How to Start a Personal Training Business in 9 Steps in 2022

Being a personal trainer allows you to get paid for helping others, but starting the business can be confusing. Read our expert guide for step-by-step instructions.

As a personal trainer, you can expect to make good money while also making an impact on other people’s lives. Although you’ve gone through extensive schooling to get to this point, most universities and training programs don’t teach you how to set up a personal training business. The process might seem complex, but it doesn’t have to be difficult.  

From creating workout plans to taking clients through training sessions, you’ll have your hands full on a daily basis. It’s important to set up the business correctly from the start, so you don’t have to waste time later correcting any costly issues. 

So what’s the best way to set up a personal training business? Read our comprehensive guide for simple, actionable steps you can take today.

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9 Steps to Start a Personal Training Business

1. Get Certifications

If you don’t already have a personal training certification, you’ll need to get one before proceeding. There are a wide variety of programs to choose from, both online and via college courses. 

You can complete an online program in months, with nationally trusted organizations like ACE (the American Council of Exercise) and NASM (the National Academy of Sports Medicine). There are lots of certification programs out there, so be sure to do your research and choose a reputable one. 

Keep in mind, each state has different regulations for what certifications a personal trainer must have to operate legally. Check that the certification you choose qualifies you to work in the state in which you live.

Even if you are already certified, you might take this time to decide on a specific type of client you want to specialize in and get additional certifications. Having a niche market can make it easier to get clients, as clients will see you as an expert in a unique field. For example, you might focus on senior citizens or those who are physically impaired.

2. Research Your Target Market

Along the same lines of choosing a niche is determining who your target market is. Which clients will benefit the most from your personal training services? Understanding who you want to help will allow you to better connect with clients and get better results. Plus, it will make it easier to market your services and find customers later on.

As you can imagine, someone who works a desk job will have different fitness goals compared to a college athlete. Some examples of target markets include:

  • New moms
  • Teen athletes
  • Seniors
  • Bodybuilders
  • Runners
  • Cross trainers

Ask yourself the following:

  • What age range are my ideal clients in?
  • How active are they outside of the gym?
  • What’s their experience level with working out?
  • What services does my target market want most from me?
  • How much time and money are they willing to put into personal training?

It’s a good idea to also research your competition.

2. Choose In-Person or Online Training

There are pros and cons to training in person and online. If you focus on in-person training, you get more one-on-one connection. You can ensure your clients have proper form and easily adjust their programs depending on the performance you see in the gym. However, you’ll limit the number of clients you can take on, depending on scheduling.

On the other hand, online training allows you to reach more people all over the world. You can offer static programs and earn passive income, or do virtual training via video chat. It’s a bit tougher to gauge form and program progress, and you’ll spend more time at your computer replying to client emails and feedback.

Many trainers offer both online and in-person training. If you want to take this route, you’ll need to balance out your time to make sure that none of your clients feel forgotten about or fall behind in their training.

3. Find a Training Facility

If you plan to train people in person, you’ll need to find a location. Typically, you’ll find work with a gym as a contractor. You’ll pay rent or a percentage of your sales to the facility in exchange for use of their space. It’s important to check out lots of gyms, as each offers different perks and regulations.

Ask each facility what type of support they offer trainers. Will the management team give you any clients? Will they let you meet with new gym members? Can you solicit work with existing gym goers? How is the facility’s maintenance? Is it a well-managed, clean, and professional place to work? 

You can also train clients in their homes or a public location, like a park. If you choose to do so, you’ll need to invest in equipment that you can easily transport. You might consider getting:

  • Adjustable dumbbells
  • Kettlebells
  • Medicine balls
  • Resistance bands
  • Yoga mats

4. Set Up Your Business Foundations

Every business needs a structure. As a personal trainer, you could operate as a sole proprietorship, which is the easiest and fastest way to start a business. However, you could also opt to create an LLC (limited liability company), which protects your personal assets by separating them from the business. 

Once you know your business structure, you need to register with your state. Rules vary, so check with your state government for more details. You may also need licenses and permits to operate where you live, so research this with your state and local government. Additionally, if you plan on training clients in a park, that park may require a permit.

At this point, it’s also important to set up financial accounts for your business. Keeping assets separate from your personal accounts will make it easier to do your accounting and taxes. Open a business bank account, which you can do in person or online. You might also open a business credit card for day-to-day business expenses.

5. Pick a Business Insurance Policy

Although it’s an outcome no one wants, working out is physical and can sometimes cause injuries. In these cases, liability insurance can protect your assets and cover expenses related to a lawsuit, should your client choose to sue. Plus, if you’re operating in a training facility, you’ll likely face requirements for insurance from management. 

You can get a policy by contacting a local insurance agent. Your agent can walk you through personalized costs and options, making it easy to sign up.

6. Create a Website and Brand

Whether you’re training clients online or in person, it’s important to have a website. This is where you can display your credentials, show off client success, and allow potential clients to get to know you. Most people research personal trainers online before signing up, so having an online presence builds credibility and trust.

Creating a website is simple and doesn’t require coding experience. You can use one of many popular website builders, like Wix or Squarespace, to make a professional-looking website in a matter of hours. 

If you plan on selling online, it’s also important to create a social media presence. Allow potential clients to get to know you, show off the results you can get them, and display your expertise.

7. Set Up Your Payment System

You need to give your clients a way to pay for your services. It’s important to make the payment process easy and straightforward since 18% of people will abandon an online purchase if the checkout process seems complicated or long. Plus, it needs to be easy for you to use, since you’ll be the one sending payment requests and dealing with the backend process.

Pay.com simplifies the process of setting up and using a payment system. As a business owner, you can easily set it up with a quick onboarding process. Then, you can add payment methods to your website or send customers invoices using Pay Links. It’s all done from the Pay Dashboard, which is a one-stop shop for all your payment needs.

Plus, Pay.com allows you to take a wide variety of payment methods. You can accept online payments or manually enter your customer’s payment details. This makes it easy for your clients to pay you however they’d like to.

Don’t wait till the last minute – click here to sign up to Pay.com now!

8. Find Clients

With your personal training business set up, all that’s left to do is find clients. There are many places to find customers, but it takes time to reach them all. You can expect to spend a few months creating a strong client base.

If you’re working in a facility, you might get referrals from management or other, overbooked personal trainers. You should also reach out to family and friends and ask them if they know anyone who could use your services. 

You can also market yourself online by using paid targeted ads, or by using social media for free advertising. If you have a specific niche, use that to your advantage and differentiate yourself from the competition by showing your expertise in that one area.

The Pros and Cons of Starting Your Own Personal Training Business

Pros:

  • Decide how much you want to work.
  • Set your own rates.
  • Keep 100% of your profit.
  • Connect with others.
  • Enjoy a varied schedule where no day is the same.
  • Control every aspect of your business according to your preferences and standards.
  • Change people’s lives and help them reach their goals.

Cons:

  • Work early mornings, evenings, and weekends depending on your clients’ schedules.
  • Manage fluctuating income, depending on the reliability of your clients.
  • Lose out on employer benefits, like paid time off, health insurance, and 401K match.

The Bottom Line: Is Starting a Personal Training Business Right for You?

Starting your own personal training business could be a lucrative opportunity. If you set up your business correctly from the start, you can skip the trial and error stage that so many businesses go through. Whether you’re training people in person or online, you’ll be glad that you created strong foundations to grow your business. 

From choosing a niche and getting the right equipment to setting up your business bank account, these early steps are vital to a successful business. Of course, setting up a payment system is also critical. Pay.com makes accepting payments from you clients fast and easy, so you can start helping people reach their fitness goals right away. Click here to get started now!

FAQs

How can a personal training business accept credit card payments?

You can accept credit card payments for your personal training business with Pay.com. Pay.com makes it easy to get paid, whether your client wants to pay you online, in person, or over the phone. Using the Pay Dashboard, you can easily add a payment method to your website, send a payment request, or enter payment details manually.

Click here to find out how you can get started with Pay.com.

Is it easy to start a personal training business?

Starting a personal training business is fairly straightforward, but it can be a challenging process. You’ll need to go through a certification program and pass a test. Setting up the business requires that you meet local, state, and federal requirements, like registering and getting permits. You’ll also need to find clients, which can be time-consuming.

How do personal trainers get clients?

To find clients as a personal trainer, you can ask existing clients as well as friends and family for referrals. You may also get referrals through the gym you train at. You can market yourself online, via social media and your own website. Post client testimonials to showcase results and encourage new clients to sign up for your services.

How many clients should I have as a personal trainer?

If you’re working as a part-time in-person personal trainer, you should shoot for 10-12 clients, working about 20 hours per week. If you want to work full-time, you’ll have closer to 25 clients and work 35 to 40 hours per week. If you’re training people remotely, you can balance up to 80 clients, though you’ll need to be well-organized and may work even more than 40 hours a week to manage them all.

Meet the author
Ginny Dorn
Ginny Dorn is a finance and business copywriter specializing in credit card processing and fintech. She graduated from Western Illinois University with a bachelor's degree in family and consumer sciences.
You Can Easily Accept Credit Cards as a Personal Trainer

Pay.com makes it simple for you to accept a variety of payment methods. You can set up a customized checkout page for your customers to pay on your website, or send them direct Pay Links so they can pay you at their own convenience.

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