Personal trainers work with individuals to help facilitate diet and fitness goals. Personal trainers help a variety of individuals to achieve diverse goals regarding their health. This may involve creating custom workouts and diets as well as helping to establish specific goals for clients who aren't sure what they need to do next.
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Learn how to start your own Personal Training Business and whether it is the right fit for you.
Start a personal training business by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your Personal Training Business
- Form your Personal Training Business into a Legal Entity
- Register your Personal Training Business for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your Personal Training Business
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Personal Training Business
- Get Personal Training Business Insurance
- Define your Personal Training Business Brand
- Create your Personal Training Business Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your personal training business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a personal training business?
The costs involved with opening such a business are minimal. The certification you may require should cost no more than $2000, with some programs being as low as $500. You will need to purchase liability insurance, and this should cost no more than $200-$300 a year. Because you will be meeting with clients at areas that they choose, you don't have to worry about the pricey overhead of a separate building or its various utilities. In fact, your only other real cost will be any equipment that you purchase for your clients, and this will change based on specific clients and their specific needs. Plus, you should be building in equipment costs into your hourly rate (more on that later). Finally, factor in about $1000 for some initial advertising—this will be in the form of professional fliers, business cards, and possibly newspaper and radio spots. Never neglect the potential of running a website and having a social media presence,as both of which can be done with little to no cost and help increase your visibility.
What are the ongoing expenses for a personal training business?
Perhaps the greatest thing about a personal trainer business is your minimal ongoing expenses. Pretty much all you will regularly pay is the monthly contribution towards liability insurance (between $200-$300 a year), any fuel costs for traveling to clients, and the cost of the equipment that you buy. And, as mentioned above, there are different pricing structures that allow you to absorb these costs, effectively reducing your ongoing expenses to nothing more than the insurance.
Who is the target market?
This job involves a more diverse clientele than almost any other job out there. Generally, though, the best clients are younger clients. The main reason for this is that they are likely to schedule more sessions (leading to more money for you) and, if they like you and stay in the area, may be a regular source of income for you and your business for years to come. Such loyal clients can also help recruit more clients for you in the form of inviting their family and friends to contact you.
How does a personal training business make money?
Personal trainers make money by charging their clients for sessions. This is typically an hourly charge and the sessions are usually an hour. You may consider charging extra for travel to the client or offering specials where a client can pay a certain amount up front for a number of sessions.
How much can you charge customers?
As with many jobs, the exact amount you can charge your clients will vary based on the area that you are in and the full breadth of services that you offer. For instance, some trainers suggest charging a fixed $85 an hour, and they believe this cost is justified based on both your experience as well as your willingness to buy the clients whatever equipment they require (which can become an expensive proposition based on the client and the equipment). Others recommend either charging different amounts for different services (with the knowledge that some forms of training is more expensive and/or complex than others) or to negotiate a price via an open pricing model (which may let you factor in things like whether it will take 30 minutes to travel to a client and then 30 minutes to travel back, which eats up an hour you could spend training someone else).
How much profit can a personal training business make?
Obviously, the exact amount of profit that you can make comes from the intersection of your average hourly charge and the amount of customers that you have. The average amount that a personal trainer makes is about $50,000 a year, and a steady array of clients means that you could potentially double that amount and then some. Keep in mind that the previously-mentioned low overhead and low cost to start this business are also major factors in how much of this money goes directly to you rather than to the costs of your business.
How can you make your business more profitable?
As your business picks up steam, don't hesitate to raise prices. Even a modest increase in your hourly charge can contribute greatly to your bottom line. Consider taking on additional roles for your clients, such as selling them valuable supplements or specialized equipment: this helps establish you as their “one-stop-shop” for fitness. Finally, consider creating an automated payment system, as it helps establish your desire to work with regular clients and makes payment more convenient for those who are suitably committed.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Personal Training Business Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your personal training business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
Small Business Taxes
Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:
- LLC Taxes
- Sole Proprietorship vs LLC
- LLC vs Corporation
- LLC vs S Corp
- How to Start an S Corp
- S Corp vs C Corp
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
Open a business bank account
Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.
Open net 30 accounts
Net 30 accounts are used to establish and build business credit as well as increase business cash flow. With a net 30 account, businesses buy goods and repay the full balance within a 30-day term.
NetMany net 30 credit vendors report to the major business credit bureaus (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, and Equifax Business Credit). This is how businesses build business credit so they can qualify for credit cards and other lines of credit.
Recommended: Read our best net 30 vendors, guide and start building business credit.
Get a business credit card
Getting a business credit card helps you:
- Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.
Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from Divvy and build your business credit quickly.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a personal trainer business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Release of Liability
To avoid liability and potential lawsuits, personal trainer businesses should have their clients sign a release of liability. Here is an example of one such form.
Recommended: Rocket Lawyer makes it easy to create a professional release of liability form for your training business when you sign up for their premium membership. For $39.95 per month, members receive access to hundreds of legal agreements and on call attorneys to get complimentary legal advice.
Professional Liability Insurance
This is critical for any personal trainer. AFPA has examined many insurance organizations and has compiled a listing of those organizations that offer the reasonable rates with excellent coverage. Professional Liability Insurance organizations are listed here.
Certificate of Occupancy
A personal training business can be run out of a gym or any large space (typically indoors). Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.
- If you plan to lease a space:
- It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
- Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a personal training studio space.
- After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
- If you plan to purchase or build a space:
- You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
- Review all building codes and zoning requirements for you business’ location to ensure your personal training business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.
Also be sure to include a services contract for each client. This contract should specify how you will help clients reach their health and fitness goals and the price of training.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.
How to promote & market a personal training business
As mentioned before, don't neglect traditional advertisements such as business cards, fliers, newspapers, and radio. However, social media and your own simple website are great ways to increase visibility and provide necessary info about your business. Additionally, considering offering free workshops in places such as local gyms and community centers. This increases your visibility while highlighting your skills, which is a great recruitment tool. Finally, consider putting advertisement for your business directly on your own vehicle...since your job involves a lot of travel to and from clients, it doesn't hurt to advertise your services while you drive!
How to keep customers coming back
As mentioned earlier, consider offering promotional specials where clients can effectively save money by buying several sessions at a time. Also, consider offering a free session or some other bonus to a client who successfully refers another client to you. In terms of retention, the absolute best thing you can do is conduct honest and open communication with clients. Listen to their specific needs and create a plan to help them realistically achieve their goals. So long as you are doing this, your work will speak for itself and they will keep coming back.
Still unsure about what kind of business you want to start? Check out the latest Small Business Trends to help inspire you.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2022 to find the best phone service for your small business.
Recommended Business Phone Service: Phone.com
Phone.com is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.
Start a Personal Training Business in your State
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
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Is this Business Right For You?
Obviously, this business is great for those who are already fit and have worked hard to create an exercise and health regimen that works, as they can use their personal experience to help educate others. It's good for someone who is a “people person,” as the entire job revolves around regular interaction with a diverse clientele. It is also good for someone who is a natural leader—just as a good manager or coach helps people to visualize and then actualize success, a good personal trainer helps clients visualize a healthier self and provides a pathway to achieving that goal.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a personal training business?
The daily activities of a personal trainer are very straightforward, though they may vary based on the client’s needs. The vast majority of any given day involves traveling to where clients are and then conducting sessions (typically one hour sessions). This means, potentially, a lot of driving and using phone calls or text messages to coordinate with the different clients. The actual sessions can have very diverse content—some sessions may involve helping elderly clients recover from surgery using pool exercises. Other sessions may involve helping younger clients achieve their coveted beach body through a variety of cardio- and strength-training exercises.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful personal training business?
While a formal education is not required, having a personal trainer certification may help you secure more clients and is likely a requirement to become a personal trainer in your area. Personal experience working in anything related to the fitness industry can also be a major benefit as you are getting started. As mentioned earlier, special exercise and diet regimens you have developed for yourself in the past can help you customize these things for your clients, and being a healthy, visible member of your community will help your community look to you as an authority on matters of fitness and health.
What is the growth potential for a personal training business?
The growth potential for a personal trainer business is very good, as the field is expected to grow at a steady rate for most of the next decade. It helps that more businesses and governmental institutions are encouraging healthier lifestyles and offering additional benefits to employees who work towards this goal.
Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a personal training business?
One way to stand out from the competition is to specialize in one or more areas. Instead of being a “jack of all trades” trainer, consider specializing in things like weight loss or athlete training. Don't forget to always be “on call” for new and existing clients, as their ability to quickly reach you helps build their confidence in your brand. Finally, use the success stories of your previous clients to help sell yourself to new clients—being able to see the results you have gotten is much more valuable as a recruitment tool than anything else.
How and when to build a team
The nature of a personal trainer is that they typically work solo—in fact, the notion that you are providing your specialized expertise in a one-on-one setting is a large part of your perceived value among clients. For this reason, most trainers do not make an effort to expand their team. However, if you choose to do so, you should wait until you have more sessions than you can reasonably fit into your schedule, and start by taking on a partner. This way, you can reasonably split duties without taking on the prohibitive cost of trying to buy or lease an office for a large group of trainers to work out of.