If you have trained as a personal trainer you are probably self-employed or looking to go self-employed, this can offer a whole range of freedom financially and physically. 

There are a few processes you need to go through in order to legally register yourself as self-employed. 

1. Registration

If you want to be considered as self- employed you need to register yourself with HMRC (HM Revenue and Customs). This will calculate the correct about of income tax and national insurance you need to pay. You can do this online at: https://www.gov.uk/new-business-register-for-tax however if you have been previously self-employed you will need to submit a CWF1 form. 

Once your application has been approved (this usually takes 10 working days) you will receive an activation code that you can use to log into your personal Government Gateway account and complete the process. 

Ideally, you need to register as self-employed as soon as you start your business but no later than the 5th October in the businesses second tax year. If you are late to registering you will attract penalties, the severity of which can depend on the length and nature of the delay. 

2. Fill in tax returns 

Once you have successfully registered as self-employed you are responsible for and submitting your own tax returns. You have to do this twice a year; 31st Jan and 31st July. Your tax return will consist of your income and expenditure which HMRC will then calculate the amount of tax you owe. You can submit your tax forms online via Government Gateway or by post in paper form. 

If you are self-employed you should get in the habit of recording the details of all your financial transitions, issuing invoices and receipts. You should keep receipts from purchases and save all your bank statements. The best and easiest way to do this is to put aside time each week or month for bookkeeping. There are many websites that can help you with bookkeeping. Some of our favourites are:

If you are self-employed you can consider hiring an accountant or tax adviser who can help you prepare your tax returns. While you will have to pay for these services an accountant or tax advisor can help you identify any tax-deductible expenses and because they are qualified in this area so they can save you a lot of valuable time. 

3. Open a business account 

For tax purposes, you should keep your personal and business finances separate. Creating a separate bank account for all business-related transactions is the easiest way to do this. Many banks offer business accounts that provide useful services such as low-interest overdrafts and access to small business advisors. 

4. Create a brand

If you are self-employed it is a good idea to create a brand, even if it is just your name. By doing this it can help your clients begin to recognise your brand and will add value by making you seem more professional. If you do this you can register your brand name at Intellectual Property Office (IPO) this prevents other people from using it. 

5. Insurance

Having insurance as a personal trainer is really important since it will limit personal financial liability if you have an accident or injury. 

There are two main types of insurance for self-employed people, these are: 

  • Public Liability insurance 

Public liability insurance covers you (as a trainer) should someone be injured as a result of the business or if any third party property is damaged by you or the client. 

  • Professional liability Insurance 

This covers you against alleged professional negligence 

If you run your business without the right insurance it will mean that if an incident should occur and legal action is taken against you, the costs will be your responsibility. If a serious injury has happened this could be as much as millions of pounds. 

Extra things you can do: 

Register with REP and/or CIMSPA

REPs (Register for Exercise Professionals) launched in 2002 is the largest independent public register for the Health and Fitness Industry in the UK. REPs were created to protect the public from trainers who don’t have the correct qualifications. It ensures that anyone who is registered has all the appropriate qualifications and has the knowledge and skills to train clients. 

CIMSPA (Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity) is the professional development body for the UK’s sport and physical activity sector. They provide leadership, support, and empowerment for professionals who work in sport and physical activity, they are a single unified voice for the sector. 

While it may be scary to register and trade as self-employed it is actually very straightforward. Once you have established yourself as self-employed you can enjoy the many advantages which include no earnings ceiling, flexibility, and independence. Being employed can be the easier route to go down but it can be much less rewarding for you.