Are you thinking about turning your gym-time grind into a full-time gig? The personal training industry isn’t just flexing its muscles—it’s in full beast mode. If the thought of sculpting not just bodies but also futures gets your heart pumping, you’re in the right place. 

A personal trainer is a certified professional with expertise in fitness and exercise physiology. Their primary role is to guide individuals or groups through customized workout plans designed to achieve specific fitness goals like weight loss, muscle gain, improved athletic performance, or enhanced overall well-being.

This article is your go-to guide, your fitness ‘boot camp,’ if you will, for mastering the art and science of personal training. Get ready to sweat the details: We’ll take you through a training regimen that includes key workouts like educational qualifications, must-have tools of the trade, winning over clients, keeping those clients motivated, and, of course, branding yourself like a pro. Let’s call it your ‘rep-set’ for career success.

In this guide, we’re going to assume that you’re going out on your own to be your own boss as a personal trainer. Of course, getting some experience under the supervision of those who have been in the industry longer is always a great idea. However, going out into the world to start your own PT business is a great plan, too.

The Importance of Proper Education and Training

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Personal trainers assess their clients’ physical capabilities and limitations, develop tailored exercise regimens, and monitor progress, making adjustments as necessary. Additionally, many personal trainers provide nutritional guidance and lifestyle coaching to complement their fitness programs.

As you may have guessed, proper education and training for personal trainers is crucial to their success and the success of their clients.

Recommended Certifications

In my article, The Gold Standard: Picking the Best Online Trainer Certification, I review the top certifications that are highly respected in the industry. If you have a few minutes to consider certification, that article is worth your time to read. Furthermore, I’ve also written recently about the risks of non-certification. You can read more about these risks in my article, Training Without a Cert: Risks and Realities for Personal Trainers.

PT Certifications – USA

To sum up the most common and respected certifications:

ACSM – American College of Sports Medicine

NSCA – National Strength and Conditioning Association

NASM – National Academy of Sports Medicine

ACE – American Council of Exercise

PT Certifications – Canada

CSEP – Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology

Get the Right Tools of the Trade

A personal trainer holds his tablet as he shows his client the EliteTrainr software.

Traditional Tools

Business Tools

As you start your personal training journey on your own, you’ll need to wrap your mind firmly around some core business principles. To better assist you with this process, I recommend staying highly organized.

Client Tracking

Client tracking is a multi-aspect concept for the CPT (Certified Personal Trainer). You’ll need to track the following:

  • Client name, contact information
  • Client workout information and goals
  • Client fitness progress
  • Client communications
  • Client billing and payments

Further to these points, you might also want to track client nutrition. Many clients prefer to have a single person help them rather than needing to book separate appointments with nutritionists. So, offering nutrition guidance that aligns with their fitness goals is a bonus. However, you’ll need to ensure you are educated in the matter (certification never hurts).

If you don’t have an all-in-one solution, check out EliteTrainr. Our app is intended to serve as an all-in-one solution to help you manage your clients and grow your business.

Personal Trainer Fitness Equipment

Depending on how you decide to set things up, you may want to invest in some equipment (especially if you are training virtually online). So, you’ll want to look into having enough standard equipment that you can record videos using the equipment. Here are a few examples:

  • Weights (Barbell, Kettlebell, etc.)
  • Exercise Bike
  • Treadmill
  • Elliptical
  • Workout Bench

If you are working out of a gym, you might have greater access to equipment. However, you’ll be either working for the gym or on behalf of a gym as an independent contractor. Some gyms might offer rentals of their space and equipment for solopreneurs like you. Therefore, it’s not a bad idea to reach out to some of the local gym owners to see if they would work with you in this respect. Furthermore, you might even score a sweet deal to get yourself started.

Digital Tools

Client Management

In today’s fast-paced environment, it’s more efficient to utilize the latest technologies to manage your personal trainer business. In fact, there are better and faster solutions for you today than at any time in history. So, suppose you’re ready to put in the work. In that case, digital tools can help you turn your personal trainer business with a few clients into a personal training empire.

Take EliteTrainr, for example. The app works on both Android and iOS devices, so it works for anyone with a smartphone. Furthermore, the app gives your clients a friendly (white label) dashboard where they can track nutrition, fitness, and weight loss progress.

Introduce your clients to EliteTrainr – the app that provides big-time features at an affordable price. It’s got over 3000 animated GIFs to let you build unique customized workout plans for your clients. With just a few clicks, you can build out a fitness plan, send it to your clients, and be off for your next client session without missing a beat.

Check out all the features of EliteTrainr for Trainers and Clients here.


Before you jump headfirst into marketing your business, you should do a few things. First, pick a color scheme, create a logo (or have someone create it for you), and pick a primary font. These are the building blocks of your brand, and you’ll want to carry these forward in emails, brochures, your website, social media, and so forth.

Suppose you decide to take advantage of the video’s popularity. In that case, you will need to consider what to record with, lighting, and audio. 

A small business with minimal startup capital should not go out and buy an expensive video camera. Cameras are a dime a dozen, and our smartphones all have cameras built-in, so starting with that is okay.

Let’s talk a little more about branding because it’s essential to get it right.

Branding Your Service

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Branding your service – what does that mean? Branding your PT services means you are crafting a unique identity that distinguishes your service offerings from competitors.

Now, you may have heard of a value proposition. A value proposition is a clear statement that outlines the unique benefits your services provide to clients, emphasizing why it’s superior to competitors’ offerings.

It’s a great idea to consider the value proposition when crafting your brand identity. Remember, you’re selling your knowledge, expertise, and authority in fitness training, so emphasizing how and why people should choose you is wise. 

Why Branding is Critical 

Unique branding sets your business apart from others. Furthermore, it enhances sales by way of utilizing brand recognition with your target audience.

Start brainstorming ideas for your value proposition and brand identity. How will your PT services be better than others? Why should people choose you? How can you maximize the ways that you can or have acquired clients in the past or present?

Building a Clientele Base

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You’ve acquired your certifications, you’ve got a logo, and you know how your services are better than your competition. Now, it’s time to get out there and get clients. But where do you start? Word-of-mouth and referrals are a great place to look first.

Once you have your first client(s), you could try a business strategy I’ve used with success in the past: Under-promise and Over-Deliver. Let’s look at this a little deeper.

The UPOD Method of Gaining More Clients

Underpromise and over-deliver (UPOD) is a great way to build a business through referrals, reviews, and word-of-mouth. When people expect you to supply A, B, and C services, and you provide A through F, not only will people consistently be pleasantly surprised, but they will also be much more likely to tell their friends and family, and the more likely you are to get a positive review or referral.

Here’s what you need to do: Follow my simple 8-step process to success as outlined below.

  1. Set Manageable Goals: When onboarding a new client, set achievable fitness goals that you’re confident they can reach. Avoid overpromising rapid transformations.
  2. Exceed Expectations: Then, go the extra mile. Whether it’s providing additional workout plans, nutritional advice, or spending a few extra minutes per session to focus on their specific concerns, aim to exceed the initial expectations you set.
  3. Personalize Services: Offer tailored training sessions that take into account not just the client’s fitness level but also their personal interests and lifestyle. It goes beyond the generic promises often found in the industry.
  4. Constant Communication: Keep clients updated on their progress and upcoming plans. If you’ve promised them a monthly check-in, surprise them with a bi-weekly one.
  5. Follow Up: After a workout session, send a thank-you message or motivational quotes to keep them engaged and feeling appreciated. This small gesture can leave a significant impact.
  6. Collect Reviews: After clients have experienced your above-and-beyond service, ask them for reviews or testimonials. Because you’ve exceeded their expectations, they’re more likely to leave a glowing review.
  7. Encourage Referrals: Offer a referral discount as an incentive for your clients to spread the word. If they feel they’re getting more than what they signed up for, they’ll be more inclined to refer others.
  8. Share Success Stories: With permission, share before-and-after transformations or testimonials on your social media or website. Real-life examples of you exceeding promises can be compelling for potential clients.

By consistently delivering more than what you’ve promised, you’ll build trust and credibility. Satisfied clients will not only stick with you but also become your most effective marketing agents, spreading the word about your exceptional service. So, start under-promising and over-delivering now to build a loyal clientele and elevate your personal training startup.

Keeping Your Clients Engaged

In order to keep your clients engaged with your service, there are three things that you should maintain and consider:

  1. Customization
  2. Tracking
  3. Communication

Customization: The role of tailored fitness plans.

Creating customized workout, fitness, and even nutritional plans will help to keep your clients engaged. When a person receives a customized fitness plan from someone in your authority, they tend to gravitate towards maintaining that connection. If your client feels they are on a generic plan, anyone could provide without real customization; they are less likely to maintain engagement.

According to a trend survey published in 2020 by Evergage, a Salesforce Company, about personalization, 97% of marketers saw growth in business outcomes due to personalization. Let that number sink in for a moment, and consider personalization for every client.

Tracking Progress: Importance of monitoring fitness, weight loss, and nutritional metrics.

By offering to track and monitor fitness, weight loss, nutritional metrics, and other such metrics, you provide your clients with highly valuable and highly personalized data. This data can enable you to craft an ideally suited program for your clients and deliver solid, data-backed advice.

Communication: The necessity of maintaining good communication.

When you’re getting up at 4 AM and running morning classes, you might forget that you need to get back to one of your afternoon clients. It’s true; the life of a personal trainer can get pretty challenging. That’s why it’s essential to rely on communication solutions to help you grow your business.

Certified personal trainers often use software to help maintain good client relations. From instant messaging to emails to live video calls, modern technology is making communicating with clients more accessible and faster than at any time in history. You can take advantage of this to maximize your training business.

Using an app like EliteTrainr is a great way to maximize modern technology to work with your business. You can track all the essentials for your clients right in the app. Furthermore, you can set goals, communicate with your clients, and build out sessions, all right in the app. No need to deal with pesky email or even switch to a different app – EliteTrainr does it all in one convenient and intuitive interface at a fraction of the cost of similarly featured apps.

You can even use the app to scale, managing an entire team of personal trainers and fitness professionals on the EliteTrainr platform.

Consider This a Cue To Get Started

You’ve got the tools and strategies to set your personal training startup apart—now it’s time to act. From unique branding to the UPOD method, these aren’t just ideas; they’re your blueprint for real-world success. Leverage modern tech to streamline operations and focus on what matters: transforming lives through fitness.

Your next step is simple—start doing. Inertia is your only real competitor. So, break free from it and watch your business soar.