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How to Start a Personal Training Business in 7 Steps

We live in a time where all the information you will ever need on a topic is a Google search away. Yet, despite the freely available info, the need for good personal trainers grows with each passing year.

However, starting a personal training business can be a considerable challenge. Between market research, taking care of legalities, coming up with reasonable rates, and other details, trainers looking to go solo can quickly get overwhelmed.

Fortunately, breaking the process down makes it far more straightforward and less intimidating. To that end, we’ve put together a simple, step-by-step guide on starting a successful personal training business. 

Let’s dive in.

A Personal Training Business is Similar to Any Other Kind

Building your own personal training business isn’t different from any other venture. You must focus on crucial things like marketing, the day-to-day operations that drive revenue, and money management. 

Since you’re considering the path, it’s reasonable to assume you have decent personal training experience and are used to handling clients. However, that alone won’t cut it, which is why the guide exists.

Taking care of the ‘business’ side is often more difficult for coaches because it’s difficult to tell what to focus on and what order to follow when laying the foundation. From a bird’s eye view, you must focus on the following:

  • Determining your niche
  • Conducting market research
  • Deciding on your business model
  • Determining your personal training rates
  • Taking care of the paperwork 
  • Marketing yourself
  • Using the proper tools to streamline some of the work

Most importantly, you must take it one day at a time and ensure you’re not missing crucial steps. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor was any successful business.

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How to Start a Personal Training Business: 7 Key Steps

1. Pick Your Niche

Fitness trainers, personal trainers, and coaches are a dime a dozen. The fitness industry is quite saturated, which means the only way to make it is to find a unique way to stand out.

One of the first things you should do to differentiate yourself from most personal trainers is to pick a niche––in other words, determine your ideal client. Doing so is beneficial for a couple of reasons:

First, targeting a specific niche allows you to narrow down your marketing efforts and create a clear message for prospective clients. For example, if you choose to work with elderly clients, your message can revolve around the following:

  • Regain your youthful energy and enthusiasm for life
  • Feel 20 years younger
  • Feel stronger and more capable
man dumbbells

Picking a niche inevitably means alienating some groups of people. For instance, if you market yourself as a personal trainer for older people, young individuals wouldn’t be as interested in working with you. However, that is part of the business because you can’t please everyone. 

How would you frame your personal training message if you don’t pick a specific niche? By using the same messages others have beaten to death for decades? Gems like:

  • Build muscle
  • Lose fat
  • Get a six-pack

You wouldn’t impress anyone with that. Plus, even if some people choose to work with you, it’s still a niche because, whether you realize it or not, your marketing message attracts a specific type of person. For some niches, you might have to tweak the messages:

  • Build muscle ⇒ “Tone your body!”
  • Lose fat ⇒ “Lose the flab around your arms, lower back, and buttocks!”
  • Get a six-pack ⇒ “Get a beach-ready body in three months!”

When prospective clients feel like your services are tailor-made to cover their needs, they are more likely to hire you over your competitors.

The second benefit of picking a niche is that you specialize in an area and develop greater expertise and a deep understanding of your ideal client’s primary struggles.

Speaking of serving your clients better, check out Hevy Coach––the ultimate platform for tracking client progress, providing workout plans, communicating, and sharing helpful feedback.

How to Pick Your Niche

An excellent place to start is to consider your unique interests and what kind of people you would like to help. After all, the type of work you do should be fulfilling. 

Additionally, consider questions like:

  • What are you good at?
  • What specific problems can I solve for clients?
  • What brand would you like to develop? What do you want to be known for?
  • Is there a demand for the type of service you want to offer?

2. Research the Market

Many businesses fail not because they are inherently bad but because they offer something people aren’t interested in. 

For example, if you open a store for hip-hop apparel in an area where predominantly older adults live, you’re bound to fail because there wouldn’t be demand for your product. 

The primary purposes of market research are:

  • To understand the landscape and make better business decisions – in your case, one example would be to know if the niche you want to target exists and needs personal training services
  • To avoid going down the wrong path, which could cause you to waste a lot of time and money, ultimately leading to the failure of your personal trainer business

How to Conduct Market Research

The first step you can take is to do a competitor analysis and see what type of services they offer, who their clients are, how they price their services, and what marketing strategies they use to acquire new business. 

Some good questions to consider for your personal training business model include the following:

  • Do they specialize in something? If so, what is their expertise?
  • Where do they train their clients?
  • Do they offer online services?
  • How much do they charge?
  • Do they offer special packages?
  • Is there an option for semi-private or group coaching?

These and similar questions can help you spot holes in the market, allowing you to come in and cover needs other trainers have failed to meet.

For example, maybe you’ve decided to work with obese clients, and one of your direct competitors targets the same niche. However, perhaps their services lack essential things. Or maybe past clients have written reviews online, stating some glaring issues with their services. 

Each of these is an opportunity to enter and offer something better.

In addition to competitor analysis, collecting as much information about potential clients is necessary for judging the overall viability of your approach. Good options for collecting data include:

  • Use surveys. Use Google Forms or a similar service to compile questions that people in your target market can fill up in a few minutes. You can include some Yes or No questions and some that require an open response.

    If you struggle to reach enough people in your target niche, encourage those who fill out the survey to share it with others.
  • Talk to previous clients. The people you’ve coached in the past can be a gold mine of valuable data you can use to launch your personal training business. One option is to hand out feedback forms and ask past and current clients for constructive feedback.

    The data can tell you what clients like and don’t like about your services, their struggles, and how they would like you to help them. All of that is valuable when launching your personal trainer business.
  • Join forums and online communities where your ideal customer might be. Doing so won’t necessarily provide you with hard data, but it can be a fantastic way to understand the struggles of potential training clients, the language they use (how they frame an issue, slang they use, etc.), and what solutions they seek.

    Understanding your target market better is a surefire way to attract clients by making your marketing message more impactful. We’ll talk about that more in step number six below.
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3. Decide How to Conduct Business

The third step in the process is relatively simple, but it still requires careful consideration because it plays a role when taking care of the legalities in step five. 

If you’ve taken the time to research the market and pick a niche, you should have at least some idea of where and how to train clients. Here are a few popular options for conducting your business:

Rent a Studio Space

Renting a small and private space is a good option, especially if you want to train more clients simultaneously. It works great for fitness instructors primarily teaching aerobics and equipment-free resistance exercise.

Working At a Gym

Negotiating a partnership with the owner of a local training facility can save you a lot of trouble, allowing you to train clients without worrying about:

  • Training equipment
  • Showers
  • Locker room
  • Consistent water and power supply

Plus, training clients there can provide access to more prospective clients.

Visit Clients’ Homes

Though it may sound weird, in-home personal training has grown in popularity and works well for clients anxious to exercise in public. Plus, it saves them time and money, which are always welcomed advantages.

It’s best if your clients have essential training equipment, such as an exercise mat, resistance bands, adjustable dumbbells, and cardio equipment like a treadmill. 

Have Them Visit Your Home

The alternative to visiting clients’ homes is having them come to you, saving you time and money you would spend commuting. 

For example, if you live in a house and have enough space in your garage or basement, convert that to a home gym with some essential equipment:

  • Cardio machine
  • Squat rack with a pull-up bar
  • A barbell, collars, and weight plates
  • EZ bar
  • Dumbbells
  • Resistance bands

The disadvantage is that you would have to invest more money upfront, and the upkeep will fall on your shoulders. However, you wouldn’t have to pay a percentage to a gym owner or pay rent for a studio, which saves you a lot in the long run.

Conduct Business Online

The option with the least overhead is an online personal training business. Instead of worrying about location, commuting, equipment, rent, and other expenses, your job is to provide guidance and track your clients’ progress.

Their job is to find a good training facility and perform their workouts without your assistance.

computer note pad

One option is to set up online sessions, watch them train, and provide feedback. Alternatively, have them record videos of some of their training sets and provide feedback. 

Most people looking to launch a successful personal training business shouldn’t solely rely on online coaching because it can take time to get enough clients. Instead, a better approach is focusing on in-person training and conducting business online to earn extra.

Learn more about online classes: What are People Looking for in Online Fitness Classes? A Complete List

Hevy Coach is a fantastic tool to streamline your online coaching practice. The platform makes it easy to provide training plans to clients, track their progress and adherence, make adjustments, and communicate.

4. Decide How Much to Charge

The next challenge in launching a fitness business is coming up with your rates, which can be frustrating. We’ve written a complete guide on the topic, which you can read here

With that said, your rates will depend on several things:

  • Your personal training certification and experience
  • Where you are (big city, town, rural area, etc.)
  • How competitive the landscape is
  • The service you offer (one-on-one, semi-private, group classes, etc.)
  • Client demographics (age, sex, location, occupation, etc.)
  • Where you coach your client (at their home vs. your home, at a studio you’ve rented vs. a local gym, etc.)

Looking at local competition should give you some idea of how much to charge. For example, if the top dogs in your area charge $120 per hour, but you’re new and unknown, start with lower rates to build up a roster.

However, don’t be afraid to command the right price if you’re experienced and have a good personal trainer certification. Consider your operating expenses (rent, bills, commute, etc.) to determine how much you need to charge per session to turn a profit.

Similarly, adjust your rate based on what you offer. For example, one-on-one coaching is the most expensive because the client gets your full attention for 60 minutes. According to data, the average rate is $55-60 in the United States, and the maximum is around $120 per hour.

Semi-private coaching means charging each person less because you’re divided between up to four people. So you can charge around $30-35 per person and earn more for the same per hour than you would from one-on-one sessions. 

Coaching a group means charging each person even less because, while you can still give each trainee some attention, it isn’t nearly as personal as one-on-one training.

Also, do you coach people online or in person? If it’s the former, what exactly do you offer your clients? Will you provide training and nutrition guidance and one-on-one sessions online, or do you gravitate toward pre-written training and nutrition plans with the occasional check-in to see how your client is doing?

Online coaches generally charge anywhere from $100 to $500+ per month and 20 to 40 percent less for one-on-one sessions compared to average in-person rates.

5. Register Your Business Practice

Registering a business is perhaps the most tedious but important step. A business structure protects your assets and allows you to operate knowing you’re a law-abiding citizen. 

The last thing you want is to establish a successful practice and start earning good money, only for the authorities to shut you down and fine you.

You need to do the following, regardless of where you live. It’s best to do independent research to be sure you’re fully compliant with local laws.

Register Your Practice

The available business structures for personal training businesses in the US are:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Corporation
  • Limited partnership
  • Limited liability company (LLC)

Operating as a sole proprietor might seem the most straightforward option, but the disadvantage is that nothing separates you from your business. As such, you don’t get the same protection in case of lawsuits.

A better option is to establish a business entity that’s separate from yourself––for example, an LLC. That way, even if you’re sued at some point, your assets (your car, home, and personal bank account funds) are protected.

If you live outside the US, research the option equivalent to an LLC, corporation, or limited partnership.

Purchase Liability Insurance

The old saying, “It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.” fully applies to liability insurance. 

General liability insurance protects your personal training business from potential issues, such as a client getting injured. The insurance would cover legal expenses if a client sues you because they’ve gotten hurt during training (that does not cover negligence), you’ve failed to deliver the desired results, or similar.

Set Up a Business Bank Account

Just as you need a structure that separates you from your business, you need to set up a business bank account. 

That way, your personal and business funds remain separate, and potential IRS audits (or those from similar services in countries outside the US) occur more smoothly. Plus, it’s easier to keep track of revenue and organize all of your business records for taxing purposed at the end of each year.

In some countries, you must open a business bank account to register a firm.

Hire an Accountant

Even small personal training businesses can be challenging to run, which is why you should hire an accountant to organize your finances, file the correct documents at the right times, and keep you up-to-date on your earnings and expenses.

Related article: How to Come Up with Personal Training Business Names (+60 Examples)

6. Market Your Services

We wrote a complete guide on getting personal training clients. We highly recommend reading it because it covers much more ground than we can here. 

Here are some practical ways to market yourself and sign more clients:

Build a Brand Online

Online marketing can be a powerful way to get new clients and possibly even transition to online fitness training.

Begin by creating a website and include three crucial pages:

Then, sign up for a service like Aweber or MailChimp to start collecting emails in exchange for free bonuses like PDF guides and email series. To build an email list, you must place an opt-in form in several visible places on your website. If you need help with creating your website we recommend Macu, a premium Webflow design and development agency. We’ve worked with them on a couple design projects and have had a great experience with them.

Once people get on your list, you should continue to provide value in some form to grow your reputation. For example, you can set up a weekly or monthly newsletter.

Additionally, set up profiles on Instagram, TikTok, and other social media platforms to share personal updates and helpful information. Social media can be a great place to engage with people, get them on your email list, or sign them as clients.


Networking is difficult because it involves reaching out to people and risking getting rejected or ignored. However, making an effort is crucial for building relationships, getting your name out there, and creating opportunities for yourself. 

You can start with something simple: outreach through email. Find other trainers online, preferably those you can meet with in person, and float the idea of collaborating:

  • Write helpful content and ask them for a quote on a question
  • Offer to meet up and hit the gym together, then post photos and videos on social media

Once you get the ball rolling, contact some coaches, trainers, and physiotherapists in your area.

Most importantly, reach out with the idea of helping others instead of just asking for something. People want to know how you can help them.

Create Packages and Discounts

Gaining traction as an independent personal trainer can be challenging, and it might take weeks to land your first client.

One good way to market yourself to new people is to create enticing packages and offer discounts to clients willing to commit. For example, if a client signs up for five workouts, throw one session in for free. If that seems too generous, offer a free session for every 8 to 10 workouts, or provide a free personal trainer assessment.

Additionally, offer a free session to people who are on the fence. Potential clients are far more receptive if they don’t have to spend money. Another way to get the ball rolling is to offer discounts to clients who refer you to friends and family.

Leverage Client Testimonials

Everyone can hire a professional to design a website and write a good landing page, but these are common. However, having even a handful of testimonials from happy clients would instantly set you apart from a large percentage of your competition.

For example, take a look at Andy Morgan’s coaching page. What’s one of the first things you see? That’s right – before and after photos of successful fitness transformations. The page instantly gets your attention, and you feel more inclined to contact that coach because they have a successful track record. 

Testimonials from happy clients are a form of free and powerful advertisement. When people vouch for you, others are far more likely to hire you.

The first thing you can do is get in touch with past clients and ask them to write a few kinds words you can display on your website and social media. It would be even better if they could attach before/after photos.

Additionally, ask each new client for a testimonial once you’ve worked together for a few weeks and they’ve seen good results. Display these as soon as possible and update them as your client makes even more progress.

7. Use the Right Tools to Streamline Your Business

Organizing a personal training business isn’t easy. Here are a few of the things a personal trainer needs to do:

  • Communicate with clients, answer questions, schedule workout sessions, and send reminders
  • Sending workout programs and nutritional information
  • Tracking client progress––body weight, circumference measurements, gym performance, etc.
  • Making workout or diet adjustments on the go

Put simply, you’re running a business and dealing with all the associated frustrations. You must be proactive, communicate with clients effectively, encourage them to keep pushing forward, and track their progress to ensure they are moving in the right direction.

Struggling to do these things would affect client satisfaction, impact your retention rate, and hinder your earnings and growth potential.

Doing all these things for one client is relatively manageable, but personal trainers quickly get overwhelmed when working with five, ten, or even twenty clients. Remembering all the relevant information is impossible, and trainers often have to ask their clients the same questions, which can be annoying for both parties. 

Fortunately, there is a solution to the chaos: using the right tools. For example, Hevy Coach is an online platform that makes it much easier for trainers to organize their client rosters and keep up with everyone.

The platform allows trainers to assign workouts to clients, make changes, track clients’ training and consistency, and communicate when necessary. 

Perhaps even better, personal trainers get to track all of their clients in one place, which makes it much easier to organize everything and know exactly where each client stands.

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Try Hevy Coach

Intuitive personal trainer software, with a world class experience for your clients.

30 day free trial, no credit card required

Related article: Personal Trainer Questionnaire: Why and How (+Example Questions)

Final Words

Starting a personal training business might initially feel overwhelming, but the process gets significantly easier when you break it down into manageable steps. 

Some of the things you need to do are more exciting than others, but each is necessary for building a successful business. 

Before doing anything, sit down and consider who your ideal client is and get clear on your niche. Then, conduct market research to determine if there is demand for the type of service you want to offer. 

Determine how you’d like to conduct business (working at someone else’s gym, hiring a space, visiting clients’ homes, etc.) and plan how much to charge. Take care of the legalities and hire an accountant to keep everything in order. 

Once you’ve done the heavy lifting, market your services and consider tools to help you organize your business practice and keep track of your clients.

Building a thriving business takes a lot of hard work, but it’s all worth it when you establish yourself and help others lead healthier lives and reach their fitness goals.

If you’re a personal trainer looking to start a business or simply serve your existing clients better, check out Hevy Coach. The platform makes it easy to keep track of your clients, assign workout plans, communicate, make adjustments on the go, and much more.

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