How To Become A Personal Trainer | Level 2 Gym Instructor Tips

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The secret is out – the past few months I’ve been working hard around my job and blog to qualify as a Level 2 Gym Instructor! It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years but was worried how I’d be able to fit the work in – but really it’s a completely manageable course as long as you’re willing to devote a couple of hours to it.

I did mine with Lifetime Training and will continue on to my Level 3 with them (I’ll cover the decision-making process for the fitness provider in another post) so I thought I’d cover the process on my blog for anyone else who’s feeling nervous about doing the course. As ever, any further questions please feel free to comment here, on my social media, or send me an email, but for now read on for my tips on becoming a Level 2 Gym Instructor.

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The practical course is 5 days long, so prepare to give up weekends or work days

My gym instructor practical course was over two full weekends, followed by my assessment, which was on a Sunday three weeks after my course. Yes, that means giving up weekends or booking time off work, but think of the longer term here – a couple of weekends are nothing when you look at the grand scheme of your career ahead.

Plus, the course is really interesting (much more interesting than the booklets make out) so it really doesn’t feel like you’re giving up anything to be there.

level 2 gym instructor tips

Make a friend as soon as you arrive

There’s a lot of partner work during the practical, so it makes sense to get friendly with someone as soon as you arrive so you can be partners. You will lead your partner through a personal training session – or to give it its official term, a ‘gym instruction’ session – so a warm-up on a cardiovascular machine, some warm-up stretches, the main part of the cardiovascular workout, a weight machine workout, a free weight workout, some core work, then a cooldown on a cardiovascular machine followed by some post-workout stretches.

It all sounds pretty simple, but communication is key throughout, so it makes sense to get to know your partner and ensure you’re on good  terms. I asked my partner for constructive feedback and I gave her the same – remember everyone can pass and win, so there’s no need for any competition.

Familiarise yourself with weights and cardio machines beforehand

These aren’t things we really use in the gym anymore (or at least, I don’t), but both cardio and weights machines make up a good chunk of the practical exam. There’s a list of equipment that gym instructors are allowed to use, which include the treadmill, the rower, and the cross-trainer on the cardio side, plus the lat pull-down, leg press, and seated row for weight machines.

Get to know how to set up the machine, which muscles it works (you’ll have to state this in your assessment) and any key coaching points for each – this will set you up nicely for the actual practical and ensure you’re confident when it comes to the assessment.

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Ask your tutor as much as you can!

This is one of the few opportunities during a personal training course that you’ll have face-to-face time with a tutor, so make the most of it. Our tutor Nik had a lot of knowledge and experience in the fitness industry, so it was really useful to pick his brains and have him elaborate on things, and give what was in the workbooks a real-world spin.

We covered everything from faddy diets to what you should charge for, so don’t be afraid to speak up and ask – everyone else in the classroom is at the same stage in their journey as you.

Be confident

For the main assessment, be as confident as you can be, and don’t be afraid to give coaching cues. The main feedback from our tutor for the entire class was that we needed to be vocal with our clients – correcting form, encouraging them, and making them feel comfortable, and this comes across well when you’re confident. Yes, you can fake it a little, but making sure you know your stuff inside out always helps too!

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The Level 2 paperwork…

You’re provided a number of workbooks to complete during the course, which cover your Level 2 Gym Instructor practical, Anatomy & Physiology, and Core Units, which includes Health, Safety & Welfare, Know How To Support Clients Who Take Part in Exercise, and Principles of Exercise, Fitness & Health.

Much of our practical paperwork was done on the course, with only around an hour or two of homework. Anatomy & Physiology is really interesting and should be fairly easy

Core Units is unfortunately pretty dull, though is necessary – it’s all about customer service, diversity and equality, and health and safety. For this you just have to grind through it and remember it’s all for the greater good. Once you’ve finished that and achieved the 100% pass rate (if you don’t do that first time, you just get referred – not failed) you’ve finished the first stage of becoming a Personal Trainer!


And then you’re a fully qualified Level 2 Gym Instructor! In my next post of this series I’ll cover how I chose this course, and how I’m paying for it, which were my two biggest concerns. I’ve not covered what you can do with this qualification here; you can work within leisure centres or gyms as a gym instructor, although most people continue onto their Level 3 Personal Training for the best job prospects. Let me know if you have any more questions or have had different experiences of this process!

With thanks to Matt Bester Photography for my fab photos – drop him a line if you’d like a shoot in the Manchester area.

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1 Comment

  1. November 21, 2017 / 8:06 pm

    Great tips – confidence is key like you say – both in your approach and abilities! If you’ve nailed everything else, confidence can often be the final hurdle so work on it early!

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