Fitness News

Sorting the Shortage of Female Personal Trainers

By 4th March 2015 4 Comments

Go into any gym and take a look at the staff notice board. More than likely, you’ll find that the majority of the personal trainers are male. It’s a similar story when you start searching online – there is a prevalence of websites for male PTs, but female personal trainers seem to be in short supply.

It seems as if women personal trainers are a little like the mythical unicorns of the fitness industry, and although there are increased numbers taking up sports coaching, the odds are still in favour of men. To be precise, figures from the Register of Exercise Professionals show that out of the total 13,770 registered personal trainers in the UK, just 38% are women.

Readdressing this gender balance is not only key to growing the sports and exercise industry, it’s also key to getting new clients through the door. No matter if you’re blessed with XX or XY chromosomes, more female personal trainers are beneficial to us all, so let’s get to the crux of the issue…

It’s a Man’s World
When someone is searching for a Personal Trainer, they want someone that can push them to their limits. In many people’s minds – both male and female – a woman personal trainer is seen as a soft-touch, and perhaps doesn’t have the strict no-nonsense nature that a man has. The truth of the matter is that women are just as demanding as their male counterparts, and can push both genders to achieve their absolute best. Take Train Manchester co-owner and CrossFit Champion, Samantha Briggs as an excellent example of this – some of her clients have been trained and coached to go on to become winning CrossFit and weightlifting athletes themselves.


In a similar vein, a lot of men find it uncomfortable to be told how to do something that is traditionally seen as manly, such as lifting weights, by someone smaller, lighter and, well, female. It can seem embarrassing to ask a woman to spot you on the bench or request some bulking tips, but those female personal trainers are as qualified – if not more so – than the men. That coach that is currently teaching yoga? More than likely she also does her preacher curls and leg presses, so never be afraid to ask a female PT for help. She’s got your back.

When it comes to gym-going ladies, there’s the problem of comparison. Many ladies going to the gym for the first time already have thoughts that they’re being judged, ranked and compared, and a fit female PT is probably the hardest thing for them to be compared to. Instead, these ladies will opt for a male trainer who they can’t be compared against. The reality is that no one is making any kind of comparison because they’re too busy listening to Metallica and trying to grind out their last rep of lat pulldowns, but it is hard to convince someone otherwise once they have that idea in their head.

What do all of these things have in common? They’re all based on perception – female PTs are seen as soft, underqualified, unknowledgeable or as some sort of threat. These thought processes result in less demand for female personal trainers, less training courses targeted at them, and many women not seeing the fitness industry as a viable career option. However the benefits of female personal trainers is immeasurable, so it is important to set these perceptions straight.

Finding the Equilibrium
In order to readdress the balance, the ladies need a chance to step up to the PT plate and really show off their credentials. One of the reasons women are often seen as underqualified or unknowledgeable, is because they don’t brag about their accomplishments as much as men do!

Female personal trainers shouldn’t be afraid to show off a little. If you’ve got a 130kg deadlift, put it in your staff bio. If you’re a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, state it as a qualification on your website. If you’ve completed a Tough Mudder in record time, let people know. The benefit of boasting is that it reassures potential clients (and employers) that you are qualified to help any gender to achieve similar goals.

One of the benefits for women is that a female personal trainer is going to be more in-tune with their body. From emotional eating, to the effects of menstruation; from shifting the baby weight, to fitting into those skinny jeans – female personal trainers have been there, done that and come out the otherside smiling. Similarly, male PTs often underestimate how much their women clients can do or are scared to recommend lifting heavier weights, but a woman PT is better able to understand the right weights, progression and intensity needed for a fellow female.

Another benefit that female personal trainers provide is adding diversity. With sports, exercise and fitness being heavily male dominated, female personal trainers not only add some colour to the coaching community, they bring with them a wider variety of clientele too. A great example of this is, Yoanna Zervides. The UKBFF South East Bodyfitness Champion and personal trainer, coaches at a male-dominated muscle gym. However, once word caught on that she was training amongst the ranks at Maximums Gym and Fitness Centre, she got an influx of new clients and the gym got 15% more female members. Everyone’s a winner!


A further advantage to female personal trainers, is that they remove a lot of the intimidation element. For those who may have never exercised before and find the thought of a super-buff male PT barking at them a tad on the scary side, female PTs offer a more enticing and approachable aspect. The benefit of this is not only giving new clients a friendly welcome, it helps to educate other PTs on how to change and adapt their approach for different people.

Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars
The most important factor for anyone choosing a personal trainer is that they’re well qualified, regardless of their gender. However, what we in the fitness industry need to ensure is that both male and female PTs are actually available for clients to choose from.

By giving the ladies a little room to show off their qualifications, skills and talents, we are not only opening the doors for more clients and increasing our diversity, we’re also creating a safe and sociable fitness environment. By working together, we can grow the number of female personal trainers significantly, and as a result ensure that business stays booming for everyone.

Share your opinions on female personal trainers and how you’re celebrating International Women’s Day below! 

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Im a personal trainer and a personal performance coach., so I work with the mind and the body to gain over al fitness and wellbeing. Yes I see so many men doing mad things in the gym. I have given up suggesting a better more effective way as they find it so difficult to respond in a positive way. Get the egos out of your training session and work more effectively with the support of a female trainer. Even women give me strange looks when I am lifting weights. Education is everything.

    • Omar Thompson says:

      We agree Jacqui! Sometimes ego’s do get in the way. Keep lifting those weights! 🙂 Omar

  • There are a few other reasons not mentioned here as to why female personal trainers are not doing as well as their male counterparts and it is really important to re-dress the gender balance.

    1. Traditionally (well in Australia anyway) the majority of rental roles are full-time, not part-time. Many females prefer part-time work, especially if they are caring for children etc. Most of the part-time hours that they are caring for children occur between the hours of 4-8pm, which, let’s face it are the peak hours at the fitness studio, so it makes them difficult to work those hours also. A lot of roles ask for full-time rent, which female personal trainers are not willing to pay, so many are now resorting to working from home or from their local park.

    2. Young female PT’s can feel intimidated (not saying they all do) and can find it hard to break into the market if they are seen as the youngest and smallest recruit on the team. Many are threatened by the experience and skills of more experienced trainers. Not saying that all males are more experienced or better trainers, but by default, men are taught to strut their best assets, which is something that is uncomfortable for many female personal trainers.

    3. I think the third and final issue is that of “asking for the sale”. I think most trainers struggle with this, both male and female, however I do think overall females can have a higher level of empathy and compassion and are not as strong negotiators are males, because this is not something that is taught to them in a business environment (yes, this is a generalisation and yes, I do have female trainers that work for me that don’t struggle one bit with this)… but I think businesses focusing on training staff in these areas, using systems like NPE’s Auto Closer system, will help female staff “break through” to the next level where they can really perform at their optimum.

    With all the above said, our female only PT studio in Australia really has done amazing to grow fast through having great female trainers. Our females feel extremely comfortable only dealing with female staff, and I have also attracted a following of Muslim women wanting to work out in a private and safe environment.

    Female trainers can work in this industry as well as men, no question about it, but they are having to find “smarter” ways of doing the work and working within the confines, especially those who have children to take care of.

    By the way, I think this can be the perfect job for women wanting to stay at home with their kids and supplement their husbands incomes, providing their husbands are happy to share the slack and take up looking after the kids once they get home from their 8-5 job, so that their wives can then go to work in the evenings 🙂

    Just some thoughts on this interesting article. Would love to get the weigh in of other female personal trainers.

    • Omar Thompson says:

      Thanks for the extra points Danielle! We agree that NPE is a great platform for PT’s to break through.

      It’s great to hear that your female only studio is blossoming too – are you seeing a rise in female PT’s in Australia?