Starting a Personal Training Business

By Becca Chiaravalle

Being a personal trainer can be a rewarding career, as you watch your clients grow stronger, gain knowledge (and muscles), and change their lives for the better. This is probably what drove you to it in the first place, and after years of experience, you might find yourself wanting to do more. Maybe you’ve been working at a gym and feel limited with the number or types of clients you’re assigned. Either way, starting a personal training business allows you the freedom and flexibility to work with who you want, whenever you want, without having anyone above you.

As you move forward with your dream of starting your own personal training business, this can prove to be a challenge: You’re probably used to the fitness and health industry, not the business world. You’re going to go from trainer to entrepreneur--a scary thought to many.

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You might wonder how this will change your daily life, what it will entail, and if it’s worth it. But if you’re ready to take your skills as a personal trainer and expand the number of people you are able to help, then read on. This blog is for you.

Jumping into the world of business can be daunting, but learning a bit about it, rather than doing a bunch of business guesswork, will grow your business exponentially. Turning passion into entrepreneurship is what SpaceTogether is founded upon--so we understand the drive and struggle to make it happen. It’s not an impossible task, though it’s a tough one. If you’re willing to learn and put in the work, you can grow your personal training business, and feel the independence of being your own boss.

Becoming a business

The first thing you’re going to want to do is try to switch gears and jump into the business mindset. This is obviously easier said than done, especially if you’ve never been in a managerial position before. When you start your own business and become your own boss, everything changes. Clients won’t be assigned to you. No one is going to tell you to fill out paperwork. You’re going to have to hustle. It’s a lot more responsibility, but the reward of having your own business makes it worth it. Below, we’ve outlined the major tasks of starting your own business.

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  • Becoming a legal entity: That’s right. This is the official part. Maybe a little scary too--but exciting. There are a few different types of businesses you can register as, and it all depends on your needs and wants. This site outlines all the different types of businesses while comparing the major aspects of each, making it easier for you to decide which is going to be best for your new personal training business.

  • Finances: This depends on the type of business you decide on. You can either have the money you earn from clients go straight into your account, or keep it separate in a business account. Either way, you’ll need to start doing your taxes differently, so if you’re used to doing it yourself, we recommend changing that. If you do your taxes improperly, the consequences on you and your business can be severe--we don’t want that, and I’m sure you don’t either. Our recommendation? Hire a professional. They know what they’re doing, and you can always ask them questions, rather than guess and get into trouble with the IRS. No one wants that.

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  • State requirements: The requirements for most states vary, so we can’t give you an easy answer to your questions. However, we can give you this site, which will direct you to your state’s rules, regulations, and requirements.

  • Liability insurance: Now that you won’t be under the protection of a gym, you’ve got to get your own insurance. I know this isn’t the most exciting thing, but the requirement exists to protect you. It’s a price you pay to have the freedom and flexibility of having your own business. Also, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Check it out: wherever you got your certifications from (ACE, NASM, ACSM, and CSCS), look up the insurance associated with it. This is the easiest (and usually best) way to go about getting your insurance.

  • Contracts: Another form of protection you’re going to want to give yourself is through a contract between you and your client, so you aren’t liable for something that could take you to court, or miss out on a payment from a missed session. This sample from the NSCA is short, easy for both parties to complete, and gives you some protection. If you’re looking for more detailed or comprehensive coverage, you can visit this site for reference.

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In-home personal training

One of the wonderful aspects of starting a personal training business is the ability to work with a variety of clients. This allows you to specialize in whatever kind of training you want to: elderly, kids, recovery, or athletes. This gives you the option to ditch the gym environment that you’re probably used to spending 8-10 hours a day in, and travel to the homes of different clients. If you decide to do in-home training though, there are a few things to think about:

  • Is there a proper area to train and perform the prescribed exercises?

  • Do they have an AED? Will you have access to one? Consider including this in your contract.

  • Will you charge a distance fee or a flat hourly fee? You want to be compensated for your time, but you don’t want to lose business if your prices seem comparatively unfair.

  • Unless you have a specific clientele, you’ll have a diverse set of clients that chose you, not assigned to you by a gym, so understanding their needs and goals will be more important than ever.

Making your business stand out

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As the fitness world grows and becomes more relevant in the lives of regular people, so do personal training businesses. While the demand is growing, so is the competition. Chances are you won’t be the only personal trainer in town trying to grow their own business, but that shouldn’t be a reason to worry--let it motivate you instead. There are a few areas that can make you stand out:

  • Continuing education: Maybe you don’t like going to school or taking tests, but continuing education is popular for a reason. Industries are constantly growing, and there is always something new to learn. If you don’t have the drive to keep up, you’ll fall behind. Search for courses in areas that interest you, so you can expand your knowledge base. Growing your resume, honing your specialty, or expanding your knowledge will make you more marketable in the growing industry. People want to learn from those who aren’t afraid of the knowledge gains, even if it’s more work.

  • Marketing/Branding: This is one of the most important parts of your business. As we mentioned, clients won’t be handed to you. You are going to have to work to find them--and keep them. The first thing you’ll want to do is brand your business. Knowing who you are as a business and what you want will help narrow down your marketing strategy. Utilize social media--it’s free and relatively uncomplicated. Don't forget, word-of-mouth is going to be important for a business like this. Treat your clients well and help them achieve their goals, and they’ll tell their friends and family. As you seek to market your business, answer these questions and keep them in mind:
    • What is my personal training business about?
    • What do I specialize in? What can I offer?
    • Who do I want to target?

  • Finally, consider space. Since you won’t be working out of a gym all of the time, you’ll have to figure out where to train clients, other than in their home. Using SpaceTogether, you can find gyms with extra space to rent, so you can train clients or hold classes their. Many gyms include equipment in the rental, so all you have to do it signup and show up.

Before you go

As you make the leap to starting a personal training business, you’re not just a health professional anymore, you’re an entrepreneur. So it’s important to make the smartest decisions for your new, small business. This means adopting a business mindset, making your business stand out, and thinking about what kind of space will suit your new, growing business.

As always, we’re here to help you grow your new business, while you help make a stronger, healthier community. Long term commercial space is not the only option. Grow your organization with space sharing. From finding good, reliable shared spaces to handling logistics along the way, SpaceTogether is here to help you. Space sharing can be a simple solution for your organization. See if there’s space for your organization at this link.

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