Types of personal trainers

July 25, 2023

If you’re sporty and like the idea of being your own boss, then becoming a professional personal trainer is a stand-out career option. You can share your passion for exercise and healthy living with paying clients, and feel the satisfaction of helping them achieve their goals, whether it’s completing a marathon or just losing a couple of stone in weight.

As the personal training market in the UK has grown, so the types of personal trainers out there have diversified more and more. There are now some highly specialised PT services in the marketplace, filling specific needs with focused skills, techniques and expertise. But which one represents your perfect career aspiration?

In this guide, we’ll highlight many of the different types of personal trainers there are and give you advice on how to work out which one would be the best career option for you.

What are the different types of personal trainers?

Personal training has evolved into such a broad industry that it’s pretty much impossible to list every single type here. Instead, we’ve listed eight of the most common types of personal trainers, so that you can get a feel for the full spectrum of what’s out there:

Health and lifestyle

An increasing number of people don’t just want someone who can help them with their fitness: they want someone who can help them improve their lifestyle and wider approach to health. This is especially the case for people who are managing a long-term health problem, and need to make lifestyle changes that can accommodate their ailment but still allow them to keep fit. A lifestyle-focused PT can therefore help these people devise exercise plans that are safe, effective and helps them meet their goals – and doing so can be incredibly rewarding.

Bodybuilding and physique

Many people work out to improve their physical appearance, often to the point of pursuing bodybuilding and putting on muscle in key areas. This requires a very specific type of personal training to ensure that clients get the results they want, across detailed training patterns and highly focused nutrition plans. Taking the idea to its fullest extend, personal trainers that work with competitive bodybuilders are normally able to teach poses and other competition elements, and help keep them motivated.

General fitness

One of the most common types of personal trainers is those that work to improve a client’s overall fitness, without necessarily focusing on one specific area of improvement or development. For many people, personal trainers give them the motivation and drive they need to commit to a regular exercise regime, especially if they’re able to provide programmes that are tailored to their individual requirements. This can include diet, nutrition, medical condition management and other areas, as and when required. This type of personal trainer can also offer group training if working with people with similar goals and levels of performance.

Cardio and endurance

Anyone working towards endurance-related goals, such as running a marathon or completing a long-distance cycling trip, needs focused cardio training. That way, their heart, lungs and wider circulatory system can be better conditioned for the strain that sustained exercise will put on them. A good cardio PT can help a client safely improve their capacity in this area and develop greater capacity to perform at a higher level for a longer period of time. While this work can sometime be geared towards a particular event, runners and cyclists who compete regularly may need ongoing PT support.

Strength and conditioning

Similar to the point above, many sportspeople need specific training to improve their muscle strength in certain areas and to boost their conditioning. For example, footballers and rugby players need to be able to maintain their power and performance over an entire match, rather than drop off within the first 20 minutes. This is where personal trainers who can devise long-term plans really come into their own, helping players understand the types of workout that can help them build up the strength and longevity that they’ll need in matches.

Sport-specific personal training

If you have experience or an interest in a particular sport, then offering personal training in that sport is a great way to get involved. This kind of work requires detailed knowledge of the human anatomy, and of the demands that the individual sport places upon it. That way, a personal trainer can help athletes develop their bodies in such a way as to improve their performance and minimise their risk of getting injured. Sport-specific PT can be offered to amateur and professional athletes alike: for example, with out-of-contract footballers who are recovering from injury and need to regain full match fitness.

Gym instructors

Almost every gym will have a bank of personal trainers who will work with regular gym-goers to focus and improve their exercise regimes. It is often the first port of call for personal trainers who are new to the profession, as it helps them build up more rounded skills from which they can go on to specialise in the future. As well as working with individuals on cardio machinery and weights, many gym instructors also run group exercises like spin classes, yoga, aqua-aerobics and Zumba on a regular basis.

Mobile PT and bootcamps

Personal training work doesn’t have to take place in a gym or on a pitch. For example, mobile personal trainers will offer services in a client’s home or in a local park, bringing with them some basic equipment that a client will use. This is especially popular with people who find gym environments intimidating or have issues around body image.

In much the same vein, bootcamp and CrossFit personal trainers offer intensive workouts over a day, weekend or sometimes longer, delivering a comprehensive set of exercises and plenty of motivation along the way. This work will require some travel and time away from home, but it can be incredibly satisfying to see the difference it can make to clients in such a short space of time.

Which one is right for me as a career option?

So, you’ve had a good look at all the different types of personal trainers you can choose from as a career or business proposition. But how can you work out which one is right for you? A good place to start is considering these three factors:


It’s important that you do something you enjoy, and you’re interested in if you possibly can. If you want to become a professional personal trainer, then it’s highly likely that you have a passion for sport and fitness and have your own preferences of what you like to do. These areas will therefore give you the best chance of making it a job that you love.

Existing qualifications and skill sets

Similar to the point above, any credentials, qualifications or skills that you already possess will give you a really strong starting point. When looking for a personal trainer, clients want to know that they’re paying for someone who knows what they’re doing, and has the experience and skill sets to back that up. Anything you already have – even at a basic level – might help you get up and running more easily.

Earning potential and work-life balance

Some types of personal trainers have the ability to go on and earn big money much more than others. However, they have to work very hard, as well as often long and unsocial hours, to get to where they are today. So, you’ll need to consider what’s right for your own career aspirations and personal circumstances.

For example, operating as a general PT out of your local gym might not generate the most income. However, it would give you more regular work at more consistent hours, which may fit much better if you have a family to take care of.

Get personal trainer insurance with Protectivity

As you can see from this blog, there are so many options to choose from if you want to get yourself set up as a personal trainer. However, there’s one thing that unites them all: taking out comprehensive insurance cover is absolutely essential.

There’s a very good reason for this: if something unforeseen happens or a claim is made against you by a client, the financial cost could easily run into thousands of pounds. This can cause significant and long-term damage to your personal finances – but if you’re insured, then you can be sure that you won’t end up out of pocket in such a situation.

Protectivity delivers affordable personal trainer insurance policies to PTs just like you, no matter what your specialism is or how much experience you have. We can pick up the tab if you injure a client; if you hurt yourself and you’re unable to work; or if any of your equipment gets damaged, lost or stolen. Available from just a few pounds a month, our cover means you can grow your business with confidence – and could prove to be one of the smartest investments you ever make.

Start your journey towards a successful PT business by taking a closer look at our personal trainer insurance policies.