Personal Trainer Progression Opportunities

You might be surprised to find that there are a ton of career progression opportunities for personal trainers, so you’ll need to be properly prepared before you decide which one you take.

We here at OriGym are here to help, breaking down the various routes of career progression, what they involve, and how you can pursue them.

As a brief disclaimer, there are 2 things you should definitely possess before even considering progression:

The best way to advance your career as a personal trainer is through specialist Level 5 courses, starting with our Sports Nutrition Course. You can expand your service and increase employment opportunities by marketing yourself as both a PT and Nutritionist.

Take a look at OriGym’s full course prospectus to learn about the additional qualifications you can gain to diversify your PT skillset and progress in your career!

#1 – Becoming a Gym Manager is a Natural Step in a Personal Trainers Career Progression 

After you become a personal trainer and work in a gym for a while, pursuing a management position is a logical next step in progressing your career.

The main benefits of the job are that you’d be in charge of the gym you oversee, able to make executive decisions on the direction the business will take.

There’s a lot that goes into managing a gym, here are just some of the responsibilities you’ll be expected to carry out in this role include:

Hiring & Managing Gym Staff

Career change progression opportunities for personal trainers

As a gym manager, you’ll be responsible for hiring and overseeing the staff, from personal trainers to receptionists. This comes with a range of tasks, such as:

  • Interviewing candidates 
  • Training staff
  • Setting targets 
  • Managing & monitoring the team’s performance

Managing the Gym’s Budget

gym budget - opportunities for progression as a personal trainer

Being a manager also involves allocating portions of the gym’s budget to different amenities within the facility.

This means it’s down to you to decide which departments deserve investment so the gym can thrive, like putting more money towards new equipment to ensure you have the latest, most advanced gear to boost membership rates.

Recording the Gym’s Financial Figures & Statistics

gym finances - progression opportunities for personal trainers

You’d be required to keep extensive records of both the financial performance of the gym as well as the statistics surrounding topics such as new member joining rates.

Add in records of staff performance on top of this and you’ve certainly got a full plate of record-keeping you need to be held accountable for.

What Experience & Qualifications Will You Need to Become a Gym Manager?

Ideally, it’s best you have both relevant experience and qualifications to maximise your chance of securing this position.

That said, the requirements for a gym manager do differ depending on the employer. For example, some may prioritise previous experience working in a gym, while others may want a candidate who has previously operated as a manager. 

Qualifications Required for Personal Trainer Progression to a Gym Manager

Qualifications for Personal Trainer Progression

First and foremost, most employers will require you to have a basic Level 4 Personal Trainer qualification before they consider you for a manager’s position. This can be seen in the following example below from ‘energie fitness’ in Dublin:

Gym manager job ad for personal trainer progression opportunities

As evident from the screenshot above, some employers will also recommend extended qualifications, including a bachelor’s degree in:

  • Sports Science
  • Business Administration
  • Business Management

For example, having a degree in Sports Science demonstrates you have extensive knowledge of fitness and can really help you stand out as a candidate and progress in the fitness industry.

Sports science graduate - personal trainer progression opportunities

When it comes to the business degrees, these serve as a signal to employers that as well as having the experience of working as a PT, you’re also equipped with everything you’d ever need to know about the basics of managing a gym.

​​These degrees show you’ve put in the work and earned the knowledge, allowing for personal trainer career progression in the way of becoming a manager.

Experience Required To Become a Gym Manager

experience for progression opportunities for personal trainers

For most employers, it’s absolutely vital you have experience working at a gym in some capacity.

This is so you’ve been a part of the infrastructure and have seen first hand the ladder of authority within the gym and been involved in important maintenance procedures like:

  • Handling equipment 
  • Assisting customers
  • Driving sales

Gym work experience - progression opportunities for personal trainers

Most gyms will require you’ve worked in at least one of the following managerial roles before even considering you for the role of general manager:

  • Floor supervisor
  • Assistant manager
  • Sales manager

Working your way up the structure in this way means that when it comes to applying for a gym manager job, the employer can see you’ve been responsible for more people and obligations than just yourself and your own tasks.

What Does it Pay?

progression opportunities for personal trainers salary

According to data collected by Indeed users, the average salary of a fitness manager in Ireland is €58,141

However, this salary will vary depending on factors such as: 

  • Level of experience
  • Location of the gym
  • Whether the gym is part of a chain or independent

For example, a large chain in Dublin will pay significantly more than a smaller independent gym in Cork. 

How Can You Become a Gym Manager?

The most straightforward approach is to gain experience by working within a gym and applying for smaller managerial roles, snowballing your skills until you’re ready to undertake a bigger responsibility.

This is exactly how current Dublin-based gym manager Luke Burke did, starting his career as a personal trainer before taking on multiple different positions: 

luke burke gym manager progression opportunities for personal trainers

Luke also holds a BSc qualification in Sports and Exercise, making him the perfect example of how having a combination of relevant industry experience and advanced qualifications can help you progress as a personal trainer. 

Gaining employment in a gym with a Personal Trainer Diploma is just as vital for securing a position as a gym manager. In most professions, the way to gain these promotions is by expanding your knowledge with qualifications and working in various establishments to build this experience.

#2 – Exercise Referral is a Great Personal Trainer Career Progression Route 

Working in Exercise Referral would see you creating fitness programmes for patients dealing with chronic conditions or illnesses who have been referred to your services by a GP or medical professional.

The main benefit of this personal trainer progression route is that it’s one of the most rewarding fitness careers you can pursue, since you’ll play an active role in significantly improving an individual’s health and wellbeing.

Referral specialist progression for personal trainers

With that said, what exactly would you need to do as an exercise referral specialist? Well, your obligations include:

  • Assessing patient’s current activity levels
  • Constructing a fitness programme that caters to their needs and abilities 
  • Using information from the GP to create a unique programme that considers the patient’s physical & mental limitations

The exercise referral process usually involves a programme that lasts between 8-12 weeks, consisting of sessions anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour.

Throughout these sessions, you’d need to guide them through their assigned exercises and help them every step of the way, taking into consideration any physical limitations they face.

Qualifications Required to Progress to an Exercise Referral Specialist

Qualifications for progression opportunities for personal trainers

Since this is a specialist career, you will need a specific Exercise Referral qualification to pursue this personal trainer progression opportunity.

Fortunately, we here at Origym offer a Level 4 GP Exercise Referral course, which would equip you with all of the necessary skills and knowledge to pursue this career, providing you with the tools to:

  • Plan exercise referral programmes.
  • Understand the specific medical conditions of the patients you’ll encounter.
  • Deliver sessions and programmes to individuals with medical conditions.

Experience Needed to Become an Exercise Referral Specialist

referral specialist for elderly - progression opportunities for personal trainers

As well as having worked as a PT generally, experience training elderly or disabled clients in particular will help here.

As a referral expert, you’ll likely be working with a wide variety of patients with different health issues. Some people could just be a little stiff in their old age and need assistance with exercise mobility, whilst others could be suffering from serious health issues or disabilities that need special attention.

The more experience you have with catering workouts to clients with particular needs, the more you’ll develop key skills needed for this role, such as:

  • Patience 
  • Compassion
  • Communication skills
  • Adaptability

What Does it Pay?

progression opportunities for personal trainers salary

The annual wage of an Exercise Referral Specialist can vary from employer to employer, and depending on whether you work for somebody or operate on a freelance basis. 

This means you can earn more if you become self-employed as an exercise referral specialist or provide this as an additional service for some more income. 

For example, if you were to charge €20 an hour and work just 10 hours a week around your other services, you’d be earning an additional €200 a week!

online progression opportunities for personal trainers - salary

Being self-employed means you can set your own prices and take on as many clients as you choose. Once you gain more experience and get your business out there, you can set your prices accordingly to reflect the quality of your service.

How Can You Become an Exercise Referral Specialist?

If you’re currently a qualified PT, the main step towards working in Exercise Referral is to complete a Level 4 GP Exercise Referral qualification.

Deirdre Daly Cahill is a great example of a fitness professional who progressed her career, and is now a coordinator for her local exercise referral programme, a role she’s operated in for an impressive 13 years!

deirdre caly cahill progression opportunities for personal trainers

Despite working as an exercise referral specialist, Deirdre continues to operate as a fitness instructor too. You can do something similar, continuing to offer personal training services alongside your new current career. 

In doing so, you can cross refer your clients between both services – For example should a PT client ever injure themselves you can create a workout programme to facilitate their recovery. 

Further Progression Opportunities for Exercise Rereferral Specialists 

Adding to your list of qualifications is the way to go when it comes to personal trainer career progression. There are some niche specialist courses out there that can help you successfully advance as an exercise referral specialist, including:

Diabetes monitor - best personal trainer course

With this qualification, you’d be the ideal referral expert for people suffering from weight issues and diabetes. People with these issues are commonly referred to specialists, so you wouldn’t have to worry about being out of work.

This is a group that would require further qualifications than the basic Level 4 GP Referral course because they need specific dietary recommendations as well as help with general exercising, so consider this qualification to progress your career even further.

Lower back pain - best personal training courses

This is another great example of a qualification that’ll progress your career as an exercise referral specialist as it means you can tend to an entirely new pool of clients that suffer from lower back pain, a very common injury. 

You’ll learn how to sensitively handle patients as well as become more educated on how to develop exercise programmes for the physically impaired.

Having this qualification under your belt is sure to get you more referrals, meaning more recognition which always leads to progression.

#3 – Start Your Own Gym or Fitness Studio

Gym equipment - progression opportunities for personal trainers

There are huge benefits to starting your own gym or fitness studio, as the potential for success is enormous.

You can be your own boss and fully control the direction you want to take your facility in. This includes directing the branding and training equipment, tailoring your gym to your style.

However, with this route of progression, comes a substantial list of responsibilities, starting with:

Maintaining Your Equipment

Gym machine - progression opportunities for personal trainers

You’ll need to manage and maintain your equipment, which includes:

  • Repairing faulty equipment
  • Replacing outdated equipment 
  • Refurbishing older equipment

This could be as simple as contracting a professional for help or attempting a more DIY approach – you’ll need to handle each situation appropriately as they come.

Evaluating Costs

Payment plans - progression opportunities for personal trainers

There’s a lot to consider when distributing your budget – you’ll need to cover the obvious expenditures such as:

  • Training equipment 
  • Specialised flooring
  • Mirrors and aesthetics

But what about other costs that may creep up unexpectedly? Putting aside factors like rent or utility bills, you need to account for small background costs that help to keep your facility up and running, such as:

  • Cleaning & sanitary equipment
  • Phones & computers
  • Office furniture

It’s your job to evaluate these numerous costs and delegate resources to them accordingly. 

Advertising & Marketing Your Studio or Gym

Megaphone - opportunities for progression for personal trainers

It’s down to you to spread the word about your facility and attract a loyal community of fitness fanatics.

A good place to start a marketing campaign would be with your preexisting group of clients. Instead of working with them via their gym or home, host your personal training sessions within your own studio.

Once you’ve accrued a decent number of members, you can start marketing to wider audiences to enhance your money-making potential.

Seeing to Administrative Duties

Administrative Duties - personal trainer progression opportunities

You’ll be tasked with handling a variety of administrative tasks to keep your studio afloat, mostly consisting of: 

  • Handling calls and enquiries
  • Producing paperwork
  • Schedule training sessions and meetings

These are essential roles that need to be fulfilled, so be sure not to overlook them or you could end up disorganised and backlogged.

Qualifications & Experience Required to Become a Studio or Gym Owner

Gym owner qualifications - personal trainer progression opportunities

To become a gym owner, you need the best qualifications to provide you with the necessary knowledge to make it a success. The best way to get started is with a Personal Trainer Diploma, combining Level 3 Gym Instructor with the Level 4 Personal Trainer.

Having these qualifications means you can get employed by a gym or studio first to gain experience and learn about the business or running one yourself. Experience managing a large number of clients is also appropriate here.

Working in gym - personal trainer progression opportunities

This is purely down to the fact that managing a variety of people and their needs is something you’d be doing regularly, so it’s best to know how to handle this situation.

Any experience working within an established gym franchise is ideal here, as this would provide you with knowledge of the infrastructure of a gym system and how each role in the hierarchy plays a part. 

This should act as a blueprint for you to model your own responsibilities from, ensuring you leave no stone unturned as there won’t be anyone else to help pick up the pieces- it’s all down to you to create a healthy studio ecosystem.

What Does it Pay?

wallet - progression opportunities for personal trainers

The pay is entirely down to the success of your gym. This isn’t like any other job where you’re guaranteed to earn a certain amount for the year, your earnings depend on how popular your gym is.

This means there isn’t an average salary we can provide as earnings vary from each establishment. However, from conducting our own research, we found this can range between €33,000 – €97,000 per year, making it one of the highest-paying fitness jobs.

There’s a huge potential for excessive earnings here, but you need to risk a lot and put in an incredible amount of work to reach the high pay ceiling that other, successful gym owners have.

How Can You Become a Gym or Studio Owner?

There are a series of significant steps you need to take to turn this career progression opportunity into a reality, none of which should be taken lightly.

Let’s break them down:

Choose a Suitable Facility

Gym facility - progression opportunities for personal trainer

Finding the right place to host your business is vital for success.

You need consider a few important factors that would appease your demographic, such as:

  • Size – is it big enough?
  • Facilities – are you able to provide your planned services?
  • Location – is it easy to get to for your chosen demographic?

Try to find the perfect balance between these 3 variables to maximise your chance of success.

These are all things we discuss in further detail in our video below!

Finance Your Gym or Studio

progression opportunities for personal trainers salary

Firstly, you need to secure funds to get your facility up and running. Even if you’ve been saving up, you still may need additional funds to solidify your dream location.

What you don’t know is, you’re already close to getting what you need because of your PT qualification. 

Investors and loan officers are more likely to back your business because of your expertise and experience in the industry – the longer you’ve been active in this line of work, the better.

To secure a loan, you’ll need to develop a business plan forecasting your intentions and potential profits.

If you’re unfamiliar with creating a gym business plan, you can get access to great templates from Sage to fasttrack your business.

Sage - progression opportunities for personal trainers

Whether you’re choosing to rent or buy a location, you’ll need a financial foundation to be able to allocate resources to other important things like equipment. Be sure to have enough money when you start out to support your rent or mortgage payments for at least 6 months.

Source Your Equipment

After you’ve settled on an appropriate location, you need to acquire relevant equipment. You need to balance quality against price, finding optimal gear without pushing your budget too far.

If you want to avoid the high costs of brand-new equipment, you could browse a second-hand site like Gumtree to see if you can get lucky and find something you’re looking for at a significantly reduced price.

After you’ve acquired everything you need, move it all into your facility and arrange it to create a safe space and work-hard atmosphere. 

Further Progression Opportunities for Gym Owners 

Owning a gym - progression opportunities for personal trainers

There are 2 further routes of progression you could take here.

The first option is that you expand upon the facility you’ve already got, creating more room for more clients and equipment.

This could be something as simple as renovating a part of your studio you don’t fully utilise to serve a new purpose or you could even get permission to build an extension to enhance the space you work in.

The other progression route is to develop your gym or studio into a local franchise.

Gym franchise - personal trainer progression opportunities

Once you’ve found success in your first location, you could look to expand your operation in another area that’d be popular with your demographic to create a chain of gyms.

​​You’d have to repeat the process you did to establish your original facility, but this time you’d need to consider hiring somebody to manage your new site if the workload would be too much for you to properly handle.

#4 – Progress in Your Personal Trainer Career by Becoming a Fitness Tutor

Fitness tutor - personal trainer progression

Another way to take your career is to pay your skills forward. Get yourself qualified as a fitness tutor and teach aspiring trainers so they can also become personal trainers.

One of the main benefits of this role is you get to help people take the next step in their career, giving them the tools to improve their livelihoods.

You can also find steady, reliable employment, with plenty of opportunities to take your career even further.

This role comes with a lot of responsibilities, consisting of:

Teaching Students

assessing progression opportunities for personal trainers

First and foremost, you’ll be responsible for teaching students all the information they need to complete their assessments. That could include teaching the modules that make a range of health and fitness courses, such as:

  • Level 3 Fitness Instructor
  • Level 4 Personal Training
  • Level 4 Sports Massage Therapy 
  • Specialist Level 5 courses such as Advanced Sports Nutrition
  • CPD Fitness Courses

Assessing Students

As well as teaching your students, you’ll also be the one assessing them. This would mean grading their final assessments, which requires a keen eye for detail and a rock-solid understanding of the marking scheme.

This would also involve providing constructive feedback based on the results of students to get them on the right track.

You would also be expected to invigilate the exam process, ensuring a quiet and fair testing environment.

Qualifications Required to Become a Fitness Tutor

Qualifications for Personal Trainer Progression

To be able to progress to be a fitness tutor, you’ll need to get qualified. Luckily, you can do so right here with our Fitness Teaching and Assessing course!

Employers won’t consider you for the role at all without this, so you must have this certification to begin your career.

You’ll only be able to teach up to the qualification you already have. So, if you’re only a Level 4 qualified Personal Trainer, you won’t be able to teach a Level 5 course.

If you wanted to teach a Level 5 Personal Trainer Course, say a Level 5 Obesity & Weight Management Control Course, you’d need to have completed that specific qualification yourself.

This is why it’s advantageous to have as many qualifications as possible so you can progress in this career path!

Necessary Experience to Become a Fitness Tutor

teaching progression opportunities for personal trainers

As you might imagine, experience teaching in any capacity is extremely useful experience for this role, whether you’ve done it professionally or even just helped to tutor a peer at school.

As long as you’ve had experience that has allowed you to hone your skills in clear communication and instruction then you should be well equipped.

Extensive experience as a PT yourself is also vital. Teaching is made all the more simple when you understand the subject matter from both perspectives, both as teacher and student. At least subconsciously, your explanations will be better because of this.

The more confident you are as a trainer, the better you will be as a teacher, so make sure you’ve had ample experience in the field before you apply yourself to the classroom.

What Does a Fitness Tutor Job Pay?

Our research has found that the average fitness instructor’s salary ranges between €35,000 and up to €90,000 a year. This can be seen in the following job advertisement for the University of Dublin:

Job ad for lecturer role progression for personal trainers

As you can see from the figures presented above, the salary that a candidate receives is subject to change depending on several variables, such as:

  • Where Are You Teaching?

If you’re positioned in a high-end course provider in a large city, then you’re more likely to earn more money than if you were at a small, independent teaching facility in a less populated area.

  • What Are Your Qualifications?

If you’re qualified to teach more advanced classes, you could see an increase in earnings due to the fact you’re able to teach more courses.

  • How Long Have You Been Teaching?

If you’re new to this career, you may start on a much lower salary than your experienced contemporaries. New entries typically begin on an annual salary of around or less than €28,000 whereas experienced tutors could earn more than €40,000 a year.

Personal Trainer Progression to Fitness Tutor: Our Case Study

Personal trainer progression can easily be achieved in the tutoring business, just look at Lauren Duffy, an assistant lecturer and personal trainer:

lauren duffy tutor - progression opportunities for personal trainers

This highlights how you can work your personal training job around teaching as Lauren has done, sharing your knowledge with others while continuing to train clients around your career.

Further Personal Trainer Progression Opportunities for Fitness Tutors 

fitness tutors progression opportunities for personal trainers

The key to further progression within this role is expanding your teaching potential by adding more qualifications to your belt.

You could teach a range of adept courses and specialise in a subject such as Level 4 Sports Massage Therapy, making you a more valuable teacher to an employer.

This means you’ll likely be paid more for your expertise in a niche subject and also appear more marketable. Employers are far more likely to choose you, a specialist, over somebody with the bare minimum qualifications.

Even if you start off with the base-level teaching certification, you can also take more courses and add to your teaching potential as you go, allowing you to progress in your career.

#5 – Progress in Your Personal Training Career by Starting a Boot Camp

Boot camp - progression opportunities for personal trainers

This personal trainer progression opportunity is something you can implement almost immediately with just a little bit of planning.

A boot camp is a large-scale fitness class with a variety of equipment for participants to use, all under the instruction of the class leader.

The main benefit of this route of progression is it enables you to be your own boss – hosting classes around your schedule and reaping the rewards of practically unlimited earning potential.

The responsibilities of the role include:

  • Organising dates and times for your bootcamp
  • Choosing a location
  • Planning and delivering classes

Qualifications Required to Start a Boot Camp

Boot camp qualifications - progression opportunities for personal trainers

The great thing about this personal trainer progression opportunity is you don’t need any additional qualifications to get started!

All you need is your basic Level 4 Personal Trainer qualification and an existing group of dedicated clients ready to enrol in your camp.

Although not strictly necessary, additional CPD Fitness Courses can also help you develop further skills and knowledge required to plan and deliver these sessions. For example, OriGym students could enrol on a Body Weight Training CPD and work this into their teachings.

Experience for Personal Trainer Progression to Start a Boot Camp

Boot camp group training progression opportunities for personal trainers

Since you’d be working for yourself, there’s no necessary experience you need to get hired, but there’s still a lot of relevant experience you should accrue before you jump in the deep end.

As a PT, you’re well adjusted to coaching people on a 1-to-1 basis, so managing 10 or more people in a camp could be overwhelming.

We’d recommend that, if you haven’t already, offer small group training to 3 or 4 of your clients at a time to get used to juggling their activities and managing the session. Or, get some experience running group exercise classes in a gym.

This will give you an idea of what you’ll need to keep a large group session running smoothly, providing the best boot camp experience you possibly can.

What Does it Pay?

Salary - progression opportunities for personal trainers

There isn’t really a fixed estimate for this question, as the earning potential of this personal trainer career progression choice is dependent on factors such as:

  • How many bootcamp classes you run
  • How much you charge
  • How many people attend your bootcamp classes

Although we can’t say exactly how much you will earn, we can explain how you can earn more with this route of progression than you would working as a basic trainer.

Let’s say you’re currently a PT charging €20 – €40 an hour for 1-to-1 sessions. By starting a boot camp with 10 clients paying 10 each for an hour’s class, then your hourly profit raises massively to €100 per hour.

This means more money for you at a less expensive rate for your clients. The key to maximising your earnings comes down to how you manage the payment infrastructure of your boot camp.

We strongly recommend creating a package structure, charging clients to pay a monthly fee for a set number of classes. For example, you could charge €50 a month for 2 classes a week, for a contracted period of 6 months.

While selling classes in blocks or asking clients to ‘pay on the day’ seems like an easy way to manage payments, this an unreliable system to depend on for your income for a number of reasons:

  • Cold or wet weather could cause low attendance.
  • Clients aren’t obliged to pay and so are more likely to miss a day.
  • You have to resell to members once their ‘block’ is over.

All of these things can create an unsustainable cash flow to your business. The only person losing out here is you, as your client doesn’t have to pay if they don’t turn up, it just means you lose money.

Bulk payment schemes totally negate this issue, as you’ll get the money up front for an allocated amount of time, say a month for example.

Look at this example from Bootcamp Training, by only selling access to their bootcamp in monthly instalments, they’re totally removing the possibility of inconsistent payments, so they’re assured to make money:

Boot camp packages - progression opportunities for personal trainers

This means clients are likely to turn up to take advantage of the boot camp as they’ve already paid for it, so you can rest easy with a steady, predictable cash flow.

How to Start Your Own Fitness Boot Camp

Personal trainer boot camp - progression opportunities for PTs

To start a boot camp, all you need is a group of individuals and a date and time that works for everyone. This group can be made up of your existing clients or you can attract more people to your new venture.

You then need to find a suitable location, such as:

  • A local park
  • The beach
  • A rented sports hall

Each of these locations are either free or really cheap to rent, which is just one of the reasons why starting a bootcamp is a great route of progression.

Fitness bootcamp - personal trainer progression opportunities

When deciding on your location, you need to consider a number of key variables, starting with:

  • Space: You’ll need a large, open area that can fit at least 10 clients with plenty of room to create different exercise zones.
  • Weather: Consider that some venues won’t be suitable all year round! During winter, clients won’t be jumping for joy at the prospect of working out on the beach in the cold.
  • Business: While parks and beaches are a great choice, they may be jam packed during summer months. Finding a comfortable but quiet spot is key!
  • Accessibility: Your location should be somewhere that is relatively local to your clients and easy to get to with either parking or public transport links.

Once you have a suitable location, the final step in getting set up is to buy or rent some basic gym equipment.

Gym equipment - progression opportunities for personal trainers

Something to keep in mind when looking for equipment is you’ll have to pay for and transport this equipment to your location. For that reason, we recommend looking for versatile pieces of equipment you can use for multiple exercise, such as:

  • Resistance bands
  • Medicine balls
  • Dumbbells
  • Kettlebells 
  • Barbell 

So long as you have a decent amount of equipment to keep your clients busy and a dependable location, personal trainer progression by starting a boot camp is immediately achievable.

Personal Trainer Progression to Boot Camp Instructor: Our Case Study

Making the leap from a basic personal trainer position to a boot camp instructor is certainly a possibility, just take Lorraine Ho as an example of personal trainer progression:

lorraine ho website - progression opportunities for personal trainers

After earning her fitness instructor and personal trainer qualifications, she developed Bootcamp Ireland from a 1 park location to being a pioneer in the outdoor fitness industry, using the skills she learned as a personal trainer.

Further Progression Opportunities for Bootcamp Instructors 

gym finances - progression opportunities for personal trainers

As a self employed boot camp instructor, there’s no official infrastructure for you to climb – it’s up to you to create your own career progression. 

Once you have a schedule full of bootcamps made up of paying clients, the next step is upscaling. Afterall, more people + more classes = more money.

Upscaling could mean:

  • Hiring another instructor to run bootcamp classes for you
  • Using personal trainer software to automate admin tasks (freeing up your time!)
  • Diversifying your services (E.g. offering 1-1 sessions or other types of class)

If you keep growing at this rate, the seed of your one-person boot camp business could grow into an entire franchise of boot camps across the country.

#6 – Personal Trainer Career Progression – Take Your Services Online

online progression opportunities for personal trainers

By taking your personal training online, there’s essentially no end to the level of progression you could achieve. This is another opportunity for you to be your own boss and as a result, have an unlimited earning capacity.

Working as an online PT would see you carrying out similar roles to that of a regular personal trainer, but instead of training clients face-to-face, you’d offer your services online, usually via video or instant messaging.

Your main role would be to manage clients and their results, which would involve tasks such as:

  • Have regular check-ins via video call or message
  • Conduct fitness assessments 
  • Track and monitor more feasible metrics, such as weight loss

Qualifications Required to Become an Online PT

Qualifications for progression opportunities for personal trainers

Aside from your Level 4 Personal Trainer certification, you don’t need any extra qualifications – but this doesn’t mean they won’t help!

The personal training business is full of competition and additional qualifications can ultimately be the difference between a potential client choosing you or somebody else.

For example, having a Level 5 Certificate in Sports Nutrition would allow you to market yourself as a nutrition specialist, offering meal plans to your online clients. 

​​You could take a look at our full course prospectus to get an idea of additional qualifications you can achieve to expand and diversify your online training services, ultimately helping you to stand out from the crowd.

Required Experience to Become an Online Personal Trainer

online progression opportunities for personal trainers

Since progressing to being an online PT would mean being your own boss, you don’t need any specific experience. That said, we strongly recommend you gain experience working as a PT in a gym, running 1-to-1 sessions in person, before taking your services online.

This will give you a good foundation of knowledge and experience of both training clients and running a PT business. Hopefully, you’ll be able to generate some loyal clients throughout this experience.

In terms of getting familiar with the online process, it’s a good idea to ask friends or family to partake in an hour-long online class and ask them to rate their session afterwards, giving you the pointers and confidence you’ll need to be ready for online coaching.

What Does it Pay?

According to Salary Expert, the average personal trainer in Ireland earns €36,484 per year. This salary is based on those who are employed by a gym, rather than those who have their own business or work online.

Offering online personal training means you can determine your own prices. However, let’s look at the business model of Declan Flynn Fitness:

Dean Flynn - progression opportunities for personal trainers

Declan offers a range of fitness plans and workouts over various lengths of time. However, if he had 5 people sign up for his 12 week online coaching course, he would earn over €1000 from this service alone!

Hypothetically, you could grow an enterprise from your living room and reap the rewards you’d see from online personal training.

How to Offer Online Personal Training Services

online personal trainer progression opportunities

Offering online personal trainer services is an accessible route of progression for any qualified Level 4 Personal Trainer.

You’ll need a few things to get started:

  • A laptop.
  • A webcam (if your laptop doesn’t have one).
  • A decent amount of space.

There are a lot of services out there capable of providing you with video calling, one of the most prominent being Zoom:

Zoom - progression opportunities for personal trainers

You can take advantage of useful features like:

  • Calling from any smart device
  • Host private calls 
  • Host group conferences

The best part about Zoom is it’s totally free! You can progress your career as a personal trainer online immediately, running 1-1 sessions over zoom without paying a penny.

Group calls are free for 40 minutes, so if you host a group class for this amount of time, they’re free too!

Personal Trainer Progression to Online PT!

You can get inspiration from personal trainers who are currently selling their services online. Check out the online personal training service offered by Finn Glenn for his business, Body by Finn:

Body by Finn - progression opportunities for personal trainers

As you can see above, this is just an example of the types of different services Finn offers. Clients can choose the service best suited to their goals as he has services such as 1-on-1 personal training and nutrition coaching over varying weeks.

#7 – Personal Trainer Career Progression – Add Meal Plans to the Services You Offer

Meal plans - progression opportunities for personal trainers

There are two ways by which adding meal plans to the services you offer allows you to progress in your career as a PT. Firstly, it allows you to capitalise on the clients you already have, offering an additional service to them and in exchange, making more money per client.

Secondly, it opens your business up to a pool of potential new clients who hadn’t heard of you previously or weren’t interested in personal training alone.

There are a ton of ways to implement this service, so the role can have a lot of responsibilities depending on how far you’re willing to take it.

A massive advantage to providing this service is that once a plan is made, it’s made. 

Writing meal plans - progression opportunities for personal trainers

By this, we mean you only have to put the time and effort into crafting a plan one time, then it’s yours to sell to as many clients as will have it for as long as you’re a trainer. As you can imagine, it’s a pretty worthwhile investment.

Here are the main obligations of the role:

  • You need to be able to create a clear, easy-to-read schedule detailing what to eat and when for your client.
  • A simple online table would suffice, with additional detail provided per meal including recipes and cooking tips.
  • Then it’s just a simple process of distribution – send your plans to their respective clients and keep tabs on their progress weekly. 

Qualifications for Personal Trainer Progression Required to Provide Meal Plans

qualifications - opportunities for personal trainers

Strictly speaking, you don’t need any additional qualifications besides your standard Level 4 Personal Trainer to provide a meal plan, but it certainly helps you have proof of your ability to give the best advice possible.

To that end, you should definitely consider a Level 5 Advanced Sports Nutrition course so you can confidently provide your clients with expert-level meal plans to help you stand out from other PT’s.

Study nutrition course - personal trainer progression opportunities

This course will allow you to offer your meal plans to a broader range of potential clients, making personal trainer career progression in this direction more feasible and financially rewarding.

You’ll learn the skills needed to cater directly to niche client groups such as:

  • ​​People with vegan diets
  • Children with obesity issues 
  • Pregnant women

More knowledge on specialist subjects means more clients, which of course, means more money.

Experience for Personal Trainers to Offer Meal Plans

Meal prep - progression opportunities for personal trainers

If you haven’t already, make a meal plan for yourself and stick to it!

This is a great bit of experience to help you understand not only how to construct a meal plan, but also to gauge how difficult it is to stick to.

Take notes and then branch out to your friends and family, find a willing participant and design a bespoke plan for them. This will help you enormously with both your ability to develop a successful meal plan and also with your confidence as you begin to market this service to the public.

What Does it Pay?

This purely depends on what you’re willing to charge people for your meal plans, but before you settle on a pricing structure, there are quite a few variables to consider.

  • How Many Days a Week Are You Providing a Plan For?

This will essentially determine how large your plan is! If you create a plan for all 7 days of the week, you should charge more as it’d mean more work on your part. If your plan is only designed to be used for 3 days of the week, then you need to cut your price in accordance. 

  • Will You Be Holding Regular Check Ups?

Client check ups - progression opportunities for personal trainers

If you intend to host regular check-up meetings with a client on a weekly schedule, then this means more time out of your working day – so you should charge a little extra. This would also elevate your service as you take an active involvement in your client’s progress, meaning you could justify charging slightly more for the better service.

  • How Much Will the Ingredients of Your Designated Meal Plan Cost?

If your meal plan consists of a lot of ingredients for your client to buy, then they’ll already be spending a lot of money just shopping alone. If the price of your plan is too high on top of this, it may harm your client retention rate or worse still, prevent clients from signing on.

  • Potential Earnings

Costs - progression opportunities for personal trainers

If you were to charge just a small fee of €20 for preset packages, then depending on your monthly sales, you could be making an excessive amount of money especially since you only need to make each plan one time.

If you end up selling just 10 preset packages a month, you could be looking at an extra €200, and that’s with a reserved estimation!

Should you charge more and sell to more clients, your earning potential via this personal trainer progression route could be high.

How To Offer Meal Plans:

Create Shopping Lists & Recipe Guides

Meal plan shopping - progression opportunities for personal trainers

​​It’s down to you to put in the research and find multiple sources and stores your clients can gather their essential ingredients from.

You should suggest a number of stores to cater to different people’s conveniences.

You also need to go into detail regarding the recipes you’ve given. This means giving step by step instructions on how to prepare exactly what you had in mind.

Research & Create Preset Meal Plans for Different End Goals

Meal plans - progression opportunities for personal trainers

Your main priority in this role should be taking the time to craft a few sets of meal plans each with their own unique goals.

For example, you should consider plans for:

  • Weight loss
  • Muscle gain
  • Cutting out sugars & fats
  • Vegan & veggie diets

These should each be generalised yet decently detailed guides on how to prepare a variety of meals for their respective objectives. 

You should generalise them because then they’ll be easier to follow for a large majority of people, meaning you’re appealing your services to a broader audience.

Each of the guides needs to specify a time frame. For example, a weight loss guide that’s supposed to take 2 weeks will surely have a different roadmap than a 2 month guide, so ensure your plans are achievable and realistic for the time you allocate for each plan.

​​If you need a hand getting started, then consider using online software such as Strongr Fastr for a quick and easy automated meal plan template:

Strongr Fastr - progression opportunities for personal trainers

Just enter your client’s details and goals to receive a free recommended template. Even if you decide to create your own guide, you still get access to a useful framework to help your plans develop.

Create Customised Meal Plans for Individual Clients for Higher Price

Salary - progression opportunities for personal trainers

Taking this personal trainer progression route further would be to evolve your generalised meal plans into tailored, specific ones for individual clients.

This responsibility would involve consulting with your clients to determine an ideal path forward.

​​During consultation, you’ll have to outline small factors that will determine the shape of your client’s personalised plan, including:

  • ​​Their budget for ingredients.
  • The time they have to commit to the plan.
  • Any allergies they may have.

The benefit of adding a bespoke meal plan option to your services is you can charge more as it’s specialised, meaning you can progress to earn more money as a nutritionist.

Personal Trainer Progression to Offering Meal Plans: Our Case Study

Natural Kitchen - progression opportunities for personal trainers

For proof of this progression route, let’s look at our example from Natural Kitchen. As you can see, they offer meal plans from 3 to 5 days, ranging from €30 to €105 depending on your preferences.

Using this pricing model, even if you were to enrol 5 clients on the 3 day meal packages at the minimum of €30, you’ll be taking an extra €150:

Natural Kitchen - opportunities for PT progression

Progressing your career in this direction can prove immediately fruitful, as well as creating new opportunities for your career entirely.

Further Personal Trainer Progression Opportunities

Progression opportunities for personal trainers

After successfully developing and distributing meal plans, you will have become something of an expert in the field of nutrition, especially if you’ve taken a Level 5 Advanced Sports Nutrition course, so the next step is to look for further progression options.

Expansion is key to progressing in this role. Firstly, you should expand the types of meal plans you offer.

Get specific, target niche audiences with unique goals by mixing up the variables – ‘2 Week Vegan Fat Burner’ for example. Keep thinking of a variety of plans with differing time windows and dietary preferences to cast the widest net possible.

You should also expand your business by hiring other PT’s. Outsourcing the responsibility of watching over clients as they complete a meal plan to trainers you hire inevitably means that you can take on more clients.

More clients, of course, means more money, even if this income is split between you and the trainer you’ve hired.

Before You Go!

​​As we’ve touched upon throughout this article, a surefire way to progress in any career is to have more qualifications. Get started with our Level 5 Sports Nutrition Course to expand your service and increase employment opportunities.

Check out our range of personal training courses by downloading our course prospectus.

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About the Author: Harry Griffiths

Harry OriGym Author
Harry is a senior editor for Origym. With a degree in creative writing at his back, he writes about all things fitness for our company blog, covering everything from exercise techniques to product reviews. A passionate weight lifter, Harry’s commitments to fitness and wellbeing extend from behind the keyboard all the way to the gym floor.

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