September 28, 2021
Being in the fitness industry gives you amazing opportunities for a successful and rewarding career. The demand for experienced fitness professionals is growing like never before. Regardless of how long you have been in the personal training business, now is the time to make the most out of your passion for helping people in their fitness journey.
As a personal trainer business owner, you’ll be able to set your own hours, decide what to charge for your services, and most importantly, work with the people YOU choose. Who doesn’t want that? Well, we are here to help get started.
In this article, we bring you the ultimate “starting a personal training business checklist” with the top 10 resources you will need to take that big step and succeed.
Let’s get into it!
Starting any business requires research, planning, and lots of preparation. You’ll want to make sure you have all the resources you need. There are a few core principles that any thriving business should focus on and that can put you on the right path to success.
Here’s a top 10 checklist of resources you should focus on.
Let’s take a deeper look into how you can develop each of these resources.
It’s important to name your business, and this is a big decision. The brand you build around your services is just as important as the business itself, and it all starts with a name. Your business name must resonate with your audience, so investing enough time in research and testing can ensure you stand out from the competition.
Many personal trainers simply decide to use their name, for example, “Rebecca Neel, Personal Trainer”, and while this is perfectly fine, you may want to make it a little more fun and unique. Try following these steps when coming up with a name.
Start by writing down words that you can fit into your business name. It could be fitness-related words like “body”, “healthy” and “wellness”. Once you have enough words you can start putting some ideas together. Run through your list to cross out the ones you think might be hard to remember or may not target your audience.
Now, you probably have about 5 or 6 personal trainer business names so you can start asking potential customers or even other people working in the industry to give you feedback. Try not to ask friends or family as they are more likely to just go along with your ideas and not be objective about them.
Once you have received the feedback and have narrowed your options down to 2 or 3 names (in case one of them is already taken), you can search the web so you can make sure your name is available for Trademark and Domain name Registration.
These are only a few tips on how to go about picking a name for your personal training business. You can check out this article for how to come up with a personal training business name for more advice.
It is not legally required for you to have any type of certification in order to be a personal trainer. However, if you are starting your own business, being certified can give your service a lot more professional credibility. Your client’s health is at stake, and having a set of certifications can make you more trustworthy.
If you already have a certification it’s worth making sure it is up to date and valid. It may seem obvious but it can be very easy to lose track of CPD/CEC points (these measure your follow-up education once you’ve already been certified) and the deadlines to renew them.
Take the time to do some research so you can find the right certification program for you. Once you purchase your desired course, you will be provided with study materials and can complete your certification online.
Depending on your chosen course, getting certified can take as little as three months and up to two years. Here are some of the best personal trainer certifications you can consider.
ISSA’s personal trainer certification offers a wide variety of distance courses in different fitness and health-related topics such as anatomy, nutrition, physiology, and kinesiology. It’s a self-paced coursework and you are provided with a dedicated coach to help you whenever you need it.
The program also includes practice examinations as well as a business and marketing guide to complement your fitness education and help you start on your own.
The NASM is one of the most popular programs in the fitness industry, getting over 190,000 personal trainers certified in the last 10 years. Their certification program relies on the latest scientific research to explore a variety of health predictors such as flexibility, balance, strength, and cardiorespiratory endurance.
You will be provided with digital textbooks, practice quizzes, and video lectures that can be both self-guided or with guided instructions.
ACE offers different certification programs for personal trainers, health coaches, medical exercise specialists, and group fitness instructors. Their courses are built on the foundation of “getting people moving”.
Its emphasis is on customizing your training programs to meet clients at their level. Whether their training goal is function (increase mobility) or performance (running a marathon).
All these certifications require you to have a current Adult CPR and AED certification, as well as a high school diploma or equivalent.
If you are going to be your own boss and have your own personal training business, you will no longer be under an employer’s insurance. You must ensure you have some kind of liability insurance in order to protect yourself and your business financially.
There are two main types of liability insurance: General and Professional. The main difference between them is in the type of risks they each cover. Let’s take a quick look at each of them.
General liability coverage includes physical risks, such as property damage caused by your employees or business. It also covers bodily injuries inside your facility, or while performing exercises during a class (slip and falls or employee’s accidents, including remote classes).
Medical payments and reputational harm are covered in case of a lawsuit. Personal trainers often pay between $400 to $1000 annually for general liability insurance.
This is also known as “errors and omissions insurance” and it protects your business in case a client claims that your advice (or negligence) led directly to an injury or lost wages. For example, if you fail to spot a client during a new exercise and they end up falling and breaking an arm, your professional liability insurance would cover the client’s injury.
Professional liability insurance can cost anywhere between $450 to $1,900 annually. Because of the nature of the personal training industry, your business will be under both risks. So, it is recommended to have general as well as professional liability insurance.
The price you pay for insurance will vary depending on your business location, amount of employees, and revenue. Insurance providers like CoverWallet or Hiscox are a great option for personal trainers who are just getting started as they offer quick and affordable coverage solutions.
At the moment of signing up your clients, you will need to have certain legal forms and paperwork ready. Besides making your business look a lot more professional and organized, the right set of forms will help you lower the risk of injuries and protect you legally in case of an accident.
There is not an established set of forms you should have, but these are some useful ones to consider.
When your client signs a personal liability waiver form, they are surrendering the option of suing you if they get injured during training workouts. All of your clients should sign this waiver form. The waiver covers you from any accidents that may happen because when your client signs the form, they are agreeing to not hold you liable.
Keep in mind, this waiver can shift the legal responsibility away from your business, but depending on the circumstances it may not completely remove that responsibility. For example, a client who signed a liability waiver may not claim compensation if he sprains his wrist while doing planks because he was aware of the risks of physical activity.
However, if he claims that you were not correcting his form and your negligence caused the injury, a liability waiver may not be enough. This is when you would benefit from professional liability insurance.
For this reason, you should not use this waiver as a replacement for liability insurance. This is a smart way to make sure your client acknowledges the risks and serves as an additional measure to protect your business.
The Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q) is a must for personal trainers. This standardized form is used to help you assess whether a client is physically able to start an exercise program or if they need medical clearance from a doctor before you can start working with them.
The questionnaire asks questions about any medical condition that could be worsened by physical activity. This is very helpful for you to reduce liability because your client will be made aware of the potential risks of exercise depending on their health condition.
It can also help you create an exercise program that is adjusted to your client’s needs, lowering the risk of injuries. This is not a legal requirement for a personal training business, but it can help protect you in case of a lawsuit. You can download it in PDF format online.
You can choose to assess your clients informally, by measuring their weight or body fat, and briefly discussing their exercise history. However, when the time comes to show the value of your services, it is very helpful to have a formal assessment form.
A fitness assessment form evaluates your client’s overall health condition by gathering information about any pre-existing conditions (diabetes, hypertension, etc.) and daily habits (smoking, drinking and diet). Also, it defines the fitness goals they want to achieve when working with you and you can use it to keep updating them monthly as your client progresses.
It also specifies physical measurements like height, weight, body fat percentage which eventually will help you demonstrate the improvements achieved with your training program.
From a commercial point of view, a service agreement is a great idea because it helps you formalize a client-trainer relationship. Here is where you can include your general terms and conditions. Ideally, you want to cover the following.
This can prevent awkward moments or misunderstandings between you and your clients in the future by clearly outlining the expectations in an agreement. If your client fully understands what to expect from your services, your professional relationship will be a lot better.
It’s important to get your new business registered, and in order to do this, you must decide what type of business structure you want to have. There are different legal structures that can work better depending on business types.
For a personal training business, the most common structures are LLC and Sole Proprietorship. Here’s what you need to know about them.
This is the most common type of business structure, defined by the IRS as “someone who owns an unincorporated company by him/herself”. Here, simplicity is the real advantage. However, this also means that, as the owner, you would be responsible for all business’ debts, liabilities, and losses. So, if you are sued for whatever reason, your client could go after your personal assets.
In this type of structure, the business itself does not pay taxes. Instead, they are “passed through” to the owner and paid in their personal returns under the regular tax rates.
This allows for the business owner to not take full responsibility for the assets and income related to the company. It basically protects you from being personally pursued for amendments of the company’s debts or liabilities (which is one of the main reasons why business owners opt for this structure).
Forming your business as an LLC may require a lot of paperwork for tax filings, which can be seen as a downside (aside from actually paying business taxes). However, LLC businesses can choose how they would like to be taxed, which can allow flexibility in filing due dates and payment deadlines.
For example, you can choose to file taxes as a single-member LLC and pay your taxes as a sole proprietorship, or file as a corporation and pay taxes on company profits at the corporate rate. You can easily form an LLC via LegalZoom.
You need to decide how much you are going to charge based on your client’s preferred contract length. Establish the prices per hour, session, week, month, or year. Another factor to consider is the different packages you want to offer. For example, if you include diet plans, online sessions, or access to any group and specialized training.
Other factors like where the client wants to train or the area where you live can also come into play. If you have to be driving to and from their home or preferred gym you must take the travel expenses into consideration.
A good place to start is to research your competition. Look for other personal trainers targeting the same type of clients, and research their rates. Try to adjust them to your experience and consider any unique benefits that may add value to your services.
Social media, as you probably already know, is the easiest and fastest way to get to hundreds (if not millions) of people. But having a Facebook or Instagram account alone won’t make for a good marketing strategy.
You need to pay close attention to what you are posting and how you are interacting with your followers because they are all, in essence, potential clients. Here are a few things you can try to improve your social media presence.
If you are just getting started, you should clearly define who your audience is (if you are a bodybuilder, senior specialist, prenatal or postpartum trainer, etc.) This is important because it will determine the type of content you will be posting.
Getting your audience used to daily posts can help you drive consistent traffic to your page. You can do this by having a “tip of the day” post, or coming up with different themes for each day of the week (like Transformation Monday, Mindfulness Tuesday, etc.)
If you have more content to share, make sure it’s spread out along the week, and don’t post more than twice a day as this can cause some of your followers to lose interest.
The best way to engage with your readers is to give them something to do. Incorporate a call-to-action on all your posts. This means, encourage people to call, text or email with any questions, concerns, info requests or simply to sign up for your services.
You can also ask them to like or subscribe to your social media pages. Another way to engage is by asking a question or opinion to encourage people to leave a comment on your post. Your call-to-action should always be at the end of your post as this is the last thing people will see and most likely remember.
Show, don’t tell, right? The best way to use your social media for marketing is to show people the results they can get when working with you. Transformation pictures (before and after) can really show your audience what you are capable of doing.
Try to also include pictures and videos of you working with your clients so your followers can get an idea of what you offer and what it is like working with you.
A key to starting ANY business is to put together a solid set of marketing strategies. Especially with all the competition among fitness professionals, this will be one of the biggest challenges for your new personal training business, and you need to stay on top of it.
Business cards, flyers, or brochures are some of the most traditional marketing methods, and while they can be effective to a certain degree, you want to make sure you have a presence in as many areas as possible. Here are some of the main marketing strategies to focus on.
Creating a personal training brand gives people something they can attach to you and your services. When a client encounters your brand, the first thing they will be wondering is “What makes you different from any other personal trainer? This is what your branding strategy should be focused on.
This is a great time to develop your unique selling proposition (USP), which is the one thing that sets you apart from your competition. Having a strong USP will help you clearly express who your business is for and showcasing your unique value to get you among the top options for your targeted clients.
Think of a specific aspect of your business (for example, if you specialize in beginner’s routines, if you specialize in a certain area of fitness training, or have a nutrition degree and offer diets as part of your packages). Anything that stands out when compared to other businesses targeting the same audience as you.
Regardless of how strong your social media presence is, you will need a website to give your followers and potential clients somewhere to go if they want to know your business a little bit better. Having a well-designed website will make your audience understand you mean business and you are professional about the services you offer.
It’s important that you keep your website simple and concise by having a good balance of pictures and text. This will reduce the time it takes your prospects to understand what your services are about. Tell people about your experience working in specific fitness areas and what certifications you have
Ultimately, your website should make prospects believe, trust, and like you. The more testimonials and advice you can share, the better. Also, having frequent and new content on your website can help you rank higher on Google’s search results.
To get started, all you really need to purchase are a domain name, hosting, and a content management system (CMS). Alternatively, you could use a drag and drop service like Wix to design your website.
Attending fitness events is a great way to make yourself known in the industry and attract clients to your business. You can browse the internet to find small (or large) meetups or fitness expos in your area to attend. This is also an opportunity to connect with other personal trainers that may be starting their entrepreneurial journey.
Being in contact with other personal trainers will allow you to “piggyback” off each other’s customer base. Maybe you specialize in a type of training they can’t offer and they would pass on the client to you or vice versa. It’s also common for personal trainers to refer their clients to someone they trust in case they don’t have time to take on new clients.
Surely, choosing a training venue is a critical part of your overall business planning. For most personal trainers who are starting out, renting space or paying for training time in their local fitness facility may be the best bet. This will give you access to training equipment that you may not be able to purchase at the moment.
However, many people can be indecisive about joining a gym or workout at home, so you may want to give them an option. Modern technology can allow you to have a professional and effective personal training business online. You can use platforms and apps to stay connected with your clients. Here are a few pointers if you are considering doing your business from home.
If you want to offer your clients the option to train online, you will need a home base that is properly equipped to provide your remote training sessions, as well as the right technology to stay in communication. Keep the following factors in mind.
These are just some of the main areas to focus on if you want to start an online personal training business and offer your services from home. Keep in mind, everything else we have covered in this article applies regardless of the location you choose to train from.
As an independent personal trainer, you must have enough tools to get in contact with your clients and provide the best service and communication you possibly can. The easiest and fastest way to do it? Online software.
Technology nowadays can make running your business a lot easier than it was before. You can use online personal training software to track your client’s progress, provide them with videos of how to perform exercises, and keep all your legal forms organized (PAR-Q, waivers, etc). But there’s a lot more you can get from online training software.
If after going through this checklist, you feel like you need a little help putting everything together, we can help you do so. System2 is the most complete, customizable, and professional personal training software out there.
We bring you a solution for many of the challenges you may find when starting your own personal training business. Here are some of the ways in which we can help out:
We help you analyze your customer data to gain a better understanding of who your potential clients are, and what they need from your brand. Developing effective marketing strategies will be so much easier if you have a team of professionals in the business to back you up.
Don’t have a website yet? Don’t worry, we will provide you with a CUSTOM BUILT website with your own personal training business branding. Show everyone what your business is all about and connect with the right audience by having a personalized page.
You will be able to create the perfect workout routine for all of your clients using our workout builder or easily personalize the workout templates we already have available for you. Save time and effort while still providing programs that are effective and tailored to your client’s needs.
Our software allows you to collect and manage all of your client’s payments. This makes it easier for you to track your transactions and provides an overall hassle-free process for both of you.
With System2, the process of welcoming new clients into your personal training business and staying in contact with them will flow smoothly. You will have your own custom-branded iOS and Android apps to provide a reliable communication platform for you and your clients.
If you don’t feel like dealing with all the administrative stuff, you can opt-in for a dedicated assistant to help you manage your new personal training business. Having some help can even give you the extra time you need to take on a couple more clients or plan expansion projects (make more money).
Get in contact with us, we’ll help you get your personal training business where you want it to be.
Written by: Brenda Hernandez