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How to Start a Personal Training Business for Max Profit

How to Start a Personal Training Business for Max Profit

Posted by Tyler Spraul, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist® (CSCS®) on May 20, 2011 — Updated on November 14, 2023

Learn how to start a personal training business that skyrockets your profit without breaking the bank. In this comprehensive guide, we’ve got specific steps to learn how to start a personal training business online, how to start a personal training business from home, and even how to start a personal training business with no money available for startup funds.

Fitness Income Ideas

Learn from hardworking fitness industry pros and personal training business experts like Rob Jackson, Lesley Logan, Nick Mitchell, and more on how to start a personal training business with the tips on starting a personal trainer business below. Be sure to check out our list of personal trainer income ideas, personal trainer business ideas, and personal trainer company name ideas, so you can learn how to make money from fitness.

Our overall experience with Exercise.com is a breeze. We love how easy it is to integrate this app with our current workflow while providing great fitness programs for our customers and save us time in the process.
Julie Ledbetter
Owner, Ledbetter Fitness

See how using the best gym management software and the best personal training management software can help you take your new personal training business to the next level, whether you want to succeed online, in-person, or in a hybrid capacity. Whether you want to open a gym, start a fitness business, or just figure out a way to make money from fitness, we have a site full of the most profitable fitness business models and personal trainer income ideas as well as many lesser known PT business ideas that you can put into action. And, of course, the Exercise.com platform makes it easy for you to get started.

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Step #1 Choose Your Personal Training Business Niche

Mobile Fitness Trailer (Source: Beaver Fit USA)
Mobile Fitness Trailer (Source: Beaver Fit USA)

The first step in launching your own personal training business is determining what type of personal trainer business you want to start. Choose the personal training business niche that aligns with your interests, skillset, and the income opportunity you need.

There are many different types of personal training businesses you might want to start. You may want to learn how to start a fitness bootcamp business, how to start a fitness coaching business, how to start a fitness streaming business, maybe you even want to learn how to become a fitness influencer.

Erica Nangle Fitness
Exercise.com is amazing! Positively surprised by the efficiency at responding and helping out!
Erica Nangle
Owner, Erica Nangle Fitness

With the Exercise.com platform, you can manage your personal training business in one place and offer your clients your very own custom-branded fitness apps (Read More: Best Gym Mobile Fitness Apps Software).

Custom Branded Apps

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Step #2 Get Organized

With the Exercise.com platform, you can view all of your personal training business reports easily too.

Gym Reports

All successful businesses start with organization and proper planning regardless of whether there is one employee or many. While each of these steps is not required to start a personal training business—after all, sometimes the best advice is to just actually land your first paying customer!—it is very important that you are at least aware of each of these steps and don’t skip doing the appropriate planning and organization to decide if you need to get a personal trainer certification, a formal business plan, budget, form your legal entity, get insurance, etc.

Personal Trainer Certification

One of the most important things you will need to do before starting your own personal trainer business is to become certified. Not only do you need to obtain a CPR and AED certification, but you must also pass a personal trainer certification exam. There are many certification programs available to choose from, but you should choose wisely. Compare the various programs, costs, availability, and accreditations.

Be aware of the prerequisites for personal trainer certifications. Most programs require a high school diploma or equivalent. Some programs actually require previous experience in the fitness industry.

Considering you are pursuing certification to start your own business, experience in the industry would be a plus. Also, if you apply for any business loans, financial institutions like to see experience in the field you plan on starting your business.

Most certifications require Continuing Education Credits as part of ongoing membership. As a personal trainer, you can learn a lot from Continuing Education Credits since they help you keep up to date on current fitness trends.

While you can sell workout plans without being certified, it is generally recommended that even if you are going to become an online trainer, you should still get certified.

Business Plan and Budget

A successful fitness business owner creates a thorough business plan and budget. Check out our free templates an checklists for fitness business plans or you can pay a professional to create one. A successful personal trainer business plan can help you obtain loans, receive referrals from physicians, or lease office or gym space from a landlord.

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Legal and Tax Requirements

There are also legal and tax requirements to take into consideration. Most personal trainers are independent contractors or are self-employed, so taxes are required to be paid quarterly. Some ideal first steps you must take are to:

  • Contact the US Small Business Association for specifics on starting a business where you live.
  • Obtain a business license from the state you reside or any other states you wish to perform your service.
  • Seek advice from a reputable attorney or accountant.

As you form your own personal trainer business, you should educate yourself on the various legal aspects. Establish your business as a corporation to protect yourself against certain personal liabilities. You should also register your business name. Legally placing a trademark on your name will protect it.

You might even decide at first whether or not you want to start your own company or freelance as a personal trainer to get more experience. If you own your own company, you have the ability to have employees under you.

You also have the ability to grow the company from a sole proprietorship to a corporation. If you freelance, you are basically a sole proprietorship and are solely responsible for all the clients and for finding your own clients. When it comes to starting a personal training business from home, many trainers start as freelancers.

Consult a business attorney regarding the establishment of your business. The fitness attorney can assist you in creating contracts, waivers, consent forms, billing, and customer agreements. Another benefit of a fitness attorney is that he or she can help grow your business, be available for disputes before they involve a lawsuit, and protect your trademarks.

If you wish to forego the expense of an attorney, you can find many of the legal requirements and forms regarding establishing and owning a personal trainer business on our website for free.

It should be noted, however, that while it can be enticing to try to figure out how to start a personal training business with no money spent, it will be wise to eventually consult an attorney to ensure that you’re operating your business in a legal manner.

Insurance for Personal Trainers

Personal trainers should purchase Personal Injury Liability Insurance.  The insurance is inexpensive and varies depending on the coverage. Personal Injury Liability Insurance protects you from claims involving slander, libel, and invasion of privacy.

Additional coverage can be purchased against injuries. It would be wise to have an attorney create a waiver regarding injuries. You can also find these waivers online and can download many for free.

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Personal Trainer Software

Exercise.com stands as a pivotal tool in the world of personal training, streamlining various aspects of a fitness professional’s business. Having a centralized platform that manages client bookings, payments, workout plans, and communication is not just a convenience—it’s a necessity.

Fitness Business Software

Exercise.com offers the best personal training software, allowing trainers to host exercise videos, sell workout plans online, and even manage online coaching, all under a custom-branded fitness app. This not only elevates the professional image of a trainer but also enhances client experience, making workouts, feedback, and progress tracking accessible at their fingertips.

By integrating Exercise.com into their business model, personal trainers can ensure they remain competitive, organized, and efficient, thereby focusing more on what they do best: transforming lives through fitness.

Jimmy Myers Relentless Sports Performance
If you want to offer an elite service for the end user you need to get with the times and use elite level software that is intuitive, visually appealing, and effective. That is exactly what Exercise.com delivers to its clients.
Jimmy Myers
Owner/Trainer, Relentless Sports Performance

Get a demo now!

Step #3 Determine Where You are Going to Work

Another factor you must consider when starting your own personal training business is where you are going to train. If you have the capacity and necessary equipment, you can actually train clients in your own gym within your own home. Another option is to train clients in their homes. Training a client at their residence works as long as the client has the necessary equipment you require to train them.

Most personal trainers, especially when first starting out, use a local gym to do their training. Working out of a local gym can be a great way to grow your client base. Often the gyms will actually hire you to train their customers, but you usually have to give the gym a cut of your earnings. If you are using a local gym and are not employed by the gym, make sure you check with the manager or owner of the gym to ensure that non-employees can train clients at the facility.

Online training is also becoming popular. Trainers can establish a website that provides training tools for a reasonable cost. For some people, training on the internet might be considered less personal, but for some, it proves to be extremely beneficial because of the convenience.

The plans and goals are unique to each client. The only difference between online training and in-person training is that there is no face-to-face interaction. Internet training sites provide exceptional exercise options, workout plans, supplements, and nutritional information.

Step #4 Decide Who You are Going to Train

As a trainer, you should decide who you are going to train. It is often beneficial to your business to specialize in the population you wish to train. The types of clients you can train include new mothers, seniors, bodybuilders, disabled or injured individuals, or really anyone interested in personal fitness.

Sometimes additional certifications are required to train certain individuals. Check with your state to see their certification requirements.

Regardless of who you decide to train, it is very important to know your clients. Upon obtaining a new client, you should go through an assessment process. The process should include evaluating their medical history, health, and lifestyle. You should also get to know them as people.

Making notations about your clients after every meeting is an easy way to remember important things about them. With the Exercise.com platform, you can find the best organizational personal trainer software that will also allow you to set and track client goals and workouts.

Communicate with personal training clients via SMS, email, and in-app push notification.


Step #5 Develop Effective Workout Programs

As a personal trainer, you must develop effective workout programs for your clients. These programs should be individualized for each client. The best way to learn how to develop specialized workout programs is through taking classes at local colleges in Exercise Science or Kinesiology. You can even obtain a degree in Exercise Science or Exercise Physiology which can actually make you more marketable.

Ideas for effective workout programs can also be found on the internet, through research and staying current on the latest workout trends. Draw on your own personal experience to create effective workout routines. You can also determine what programs are the most effective by practicing on friends and family before trying the routines out on paying clients.

With the Exercise.com platform, you can create and sell workouts online with ease.

Use the exercise demonstration video library or create your own custom exercise demonstration videos.

Exercise Library

Create workout plans for your clients in-person or online.

Workout Plan Creator

Step #6 Learn How to Keep Your Clients Motivated

As a personal trainer, one of your biggest jobs is learning how to motivate your personal training clients. Speak to your clients using phrases that are positive and uplifting. In addition to being positive, you can keep your clients encouraged by using our software which assists you in setting and tracking client goals. Fill out the form below to get started:

Use the TRACE acronym when setting client goals. Be sure and set goals for your clients that are:

  • Time-specific
  • Realistic
  • Attainable
  • Clear
  • Easy to measure

Encourage your clients to post their goals in a visual place that they see often. Remind your clients often of how far they have come. Establishing a picture journal which illustrates before and after photos can provide a huge benefit for your customer to keep them motivated.

Manage clients and gym members with ease. An online training software comparison for personal trainers makes it easy to see why Exercise.com offers the best client management functionality for in-person and online personal training. The best personal fitness trainer software should work for you on the go, just like in the gym.

Client Management

Step #7 Market Your Personal Training Business

In order to start and maintain a successful personal training business, you must market yourself. Check out our big list of personal training marketing ideas to get started.

With the Exercise.com platform, you can market to your leads and your clients with client engagement tools, automated marketing, and more. Engage with members via automations to supercharge your personal training business marketing.

Gym Member Engagement

Of course, the best way to become known in the business is through increasing gym word of mouth. Keep your clients happy, produce results and you can grow your business. If you are well known at your local gym this is likely to be a great source of clients. Lean into learning how to get more personal training referrals and how to get more gym testimonials, which you can then use for marketing your personal training business.

Don’t ignore the Internet as a marketing tool. Thanks to the Internet, you have ample opportunity to start a blog, build a community, and advertise. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, fitness website forums, and your own website are all ways to get your name out there.

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How to Start a Personal Training Business Online

Starting an online personal training business offers the flexibility to reach clients worldwide, breaking geographical barriers and tapping into a broader client base. With platforms like Exercise.com, launching and managing your online personal training venture becomes a seamless experience. This step-by-step guide will walk you through the process of establishing your online personal training business, emphasizing the integral role of Exercise.com in facilitating business operations.

Online Training

1. Define Your Niche

Before diving in, identify the specific group or type of individuals you wish to target. Whether it’s weight loss, sports-specific training, rehabilitation, or another niche, having a clear focus will help you tailor your services and marketing efforts.

2. Get Certified

Ensure you have a recognized certification in personal training. This not only gives you credibility but also equips you with the necessary knowledge to offer valuable services.

3. Set Up Your Business Legally

  • Register your business.
  • Obtain any necessary permits or licenses.
  • Consider purchasing liability insurance to protect yourself.

4. Create a Business Plan

Outline your business goals, target audience, pricing structure, marketing strategies, and projected financials.

5. Choose a Reliable Online Platform

Performance Reporting

Utilizing Exercise.com as your platform offers numerous benefits:

  • Branding: Customize the platform with your branding.
  • Booking: Schedule sessions, manage client appointments, and send reminders.
  • Payments: Securely process payments and manage subscriptions.
  • Content: Host exercise videos and develop workout plans for clients.
  • Engagement: Interact with clients through messaging, progress tracking, and feedback tools.
Lani Hudgins
Excellent choice for my business! I tried nearly all the “major” platforms and found Exercise.com to be the most intuitive.
Lani Hudgins
Certified Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach

Get a demo now!

6. Design Engaging Workout Programs

Create diverse workout plans catering to different fitness levels and goals. With Exercise.com, you can easily distribute these plans to clients, track their progress, and modify routines based on feedback.

7. Set Your Pricing Structure

Determine how you’ll charge clients. This could be per session, monthly subscriptions, or package deals. Exercise.com’s platform facilitates easy billing and subscription management.

8. Market Your Business

  • Website: Create a professional website showcasing your services, client testimonials, and credentials.
  • Social Media: Engage potential clients through platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.
  • Email Marketing: Use newsletters to offer fitness tips, showcase success stories, and promote your services.

9. Foster Client Relationships

Using the Exercise.com platform, maintain open communication with your clients. Offer feedback, answer queries, and provide motivation. Happy clients often lead to referrals.

10. Continue Your Education

Stay updated with the latest fitness trends, techniques, and scientific findings. This ensures you offer the best services and can answer client questions confidently.

11. Monitor and Adjust

Regularly review your business’s performance. Use Exercise.com’s analytics to understand client engagement, popular workout plans, and areas of improvement.

12. Expand Your Offerings

As your business grows, consider introducing new services like group classes, nutritional guidance, or specialized workout challenges. Exercise.com’s versatility supports this growth, allowing you to expand your offerings without switching platforms.

Starting an online personal training business requires dedication, continuous learning, and effective tools. By leveraging the comprehensive features of Exercise.com, trainers can focus more on delivering quality services and less on administrative tasks, paving the way for a successful online venture.

How to Start a Personal Training Business from Home

Commencing a personal training business from the comfort of your home marries the passion for fitness with the convenience of a flexible workspace. With the advancements in technology and platforms like Exercise.com, it’s now easier than ever to launch, manage, and grow a home-based personal training venture. This guide delineates the steps to set up a thriving personal training business from home, spotlighting how Exercise.com can be your all-in-one solution.

1. Assess Your Space

Before anything else, evaluate the space in your home. Ensure you have a dedicated area for workouts, free from obstructions and equipped with essential fitness equipment.

2. Define Your Niche

Identify your target audience and area of specialization. Whether it’s yoga, strength training, or rehabilitation exercises, having a clear niche can guide your services and marketing tactics.

3. Obtain Necessary Certifications

Ensure you possess a reputable personal training certification. This enhances your credibility and assures clients of your expertise.

4. Legally Structure Your Business

  • Register your business.
  • Acquire relevant permits, especially if clients will occasionally visit your home.
  • Invest in liability insurance to safeguard against potential claims.

5. Craft a Business Plan

Sketch out your business’s roadmap, detailing objectives, target market, pricing strategy, and expected growth.

6. Choose a Comprehensive Online Platform

With Exercise.com, your home-based business can flourish:

  • Branding: Personalize the platform to mirror your brand.
  • Scheduling: Organize sessions, manage client bookings, and forward reminders.
  • Payments: Process payments seamlessly.
  • Content Hosting: Store and share exercise videos and workout regimens.
  • Client Communication: Foster client relationships with in-built messaging and feedback tools.

7. Design Varied Workout Programs

Construct a range of workout plans to cater to diverse client needs. Using Exercise.com, share these plans, monitor client progress, and tweak routines as required.

8. Determine Pricing

Decide on your pricing model – per session, monthly subscriptions, or bundled packages. Exercise.com streamlines payment processing and subscription handling.

9. Promote Your Business

  • Digital Presence: Launch a website that showcases your services, success stories, and qualifications.
  • Social Engagement: Utilize platforms like Instagram or Facebook to reach potential clients and share fitness insights.
  • Email Outreach: Dispatch newsletters to share health tips, spotlight client transformations, and highlight your offerings.

10. Build Strong Client Relationships

Leverage Exercise.com to maintain consistent communication with your clientele, provide feedback, resolve queries, and motivate them towards their goals.

11. Stay Updated

Regularly update your fitness knowledge to ensure you’re at the forefront of the industry and can provide clients with the latest techniques and advice.

12. Analyze and Refine

Periodically assess your business performance. Utilize the analytics provided by Exercise.com to discern client engagement levels, most sought-after workout programs, and potential improvement areas.

13. Expand as Needed

As your business progresses, consider introducing additional services or renting a nearby space for group sessions. Exercise.com’s adaptability ensures your platform grows with you, accommodating new offerings and larger client bases.

Starting a personal training business from home offers unparalleled flexibility. By harnessing the robust capabilities of Exercise.com, trainers can center their attention on delivering unmatched services while the platform manages the operational intricacies, making the dream of a successful home-based fitness venture an attainable reality.

How to Start a Personal Training Business With No Money Required

Starting a personal training business with limited financial resources might seem like a daunting task, but with strategic planning, passion, and leveraging the right tools, it’s very achievable. Digital platforms like Exercise.com can play a pivotal role in this endeavor, offering functionalities that enable trainers to kickstart their business without heavy upfront investments. This guide illustrates the pathway to launch a personal training business on a tight budget, underscoring the advantages of Exercise.com.

1. Utilize Your Existing Knowledge

Rely on your existing fitness knowledge and skills. While formal certifications can enhance credibility, genuine passion and results can also attract clients.

2. Offer Free Services Initially

Start by offering free training sessions to friends or family. This helps in building a portfolio, gathering testimonials, and refining your training approach.

3. Use Free Digital Platforms for Promotion

Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube allow you to share workout tips, client testimonials, and live sessions, reaching a broad audience without advertising costs.

4. Choose Low-Cost Online Platforms

Exercise.com offers scalable solutions, allowing you to start with basic functionalities and upgrade as your business grows. This way, you can manage your business online without hefty initial costs.

5. Leverage Public Spaces

Use public parks, beaches, or community centers for training sessions, eliminating the need for a personal studio or gym space.

6. Borrow or Rent Equipment

Instead of buying, consider borrowing fitness equipment from friends or renting when necessary. Alternatively, focus on bodyweight exercises that don’t require equipment.

7. Offer Group Sessions

Group training allows you to serve multiple clients simultaneously, maximizing your earning potential per hour.

8. Use Word of Mouth

Encourage satisfied clients to refer friends or leave positive reviews. This organic marketing strategy requires no financial investment.

9. Host Online Workouts

With platforms like Exercise.com, you can host virtual training sessions, eliminating location barriers and reaching a global clientele.

10. Develop a Barter System

Offer personal training services in exchange for services you need, like website design, marketing, or equipment.

11. Collaborate with Other Professionals

Team up with nutritionists, yoga instructors, or therapists. Cross-promotions can expand your clientele without advertising costs.

12. Focus on Retention

Prioritize client satisfaction. Happy clients are more likely to continue training and provide referrals. Use Exercise.com’s engagement tools to maintain a strong rapport with clients.

13. Reinvest Profits Wisely

As you start earning, channel your profits back into the business. This could be in the form of equipment, certifications, or premium features on platforms like Exercise.com.

14. Regularly Review and Adjust

Consistently evaluate your business strategies. Use feedback and analytics from Exercise.com to understand what’s working and where improvements can be made.

15. Stay Updated and Network

Engage in free webinars, online courses, and networking events. Staying updated and building connections can open doors to collaborations and new clients.

Starting a personal training business with minimal funds challenges you to be creative, resourceful, and resilient. By making the most of platforms like Exercise.com and adopting a strategic approach, you can establish a successful personal training venture without a significant financial outlay.

Personal Training Business Pricing Strategy

With the Exercise.com platform, you can sell online or in-person, and provide products or services. Process payments for open gym, classes, and personal training. You name it.

Gym Payments

To really take your personal training business to the next level, start setting personal training prices based on the products you sell, rather than the services you provide. This allows you to stop trading your time for money and maximize your personal training income.

This is contrasted to pricing sessions as a personal trainer. When you work for hourly pay, you must establish realistic fees. Trainers can make anywhere from $15 to $90 an hour depending on location, experience, certifications, and degrees. As a trainer, you should research the standard fees in your area and develop a realistic amount.

One hour is usually the standard for training. You can also choose how you wish to bill your client whether it is per hour or as a package. Be sure and bill for your initial consultation with your client.

Establish a cancellation or no-show policy. The cancellation or no-show policy should be communicated with your client at the initial meeting. You may also wish to establish automatic debit payments to ensure payment.

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Personal Training Business Start-Up Costs

The cost to get started when opening your personal trainer business is minimal.

  • Certifications: you must have the ability to pay for the certifications which range anywhere from $65 to $6300, depending on whether or not it is a degreed, online, or workshop program.
  • Space: another varying expense is office space. There could be extra costs involved should you need to rent office space. Often trainers are able to create an office within their own home. Sometimes trainers are given the opportunity to set up an office at the gym they work out of most often. The necessity for office space will greatly depend on how you grow your business and whether or not you wish to take on employees.
  • Marketing: this may include business cards, flyers, or a website. However, it can be as simple as a handwritten flyer with pull off tags at the local gym and free viral marketing on a social networking site.
  • Professional fees: tax experts, and legal experts, bookkeepers and a CPA may all apply.
  • Organizational tools: Whether you buy manila folders and a printer, or use an online invoicing system, plan to spend $30-$200 just to get yourself organized.

Personal Training Business Success Tips

Now that you know the different facets of owning your own personal training business, you are ready to get started. Personal training has become a very successful career choice as fitness has changed greatly over the years.

People are busier, yet they realize the importance of staying in shape. Having the ability to work one on one with a personal trainer is priceless. The key is to be able to provide that special, individualized one-on-one treatment to your clients.

  • There are three criteria that you must meet to start a business as a personal trainer.
  • All successful businesses start with organization and proper planning regardless of whether there is one employee or many.
  • Another factor you must consider when starting your own personal training business is where you are going to train.

Have you ever asked yourself, “How do I start a personal training business?”

Well, first and foremost, it’s not all about being muscular! Before pursuing how to start a fitness business, you need to determine if you have the right personality and skill set to run a successful personal training business.

What are the requirements for being a personal trainer? It can be as simple as knowledge, marketing, and organization. Of course, each category has a lot of components. Read on to learn the requirements, and the steps you must take, like creating a personal training business model, to start a fitness business.

If you’re interested in getting into online training and learning how to start a personal training business online, contact us! We’ve developed a number of solutions that will save you time and will help you present a more professional product online.

Ideal Characteristics for a Personal Trainer

The idea of owning your own business and being your own boss should excite you. One of the first questions that you need to ask yourself is, “How do I sell myself as a trainer?” If you’re planning on garnering the attention of new clients, you should be:

  • Fit and passionate: you should also be passionate about personal fitness. You should look fit, be fit, and act fit.
  • Patient: having a patient personality is also an asset in the personal training business.
  • Motivational: in addition to being patient, you should be able to motivate others. It is your job to continuously encourage them, regardless of how you are feeling.
  • Good communicator: you should also know how to be firm and communicate clear, concise directions. Not only are you their cheerleader, but you are also their coach and teacher!
  • Flexible: lastly, you should be able and willing to work flexible hours. Most personal trainers work early mornings or evenings, as their clients often work during the day.

Three Criteria to Start a Personal Training Business

There are three criteria that you must meet to start a business as a personal trainer. While they are simple to list, the reality is that each one is made up of some very important components. The 3 criteria are listed here, and the individual components are detailed below:

  • Knowledge: having proper knowledge involves a good fitness background. You must then prove that knowledge with certification.
  • Marketing: you may be the best personal trainer on earth. But if no one knows that you are in business, it’s pointless.
  • Organization: from sourcing potential clients, creating and analyzing workouts, to invoicing clients, you must develop a system to keep your business running smoothly.

Expert Tips from Personal Training Business Owners for Starting a Personal Training Business

  • Learn from hardworking fitness industry pros and business experts on how to start a personal training business.
  • Learn how to invest in experience, tell your story, utilize online training, and more!
  • Amid the hustle, don’t forget to maintain your own health and well-being.

No matter if you train in-person, online, do both or are considering which options will work best for you, it can be difficult to start a personal training business.

There are no shortcuts; just a lot of hard work and elbow grease. If you’re willing to educate yourself and put in the hours, the fitness industry provides many opportunities. The BLS projects that by 2024, there will be a nearly 20 percent job increase in the fitness industry. This potential increase will only highlight the personal trainers who know their stuff and work towards excellence in their craft.

Grow and manage your business with our All-In-One Fitness Business Management Software. Request a demo today with Exercise.com.

We asked some hardworking fitness industry pros and business experts for advice on starting a business as a personal trainer and here’s what they had to say:

Tip #1 – Get Started

Get your business on the map

Proactively list it on Google My Business, Bing, and sites like Manta, Yelp, and perhaps even TripAdvisor, if applicable. A business Facebook page is also crucial, as that is often a great way to attract clients and to get your current clients talking about how you’re helping them.

Make sure to set up your business properly

A fitness business carries, potentially, high liability, so it’s best to form the proper business structure early — whether that’s an LLC, S Corp, or C Corp. (Here’s a 14 step checklist for making sure your business is legit.)

Separate your business and personal finances

This is crucial if you have formed a corporate structure, but even if you haven’t, it’s a good idea to set up a business bank account and to get a business credit card or charge card for purchases. This allows you to keep track of how well the business is doing financially and makes it a lot easier come tax time.

Plus, most business credit cards offer lucrative rewards and don’t report to the owner’s personal credit unless they default. That protects your personal credit if you do have some larger purchases upfront– such as equipment– that you want to pay for over time.

Your local Small Business Development Center, SCORE office, Women’s Business Center, or Veteran Business Outreach Center offers free counseling, low-cost training, and assistance. They can help with everything from creating a business plan to marketing help to setting up your books. Take advantage of it!

Gerri Detweiler
Education Director at Nav and author of Finance Your Own Business: Get on the Financing Fast Track, www.nav.com

Tip #2 – Invest in Training, Education, and Experience

Talia Mariani, CPT in New York specializing in powerlifting, recommends that trainers invest in their education first:

What I’d first and foremost recommend to anyone wanting to launch a training business is to first invest in your education. . . . If you’re looking to build your own company, make sure you’re an expert in your specialty (i.e., kettlebells, hypertrophy, powerlifting, functional training, rehab, etc).

Talia Mariani
Owner, Trade Mark Fit

Rob Jackson, Exercise & Nutrition Coach and founder of minimalfit.co.uk, says,

Experience. Practicing what you preach (in my opinion) is critical. If you don’t know what it’s like to stay in shape, train well, and achieve goals, how can you expect anyone you work with to listen to your advice? So, go out and take on some challenges, document it all, and use it to show people you can do what you say you can.

Rob Jackson
Exercise & Nutrition Coach and Founder of minimalfit.co.uk, minimalfit.co.uk

Robert Eyler, Lifestyle Consultant & Owner of GetFit42, says,

While others are out partying on a Friday night, I am in the gym training my clients (or myself). While others are enjoying time off on the weekend, I am enjoying researching current personal training topics, kinesiology findings, reading books, expanding my knowledge on my craft.

Robert Eyler
Lifestyle Consultant & Owner of GetFit42, GetFit42

Tip #3 – Create Value and Value Time

Rebecca Rodriguez, ACE Certified Trainer, says,

When I first started I was working out of a gym. They took a percentage out of what I made and I wish I knew the real value of my knowledge. I didn’t like charging too much for my services and perhaps it’s because I was young, but I could have been more aggressive with my prices.
I also should have been stricter with cancellation policies. It seems small but when you are essentially running your own business, time is absolutely money when you are commission-based. . . . Start smart and work with faithful clients.

Rebecca Rodriguez
ACE Certified Trainer

Adding to that, Kyle Kranz, Running Coach, says,

Whenever I get asked how to become a coach/trainer, my first advice is to simply start providing value to people. One day I realized I was a running expert to people in my online and offline community.
I was spending time on forums and social media providing advice. This gave me the potential network I needed to get clients. Even if the people I knew didn’t need a coach, they possibly knew people who did.

Kyle Kranz
Owner, Running Coach

Tip #4 – Utilize Online Training

Rob Jackson, Exercise & Nutrition Coach and founder of minimalfit.co.uk says,

Not everyone is going to want or be able to afford to train multiple times a week with you. But the truth is that if they train more regularly they are likely to achieve better results.
Using an online training app can help you deliver workouts to them without you needing to be there. It also helps to track their progress and holds them accountable as they know you’ll be checking if they’re checking in for workouts.

Rob Jackson
Exercise & Nutrition Coach and Founder of minimalfit.co.uk, minimalfit.co.uk

Editor: We happen to know a great personal training business software platform that fits the bill. If you’re a trainer looking to break into the online space, we can help you unleash your potential earnings by training anyone, anywhere in the world. Schedule a demo below.

Tip #5 – Tell Your Story

Jamie Logie, a Certified Personal Trainer, Owner of Regained Wellness, and Author of Taking Back Your Health, recommends:

What makes you unique and what got you on the road to health and fitness and what got you to where you are now? This makes it more personable as after all, the people are essentially buying you as much as they are buying the service. They have to know, like, and trust you (KLT) before they are going to want to commit and spend money.
This is what I wish I had known beforehand.

Jamie Logie
Owner of Regained Wellness and Author of Taking Back Your Health, regainedwellness.com

Rob Jackson, Exercise and Nutrition Coach and founder of minimalfit.co.uk, says,

Differentiate yourself. Ask yourself what makes you different from other trainers. There are thousands of good PTs out there, so why would someone want to train with you? Is it your experience? Your qualifications? Your personality?

Rob Jackson
Exercise & Nutrition Coach and Founder of minimalfit.co.uk

Tip #6 – Know Business Basics

Kyle Kranz, Running Coach, says,

There are two sides to being a trainer — the athletic knowledge and the business knowledge. I had the athletic know-how but lacked the business background. The Personal Trainer Development Center (PTDC) and Jon Goodman’s books have been essential for me to have made a good amount of income training people on the side.

With the launch of the Online Trainer Academy, I was able to grow my business even further with the knowledge I was provided.

[But] my next step is to hire a business coach. I wish I would have gotten a mentor earlier on. The free content at the PTDC was a good start, the entire Online Trainer Academy was incredibly helpful, however, I have little doubt a business mentor would have been the absolute best decision I could have made earlier on.

Kyle Kranz
Owner, Running Coach

Rachael Novello, ACE Certified Personal Trainer and Owner of Rachael Novello Fitness, recommends:

One of the first things I did when I started to look for space was to create a budget. I looked at what my current revenue was, based on clientele, and I used that as my starting point.

Rachael Novello
ACE Certified Personal Trainer, Owner of Rachael Novello Fitness

Dave Dreas, Owner of Arizona Training Lab says,

Make sure you keep your overhead low. There are a lot of things that start to add up when it comes to your monthly expenses. You’ll have rent (either to gym or landlord), billing system, email system, insurance, equipment and more. The lower you keep your expenses the more money you can keep in your pocket.

Dave Dreas
Owner, Arizona Training Lab

Tip #7 – Have a Web Presence

Robert Eyler, Lifestyle Consultant & Owner of GetFit42, says,

What I wish I knew when I started: To be completely honest, I wish I knew how important it is to have an established presence on the web (i.e. website, social media, etc.). I waited for quite a bit of time before I pulled the trigger on creating a legitimate website.
I dabbled in social media, attended various networking events, and tried to expand my business through word of mouth and with people I met during travel, however, nothing truly compares to having a professional, well-established website where people can view your mission, background, strengths, and core services.

Robert Eyler
Lifestyle Consultant & Owner, GetFit42

Rob Jackson, Exercise & Nutrition Coach and founder of minimalfit.co.uk says,

Document your journey. When creating social media profiles, you need good content. If you have inspirational stories to share, progress pictures of you or people you have trained, testimonials, etc that will help you build that content much more easily and gain credibility.

Rob Jackson
Exercise & Nutrition Coach and Founder of minimalfit.co.uk

Editor: Exercise.com is the perfect platform for all of your online needs. Our dev team will create a fully custom-branded fitness app and web platform that features your brand, your services, and anything else you’d like to feature.

Tip #8 – Be Organized

Lesley Logan, Fitness Business Coach, PMA Certified Pilates Teacher, and Lead Teacher Trainer for Equinox, notes:

Use a scheduling platform from the beginning! Have a set schedule and let people know you have “this time _ or this time_” don’t let them just pick whatever they want. For example, “I’m free all day Thursday. What time works best for you?” People like a busy restaurant. Have a clear cancellation policy and stick to it. I know you don’t want to lose a client but you also don’t want a client that doesn’t value you.

Lesley Logan
Fitness Business Coach, PMA Certified Pilates Teacher, and Lead Teacher Trainer for Equinox

Robert Eyler, Lifestyle Consultant & Owner of GetFit42, says,

I am huge on timeliness, organization, and communication. I believe that without these three imperative qualities, a business will fall flat on its face. Every night, I take one hour and plan out my next day. I write down to-do lists like it is nobody’s business. I cross items off once I complete.
I set reminders on my phone for meetings or training sessions, I add notes in my phone when I come across an interesting fact, a workout I can use during a PT session, or inspirational quote. We must approach this business with an open mind, willing to absorb the vast amount of knowledge out in the world that we do not yet know!

Robert Eyler
Lifestyle Consultant, Owner of GetFit42

Tip #9 – Never Stop Hustling

Nick Mitchell CEO of Ultimate Performance has built a global personal training business believes:

You’ve been told that if you hustle you’ll make it. Here’s the problem — just like creating your own ideal body, hustling is never enough. It is merely the start.
To be successful in any endeavor is not about “life balance” — it is about doing what is necessary and prioritizing your goals above all of your own desires.

You can probably do it for a day or three, just like most people can follow a diet. Can you look inside yourself and say you can do it for decades? I’ve been doing it for 10 years and I am shattered — the really successful people I know have been doing it for at least double that.

Nick Mitchell
CEO, Ultimate Performance

Talia Mariani, Owner of Trade Mark Fit in NYC, encourages trainers:

Be prepared to hustle. Again, bigger gyms provide a funnel of clients for you — when you’re on your own you don’t have that crutch to rely on. You’ve got to actively pursue new clients in order to fill your schedule.
Word of mouth and referrals are always your best resource, and again, this is where continuing education comes in handy. Committing yourself to valuable certifications gets you in the room with other like-minded individuals/trainers. It builds your network of people who can refer new clients to you and vice versa.

Talia Mariani
Owner, Trade Mark Fit

Robert Eyler, Lifestyle Consultant & Owner of GetFit42, says,

When plans fail, KEEP GOING! I am HUGE on perseverance. I have failed hundreds of times. There were times when I wanted to up and quit my entire business because it became too hard, I wasn’t attracting enough clients, money was tight, [and] stress and blood pressure were high.
But I continued onward and became a much better entrepreneur and human being because of it. That is the best advice I could give. Don’t listen to the negativity that our world is so used to spewing out and absorbing. Focus on the positives, constructive criticism, and bettering yourself as (1) an individual and (2) an entrepreneur!

Robert Eyler
Lifestyle Consultant, Owner of GetFit42

Rachael Novello, ACE Certified Personal Trainer and Owner, Rachael Novello Fitness, recommends:

[O]ne of the things I learned was that persistence, determination, and faith in yourself/brand will ultimately get you to where you want to be.
I knew I had something amazing, I knew I wanted to share it with people, so I dug in my heels and kept moving forward.

When I opened my doors on January 1, 2017, I was elated. All my hard work had come to fruition! Looking back, I wish someone had told me how hard it was going to be and how many sleepless nights I would have. . . .

When you put your heart and soul into something, and you believe in what you’re doing there really are no limitations to what you can accomplish!

Rachael Novello
Owner, Rachael Novello Fitness

Tip #10 – Know Your Market and Be the Expert

Rob Lagana, Owner of Lagana Fitness, Certified Personal Trainer with NASM, and nutritionist, recommends,

The best business advice I can give is toknow your target market and specialize in helping them specifically as individuals. As an example, specialize in women over 40 who want to lose body fat and get fit.
Trust me, women over 40 have unique physiological systems. There is no catch-all program or generic program for them as each is very individualized.

Rob Lagana
Owner, Lagana Fitness

Dunte Hector, Certified Personal Trainer and Director of Education for Primal 7, says:

If I were to start my first independent personal training business again, I would figure out exactly one type of client to whom I could deliver outrageous results, and then I would find one client who met that profile and train her for free.
How specific would the profile be? I finally grew my business as a trainer when I identified married, professional women in their early forties who had a favorite exercise hobby (attorneys and company directors and business owners who loved surfing, tennis, yoga, cycling, etc.) and focused all of my writing, social media posts, and conversations on their issues.

The best business advice I ever received was from a software company founder in Lubbock in 2010: When you don’t have any money, spend all of your time building relationships. That statement captures how training one or two of those women for free and delivering on my promises earned me dozens of referrals and built a sustainable business.

Dunte Hector
Director of Education, Primal 7

Lesley Logan, Fitness Business Coach, PMA Certified Pilates Teacher, and Lead Teacher Trainer for Equinox, says,

What was the best business advice you’ve ever received? In the beginning, you’ll have one client. Focus on getting that one client to get all the results you know they need and what they feel they want. They will send you all their friends!

Leslie Logan
Fitness Business Coach, PMA Certified Pilates Teacher, and Lead Teacher Trainer for Equinox

Tip #11 – Take Care of Yourself

Dave Dreas, Owner of Arizona Training Lab says,

When you spend all day in a gym it can be difficult finding time for your own workout. Do not neglect your health. You are a representation of your brand/business so be fit, active and energetic. People look at you for resources, advice, guidance, and knowledge and you want to represent that.

Dave Dreas
Owner, Arizona Training Lab

Grow and manage your business better with our All-In-One Fitness Business Management Software. Request a demo today!

Editor’s Note: These answers have been edited for clarity.

How do I start a personal training business from scratch?

Starting a personal training business from scratch involves obtaining a recognized certification, determining your fitness niche, choosing a business structure (like an LLC), securing business licenses and insurance, and creating a marketing plan. Exercise.com can help streamline processes like client management, workout planning, and business operations to establish a strong foundation for your business.

Is it profitable to be a personal trainer?

Yes, being a personal trainer can be profitable, especially if you have a strong client base, specialized skills, and effective marketing strategies. The profitability varies based on location, specialization, and mode of training (in-person vs. online). Incorporating software solutions like Exercise.com can enhance client management and boost revenue.

How to start a personal training business with no money?

Starting with little to no money requires creativity. Offer group classes in public places, barter services, utilize free social media for marketing, and start with online training platforms that offer free tiers. Exercise.com can provide an all-in-one platform to scale as you grow.

How many clients should a beginner personal trainer have?

A beginner personal trainer should start with a manageable number, perhaps 5-10 clients, to ensure quality service while building confidence and refining skills. Exercise.com’s platform can help manage schedules and provide resources to enhance client-trainer interactions.

Is it hard to start a personal training business?

Starting a personal training business can be challenging due to competition and initial costs, but with passion, skill, a good business plan, and leveraging platforms like Exercise.com, success is attainable.

How do I sell myself as a personal trainer?

Highlight your unique skills, certifications, successes, and specialization. Use testimonials, offer free workshops, and maintain an active online presence. Utilizing platforms like Exercise.com can help you offer branded workout plans and showcase your expertise.

What kind of personal trainer gets paid the most?

Trainers specializing in niche areas, celebrity trainers, or those with advanced certifications typically earn more. Additionally, trainers who incorporate online training and sell branded plans, possible with Exercise.com, often see increased revenue.

Can you live off of being a personal trainer?

Yes, many personal trainers earn a comfortable living, especially when combining in-person training with online offerings, which Exercise.com can facilitate.

Can you train people in your home?

Yes, if you have adequate space and equipment. Ensure that you’re covered by insurance and check local regulations about running a business from home.

What personal training business can I start without employees?

Online personal training, where you offer virtual sessions and sell digital workout plans using platforms like Exercise.com, allows you to start solo.

How to start a personal training business online?

Identify your niche, set up a professional website, use social media for promotion, and choose an online platform like Exercise.com to manage clients, host virtual sessions, and sell workout plans.

How much should I charge as a beginner trainer?

Research local rates, consider your expenses, and perhaps start slightly below market rate to attract initial clients. As you gain experience, adjust your rates accordingly.

How do personal trainers get clients fast?

Networking, offering promotions, leveraging social media, getting testimonials, and utilizing platforms like Exercise.com to provide online training can accelerate client acquisition.

What should a personal trainer do in the first session?

Assess the client’s fitness level, discuss goals, outline a plan, and give a sample workout. Ensure clear communication and make the client feel comfortable.

What is the best business structure for a personal trainer?

Most personal trainers opt for an LLC (Limited Liability Company) for its liability protection and tax benefits.

What makes a personal training business stand out?

Unique training methods, niche specializations, success stories, personalized client interactions, and offering online resources like those available on Exercise.com can differentiate a business.

Should I have insurance prior to beginning my training career?

If you are planning on training clients in any capacity, it is a good idea to be insured to protect yourself from any legal troubles that may arise.

Should personal trainers work in a gym before starting a business?

Not necessarily. However, working in an already established gym may help you gain valuable experience that you can transfer to your own business in the future.

Do I need insurance if I start my own personal training business?

Yes. In order to protect yourself from various legal troubles, you should be insured. 

How do I start my own online personal training business?

You don’t need a gym to start training people online! By utilizing social media platforms, and by ensuring that you have a solid fitness business management software platform with online training capabilities, you can easily run an online training business without ever stepping foot inside of a gym.

How to start a mobile personal training business?

Similarly to online training, if you’d prefer to go to the homes of clients to conduct training sessions, that can be an easy way to avoid gym rental space costs. However, it is important that if this is the route you plan on taking, you speak with an attorney to ensure that you have the proper liability insurance to avoid any risks of potential lawsuits.

How many clients is a lot for a personal trainer?

Handling over 25-30 clients weekly might be overwhelming for a solo trainer, affecting service quality.

How much do personal training certifications cost?

Depending on the organization and certification level, costs can range from $400 to over $1,000.

What is the cheapest most profitable fitness business to start?

Online personal training, with minimal upfront costs for a website and marketing, can be lucrative, especially when using platforms like Exercise.com to scale.

Can online personal training be a side hustle?

Absolutely. It offers flexibility, allowing trainers to serve clients globally at convenient times.

How do I find personal training clients online?

Leverage social media, fitness forums, and use online platforms like Exercise.com to showcase your services.

How to sell online personal training?

Offer unique workout plans, use video content for promotion, provide free trials, and utilize platforms like Exercise.com for streamlined service delivery.

How do I choose my personal training niche?

Assess your passions, skills, market demand, and where you can provide the most value.

How do I decide which personal training business is best for me?

Consider your passion, market research, startup costs, and how you want to interact with clients, whether in-person, online, or both.

How can Exercise.com help me run my personal training business?

Exercise.com provides an all-in-one solution for personal trainers, offering client and business management tools, workout plan creations, and e-commerce capabilities. It allows trainers to offer online training, sell branded workout plans, and streamline operations, all under a custom-branded app. Booking a demo with Exercise.com can provide further insights.

Jimmy Myers Relentless Sports Performance
If you want to offer an elite service for the end user you need to get with the times and use elite level software that is intuitive, visually appealing, and effective. That is exactly what Exercise.com delivers to its clients.
Jimmy Myers
Owner/Trainer, Relentless Sports Performance

Get a demo now!


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  2. https://smallbusiness.chron.com/make-yourself-incorporated-61628.html
  3. https://www.nfpt.com/personal-trainer-workplaces
  4. https://www.nav.com/blog/a-14-step-checklist-to-make-your-business-legit-20000/?
  5. https://www.nav.com
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  7. https://minimalfit.co.uk
  8. https://www.getfit42.com
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  10. https://www.regainedwellness.com/
  11. https://www.amazon.com/Taking-Back-Health-Jamie-Logie-ebook/dp/B00SXL4S7Y
  12. https://www.theptdc.com/
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  16. https://laganafitness.com/
  17. https://www.primal7.com/
Tyler Spraul is the director of UX and the head trainer for Exercise.com. He has his Bachelor of Science degree in pre-medicine and is an NSCA-Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist® (CSCS®). He is a former All-American soccer player and still coaches soccer today. In his free time, he enjoys reading, learning, and living the dad life.
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