How to Start a Personal Training Business | Learn: Your Fitness Business Resource

How to Start a Personal Training Business

When someone sets out to start a personal training business, the process can feel overwhelming. Below, our expert trainer guides you through how to start a successful personal training business and directs you to the tools required, like setting up a personal training business model, for the process to be as seamless and simple as possible.

Tyler Spraul is the director of UX and the head trainer for He has his Bachelor of Science degree in pre-medicine and is an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist. 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. He has been featured in Shape, Healthline, HuffPost, Women's...

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UPDATED: Oct 6, 2021

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  • 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.

All of the sections that follow support one of the above criteria and will help get your business started on solid ground.

Determine the Type of Personal Trainer Business

The next step in launching your own personal training business is determining whether or not you want to start your own company or freelance as a personal trainer. 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.

Organization and Planning

All successful businesses start with organization and proper planning regardless of whether there is one employee or many. A successful business owner creates a thorough business plan and budget. Free templates for business plans can be found online or you can pay a professional to create one.

Further, a quick online search can lead you to helpful resources like a “Starting a Personal Training Business” checklist. A successful personal trainer business plan can help you obtain loans, receive referrals from physicians, or lease office or gym space from a landlord.

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 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.

Consult a fitness 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 the internet 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.

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.

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. You can find organizational personal trainer software that will also allow you to set and track client goals and workouts.

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.

Learn How to Keep Your Clients Motivated

As a personal trainer, one of your biggest jobs is keeping your clients motivated. 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:

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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.

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.

Market Yourself as a Personal Trainer

In order to start and maintain a successful personal training business, you must market yourself. Creating business cards is an easy way to start. Pass them out to everyone; leave them at community centers, offices, and local gyms.

Be sure and network with other businessmen and women as a way of obtaining new clients. Pass out fliers wherever the opportunity arises. Place advertisements in newspapers and on the internet.

Of course, the best way to become known in the business is through 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.

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, Twitter, fitness website forums, and your own website are all ways to get your name out there. The social marketing venues like Facebook are especially useful as a way to establish yourself as trustworthy and well known.

Fee Setting for Personal Training

As a personal trainer, 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.

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.

Be a Successful Business Owner

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.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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 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.

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