Be in the Know

Elevate your industry knowledge with PT articles and insights crafted by experienced industry experts

A personal trainer showing a client an app on an iPad tablet.
A personal trainer showing a client an app on an iPad tablet.

The Role and Duties of a Personal Trainer

6 minute read

As one of the most common and popular professions in the sector, personal trainers play an important role in the health and fitness industry. It is key to recognise that the role of a personal trainer does change a lot depending on certain circumstances, such as where they are working, who they are employed by, the type of personal training qualifications they hold, and of course, the individual needs of the client.

So, what is the role of a personal trainer then?

Broadly speaking, most PT’s will design and deliver fitness training sessions to their clients, and these are often gym-based. However, many PTs are becoming more and more flexible with where they work, training clients in other settings such as their homes, outdoors, or online.

The role of a personal trainer

Personal trainers will usually work with their clients to set goals and track their progress. Furthermore, providing ongoing support, motivation, encouragement and advice on how to stay on course to achieving these targets are also key features of a personal trainer’s role.

They will almost always design bespoke training programmes that support whatever objectives their clients are trying to achieve. It is here where trainers need to develop excellent knowledge of anatomy, physiology, movement science, and the effects that different training systems have on the body. These client sessions will be mostly in person, making sure that they are exercising safely and effectively and that they are getting the most out of their training.

These responsibilities highlight the importance of education when it comes to choosing personal training courses, as not every PT qualification is equal. PTs need to be experts in their field to fulfil their duties, so taking the time to research your potential course and it’s contents can be pivotal to your future success.

The different roles of a personal trainer normally come down to what the client needs and what they can afford.


Some PTs will provide nutrition advice and guidance to their clients to support their healthy eating and exercise goals. This is usually fine, providing that it’s only general advice and healthy eating recommendations that they’re providing. If they want to develop their nutrition knowledge and offer more specialised advice, they would need to undertake a basic nutrition training course.

It’s generally considered beyond the scope of professional practice for any personal trainer to provide meal plans or any specialist nutrition support, especially with clients that have any underlying health conditions (e.g. pre diabetic). Strictly speaking, you need to be a qualified Dietician or a Registered Nutritionist to provide these services. That said, many personal trainers do provide more detailed nutrition advice alongside training their clients. Usually, this will look something like a body transformation course, where coaches work with their clients to deliver drastic changes in body composition (e.g., reducing body fat and increasing muscularity).

Lifestyle support:

Providing advice and support on a range of lifestyle factors is another integral part of a PT’s role.

Specifically, providing support with managing stress, improving hydration, raising energy levels, and sleeping better are common areas that trainers will support their clients with.

Today, most people don’t move frequently enough throughout the day to support their health and wellbeing, and even those who exercise regularly often have generally low levels of physical activity. So, personal trainers play an important role in helping their clients to raise their general levels of physical activity, which in-turn helps to improve other aspects of their life, like lowering pain levels or increasing energy.

Fitness assessments:

Assessing fitness and function are other key aspects of a personal trainer’s role.

Here, trainers administer health and fitness assessments with their clients to establish baseline levels of fitness from which future progress can be measured. These assessments can also be useful for identifying underlying health conditions that a client may not have previously been aware of, like high blood pressure, for example.

As the nation and the world become more sedentary, functional fitness is becoming more and more important.

Many desk workers and inactive people are literally losing their ability to move properly because they don’t move often enough. Or when they do move, it causes them pain because they have lost the ability to stabilise key areas of their body especially the core.

In response to this, many specialist personal trainers are now leading the way in functional training. Firstly performing functional movement screening with their clients to identify their needs, they can then design specialist programmes that help their clients to restore optimal movement patterns.

Wellness and wellbeing support:

Health, wellness, and wellbeing are areas of the active leisure sector that are already expanding rapidly, and are tipped to be the biggest growth areas over the next decade or so.

Wellness is essentially about performing on a daily basis, a range of habits that lead to better physical, mental and emotional health. Where wellness is concerned, the goal is to thrive, not just survive!

Many PTs are actively involved in the wellness movement because they have the right foundational training, skills, experience, and qualities.

Exercise referral:

Here in the UK, around 40% of the adult population are living with at least one long term health condition and most of these people rely on the NHS to support their health needs. This is where personal trainers who have completed their exercise referral course comes in.

It is now widely accepted that the benefits of taking part in physical activity far outweigh the risks for people with long-term health conditions, even those with multiple conditions. As a result, there are several specialist personal training roles which have proven to be successful

This agenda is high on the government’s strategy for improving the health of the nation and reducing the burden on the NHS. That’s why there are a number of government funded initiatives across the UK aimed at tackling health inequalities and improving health outcomes.

Many of these services, which include exercise referral schemes, integrated wellbeing practices, weight management services, employ specialist personal trainers to deliver key parts of the health and wellbeing services.

Ultimately, personal trainers are tasked with supporting and educating their clients on their health and fitness journey, whatever that may be, so that they can live better and longer lives!


Back to articles

Subscribe to our newsletter

And get the fast-paced world of personal training delivered straight to your inbox every week

Great news, you're on the list...

Back to top