How to Start a Personal Training Business

how to start a personal training business

Personal trainers are in more demand than ever as more people look to stay fit and improve their health. This has created a huge opportunity for people who want to work in this industry. Follow these steps to learn how to start a personal training business and take advantage of the growing personal fitness segment. 

How to Start a Personal Training Business: Key Steps

Starting requires the following:

  • You need to determine your specialty or niche. To decide on one, consider market demand, your expertise, and your interests. Some options include strength training, sports training, weight loss, and rehabilitation.
  • Industry-specific certifications include those from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and others that consist of a self-paced online program
  • After you develop a business plan, you should register and make sure to obtain liability insurance.

As a trainer, you’ll want to invest in equipment that might include mats, resistance bands, and weights. 

Starting a Personal Training Business: Step-by-Step Guide

Follow these steps to a successful business.

Types of Personal Trainers

Trends are essential in the personal trainer market. Personalized nutrition plans and wearable technology can help personal trainers meet client expectations.

You need to understand your competition and the specialized training methods they use, too. Remember, the industry offers a wide variety of specializations and roles so that you can carve out an individual niche. 

Gym-Based Trainer

Gym-based trainers work in health clubs, fitness centers, and gyms. They can also use other areas designated for yoga and group fitness classes.

One benefit of this business model is that every day can be different, and you can work with diverse clients. Challenges include having to work irregular hours to accommodate them. 

Independent Trainer

As the name suggests, independent personal trainers use a different business model. They work outside the traditional gym settings, taking advantage of greater flexibility and opportunity.

These trainers can work in public parks, rented studio spaces, clients’ homes, or virtually. One challenge is that they need to develop business skills like marketing and finance. The income can vary and be inconsistent at times.

However, one of the big bonuses here is the potential to scale their business by hiring staff and leveraging digital tools. 

Specialized Fitness Trainer

Consider several niche areas if you’re starting your enterprise.

  • For A Specific Sport: Personal trainers need to have a good understanding of the agility, endurance skills, and strength required for a particular sport. For example, someone opening a business dealing with golf would need to understand the biomechanics of a swing.
  • For Rehabilitation: These trainers help people recover from surgery or injuries. The goal is to help patients regain mobility, flexibility, and strength. Business owners here need to understand psychology, anatomy and healing processes deeply.
  • For Strength and Conditioning: These trainers work with athletes from various sports to boost their performance levels and physical capabilities. To satisfy prospective clients, they must be familiar with and employ scientifically based training practices and regimes. 

Online Personal Trainer

Online trainers are a growing trend. One significant advantage is that this type of business has a global reach and flexibility in scheduling. Business owners training clients online can enjoy reduced overhead, and digital platforms can be scaled up and down.

AspectGym-Based TrainerIndependent TrainerSpecialized Fitness TrainerOnline Personal Trainer
SettingHealth clubs, fitness centers, gyms, yoga, and group fitness classes.Public parks, rented studio spaces, clients' homes, or virtually.Varied settings depending on the niche, e.g., sports facilities for specific sports, rehab centers, or gyms for strength and conditioning.Virtual platforms.
BenefitsDiversity in daily work and client base.Greater flexibility and opportunity; potential for business scaling by hiring staff and leveraging digital tools.Deep expertise in a niche area can attract dedicated clientèle; can become recognized as an expert in the field.Global reach, flexible scheduling, reduced overhead, and scalability of digital platforms.
ChallengesIrregular hours to accommodate diverse clients.Need for business skills like marketing and finance; income can be inconsistent.Need for specialized knowledge in a specific area, which requires continuous education and keeping up with the latest research.Requires effective online engagement and marketing strategies to attract and retain clients.
Income StabilityRelatively stable as they often work for an employer.Can vary and be inconsistent due to the nature of being self-employed.Depends on niche demand and the trainer's ability to market their specialized skills.Can be variable; depends on the ability to attract and retain clients online.
Client InteractionDirect, face-to-face in a gym setting.Direct, but in various settings like parks, homes, or online.Direct, often with a specialized focus, which might require a more tailored approach.Primarily online, which may require different engagement strategies compared to in-person training.
Potential for ScalingLimited by the physical space of the gym and the trainer's availability.High, especially if leveraging digital tools and hiring additional staff.Moderate to high, depending on the demand for the niche and the business model (e.g., hiring other specialized trainers).High, due to the nature of digital platforms and the ability to reach a global audience.
Special RequirementsCertifications required by the gym or fitness center; CPR/AED might be necessary.Business skills, personal training certification, insurance, and possibly equipment.In-depth knowledge in a specific area (e.g., sport, rehabilitation, strength conditioning), certifications, and possibly advanced degrees.Strong online presence, engaging digital content, and knowledge of online training platforms and tools.

Conduct Market Research

Understanding the fitness niche is critical, and that’s where this research comes in.

  • Outline what you want to achieve. Are you adding a service or location?
  • Finding potential clients involves considering factors like age, gender, income level, location, and lifestyle.
  • Remember to use location and lifestyle when you’re defining your target market.

Obtain Certifications and Education

Getting a professional certification is a must-have. People with a certified private trainer certificate understand exercise science, nutrition psychology and anatomy.

These trainers also have education in other essential areas like First Aid and CPR. Ongoing education in the dynamic fitness industry is necessary for specific regions like senior fitness and strength conditioning. Personal trainer certification is invaluable.

Choosing a Business Structure

There are a few different types of business structures to choose from. Each one has implications for taxes and liability.

  1. The sole proprietorship is the most straightforward choice. The income is reported on the owner’s taxes, and there is unlimited personal liability.
  2. A Limited Liability Company (LLC) offers flexibility by combining the tax implications of a partnership or sole proprietorship and a corporation’s liability protection. This choice protects against personal liability but is more complicated to set up than a sole proprietorship. 

Register Your Personal Training Business

Research the top fitness business names for inspiration and then check if your business name is available in your state’s database. There’s a Secretary of State office you’ll need to file with.

  • Getting a general business license and maybe even a specific health or fitness service provider license is essential. Check with your local city or county government.
  • So you can maintain credibility, make sure to file for copyright protection for your logos, workout programs, and marketing materials. 

Secure Insurance

Insurance needs to be covered. Deal with a local agent or research small business insurance online. Consider the following types:   

  • Professional liability insurance covers claims centering around misconduct, negligence and failure to deliver services. It’s essential for these trainers because it could involve allegations of injury.
  • General liability insurance protects against third-party claims for personal injury, property damage, and bodily injury.
  • You’ll also need product liability insurance if your business sells fitness equipment and supplements.
  • Commercial property insurance protects the location of your enterprise and the contents from theft and fire.

Craft Your Business Plan

A well-designed business plan is the cornerstone of a successful enterprise. It must include detailed information on your services, like online coaching and group training. The pricing strategy needs to include package deals and membership fees, as well as whether you’ll charge per session or have a tiered pricing structure.

The financial projections are the meat and potatoes of a business plan, and they need to include revenue streams and startup costs.

Source Exercise Equipment

Are you planning on starting your business outside of the gym? Then, you’ll need to consider sourcing quality equipment. Here are a few things to consider.

The quality of the choices you make will reflect on your company. High-quality equipment fosters a professional image.

Line up your equipment with the type of training that you’re offering. For example, strength and conditioning training should include resistance bands, free weights, and kettlebells.

Quality equipment is designed with safety in mind and is more durable. Look for secure locking mechanisms and non-slip surfaces.

Ultimately, higher-quality choices allow for a more extensive range of exercises and a better revenue stream. 

Managing Finances

Managing your finances properly is essential for several significant reasons. Top of the list is maintaining a cash flow to cover operational costs and invest in growth.

Opening a Business Bank Account

Having a business bank account helps you to track your finances accurately. It’s the bedrock for budgeting and forecasting with your own business.

Separating personal and business finances simplifies tax reporting. Getting started requires an EIN (Employer Identification Number) and personal identification documents.

Financing Your Business

Here are some options for funding your business.

Personal Savings 

Using your money allows you to control the operations completely.

Small Business Loans 

With one of these loans, you can expand your business and invest in more equipment without giving up any ownership of your enterprise.

Get Investors 

Venture capitalists can bring in industry connections and expertise as well as mentorship.

Marketing Your Personal Training Business

A multifaceted strategy is best when you’re marketing your business.

  • Free webinars and online courses can be offered to generate leads.
  • A resource section blog with infographics, videos, and articles works well.
  • A professional website that’s mobile-friendly and optimized is critical.
  • Choosing the right social media platforms can mean anything from LinkedIn to Facebook, depending on your target market.
  • Local networking can include attending industry events.

Consistently showcasing testimonials on your website has a good impact.

Embracing Technology in Your Services

Digital tools and platforms can help you succeed.  Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems and software can manage client data, improve customer service, and track interactions.

Video conferencing software boosts virtual training sessions. Analytics can help track the performance of your social media channels and website. Finally, don’t forget to use social media management tools to schedule posts and manage all your accounts from one place. 

Scaling Your Personal Training Business

Expanding a fitness business means hiring professionals, mining niche markets and leveraging tech to offer online sessions.

  • Offer subscription models with a library of workout videos with your personal training business.
  • Scale your business up to include mental wellness workshops and nutrition counseling.
  • Look for staff members who have certifications in specialties like strength training and pilates.

Launching Your Personal Trainer Business

Personal training services motivate people to change their well-being and health positively. Train clients using tech, build relationships and streamline your operations. Passion, knowledge, and personalized experience can make a difference in your client’s goals and struggles as a certified personal trainer.

FAQs: How to Start a Personal Training Business

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about these fitness professionals.

How profitable is personal training?

Wondering “how much money do personal trainers make?” Good profits can be made but they depend on your business model expertise, clientele, and location. 

How much does it cost to start a personal training business?

The cost varies. A basic at-home or online setup usually only costs a few hundred dollars. If you have some basic equipment, it may even be possible to start a business with no money. However, a fully equipped gym with equipment, insurance, and marketing can cost tens of thousands.

What’s the best way to find clients when starting out?

Offer free social media workshops and/or partner with local health businesses to get started.

Can I specialize in more than one fitness area as a personal trainer?

Yes, there are many low cost business ideas to start in the fitness industry, and many services you can offer under the umbrella of personal training. Doing this can broaden your client base.

Image: Envato Elements

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Rob Starr Rob Starr is a staff writer for Small Business Trends. Rob is a freelance journalist and content strategist/manager with three decades of experience in both print and online writing. He currently works in New York City as a copywriter and all across North America for a variety of editing and writing enterprises.

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