New to fitness and would love to get a job in a gym with no experience?
Worried your lack of experience will make it hard to land yourself your dream job as a fitness instructor or personal trainer?
The good news is you have no need to worry, at all!
In this article, I will be explaining how you can easily get yourself into the fitness industry with little to no experience because that’s exactly how I did it!
This is going to be a fun article to write, and hopefully for you to read because as I said in the intro, I got myself into the industry and landed my first job as a gym instructor without any experience whatsoever.
In fact, not only did I have no experience in working in a gym before I got myself a job as a gym instructor, but before I went to my first course situated in a gym, I had never even stepped foot in one before.
Just let my last sentence sink in for a few seconds.
If I can get a job as a gym instructor, and then eventually a successful personal trainer in London, you have nothing to fear my friend.
If you want to skip straight to the section on how to start getting experience, you can click the link below, but there are some important things we need to address first, so it’s a good idea to read all of this article.
I want to skip ahead to “How to get gym experience”
Do you need experience to get a job in a gym?
No, no you don’t.
If you are going for a job in a highly competitive gym where there are tons and tons of applicants, then sure, having a little previous experience couldn’t hurt and it would almost certainly help to grease the wheels a little, but you can absolutely get a job in a gym without experience.
Of course, you cannot be hired by a gym to train people without the proper qualifications, but I am sure you already knew that, and having the right qualifications is very different from having experience.
So why doesn’t your level of experience matter?
The cool thing is, gyms have a very high turnover of gym instructors, not because the job isn’t good, in fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Becoming a gym instructor is the first step towards being a personal trainer, which is most people’s long-term goal in the fitness industry because the money and work-life can be fantastic (being your own boss is pretty damn cool too).
This means that when people have got their level 2 fitness qualification and can start working as a gym instructor, they get in the gym and start working whilst they are training for their level 3 status which then allows them to start working as either a freelance, employed or independent PT.
People don’t tend to stick around working as a gym instructor when they could be working as a PT, so they pack their bags and leave their gym instructor job behind them after maybe 8-10 months.
How does this help you?
This means that there is always a need for new gym instructors to take the place of instructors who have recently “graduated” to personal trainer status.
The long and the short of it here is that as long as you have your level 2 qualification under your belt, you will not struggle to land yourself a job as a gym instructor at most gyms.
As I said, if you are going for a very exclusive gym with incredibly high standards etc, then maybe a little experience would help you out a little, and we will get into that in a second, but for the vast majority of people reading this article, I can assure you, once you have that level 2 qualification, get out there and start applying!
Can you work in a gym without qualifications?
In certain roles, you can work in a gym without qualifications (reception team, cleaners, sales team, etc), but commercial gyms will not let you work as a gym instructor, fitness coach, or personal trainer without qualifications.
This is usually due to their insurance being invalid if they hire someone who is not fully certified as a trainer or instructor. Should an accident occur whilst they were training a member of the gym and they decided to sue, the gym would be liable for all expenses, which could amount to thousands or even hundreds of thousands of pounds for a serious injury.
If you’re an independent trainer, you can theoretically work without any qualifications (as long as you aren’t working in a gym), as it will be running your own business. but my goodness, I sure wouldn’t recommend it.
Every decent insurance company will ask for proof of your qualifications before they issue you with insurance, and if you don’t have that all in place before you start training people in parks or in their homes and someone decides to sue you, this time it would be you that would be liable.
I’m not aware of many people that would be able to fork out hundreds of thousands of pounds to cover the costs of being sued. It could financially ruin you for decades, if not your entire life.
Long and short of it is that you can work as a trainer without qualifications if you run your own business, but it would be one of the worst ideas you could ever have.
Don’t do it, get qualified and get insured!
How to get gym experience if you need a confidence boost
I understand that just because you might not need the experience to land a job in a gym, you might like some if you don’t feel you currently have the confidence to start writing up programs and taking classes.
It’s a pretty big step to take from going from nothing to taking groups of 20 or so people through a forty-minute gym floor class, so you might want to look into the options I list below to gain some experience before you decide to apply for your first role.
1. Talk to your local counsil gym
Council gyms are generally underfunded and are very keen to take on people looking for work experience in gyms.
You will not be able to train people in these gyms until you have reached your level 2 status, but you will be able to help with the day-to-day running of the gym and speak to the trainers working there to learn more about the industry and the role itself.
If you already have your level 2 status, you will be able to train people, write exercise programs and complete basic assessments and teach gym floor classes.
I would say though, if you are already at this level you may as well look for a paid role instead of opting for work experience as what you will be doing would be exactly the same as if you were employed, so you may as well get paid for your time.
2. Train your friends and family
Training people can be intimidating, and gym floor classes certainly can too, so what better way of honing your skills as a trainer than teaching your friends and family?
You have (hopefully) no fear of ridicule or embarrassment from any small mistakes you make in these sessions, and it will give you a pretty accurate idea of what it is like to do in a full-time role.
It’s a perfect time to learn how to structure a great session, learn to speak to people on a 1-2-1 basis and discover how much can be achieved within different session lengths. How many sets and reps you can complete in a half-hour or one-hour session may be drastically different from what you might have written down in your session program.
You can ask for feedback and constructive criticism to learn from your sessions so that you can be confident when you are taking on your real sessions you are giving the best program possible.
Treat these sessions exactly as you would a paid session, with warm-ups, exercise explanation, and instruction timed rest periods, and stretching sessions. They should be no different from what you would give whilst working professionally as a gym instructor or pt.
3. Send a work experience email request to all your local gyms and health clubs
This is what I did, and it worked especially well for me.
Because I had never stepped into a gym, I didn’t want to feel inferior to the people on my training course that had probably been at least training themselves in a gym for years.
So, I Googled “Best personal training studios in London” (maybe I got a little too excited with this, but “local gyms” would also suffice). Once I had the contact details for all the gyms I liked, I sent them all emails stating that I was looking to start a career in personal training and that I was looking for some work experience.
I must have sent out around 100 emails, but I got one response back that just so happened to be a fairly exclusive personal training studio in Primrose Hill – London.
I was very lucky, as I found that this was a celebrity gym that allowed me to meet some pretty amazing people, but what was really important was that I was taught by professionals how to deliver high-quality training sessions that people will pay top dollar for.
This skyrocketed my confidence, and after completing several weeks of unpaid work experience, I knew that I could walk into my assessments and eventual first job with a lot more confidence than if I had never written and sent those emails out.
Give it a go, I am sure you will get at least a few responses.
4. Search for local gym work placements
Google is a great way of finding local work experience placements.
Search for “work experience placements” to see if any of your local gyms offer this as many do.
If you are just finishing school and are looking to get into the fitness industry and are looking for your two-week work experience placement, this is an excellent time to search for these as there will be plenty available.
If you are looking for this after finishing school, you will be unlikely to have the qualifications required to actually train people, but you will still gain excellent experience and industry knowledge that will help you decide if this is a career for you.
5. Talk to your course provider
Many course providers offer a “guaranteed interview”, however, I think it would be better to ask the course provider if they can offer you some work experience either during or straight after your course.
If the work experience goes well, you could always ask if there are any roles available in that gym.
The reason I think this will be more likely to land you a role is that it is very difficult for a manager to get a proper idea of how well you work in a gym without seeing you do the role at least a little first.
If you can show your enthusiasm for the role by requesting work experience first and then after a month or so asking if there are any jobs going, your manager will have a much better idea as to whether or not you will fit in with the team, etc.
During this work experience, it goes without saying that you should give it you’re all. Turn up early for work, do everything they ask with enthusiasm and show what a great asset you can be to the team.
This will make it much more likely that you will get yourself a job and in the worst-case scenario you will still get excellent experience that you can put on your CV for the next role you apply for.
Not only is it possible to get a job in a gym as an instructor without experience, but it’s also actually pretty easy.
It really comes down to enthusiasm, effort, willingness to learn, and most of all patience.
If you are a confident person, you can get your qualifications and jump straight into a role as a gym instructor in pretty much any gym where there are jobs available.
If you need that little extra bit of confidence to get the ball rolling, I would advise that you use a few of the steps I have outlined above and then go for it.
Whatever route you decide to take, I am sure you will become an excellent gym instructor and I wish you the best of luck!
Go get ’em!
If you enjoyed this article and feel it might help others, please feel free to share it or link back to it.