Have you ever dreamed of swapping your 9-to-5 job for the energetic buzz of a gym floor? Imagine trading in that blazer for a pair of running shoes and taking charge of not just your fitness journey but someone else’s as well. 

If you’re captivated by the idea of transforming lives through health and fitness, then you’re in the right place. 

Starting a personal training business isn’t just a career switch; it’s a calling that offers unparalleled flexibility and the chance to make a real impact. But let’s not sugarcoat it—the road to building a successful personal training venture is fraught with challenges. From obtaining certifications to navigating the labyrinth of legal obligations, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. 

But what if there were a roadmap to streamline the process? 

In this definitive guide, we’ll navigate you through every crucial step of starting your personal training business, leaving no stone unturned. Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast considering a career change or a certified trainer looking to break free from the constraints of a gym contract, this article is your all-in-one toolkit for success. 

And speaking of all-in-one solutions, we’ll introduce you to an app designed specifically to help personal trainers manage clients, create customized workouts, and even handle branding—all from the palm of your hand. Ready to embark on the most rewarding journey of your life? Lace-up those trainers; it’s time to jumpstart your dream.

Why Personal Training?

In 2023, there were more than 830,000(1) personal trainers industry employees. The market size was 14 billion US dollars. However, there are also over 830,000 registered businesses in the industry at the same time, meaning there’s almost one business per team member. 

Furthermore, if we were to divide the market size by the number of businesses, we get just under 17,000 per business. Therefore, some win and some lose, but the rewards are what make it really enticing if you get things right.

Flexibility and Independence

When you’re a trainer, you have options. You can work for a gym, work for yourself, do one-on-one house calls, or rent a space and invite your clients to come to you. Or, with the right tools, you can manage multiple clients online. As you can see, you’ve got options.

Better Than Average Health

As a personal trainer, you’ll likely have better than average health. That is, as long as you take your own advice on eating and exercise. The road might not be easy at times, but if you’re motivated, you’ll have a higher chance of success, and you’ll be in better-than-average health with all that training.

Helping Others Live Better

As a personal trainer, you’re helping people to be their better selves. Who doesn’t like helping others? You’ll be providing a highly valuable service.

Education Vs Return Is Great

A survey(2) a few years back (2006) in Massachusetts showed that 80% of health clubs required certification but not a bachelor’s degree. Keeping that in mind, take a look at the following table I put together:

CPR and AED training*PT CertificationBachelor’s Degree (In-State)Bachelor’s Degree (Out-Of-State or Private)
Time to completeOne day (usually about 4 hours)10-16 weeksA4 years (48 months)4 years (48 months)
Cost to complete$89 – $350**$400 – $2,400A$ 36,576.00B$ 132,860.00B

Notes About The Above Table:

* – CPR and AED training is necessary for most PT jobs, so we’ve included it. 

** – Cost depends on location and scope of training(3).

A – The cost of PT certification changes depending on who the training is with (which affiliated organization), the extent of the training, and other factors. The length of time to complete relies on similar factors but mostly on how fast and adept you are at learning the required content.

B – Tuition fees for 4 years(4).

Points To Keep In Mind

The job outlook for personal trainers is excellent. Whereas the general industry sees a 3% growth outlook, the personal trainer industry outlook is a whopping 14%(5).

Industry professionals claim that there is a turnover rate of an incredible 80% or higher(6). The reason given is the very same reason that the industry draws individuals – the discrepancies between adequately trained and certified. We’ll talk more about this in the next section – market research & planning.

Step One: Market Research & Planning

Market Downside?

There is a dark side to becoming a personal trainer – most drop out in their first year. The question is, why does the industry have such a considerable amount of those who give up before a year is up? There are a few reasons, but usually, it’s because there’s a massive difference between accreditations, and everyone is racing online to provide a complete and cheap online solution. The problem is that a real-world successful personal trainer needs to know more than a few months of rushed training can teach a lot more.

As gloomy as this situation seems, there are advantages for those willing to put in the time and effort to specialize and take more than just an online PT certification course.

The Upside

Due to the issues in the industry, high turnover also means there are typically going to be a lot of available jobs. It won’t take long to find work as many gyms have cut their qualifying factors down to single certification status due to the shortage of long-term personnel. That means if you’re just starting, you’ll be able to find work and get some experience under your belt. 

How To Move Forward

Continue researching and looking up jobs in your area or areas where you are willing to work. A quick search online should provide you with several places to see what jobs are available. Still, one good place to start is Robert Half, CareerBuilder, or Indeed.

Next, you can also look to find gym pages and personal trainer groups on Facebook and LinkedIn

The above sources alone are excellent places to start researching. You’ll want to see what gyms and other personal trainer jobs are available. Still, you’ll also want to snoop around as a pretend potential client to find out what they charge their clients. That way, if you’re going to launch a personal trainer business locally, you’ll know what the competition is charging, and you can adjust your price accordingly.

Step Two: Get Qualifications & Certifications

As mentioned earlier, personal trainer certification is relatively inexpensive in both time and money compared to a bachelor’s degree. If you have a related degree, that’s great, but if you don’t, that’s okay too. 

If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, consider taking a couple of certification courses or include a specialization. By getting multiple certifications, you better position yourself as an authority in your field.

Consider Reading These:

The Gold Standard: Picking the Best Online Trainer Certification

Training Without a Cert: Risks and Realities for Personal Trainers

Step 4: Plan Financial Considerations

Financial costs will vary greatly, depending on your business plan. If you plan to open an elite private club, you may need considerable startup capital. That’s why I recommend if you don’t have a lot of capital to get started, focus on paying for your certification first.

Second, consider getting set up with an online client management software. Elite Trainr is one such application that lets you manage and scale your personal trainer business, all from your phone or tablet. With software like Elite Trainr, you could be building your audience on social media right now and gaining clients – managing them on your phone. It’s really quite incredible what our modern technology will do for us, isn’t it?

Other financial considerations for launching your personal trainer business might also include other things like liability insurance. 

According to the National Library of Medicine(7), 36.2% of all cases of injury reported at fitness facilities were due to overexertion. A client could hurt themselves just by overdoing it – a reality you need to prepare for and attempt to mitigate and prevent.

For insurance, you can expect to pay between $200 and $1200 per year for general liability insurance. If you opt for professional liability, you’re looking at between $500 and $1800(8).

Consider Reading The Following:

Step 5: Cover Your Legalities

A part of your plan needs to include the appropriate legal steps. These will consist of creating an original business name, logo, and website. You will need to register your business name and make sure you aren’t copying anyone else by doing a business name search in the country where you intend to operate. Furthermore, you may need to register federally if you want to go nationally. The best thing to do is call your local business licensing center for advice about what you have to do in your particular state, province, or territory.

As an intelligent business person, you will also want to have a website. With a website comes certain legalities – like having a privacy policy, terms of use, and other relevant pages to ensure you follow all the appropriate laws for the areas where you intend to have a public appearance.

Contracts? Yes, Please!

Many personal trainers start without considering their legal liabilities. The biggest mistake many new personal trainers make is to start without a formal contract. 

Contracts written by a lawyer will help you protect yourself from harm should your clients do something foolish and choose to blame you for their own mistakes. It is a common scenario when a client overexerts themselves by trying something too much or the wrong way. Contracts could cost you between $200 and $350(9) per hour to have a lawyer draft, but you can start with a generic contract and add in points as required, then bring it to a lawyer for review. 

Step 6: Determine How To Find Clients

Your business idea will have different means of acquiring clients, depending on how you structure your service offerings. For example, if you’re going to offer in-person classes and training, then you can look at advertising through a local gym where you could rent the space. Similarly, suppose you decide only to offer online and virtual personal training services. In that case, you might want to consider building an online following via a blog, YouTube channel, or social network.

Build out your plan to find clients. Remember how many you need, and don’t forget how many you can handle at once – you don’t want to overdo it and let down your clients.

Step 7: Building a Brand & Online Presence

Most people get an idea in their head about starting a business and immediately jump to name and branding. It is by far the single biggest mistake you or anyone else can make. If you’re skipping the first six steps here, you aren’t doing the proper research to succeed. 

Building your brand will help you market yourself. Try to keep in mind that you should try to name and brand your business based on what your target market likes – not what you personally like. Many entrepreneurs put too much emotion into choosing their business name and logo when they should be putting their energy into getting to know what resonates with a target market. 

Consider Reading The Following:

Step 8: Setup Tools for Success

One of the most essential things to set up early is the proper tool to track clients. This tool will be the foundation of your business operations, so it has to work for you and scale without issue.

That’s where applications like Elite Trainr can really help you shine in your new business. Elite Trainr will help you keep your clients organized. It is brandable, so it makes your business look professional and legitimate – both essential to providing an authoritative presence.

Further features of the app include a GIF library of over 3000 exercises that you can use to build out customized programs for your clients. There’s also nutrition and progress tracking, as well as a convenient dashboard for both you and your clients. It’s a seriously great way to start organized and on the right path.

Before You Go, Consider This

Embarking on a journey to launch your personal training business is a venture filled with potential and promise. You now hold the keys to turning your passion for fitness and helping others into a thriving career. Remember, success in this industry is not just about obtaining certifications or mastering the latest fitness trends; it’s about commitment, continuous learning, and adapting to the evolving needs of your clients.

As you step forward, armed with the knowledge from this guide, focus on the unique value you bring to the table. Whether it’s your personal approach to training, your understanding of client needs, or your innovative use of technology, let these be the pillars of your brand. Keep in mind that your journey will be as unique as your vision. Please don’t shy away from challenges; instead, view them as opportunities to grow and differentiate yourself in the market.

In closing, remember that your journey as a personal trainer is not just a business venture but a path to impacting lives, including your own. With dedication, resilience, and the right strategies outlined in this guide, you’re well-equipped to build a successful, fulfilling career in personal training. Start today, and shape not just your future but also the health and well-being of those you’ll inspire.

Article Sources

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  2. ‌“Personal Trainer Demographics, Current Practice Trends and Common Trainee Injuries.” 2016. Orthopedic Reviews 8 (3). https://doi.org/10.4081/or.2016.6600.
  3. “Red Cross Training & Certification, and Store.” 2021. Red Cross. 2021. https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/cpr?latitude=38.9071923&longitude=-77.0368707&searchtype=class&zip=Washington%2C%20DC.
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  5. “Fitness Trainers and Instructors : Occupational Outlook Handbook: : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.” 2023. Bls.gov. September 6, 2023. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/fitness-trainers-and-instructors.htm.
  6. W.I.T.S. 2019. “The Fitness Industry’s 80 Percent Annual Trainer Turnover Problem Has a Solution.” Club Industry. September 3, 2019. https://www.clubindustry.com/sponsored/fitness-industry-s-80-percent-annual-trainer-turnover-problem-has-a-solution.
  7. Gray, Shannon, and Caroline F Finch. 2015. “The Causes of Injuries Sustained at Fitness Facilities Presenting to Victorian Emergency Departments – Identifying the Main Culprits.” Injury Epidemiology 2 (1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40621-015-0037-4.
  8. Weller, Nathan. 2023. “Personal Trainer Insurance: Cost & Coverage 2023.” Fit Small Business. Fit Small Business. June 2, 2023. https://fitsmallbusiness.com/personal-trainer-insurance/.
  9. “Legal Contract Cost: How Much Does It Cost? (2023).” 2023. Contractscounsel.com. 2023. https://www.contractscounsel.com/b/legal-contract-cost#:~:text=According%20to%20ContractsCounsel’s%20marketplace%20data%2C%20the%20average%20hourly%20rate%20for,from%20%24200%20%2D%20%24350%20per%20hour..