Becoming a self-employed personal trainer is a great way to make a living from your passion for health and fitness. You’ll be helping people reach their fitness goals and improve their lives for the better. 

There are also practical benefits. Becoming a self-employed personal trainer lets you set your own hours, control your own earnings, and the overhead costs are relatively low. 

In this article, we’ll be covering the basic steps needed to become a self-employed personal trainer, including:

  • Qualifications.
  • Equipment.
  • Insurance.
  • Branding. 
  • How to register your business.
  • How to market your business.
  • Opening a business account.


Gaining qualifications will help you become an expert in your profession, and it’ll reassure your clients that you know what you’re talking about. A lot of insurance providers also require that you have certain qualifications before you take out a policy. 

You should look into gaining qualifications through the Register of Exercise professionals (REPs) and the (Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA), such as:

  • CIMSPA & REPs Level 2 Certificate in Gym Instructing.
  • CIMSPA & REPS Level 3 Diploma in Gym & Personal Training.


As a personal trainer, you’ll be working with clients in physically strenuous situations, and possibly at their homes, so there are a few insurance policies that you should consider, such as:

  • Public liability insurance: This will cover you if a client is injured, or their property is damaged, because of your business.
  • Professional indemnity insurance: This will cover you in case a client makes claims of a contract breach or professional negligence. 
  • Employers’ liability insurance: This is legally required if you’ve hired any employees. It covers the legal costs if your employee takes you to court over injuries or illness caused by work. 

Insurance isn’t a huge expense, so it’s probably worth it just in case the worst should happen. If you search online, you should be able to find tailor-made insurance policies for personal trainers. 


As a self-employed personal trainer, you’ll be in charge of building your own brand. Your branding affects how your business is perceived by the public and has a direct impact on the number of clients you’ll attract. 

When it comes to branding, there are two main areas you’ll need to consider:

  • Building your brand: You’ll need to make careful decisions about the look and feel of your business, then maintain a consistent brand identity
  • Legal implications: You’ll have to make sure all of your intellectual property, like logos, slogan, and company name comply with the copyright, designs, and patent act.

How to register your business.

As a self-employed personal trainer, you’ll need to register with HMRC as either a sole trader or a limited company.

Sole trader

A sole trader is a simple structure. You have complete control over profits and you’ll be responsible for any debts, making it a popular choice for smaller businesses that are just getting started. 

When setting up as a sole trader, you’ll need to register as self-employed with HMRC so you can manage your taxes and register your business name. 

When you register your business name, you’ll receive a Unique Tax Reference (UTR) that you’ll use when submitting your self-assessment tax return. 

Limited Company

On the other hand, a limited company can give you a more professional image and gives you limited liability for debt. 

If you register as a limited company, you’ll need to register with HMRC as an employer, not self-employed, because you’ll be acting as both a director and an employee.

You’ll also need to sign up to PAYE (pay as you earn) so you can pay yourself through the limited company. 

When you choose a company name, you’ll need to register it with Companies House. A limited company can’t have the same name as another registered company.

How to market your business.

The biggest factor in the success of your personal training business is your ability to find clients. And the only way to find clients is with an effective marketing strategy. 

Build a website

A lot of people are going to find you online, so creating a website should be one of your top priorities. At the basic level, your website should include contact information, products, prices, and an “about me” page.  

There are also a few things you can do to make your website appear higher in search engine rankings, including:

You can hire a professional to build your website or make it yourself. There are a lot of fairly cheap website builders that make it easy to create a professional looking website. 

Social media

Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube are all thriving social media platforms with millions of users that could become your clients. 

Here are some general rules for marketing your business on social media:

  • Follow other fitness channels, and engage with their content. 
  • Post content often and regularly. 
  • Make your content interesting to users, not just promotional messages for your business.
  • Engage with users by replying to their comments, taking polls, making quizzes, and running competitions. 
  • Switch up your content between written posts, videos, and photos. 
  • Always link back to your business website in your posts. 

As a self-employed personal trainer, social media is the perfect place to post engaging visual content. 

For example, you can:

  • Show customer testimonials along with their before and after pictures, showing exactly how you helped them achieve their fitness goals.
  • Weigh in on recent health and fitness trends. 
  • Do video demonstrations of training techniques. 
  • Make videos of fitness challenges.

Traditional marketing

As well as digital marketing, traditional marketing can also be effective. You should consider:

  • Making business cards to hand out.
  • Printing flyers and posting them locally.
  • Teaming up with other local gyms to recommend your service.
  • Encouraging customers to spread the word.
  • Encouraging friends and family to recommend your business.

Opening a business account

When you’re starting your own business, it’s important to keep your personal and business finances separate from day one – to save yourself from time-consuming admin further down the line. 

When you sign up for a Countingup business current account, you’ll receive free accounting software with a range of time-saving tools. With features like automatic expense categorisation, invoicing on the go, receipt capture tools, tax estimates, and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances wherever you are. 

You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Seamless, simple, and straightforward! 

Find out more here.