You decided you want to be a personal trainer, now what?
Or maybe you already are but don’t know how to start your own business. When you become a personal trainer the one thing that you’re not taught is how to start and run a business, and how to make it profitable. In this blog post, I’m going to walk you through the basic steps of how you can start your own personal training biz from scratch.
I remember when I first started out in my business, it was overwhelming but very exciting! In my heart, I knew how much I wanted to help others on their fitness journey and show them that they COULD reach their goals. There is a lot of information out there in the health & fitness world which leaves women/men feeling confused. Personal trainers have a unique opportunity to show someone each and every step in the process making it much less confusing and enjoyable.
But where do you even begin? How do you start a personal training biz? I remember after I got certified I wasn’t quit sure what to do next. How on earth am I going to get clients? The first gym I worked at was fairly large and already had many established personal trainers.
My paycheck came from commission, which means I only got paid if I had paying clients. Not knowing where to begin I remember sitting in the lobby every day for hours. When members would walk by I would smile, great them, or tell them to have a nice day and some would stop and talk to me. Those conversations led me to my first paying client who wanted to train at 5 am. It didn’t matter how early he wanted to train I was just happy to have a client.
Starting Can Be The Hardest Part
So Lauren how do you start a personal training business?
Let’s walk through some of the first steps you need to take to start personal training biz.
First things first, you need to get certified and the good news is you have some options. There are several certifications that I recommend and the first is the National Strength & Conditioning Association. NSCA-CPT tends to be the hardest certification and requires a four-year degree so this option might not be feasible for many. NASM is a good choice because they will help place you after you get certified but the recertification can be expensive. I’ve listed links to certification websites below in order of my recommendations
Certified, Now What?
I believe this one is overlooked a lot but is crucial in developing your own personal brand. We’ll talk about brand building in a later blog post but for now, it’s important to understand you need to protect yourself and your business. When I began my business back in 2009 I used LegalZoom to create my LLC (limited liability company).
Setting up a business bank account is important to help keep your business money separate from your personal money. Keep in mind you will need to keep track of payments, invoices, receipts, and bills to measure profitability and for tax purposes. You will also want to get business insurance to protect you and your business, don’t skip this!
- To-Do List
- Get Certified
- Decide on Your Business Name
- Create an LLC
- Open Business Bank Account
- Decide how you will organize your invoices, receipts, payments, and bills.
- Get Insurance
Why do you need an LLC?
Having an LLC gives your business a legal identity, which separates you personally from the actual business. This means that creditors can’t go after things like personal assets, your bank account, or your home. When you operate a sole proprietorship you and your business are at risk because legally you aren’t considered separate. An LLC also offers tax benefits, but I am certainly not a tax expert. For more information on taxes and how to file as an LLC, go to smartassests.com.
When it comes to taxes, income, and how you manage your money I highly recommend hiring an accountant. If that isn’t something you can afford do yourself a favor and do the research to educate yourself on taxes and purchase software to help you manage your money.
Where do you want to train?
This one is a big decision because it will affect your ability to grow your business, how much money you make, and what clients you attract.
Things to consider about where you train is:
- What is the energy/vibe of the space or gym?
- Do you want to rent your own space?
- Do you want to train from your home?
Starting in a gym is by far the easiest and most feasible way to begin your personal training biz. Make sure the gym has a good energy, is clean, and has a fair pay/commision structure. Rent a space can be a more difficult and pricier on the front end but you have a very good opportunity to make money faster.
My business started in a gymnastics center where I taught a boot camp. We structured the contract so that I had a grace period for the first 3 months and only paid $200 in rent per month regardless of clients. This allowed me room to build my business in those months, after that the owner received 10% of my gross profit, the more I made the more they made!
Don’t be afraid to approach local gymastic or karate centers to rent out space in the morning. Their business run predominetly at night which leaves the rest of the day open when they are not making money. Offering to rent space in those hours the building is not occupied is a great way to ramp up your business. Want an examle of the contract I used? Comment on this blog post below!
Know Your ICA
Knowing your ideal customer is crucial to attracting the right kind of client and keeping them long term. I knew right away that I wanted to train women, who were most likely mothers, and super busy. My boot camp offered a way for them to focus on themselves for 1 hour every day, a community of like-minded women, and access to me pretty much 24/7.
My ICA was 80% of my business and you better believe they referred all their friends! With every one of my clients, my goal was to put myself in their shoes. One of the best things you can do as a trainer is to view things from your client’s perspective, find out what motivates them, why they want to work with you, and what they need from you to be successful.
Aside from knowing your ideal customer you also need to decide what services you will offer. Will you offer group training? Online training? Make custome diets and workout programs? More on this in the Part 2: How to Start a Personal Training Biz.
Once you know where you want to train and who your ICA is you can move on to marketing. Not only do you not learn business you don’t learn marketing when you go to school or get your certification. When I started Facebook wasn’t really a big thing yet, I made the decision to invest in postcards that went to a select demographic of people in the city I lived. There are sites that let you select household income, age, gender, etc. and I still really believe direct marketing is incredibly effective.
Facebook and Instagram also allow you to choose your demographic, this is a great way to advertise and choose your target market. When I started using social media I placed a limit of $5 per day and played around with different ads to see what grabbed the most engagement and results.
- Business cards, brochures, and flyers posted in gyms, hotels, and public spaces
- Networking opportunities & Fitness fairs
- Offer a freebie to grab email addresses
- Local Fundraising Events
- I would offer my services as a donated prize and attending the event would allow me to get my name out there :).
- Free classes and sessions
- Only in the beginning and limit how much you do for free. You want to become the expert and be able to charge what you’re worth. If you offer too much for free too often you won’t be able to raise your prices later on.
- A social media presence
- Serve your audience well, offer tips and helpful information
- This is a must! I’ve used Wix and WordPress, love them both.
- Email and newsletter marketing
- Create a lead magnet and landing page to grab as many email addresses as possible.
Know Your Worth, What To Charge
Remember, if you are certified, have a college degree, and the expertise your clients are after you have value. When I started I charged $197 which was the most expensive class in town at the time and offered an introductory offer of $97 for their first month. After that they could choose between a month to month ($197), unlimited classes ($147, 6-month contract), 3 classes per week ($127), and 2 classes per week ($97).
Almost everyone signed up for the 6-month contract at $147, but why would they pay that? Because my class offered what others were not, me! I always went above and beyond for my clients, I could make modifications for anyone no matter their fitness level, and provided services outside of my class that helped them throughout their day.
You first need to start researching the competition to find out what they are charging and what they are getting. I charged $60 for an hour session and $30 for a 30-minute session, if they bought 10 sessions at once they got one free. However, this was when I first started and was in a smaller market. In larger cities, you can charge more, as well as wealthier suburbs but again do your research. What I WILL say when it comes to price is what you charge is directly related to the kind of client you attract and the effort they will put in.
Be The Best
Other components of starting your personal training business include:
- Contracts and Paperwork
- What services will you offer?
- Creating Policies
- How to Sell – Create Your Pitch
- Creating a Brand People Remember
- Understanding Your Clients
- How to Teach Mindset When What Their Asking for is Just Weightloss
I will talk about all these in Part 2: How to Start a Personal Training Business. For now you need to focus on everything I’ve listed above. Getting your first client is an exciting time but running a business is much harder than people think. Serve your clients well, learn about them, understand them and their habits, and aim to be the best in town! For me, I knew with 100% certainty and confidence that there was no one better than me in town and no one who would care as much I did.
If you found this blog post helpful please subscribe and comment below. What questions can I help answer for you? What are you struggling with when it comes to your business? I would love to know how I can help you.