A Guide To The Types of Personal Trainers: Which Career Path Is Right For You?


A Guide To The Types of Personal Trainers: Which Career Path Is Right For You?

Personal trainers support their clients with numerous health and fitness goals, including weight loss, physical strength, endurance training and confidence building. It’s a varied job, with plenty of opportunities to progress into a specialised role and potentially open your own business.

While some think that personal training is a specific job, it’s an umbrella term that encompasses numerous roles, responsibilities and focuses. For example, some personal trainers work in health centres, while others focus on athletes or gain employment with professional sports teams.

You can also focus on various fitness areas, including strength training, cardio and holistic personal training.

With so many career opportunities available, it’s difficult to know where to start or decide what you want to do.

So, in this guide, we’ll reveal the types of personal trainers, so you can plan your future and work towards a career that gives you the financial and emotional rewards you’d like.

Health Coach

A health coach offers so much more than general personal training because there’s a strong emphasis on a client’s overall health and lifestyle. For example, while personal trainers typically focus on fitness regimes and nutritional needs, a health coach offers lifestyle support too.

If a person has a condition such as endometriosis, respiratory issues or joint problems, a health coach can help them create a safe fitness and exercise plan that ensures the client can reach their goals.

Choose this path if you:

  • Have an interest in health and anatomy

  • Love a challenge

  • Want your fitness industry career to have more meaning

Cardio Trainers

While all exercise requires some form of cardio, athletes put more strain on their hearts than the average person. If a client is training for a marathon, endurance event or long cycling trip, they might want a specialist personal trainer to support them with the process.

When anyone takes part in heavy cardio activity, they put their circulatory system and lungs under a lot of pressure, but personal performance trainers can create a safer way to push the body beyond its current limits.

Choose this path if you:

  • Prefer working with clients that require a more targeted approach

  • Enjoy pushing people towards their goals

  • Have an interest in cardio and the circulatory system

Physique Trainers

Bodybuilding is a popular event for fitness fanatics, and both men and women compete regularly. It’s a highly disciplined sport because building that amount of muscle takes a lot of time and effort.

Physique trainers work with their clients to analyse how their body responds to training and create a plan to enhance the results. There’s also a lot of diet planning involved, as competitors need to eat foods that will speed up muscle growth and decrease body fat while still meeting their nutritional needs.

Most personal trainers specialising in physique training will also teach a client how to pose at various competitions and become their motivational coach.

Choose this path if you:

  • Have previous bodybuilding experience

  • Enjoy the elements of intricate diet planning

  • Are willing to support each client with their physical and emotional wellbeing

  • Find muscle building and body sculpting interesting

Strength trainers

Strength trainers (or strength and conditioning coaches) work with people from all walks of life to help them lose fat and build muscle. While some clients might be professionals that compete in strength events, others might want to move away from cardio and concentrate on building muscle.

The role involves ensuring people understand how to lift weights properly, including perfecting their posture to prevent back and neck injuries. Strength coaches will often put a plan of action into place for each client and gradually increase the weight and sets to ensure they reach their goals.

Choose this path if you:

  • Prefer muscle conditioning instead of cardio training

  • Enjoy working with clients from all backgrounds

  • Want to motivate your clients to succeed

Fitness Coach

Fitness coaches work with clients from all backgrounds and typically offer a targeted approach to improve a person’s physical fitness and endurance. Many people decide they want to become fitter after a life change or need some support to recover from an injury, so they turn to a specialist fitness coach.

Some fitness coaches work in group settings, but most work with individual clients because it allows them to provide a more holistic approach to fitness.

As well as providing general support for clients to reach their fitness goals, coaches will also evaluate various elements of their diet, medical conditions and other obstacles that might require a more targeted exercise plan.

Choose this path if you:

  • Have a passion for fitness and are a client-focused trainer

  • Enjoy setting goals

  • Want to work with people to overcome illness and injuries

Sports trainer

Sports trainers work exclusively with athletes to ensure they perform to their best. These specialists need a great deal of anatomical knowledge because a big part of the role is teaching athletes how to use their bodies effectively and prevent injuries.

Athletes should also learn how to rest and recuperate after an event and maintain their fitness levels. Sports trainers will also liaise with the athlete and coach to develop an objective-based exercise plan to keep them on track.

Choose this path if you:

  • Prefer to work with professional athletes

  • Enjoy learning about anatomy and how it corresponds to a person’s fitness and endurance

  • Want to progress into a career that enables you to use your educational background

  • Are willing to work with teams and coaches to provide training sessions for athletes

Gym instructors

Gym instructors are the most common type of fitness industry specialist and often work with groups of people. It’s usually an entry-level job, but there are plenty of opportunities to progress further down the line.

Most gym instructors facilitate inductions and teach new gym members how to use the equipment. Some also offer specific classes or workout routines, including spinning, aerobics, Zumba and yoga, which are often included in a person’s gym membership.

Once gym instructors gain more experience, they can move on to personal training or specialise in a particular area, which usually requires a Level 3 Personal Training certification.

Choose this path if you:

  • Have an interest in health and fitness

  • Are new to the industry and want to gain some experience

  • Would prefer a less stressful job that potentially allows you to work part-time

  • Specialise in a specific fitness discipline such as cycling or yoga

Mobile personal trainers

While many personal trainers meet clients at the gym or health club they work in; others will offer a mobile service. There are many benefits to opening a mobile personal training business, including giving clients a more personalised experience.

If a person isn’t used to a gym environment or has confidence issues, walking into a gym full of toned people can seem incredibly daunting. A personal trainer that offers a private service will work with clients to teach them about exercise and how to develop healthier eating habits.

The biggest obstacle is the lack of gym equipment, but some personal trainers will often bring items with them or use a bodyweight-based fitness plan instead.

Choose this path if you:

  • Want more flexibility with your career

  • Are happy to visit clients on their privately owned grounds or use public parks

  • Love helping people achieve their goals and build their confidence

  • Embrace the challenge of becoming self-employed

Bootcamp/Crossfit instructors

Busy professionals love attending fitness bootcamps because it allows them to reach their weight loss goals in an intensive setting. These camps look at a person’s current health, diet and daily exercise needs, then focus on teaching healthier habits quickly.

Most camps last for around six days, but some might offer ongoing weekend sessions for a month or more. The main idea of these camps is to drastically overhaul a person’s diet and lifestyle choices so that they can continue the weight loss journey at home.

A specialist Bootcamp trainer must be able to motivate attendees and encourage them throughout the entire process. These camps are highly intensive, and some people might find they need a lot more support than others.

Choose this path if you:

  • Love working as part of a team with dieticians and other personal trainers

  • Prefer offering more intensive support

  • Would like the opportunity to travel more

Lifestyle Personal Trainers

Some people feel they don’t get the necessary support from a general personal trainer, so they hire a lifestyle specialist to help them with all areas of their diet, wellbeing and exercise needs. Lifestyle trainers are much more than fitness professionals because they’re also in charge of a client’s emotional wellbeing and confidence.

For example, a general personal trainer will put diet plans and exercise programs together but doesn’t offer support for a client’s lifestyle. Specialist trainers will expand on the general program by looking at a client’s sleep habits and any emotional barriers that might hold them back.

Choose this path if you:

  • Have an interest in diet and wellbeing, along with fitness

  • Would like to have an input on all elements of your client’s lifestyle

  • Enjoy working toward a long-term objective rather than short-term goals

Start your journey today

Now you know the types of personal trainers and the skills you need to become one, you begin your journey. At The Fitness Circle, we offer a range of online courses, all CIMSPA accredited and supervised by qualified personal trainers.

Many trainers start with a Level 2 Gym Instructor certification, then move onto more advanced courses once they have some experience. The best thing is that you can work in a gym or health club to experience the different styles of personal training before making a decision.

Whether you focus on cardio or strength or want to work as a mobile personal trainer, there are plenty of opportunities to expand your horizons and take on new challenges.

Please contact us if you’d like to discuss our courses or have any questions about the career paths available to you upon completion.

Take the first step towards your brand new career.


Our Success Advisors are eager to walk through your options and answer any questions you have

0 354 45 87 96