Paul Swainson

Job title Head of Personal Training

Employer Future Fit Training

Interested in a career in personal training?

The health and fitness industry is growing on a daily basis, with new and exciting jobs and career opportunities arising regularly. However, one job which is incredibly unlikely to be replaced is the job of a personal trainer.

We spoke to Paul Swainson about his job of training personal trainers. He spoke of what makes a good personal trainer, where to start and offered advice to those looking to make it in the industry.

“I love the variety this role provides.”

What is your job at Future Fit?

My current role is Head of Personal Training (PT) at Future Fit Training (FFT) which is an award-winning training company, offering courses, qualifications and guidance to people who want to embark upon a career in the health and fitness industry.

Future Fit specialise in Personal Training courses, Pilates courses and Nutrition courses but offer training in many other fitness related subjects too. For the past two years we have been awarded Training Provider of the Year by ukactive, a leading representative body for the fitness industry.

I have worked with Future Fit for 12 years in total, the last six as head of PT, and I love the variety this role provides.

“I represent the business and deliver talks”

What are your main responsibilities?

Overall, my primary goal is to ensure we are consistently the top provider of Personal Training  courses in the UK. I do this by developing the personal training courses, representing the company at external events and keeping in touch with industry trends and other professionals.

Personal training course development involves ensuring our personal training content is cutting edge and the personal training tutors are world class. It is also important the personal training content is delivered in the most appropriate medium whether online or face-to-face.

I also attend industry events where I represent the business and deliver talks as well as writing for industry specific publications. Finally, I keep on top of the health and fitness industry, review current trends within the industry and identify new areas we can work in and new people, brands or leisure centres in which we can offer our services.

“No two days are the same”

What do you enjoy most about your role within Future Fit?

I was lucky enough to turn my hobby into a job as a personal trainer and I love the variety that comes with the role with personal trainer jobs no two days are the same. I also enjoy coming up with ideas, implementing them and being able to see a project through to completion.

“The reputation we are building in the industry as a whole”

Do you have any stand out moments from your career as Head of Personal Training?

Future Fit won an award for Innovative Training Programme of the Year in 2014. I co-wrote the submission and did the presentation to a very distinguished panel including the CEO of CIMSPA; The Chartered Institute for Management, Sport and Physical Activity which is the professional development body for our sector.

The biggest achievement is the reputation we are building in the industry as a whole and knowing that a lot of what I do on a day to day basis contributes to this.

“A lot of competition from other training providers”

What are the biggest challenges in your role at Future Fit, or facing the personal training industry generally?

The biggest challenge we face is convincing people that to train to be a Personal Trainer is not something you can do quickly or cheaply. To train to be a personal trainer requires an in-depth course and high-quality training.

Future Fit have a lot of competition from other training providers that offer fast track, low-cost courses which provide you with a qualification quickly, but which don’t provide you with the skills you need for a successful career in personal training. We believe in this so strongly that we publish an annual report called ‘Raising the Bar.’ The report is driven by the opinions of employers and calls for the industry to work together to drive up standards of training and education for fitness professionals. Personal trainers then feel they are equipped with the skills they need to work with a demanding client base and as a result, seeks to further professionalise the industry.  This report is also backed by the Chartered Institute and ukactive, our industry association body.


“Funding being poured into sports within the UK.”

What jobs as a personal trainer are there in your industry for young people?

Overall it is a good industry to become involved in as it is continually growing. There is a definite government drive to improve the nation’s health and increase levels of physical activity with more and more funding being poured into sports within the UK.

Simultaneously there is also a focus on wellness as a trend and recognising that it is important to have a healthy and fit workforce with a desire to prevent rather than cure. As a result more and more jobs as a personal trainer or similar within the health and fitness industry are becoming available.

With more and more money and investment being made into sports, it means that companies are able to expand and grow. If you are looking for work experience or advice, it is always worth contact the best in the business – here’s a list of just a few we think are great.

“I don’t think I could have done a more appropriate degree.”

How has your career panned out to this point so far?

I studied for a psychology degree which initially I believed had nothing to do with the health and fitness sector however I don’t think I could have done a more appropriate degree. After graduating in 2002, I studied for a personal training qualification and got my first job as a gym instructor for York council.

I spent a few years self-employed working jobs as a personal trainer in major gym chains before becoming a freelance mobile personal trainer for five years. I also began to branch out and had a job as a personal trainer manager to recruit and mentor new personal trainers as well as working with Future Fit as a tutor on their personal trainer courses. I began working with Future Fit in 2006 and was offered my current role as Head of Personal Training in 2012 after just under 10 years in the industry.

“An interest in health and fitness is required”

How should people go about getting a job as a personal trainer?

I wouldn’t be able to get to where I am today without previously being a practising personal trainer who has built up experience both in and out of the gym environment. My prior role of delivering fitness courses and qualifications for Future Fit has provided me with the skills and expertise I need to be able to advise on how we can continually improve our personal training courses. This has ensured we are always delivering the best products to our students.

It also goes without saying that an interest in health and fitness is required as it makes you more driven and inspired at work if you are working in an area that you enjoy.

“Switched-on, self-disciplined, quite creative”

What characteristics should someone training to be a Personal Trainer Manager possess?

This is not a job you can do on auto-pilot so the ideal candidate would be switched-on, self-disciplined, quite creative and have the ability to project manage. Communication skills are also crucial as a lot of what I do relies on being able to communicate both my own and others needs. Finally, the job as a personal trainer manager can be demanding at times so the ability to simultaneously juggle a few tasks at once whilst also fire fighting any issues is a plus!

Paul outlines the importance of planning for the future and ensuring that those looking to break into the industry know the appropriate steps to reaching their goals. Read our articles on how to set goals here, and also what you should/shouldn’t put on your CV here.

“Learn as much as you can about running a business”

If you had one bit of advice you would tell your younger self, what would it be?

My advice is aimed at those wishing to start a successful career as a Personal Trainer. Prior to starting out in the fitness industry, it is fundamental to learn as much as you can about running a business as well as influencing behaviour change in people.

One of the biggest reasons people drop out of the fitness business is because they know how to exercise and eat right but not how to inspire others to do so; the job as a personal trainer means working with people so it’s crucial to be able to understand and communicate with your clients!

“Keep yourself and your skills up-to-date”

What was the best advice you were given?

It is quite normal to feel overwhelmed by what you don’t know. There is a so much information out there relating to the fitness industry, especially on social platforms such as Instagram. It can be difficult to know what to focus on versus what is rubbish. That’s why when you have a job as a personal trainer it’s so important to keep yourself and your skills up-to-date by reading articles and blogs, attending ongoing training and monitoring trends in the sector – the fitness industry changes at an alarming rate and today’s personal trainer needs to ensure that they can keep up!

Being involved in personal training is an interactive, engaging and rewarding job. If you have great people skills and love the gym and fitness, being a personal trainer may seem like the perfect job. For more information from those in the fitness industry, check out our other profiles here and the interviews on our YouTube channel here