What expenses can self employed personal trainers claim for?

According to some sources, there are almost 14,000 registered personal trainers in the UK. More than a third of them are women and about a fifth of registered personal trainers are gym employees. Overwhelmingly, personal trainers…

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Last Updated: 5th April 2023

According to some sources, there are almost 14,000 registered personal trainers in the UK. More than a third of them are women and about a fifth of registered personal trainers are gym employees.

Overwhelmingly, personal trainers like to be their own boss. About 80% of personal trainers are freelancers, mostly registered as sole traders (another term for being self-employed). You may be one of them. The highest-earning personal trainers in the UK can command an hourly fee of £100 or more, but £20-£40 an hour is more usual.

It’s a growing market with great opportunities and for fitness and health enthusiasts it’s a dream job, but working for yourself brings legal responsibilities, which for most personal trainers includes reporting their income via Self Assessment. A key question for those considering becoming a self employed personal trainer is – what can you claim for?


You’re entitled to your tax-free Personal Allowance, which is the amount of income that isn’t taxable. Currently, that’s £12,570 a year (unless you earn more than £100,000).

You can also claim a wide range of “allowable expenses”, which are costs that HMRC allows you to deduct from your earnings. Together with your Personal Allowance, they help to lower your profits and tax bill.

As a general rule, an expense is only allowable if it’s “wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the trade, profession or vocation”. You cannot claim for personal expenses through your sole-trader business. If you use something for personal and business reasons, for example, your mobile phone, you can only claim business use as an allowable expense. You must reliably work out your business-use proportion and claim only for that, when you fill out your Self Assessment tax return (SA100) after registering.

Read: 45 expenses you can claim for when you’re a sole trader.


The “wholly and exclusively” for business rule applies to training equipment. Buying skipping ropes, exercise mats or weights, as examples, for use only by clients, would be an allowable expense, as would a stopwatch or even sound equipment and CDs/downloads if you play music during sessions, as long as such items are used wholly and exclusively for business.


If you’re self-employed and provide professional personal training services at a gym, it can be claimed as an allowable expense, providing you don’t use the gym for your own personal exercise. If you also use the gym for your own fitness and training, you can only claim for the business-related proportion of the membership fees, which you’ll need to reliably calculate before claiming. The same rules apply to renting a fitness studio or space in a boxing gym.    


You may need to use your own vehicle for work-related journeys, for which you may be able to claim mileage allowance. This covers your fuel, wear and tear and other vehicle-related expenses. However, if you’re permanently based at a gym/studio and this is your normal place of work, you cannot claim for journeys between your home and the gym. If you work at random locations, so you have no normal place of work, you may be able to claim mileage as follows:

  • 45p per business mile travelled in a car/van for the first 10,000 miles and
  • 25p per business mile thereafter or
  • 24p a mile if you use your motorbike for business journeys.

If you use public transport to travel to meet clients or on any other business-related matter, retain proof, because it too can be claimed as an allowable expense, providing these are not journeys to and from your usual place of work.

Read: What vehicle, travel, hotel and meal expenses can you claim when you’re self-employed.


Although you could be training your clients in a range of environments (eg local parks, gyms, their house or garden), your home may be your operational and admin base, which is cheaper and more convenient than taking on premises. You can claim allowable expenses for operating a home office or business. As well as stationery and phone bills, you may be able to claim for a share of your domestic heating and lighting costs, broadband, rent or mortgage interest payments.


If you use ordinary branded sports clothing or training shoes, the type you could wear outside of work, these are not an allowable expense for tax purposes. However, if you were to buy training apparel bearing your business branding or if you need protective clothing (e.g. if you teach boxing or martial arts), both can be claimed as an allowable expense.


Training that improves skills and knowledge you use in your work can be claimed as an allowable business expense. You can’t claim for training that isn’t related to your business or for training to start or grow a business. Subscriptions for professional journals and trade magazines relevant to personal training, which can grow your knowledge, are tax deductible.

Having to complete and file a Self Assessment tax return is a pain that many personal trainers can do without. We can help. GoSimpleTax offers you an easier way to complete and file your Self Assessment tax return. And to ensure that your tax return is error-free and that you’re claiming all of your allowances, why not get your Self Assessment tax return checked by one of our experts?

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Blog content is for information purposes and over time may become outdated, although we do strive to keep it current. It's written to help you understand your Tax's and is not to be relied upon as professional accounting, tax and legal advice due to differences in everyone's circumstances. For additional help please contact our support team or HMRC.

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