How to Become a Personal Trainer in Dubai

Becoming a personal trainer will change your life. But changing career or starting a new business is a daunting undertaking. Once you’ve decided that this is the career change for you, here’s what you need to know…

Fitness is huge in the UAE. The industry was worth $360 million last year. It’s also relatively unregulated, which brings a host of opportunities and challenges for someone starting out. On one hand it means you’ll be less burdened by admin than if you were changing career into another industry, but it also means there are a lot of unqualified and inexperienced operators on the scene. However, if you’re serious about establishing a new career in fitness and take the time to set yourself up legally and professionally, you can distinguish yourself from the cowboys out there and build a solid, reputable and profitable business.

1. Get the Right Qualifications

If you want to become a personal trainer, you’ll need much more than a six-pack and working knowledge of a treadmill to train clients. The entry-level qualification is the Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training. This qualification will give you the training to work with fitness clients on a one-to-one basis in a gym or as a freelance personal trainer.

Typically, this is a part-time course which runs over a number of weekends and is followed up with a case study and exams. Because it’s part-time, it’s possible to study for it while you’re still working in your current job, reducing your financial exposure while you’re training.

Before you sign up to a course, make sure it’s recognised in the UAE and in whichever countries you think your fitness career may take you to. UAE REPs (see #2) has a list of approved training providers on its website.

2. Register with REPs UAE

Once you’ve got a fitness qualification, you need to apply to become a member of the UAE’s Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs UAE). REPs is a public register listing all fitness professionals in Dubai who hold approved qualifications. Dubai Sports Council has said that membership of REPs is mandatory for all fitness professionals, and besides the legality any client who has done their homework will be looking for a REPs-registered personal trainer. Membership to REPs shows that you are properly trained and are committed to keeping up-to-date with new, innovative and safe fitness practices.

3. Get your first client!

Once you’ve got your Level 3 Diploma, you need to gain experience as a personal trainer. There’s no way to do this other than to start working with real clients. “Securing and training your first client will always be nerve wracking,” says Empiric tutor, Tamara Walpole, “But it’s unavoidable! The more you upskill and hone your craft, the easier and more natural it becomes.” Working at a big brand gym will give you great exposure to clients. It’s a great way to win your first clients and build an initial client list.

4. Get a personal training job in a gym

Not only do gyms give you great access to new clients but, as a newly qualified personal trainer, you can learn a lot from more experienced colleagues and your Fitness Manager.

Having the right qualification is a big advantage when applying for personal trainer jobs in gyms, but the biggest challenge is finding out about job opportunities. Websites like Indeed, Dubizzle and Linked In are good places to start your job hunt, but the way to hear about the best jobs first is to build a solid network in the industry.

Many jobs are filled via word-of-mouth and are never even advertised. Social networks (see #5) and attending industry events are great ways to grow your professional network so that you’re in people’s minds when vacancies arise.

When it comes to the interview, dress professionally, do your research into the company interviewing you and always have questions for the interviewer at the end. Even though you’re are applying for a fitness role, don’t make the mistake of turning up to the interview in sportswear!

5. Start your own personal training business in Dubai

Of course, if you want to become a personal trainer, you don’t have to work in a gym. If you’re ready to set up your own fitness business in the UAE, the process is relatively straightforward. First, you need to obtain a professional licence through one of the UAE’s free zones offering sports services, like Fujairah Creative City. The next step is to apply for a permit from Dubai’s General Authority of Youth & Sports Welfare to enable you offer personal training services in Dubai. There are numerous companies who offer services to help you through the red tape, so ask fellow PTs for recommendations.

6. Get on Instagram

It’s probably not surprising that photo-based Instagram is the most popular social network for the image-conscious fitness industry in Dubai. If you hope to generate new clients and make connections within the industry, then Instagram is an essential business tool. There are lots of free online tutorials about using Instagram for business, so make the most of them and craft your Instagram page into something that appeals to your ideal client base and truly reflects the kind of business that you want to become renowned for.

7. Diversify your offering

Once you’re all set up legally and professionally, and have a couple of regular clients under your belt, it’s time to focus on growing your business. Teaching group classes or running group-training sessions is a great way to widen your exposure and grow your reputation. Also consider specialising in niche areas to create your own USP (unique selling point). Training courses can help you further your skills, develop special interests and enable you to cater to specific populations.

Looking for a personal trainer course in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or the UAE? Train with the best! Awarded “Fitness Training Provider of the Year 2017” by the UAE’s FIT Awards, Empiric provides high-quality fitness education and is committed to supporting you through your studies, exams and future career.

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