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.

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