Personal trainer

Okay, I’m a personal trainer… now what can I do with my clients?

The personal trainer’s cheat sheet for client training guidelines

The fitness industry can be a bit of a jungle, especially if you are new to personal training. There are so many personal trainers out there claiming to be specialists in everything from weight-loss to hormonal imbalances, psychology to bodybuilding. But are they actually qualified to do that? And now that you are a personal trainer or fitness professional, are you aware of what your legal guidelines are when training fitness clients?

Female exercising with personal trainer at gym

First, let’s take a look at the different kinds of fitness roles…

Role: Personal Trainer

In a nutshell: Typically works independently either inside a gym, outdoors or at client’s homes or workplace: personal training, one-on-one training, small group fitness sessions, program writing & development, client assessment, monitoring & session supervision, exercise demonstration.

Minimum Qualification: Certificate 4 in Fitness + Senior First Aid & CPR

Role: Gym Instructor

In a nutshell: Works within a fitness or community facility and reports to a manager (though not always supervised). Provides tailored exercise programs, assessments & supervision to fitness clients as well as providing supervision of a fitness facility.

Minimum Qualification: Certificate 3 in Fitness: Gym Instructor + Senior First Aid & CPR

As a personal trainer, there is so much you can do to help change your fitness client’s lives.

Role: Group Exercise Instructor

In a nutshell: Delivers group exercise sessions designed for a range of ages/fitness levels (classes aren’t tailored to individuals) and may be freestyle, pre-choreographed or circuit style. Typically instructs sessions within group exercise studios as part of a regular timetable and reports to manager of fitness facility.

Minimum Qualification: Certificate 3 in Fitness +Group Exercise Speciality + Senior First Aid & CPR


Once you have one of the above qualifications, you will need to obtain insurance before you can legally train any clients. Your registration must be renewed regularly and you will be required to participate in professional development courses relating to personal training to renew your insurance.  This might seem like a hassle, but the best personal trainers keep on educating themselves year after year, not just for personal development but for the good of their business!


Okay, so you’ve done all the tough stuff like studying and filling out insurance paperwork, which means you’re a qualified fitness professional! So what are you allowed to do with your fitness clients? If you’re a qualified and registered Personal Trainer with a Certificate 4 in Fitness you should know all about health screening, first aid, fitness assessment, program development and more… but are you aware of your limitations?

Personal trainer helping

Personal Trainers Are Not Allowed To:

  • Provide nutritional advice outside of basic healthy eating information and nationally endorsed nutritional standards and guidelines
  • Provide therapeutic treatment or independent rehabilitative exercise prescription
  • Provide independent exercise prescription for high risk clients
  • Run diagnostic tests or procedures
  • Provide sports coaching
  • Provide psychological Counselling

Some of this may come as a shock to you because there are so many personal trainers currently creating customised meal plans, giving specialised dietary advice, acting as professional counsellors or creating independent rehabilitation plans… but this is a no-go-zone! Allied health professionals are to be called on for any of this kind of specialised help, so refer to them first if your client has any requests or challenges that are out of the ordinary.

Moving forward

As a personal trainer, there is so much you can do to help change your fitness client’s lives. You’re ready to start building a rewarding career in the fitness industry, but there are also heaps of options for further study which would then allow you to increase your list of “Can Do’s” when training your fitness clients.


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