Passionate about physical fitness and wellness? Check. Ready for a job that lets you make your own hours and do what you love? Check and check.
Chances are you’re reading this article because you’ve taken a deep dive down the internet rabbit hole to figure out whether getting a personal training certification is right for you. But before you commit, you’re probably wondering: How do you actually start a personal training business, combining your love for working out with putting money in the bank? You know, enough money to make this a long-term change?
It may seem intimidating at first, but when it comes to starting and marketing a personal training business, with some hard work and dedication, you’ll definitely see results. (Sounds familiar, right?)
Every new personal fitness trainer knows they need to be certified before they can set up shop. But once you have your personal training certification, what else do you need to start building a personal training business?
Here’s exactly what any newly-certified personal fitness trainer needs to get their business off to a successful start.
First, Take Care of Medical Certifications, Liability Insurance, and Other Business Permits
Beyond your personal training certification, you’ll need to handle a few more necessary forms and documents to get your business up and running: safety certifications, business permits, and liability insurance. It’s critical to have these documents completed and up-to-date to stay compliant with the laws and regulations in your area.
First Aid, CPR, AED Certification
Typically, fitness certification companies require you to have current safety certifications. While some companies might only need First Aid and CPR certifications, it’s smart to have your AED certification, too. You never know when you might need an AED (automatic defibrillator) to save someone’s life rather than performing CPR, and you can’t be over-prepared when it comes to your clients’ safety.
You can find safety certification courses at your local community colleges and online. It’s best to register for an in-person class so you can get hands-on experience.
Business Permits and Licenses
All businesses require permits and licensing—personal training included.
Licenses and permits vary state-to-state and even by city, so start by Googling “business license [your city]” and “business license [your state].” If you feel totally lost, consider working with an accountant.
Professional Liability Insurance
Any business can benefit from professional liability insurance, especially personal fitness training where a free weight dropped on a toe could mean bankrupting the company. You never want to find yourself liable for damages in the case of an accident, so insurance is a must.
Liability insurance covers anything related to the day-to-day operations of your personal training business, business property, general liability, professional liability, and property damage to gym rentals.
How to Get Personal Training Clients
1. Start by Practicing Personal Training at a Gym
It’s great and all that you have your personal training certification, but you’ve still got plenty of opportunity to learn. As a new personal trainer, starting out at a gym has tons of benefits. You’ll get tips and tricks from more experienced personal trainers, you’ll have equipment provided and maintained for you, and you’ll get a steady stream of clients.
These clients are key. You’ll be able to work with a variety of people, helping you learn what types of clients work best for you. You’ll be able to take that information (and if you play your cards right, some of those clients) with you into your own personal training business.
2. Identify Your Fitness Audience
The physical fitness and wellness industry is huge, so you need to carve your own niche to stand out. Do you want to train middle-aged clients looking to shed a few pounds, or Olympic-level athletes focusing on one particular sport?
To find your speciality, first focus on what you like doing.
If you love football, consider creating a football-focused personal training package to help develop your clients’ strength and speed on the field. Or, if your passion is dance, develop a dance class or cardio routine that incorporates ballet stretches.
You’ll also want to do some basic market research. Is your area known for its running trails and full of clients looking for running coaches? Is there a big health push in your city to lose weight? Figuring out the needs in your area will help you target clients by being the solution to their problem.
3. Start with One-on-One Personal Training With People Who Will Give You Honest Feedback
One challenging area for new personal trainers is getting comfortable with training others. Working out can be awkward—and vulnerable. Clients are trusting you to push them just the right amount, to listen to them, and to guide them.
Want to get some practice? Start with the people you love and trust most: your friends and family.
Your loved ones will be both your most compassionate and most honest clients. Ask them for their feedback about their favorite parts of the experience, and—just as critically—how you can improve. Investing time in making yourself the best personal trainer you can be will give you the confidence boost you need to excel.
4. Offer Your Clients a Referral Incentive
Once you’ve got your first personal training clients and they’re happy (yes, even if they’re your family), tell them that you’re actively taking on new clients and would love it if they recommended you. You can offer them a discount on their personal training package—even a free session—in exchange for a successful referral. Word-of-mouth is one of the very best ways to find new personal training clients, which brings us to…marketing your services.
Marketing Your Personal Training Business
You’ve put in the work to refine your training skills and find the clients you want to serve. Now it’s time to get the word out about your business.
Get Your Business Online
People are going to need to find you, so you’ll need to have an online presence. Set up a website with information about your personal training packages, prices, and how to contact you. (With beautiful drag-and-drop services like Wix and Squarespace for building websites, zero web design experience is required.)
While you’re at it, set up at least a bare bones social media presence, starting with Instagram. You can connect with other trainers and athletes in your area, share inspiring quotes, and feature client success stories.
Lastly, post your business in as many listings as possible, which includes Google My Business, Bing, Yelp, and even the Schedulicity Marketplace. The more places where clients can find you, the more credibility you will have.
Don’t be afraid to get personal in your marketing efforts. Maybe you have a weight loss story that could motivate others, or a passion for healthy cooking that results in gorgeous meal photos. Let people get to know you!
Make It Easy to Schedule Appointments
With a business like personal training, you’ll want to make it as easy as humanly possible for your clients to make appointments with you. You also want to make sure you don’t end up spending all of your time dealing with scheduling, cutting into your precious personal time.
Apps like Schedulicity help entrepreneurs manage their scheduling tasks easily online. Schedulicity provides automated scheduling services for both personal trainers and their clients. Clients can directly book and update appointments or classes online here. Instead of going back and forth with clients over the best time to meet, keep it simple and hassle-free.
Sell Your Personal Training by Emphasizing Convenience
It’s a lucky person who lives walking-distance from their gym (and don’t even get us started on those dream apartments with a gym inside the building). No, most of us have to not only find motivation to workout, we also need to convince ourselves to deal with an annoying commute, inconvenient fitness class times, and overcrowded studios.
Chances are there are people in your own neighborhood that want to prioritize their fitness but are desperate for something more convenient. Hang up flyers or leave a stack of business cards advertising your personal training services (including the fact that you have a personal training certificate—people want to know you’re legit!) in local coffee shops or grocery stores.
You can design business cards on platforms like Moo without much trouble. Remember to include your contact information and website, so people can take a look at the services you offer.
It also helps to offer a free first consultation—this will build trust and help curious potential clients get to know you a bit better, so they’re more comfortable with investing time and money in your personal training program.
Lastly, Don’t Forget to Build Loyalty With Your Current Clients
As with all service-based businesses, building lasting relationships with your clients is the key to longevity. Understanding your clients as people—and their relationship to fitness—will give you the ability to connect and form trust.
Remember that for people just getting back into health and fitness, the journey can be complicated. Most people who book personal trainers will appreciate someone who truly understands and cares.
The easiest way to get to know your clients as people is to simply ask questions. Find out what they like and dislike about exercise. Ask about their daily lives outside the gym. Are they stressed today? Excited? Tired? Above all: Listen.
Once you begin to understand more about your client, you’ll be better equipped to help them meet their goals—and to keep them happy, loyal customers.