How to create a successful personal training business

Thursday, July 28, 2016

People often ask me if I would ever want to do personal training full time.  There is so much that goes into being a successful PT, especially if you want to be self-employed.  The folks at ICS Learn have provided a few tips here to consider if you are thinking about becoming a personal trainer.  If you have any additional questions about PT as a career, shoot me an email or leave a comment below.

If you’re thinking of running your own person training business, it’s likely because you dream of
being your own boss. It’s an appealing prospect – no one looking over your shoulder, setting
targets, or declining your three month mini-sabbatical to the Mediterranean.  However, the main pain of running your own business is also not having a boss – no one to take responsibility, deal with boring finances and schedules, and make sure everything is ticking over smoothly. That means that if you’re planning to launch a personal training company, it’s not enough to have a range of personal training courses under your belt – you have to be business-savvy in order to succeed in this business.
The same applies to PTs just starting out in their careers. After all, being a self-employed
personal trainer is essentially running your own small business (even if you are the boss,
accountant, secretary and canteen lady rolled into one).  So what should you consider before starting up your personal training business?

1. Your Business Plan 

Your business plan is your blueprint for success. If you don’t know where you want to go, how
will you get there?

Define your goals with concrete Vision and Mission statements.

 Vision: how do you see your company? How would you like others to see your

 Mission: what are you going to do to make your vision happen?
On a smaller scale, define realistic goals and the time period in which you want to achieve
them. That way, you can celebrate lots of little successes along the way until you’ve fulfilled
your ultimate ambitions.

2. Location, Location, Location

Analyse the feasibility of starting up a personal training company where you live. If there aren’t
many PTs working in your area, is this because of low demand or have you stumbled on a gap in
the market? If it’s the former, consider investing in high quality marketing to interest people in
what you do.

If there are already plenty of personal trainers in your location, business must be good, but
you’ll have lots of competition. In order to stand out from the crowd, try to find a niche. Who
do you enjoy or excel at training most? New mums? Runners? Older people? Gymnasts?
Geriatric mums who cartwheel marathons? Pour your resources into appealing to those people.
Soon, they’ll seek you out.

3. Availability of Financial Resources 

If your plan is to keep things small-scale, you can work at a gym or fitness centre – this will give
you credibility in the early stages of your career and allow you to learn from other PTs. The
centre will take a significant portion of your earnings, but there are generally good benefits as
gyms want to hold on to their best staff.

However, if you’re ready to go big, you’ve got a lot of financial planning to do. You may have to
look for investors who are willing to finance your company in return for equity.

If you’re going to build your own facility, how much will this cost? Would it be smarter to rent a
space on a long-term lease instead? Do you have a big space in your home which you can
convert into a fitness area and office for only the cost of the renovation? Whatever option you
go for, one of your biggest expenditures will be fitness equipment – budget accordingly.

Running a personal training company requires a steady source of capital especially in the first
year of operation. This should be carefully reflected in your budget plan. You have to consider
one-time expenses and recurring expenses, especially on the operational side of things.  Consider your monthly utilities, the remuneration for your staff, if any, and the cost of running
an office (including supplies).

4. Manpower Needs 

While you might be doing most of the work at the beginning, there will likely be some things
that you’re not cut out for (hello, taxes!). You’ll be more efficient and successful if you can
avoid getting bogged down in menial tasks.

If you’re a one person operation, there’s a huge range of apps that can help you keep on top of
schedules, accounts and plans.  If you’re aiming bigger, you might consider hiring non-PT staff to help your business run smoothly. For example, you might need the services of an accountant to make sure that all of your financials are in proper order. If you plan to run your own centre, you may want
maintenance and/or custodial personnel to make sure your facilities and the equipment are
running smoothly.

You could hire a dedicated marketer or get in touch with an advertising agency to make sure
you’re reaching as many potential clients as you can. You might also want to consider getting a
personal assistant or a secretary to help you with your scheduling, signing up new clients, and
managing accounts.

5. Hours of Operation 

Understand that your clients will generally be scheduling your services outside of normal
working hours – think 5am to 10pm, not 9 to 5. To attract the greatest number of clients, your
availability should include early mornings and late evenings when possible – when work is
slower during the day, use the time to work on marketing, planning, or making business

6. Availability of Social Support 

To give you a better understanding of the challenges you might face, seek out fellow personal
trainers who have gone through the same process. Ask them for advice on how you can start
your own PT business, whether that’s by working as a self-employed trainer or founding a new
fitness enterprise – no amount of research can beat the real-world insight of someone who’s
already been there.

7. Passion and Discipline

Many businesses fail because the owner doesn’t have a real passion for what they’re doing; or,
if they do have the passion, they don’t have the discipline to back it up. Many people think that
finding a job you love about negates the need for a strong work ethic, but even the most
motivated person will have days when they just don’t want to do what needs to be done.

Commitment to your goals is essential!


Whether you’re just starting out as a self-employed personal trainer or launching your own
personal training company, your central concerns will be the same: your plan, your finances,
your location, your hours, your staff, your support and your passion. If you spend some time
considering each area before you start going it alone, you’ll be well set up for success - and on
your way to that Mediterranean sabbatical in no time.

This post was sponsored by ICS Learn.

One week until #RideLondon

Monday, July 25, 2016

Today was my last training ride in prep for Ride London.  It was nearly 40 miles and my legs were heavy the entire way.  I only rode 8 miles yesterday on my Brompton, so I didn't expect it to be so tough.  But 'what can you do?' as my great Aunt Mary would say.

If this is your first year taking part in Ride London, check out my race recap from 2013 (note it is not actually a race, but a ride).  I also rode in 2014, but that year there was a hurricane, so the route was cut down to 86 miles and it was just miserably wet.  I skipped the race recap and it was (hopefully) a unique experience.

Have you thought about the little things yet for the race?  You have a week to get your last bits and bobs sorted.  This is a head-to-toe packing list for a running race, but to it I would like to add for Ride London, specifically:

-spare inner tube
-air pump
-tire levers
-cycling shoes (if you are wearing other shoes to the event)
-2 water bottles
-fuel you have been training with
-cash for more inner tubes, bike repairs, or snacks along the way

Last week on Instagram, I posted a few reminders about figuring out what fuel you are going to use (Clif Shot Blocks and ORS tablets will be provided) and how you are going to carry everything (seriously, practice this one as you might need to buy a new bike bag).  We found a little mobile phone holder on Groupon and use that to hold extra hydration tablets and my portable battery charger.

A photo posted by James Millington (@geographer_jim) on

I had a few hours on my bike today and though of a few more reminders.

1.  Wear sunscreen.  Riding 100 miles with a sun burn and possibly sun stroke is no fun.  Make sure you pick a brand that won't drip off of your face too.

2.  Know how to change a tire and how to put your chain back on.  These two tasks might seen easy, but in the heat of the moment, can you pull them off?  If you don't want your hands to get dirty, keep a pair of disposable gloves in your bag.

3.  Arrange where you are meeting friends and family ahead of time.  Chances are, either your phone battery will be dead from using Strava or the networks will be jammed from so many people trying to do the same thing.  I think there might be signs with letters to meet by at the finish.  Pick a seldom-used letter, like Z, that is less likely to be crowded.  I recommend the Life360 app as it gives people in your 'family' an idea of where you are. You can also message everyone at once to let them know your progress.

4.  Nothing new on race day. I mean it!  No new shorts, socks, shirts, underwear, shoes, etc.  100 miles is a long time to be uncomfortable.  If you need to get something, get it today and go on a ride with it.  For example, a bike computer is really handy but you will need to know how to use it before the race so you can focus on riding in a group.

5.  Take on food and water regularly.  Fuelling is a huge part in getting you across the finish line.  Take on water every 15 min (sip little and often) and eat a little something 45-60 minutes.

6.  Know the courteous hand signals to alert riders of hazards.  Here are some key ones from British Cycling.  Don't be afraid to use your bell too if you are passing someone or need them to be aware of your presence.

7.  Use a rucksack (or something similar) to carry your official Ride London bag in when cycling to the start line.  It is one of the most challenging bags to cycle with, between slipping around and the strings rubbing into your skin.  Either practice riding with it before hand (with it filled up), or wear a different bag that can fit inside of it for the official bag transport.

7.  Keep walking after the race and stretch out too.  You will probably be stiff the next day, but it is worth it every time you look at your new medal.

8.  Remember it is not a race!  There will be lots of people on the road of varying abilities.  Please always be aware of who is around you.  Take descents cautiously and when in doubt, slow down.  It is refreshing not to have to share the road with cars, but that doesn't mean you should be reckless.

9.  Have fun!  This event is truly unique and will be once of the most memorable you will ever take part in.  Enjoy every minute.

Anything else I have missed about Ride London?  If so, please leave a comment below.

Wiggle is having a sale!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Hey guys, just wanted to let you know that Wiggle is currently holding a summer sale.  Please note all links are affiliate links.  This means I get a very small percent of each sale at not additional cost to the buyer.  If you are committed to continue cycling even after Ride London, consider investing in some of this kit.

Elite Race Workstand, £126.39 (List Price £159.99).  James has a workstand and he finds it very handy when working on his bike.

Northwave Extreme Road Shoes, £181.99 (List Price £259.99)  
Colnago CX Zero Disc (Ultegra - 2016), £2,799.96 (List Price £3,499.95).  Isn't it pretty?

Gore Bike Wear Xenon 2.0 Windstopper Softshell Jacket, £95.00 (List Price £189.99) .  This will be handy when the autumnal weather sets in.

Assos iJ.shaqUno Windproof Jacket, £97.50 (List Price £195.00).  This one too!

 dhb Cover Sock Overshoe, £4 (List price £10)

Thanks for having a look.  By purchasing items through my affiliate links, you help support the costs of running this blog.

Peanut butter and jelly flapjacks recipe

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Flapjacks are one of my favourite foods to snack on when I am training.  They can be quite filling and sit well in my stomach if I have one on a pit stop during a long ride.  Hale Naturals has a versatile product, Powdered Peanut Butter®, that I like to have on hand as a way to make any food into one for recovery.  I add it to everything- porridge, protein shakes, ice cream, and now have tried baking with it too.

Here is a fab recipe for an American-inspired treat.

Powdered Peanut Butter® and jelly flapjacks

2 cups oats
1 cup PPB
150g melted butter
100 ml honey or golden syrup
200g dried strawberries (can be chopped into pieces if they seem big)
100g chocolate chips or chopped chocolate (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
2. Spray 9"x13" pan with cooking spray or wipe with butter. Line with parchment paper.
3. Mix everything together in a bowl by hand.
4. Spread batter in pan and press flat into corners.
5. Bake for 25-30 min until golden brown.
6. Let cool before cutting.
7. Try not to eat all at once.

My husband doesn't like peanut butter (weird, I know) so here the variation of what I made him this morning.  Follow directions as above.

2 cups oats
2 sachets of Linwood Super Food packs
150g melted butter
100 ml honey or golden syrup
200g raisins

Note: this post originally appeared on H2 Life Blog.

New foods for you to try out

Monday, July 18, 2016

There is so much going on in my life right now- big project deadlines looming at work, teaching group ex classes, training for my big endurance events, being a wife, taking care of Oldland and squeezing in a good night's sleep.  All this leaves little time for food prep, planning my meals, or packing healthy snacks.  Luckily, I have had opportunities to try some new food products on the market.  I thought I would let you know which ones I have tried.

Primal Pantry bars- If you have been a long time reader, you know that I have dabbled with Whole30.  Primal Pantry bars are grain-free, vegan and lack added sugar.  I tried 3 different flavors during a long bike ride around Reading.  They were all really yummy, didn't upset my stomach and seemed to give me enough energy to keep up with the boys.

Men's Health Kitchen frozen meals-  These have been a Godsend for me.  We were able to try all 12 flavors.  Each was absolutely delicious!  The combination of flavors and foods were very hearty and filling (quinoa, lentils, rice, etc).  The portions didn't seem very big but I was never hungry after finishing one.  Plus they retail at only £3, which is a bargain compared to a drink, sandwich and crisps. 

Ugly Drinks- For the record, I am not a sparking water kind of girl.  I do like pop though, so I thought I would give the Lemon-Lime and Pomegranate flavors a try.  Unfortunately, I didn't really like them, perhaps because the flavour wasn't very strong (as it would be with soda pop).  My co-workers tried Ugly Drinks too and had the brilliant idea to use Ugly Drinks as a mixer.

Dr Zak's nut butters and high protein bagels- I am obsessed with Raspberry Peanut Butter (in particular, putting in Ben and Jerry's Phish Food ice cream).  When I first saw it as a flavor, I thought it would be really weird.  More so than Apple Cinnamon, which was the other flavor I was able to try.  But Raspberry PB was also good on plain bagels and bananas.  I really liked Apple Cinnamon on toasted Cinnamon and Raisin bagels.  When I had this for breakfast, I felt full all morning.  These products are something I would keep in my desk at work for a quick post RUNCH snack.

Yokebe protein drink- This drink is marketed as a weight loss drink, but I was using it as a protein recovery drink.  I followed the directions to mix it with milk and vegetable oil.  The powder smelled like vanilla pudding my grandma used to give me as a kid so I had high hopes.  It wasn't very sweet but I prefer the drink mixed with only milk.  It is pretty filling and another good think to have in your desk drawer.

Seriously Summer at Costa- Costa has launched a new menu for the summer which are great if you need to pick up something on the go.  I tried a falafel couscous salad wrap and grape/watermelon/strawberry (Red Super Day) smoothie.  Both were delicious!

So these are some foods you can have on hand to help you fuel when on the go.  What new foods have you tried lately that you would recommend? 

Please note I was sent samples from all of these brands.  As always, opinions are honest and my own.

Building the courage to wear my cleats

Friday, July 1, 2016

I am ashamed to say I have clip-in pedals on my road bike but don't use them.  My Diadora mountain bike -style SPD cleats have served me well ever since I became a spinning instructor in 2009 (birthday gift from my mom).  I had a brief stint trying them out on my hybrid bike in Michigan (meaning I clipped by feet in at a stand still, wondered 'now what?', and promptly tipped over).  I also have tried here in London but lost my concentration at a junction and fell over (at red light fortunately).  Finally, on an uphill climb, my derailleur snapped off, which threw me off the bike (probably too much damage to bike from falling over at other times).

In short, my two attempts at Ride London have been in my trail running shoes, not my cleats.  I am aiming to finally hit 100 miles this year on the course, and want to make it as painless as possible.  I feel like I am getting lots of time in the saddle, between extra spinning sessions and long rides with my husband.  I still have not started strength training yet, which I said I would do (mental note). The next logical step would be to get over my fear of my clips and try them again, right?  I reached out to the cycling community and asked for some words of wisdom about learning to ride with clip in shoes.

Rose from online women's cycling brand and retailer, Victor and Leap, recommends looking for a shoe that fits.  She says 'the most important thing is to make sure that it's a good fit that holds your foot and you're not rolling around.  One thing to consider is that generally women have thinner heels -  something not all companies take into consideration and so some just don't hold a foot well enough which has major effects on the efficiency of pedalling, which is one of the main reasons you would use clip-ins in the first place.'  Victor and Leap only sell Fizik shoes because they are one of the few companies that make shoes that fit a women's foot profile.

When trying on shoes in the shop, Matt, a customer service advisor from Merlin Cycles, says 'aim to find a shoe that fits snug but not too tight. You want to make sure that when you press down on the ball of your foot, your heel doesn’t slip inside the shoe. Remember, cycling shoes will fit much better on the bike than walking around in as they have extremely stiff soles to transfer your power.'

The benefits of cleats are numerous.  Davis and Hull (1981) found that using cleats reduces the fatigue in the quadriceps muscles, which will allow you to ride longer without getting heavy tired legs.  In my spinning certification class, they taught us to describe the pedal stroke as a square, where you push down, pull back, pull up, and push forwards.  Matt described another good visual to maximise your pedal stroke as to think you are scraping something off the bottom of your shoe to pull around at the bottom of the pedal stroke.  The pulling back and up engages the hamstrings and glutes, giving the quads a short rest.  This would be a tremendous benefit on a 100 mile bike ride!

Rose points out that being attached to the pedal transfers the power from your leg to the pedal, which is more efficient and requires less effort for a greater outcome.  Also the stiffness of a clip-in shoe design also has a purpose as it increases the power transfer.  When I use my cleats in spin class, I can feel the 'up motion' of  my pedal stroke and the moment just feels different too.

Finally, how can I get over the fear of falling off?  Personally, I try to always unhook my left foot in the hopes my body will remember to always lean that way. But I also need to remember to do this in my group cycling classes too.  I also make the tension release of the clip very loose to increase the speed at which I can release my foot.  As I become more accustomed to the clips, I will gradually increase it.

Rose suggests unclipping much earlier than you think is necessary while out on a ride as you can still pedal with one foot for a bit if you need to.  There is a small pond near me with a dirt path around it where I might do some practice laps there.  Another option is riding around a large empty car park to remind myself of the in-and-out foot motions again.  Luckily, my pedals have SPD clips on one side and are regular old pedals on the other, which gives me some flexibility on a day-to-day basis.  But Ride London is only a month away now.  I need to get going if I am going to wear cleats on the ride.

You can even practice at home.  'As for practise you don't have to head straight out on to the road.' says Sam.  'One evening put your shoes on sit on your bike, hold on to the sofa and just practise clipping in and out so you get used to the movement without thinking about it.'  He says to then take it outside on a quiet road and keep practising.

What is my next step?  Put on my helmet and start practising!  Living close to the Velodrome, I can pop over there in the evening and utilise their 1 mile outdoor circuit while clipping in and out on each lap.  I need to get my confidence up so I don't waste my energy on nerves during Ride London.

If you have any tips on getting used to using clipless pedals, please leave a comment below.  I also welcome any hilarious stories of falling off your bike while getting accustomed to it.

Davis and Hull. 1981.  Measurements of pedal loading in bicycling. II. Analysis and results.  Journal of Biomechanics 14(12): 857, 863-861-872.