These responses demonstrate that, just as there isn’t one type of personal trainer, there isn’t one type of client.
We also asked respondents whether they would consider going into online personal training, i.e. providing training sessions over Skype. Two thirds (67%) said they would, which demonstrates how big online personal training has become in recent years.
How do personal trainers feel about their job?
Generally, personal trainers feel positive about their job. More than two-thirds (68%) don’t consider their job to be too stressful and nearly three-quarters (72%) feel they have an adequate work-life balance.
However, on the flipside, 32% feel their job is stressful and 195 of the personal trainers we surveyed don’t think they have an adequate work-life balance.
This may not come as much of a shock, given most of our respondents have been in the industry for two to five years and work more than 40 hours a week. Perhaps personal trainers who have only been in the industry for a couple of years feel that they have to put the hard hours in to get clients and establish themselves?
This ties in with some advice Scott Laidler gave in a recent interview with Insure4Sport. Scott, who has trained cast members from the Fantastic Beasts film series, said:
I worked 16-hour days seven days a week for years when I was starting out. I said ‘Yes’ to every opportunity. There’s a point where you’ll transition away from this mindset and start saying ‘No’ to people in order to move forward in other ways, but in the very early stages you need to take on almost everything that’s offered to you.
As Scott says, maybe it’s a case of short-term pain, long-term gain if you want to make a successful career out of being a personal trainer.
How long do clients stay with personal trainers?
A client most commonly stays with their personal trainer for six to 12 months. Nearly a quarter (23%) of respondents said this was the average length of time a client spends on their books.
This might make for concerning reading initially. However, it’s usually not because of the trainer that clients discontinue sessions.
Here’s a breakdown of the reasons respondents gave us as to why clients stopped training with them*:
Some of the ‘other’ responses were interesting. These included clients relocating, getting a new job and having children. Clearly, there’s nothing a personal trainer can do about these things.
On a more positive note, nearly half (49%) of respondents have clients for a year or more on average. However, only one in 10 personal trainers have clients stay with them for more than five years.
Whilst not a hugely surprising stat, this shows that getting clients to commit for several years is difficult, if not nigh-on impossible.
*Some respondents selected more than one answer.
How do personal trainers market their services?
Even in 2020, word of mouth continues to be the most effective form of marketing for personal trainers. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of our respondents gain referrals through word of mouth – significantly more than any other form of marketing.
The nearest contender is social media, which features in 62% of responses*, followed by in a gym (44%) and online advertising (33%).
Only 13% of personal trainers use leafleting to market their services, which suggests this once popular form of marketing is now dying out.
Some of the open responses showed how creative personal trainers are in getting their name out there. Here are some of the channels they use:
- Talks and demos
- Email marketing
- Digital marketing
The last point is particularly interesting – we’ll look at digital marketing in more detail in the next section.
*Some respondents selected more than one answer.
What challenges do personal trainers face?
Finding clients and making money are the two biggest challenges personal trainers face, according to our survey. In fact, nearly half (47%) of personal trainers see finding clients as being among their biggest challenges.
This is why Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and digital marketing are crucial to your business. In today’s digital age, it’s easier for clients to find you than vice versa, so make it easy for them.
If you’re struggling to attract clients, it might be because you lack a digital presence. Nearly half (46%) of all Google searches are looking for local information, while 97% of search engine users searched online to find a local business.
The more visible you are on search engines, the more likely you are to get visits to your website. In other words, the more likely you are to attract clients.
If you’ve not done so already, check out our SEO tips for personal trainers. This tells you everything you need to know about getting in front of potential clients and standing out from the local competition.
A further 35% of personal trainers said they don’t use social media enough. This reiterates the importance of not just being active on social media, but also regularly posting content which resonates with your target audience.
If you’re a novice in this area, start by looking at other personal trainers’ profiles and see what they’re getting right. A simple Google search like “best personal trainers on social media” will bring up articles like this, which explain who’s nailing social media and how they’re doing it.
Why do personal trainers need insurance?
If you’re among the 1 in 3 personal trainers who don’t have specialist insurance, you can’t afford to take unnecessary risks any longer.
Our cover protects you against a number of scenarios, from a client making a claim against you to your equipment being stolen. Essentially, it could save you from being thousands of pounds out of pocket.