10 steps to improving your personal training business

By Samsays
January 30, 2019
9 min read

I’ll be honest, I almost feel a little weird writing this.

Some of you might be thinking, ‘what the fuck does she know, she’s only been a personal trainer for a few months?!’

And you’d be right to think that, in terms of personal training ‘experience’, I started in September.

I did however manage to switch from a full-time job in marketing, with no money behind me, to a full-time personal trainer and make it a success before I walked through the doors of the gym on my first day. 

In my head, I struggle to blow my own trumpet at this, but it wasn’t a fluke and I’ve put in a lot of graft leading up to this career change which allowed it to become a success.

I could give you my whole life story (one for a podcast maybe?) but instead I’m just going to break it down into 10 simple steps to get you to think about the bigger picture.

Here goes…

1. You’re not just a personal trainer

The biggest and most common mistake you can make when you’re thinking of becoming a personal trainer, is to think that you’re ‘just a personal trainer’ – the minute you become self employed, you have to think of yourself as a business, because you’re exactly that now. 

And when it comes to business, it’s not just the case of ‘I’m going to train people’. This is something you need to consider when you’re thinking of becoming a PT, what are your business skills? 

When running your own business, you’re taking on the whole lot – the product (you), the marketing, the branding, the business model, business development, accounts, customer service, customer relations…the list goes on.

This is a whole separate topic but I ask that you go away and think about how much you know about running a business and start getting clued up. 

My career history (I’ve been in sales and business development manager roles) has meant that this was already engrained in me, but that doesn’t mean I did it alone – I have some great friends and people around me who I’ve been able to learn from to continue to improve my own business.

2. Know your business model

What exactly is your service?

Write it down in as few words as possible – can you do that? 

You should be 100% confident in what it is you’re providing for your clients and if you don’t, how are you going to sell it? And not just sell it, but sell if with confidence. 

If you can’t sell your service with confidence, it’s very unlikely you’re going to make others feel confident in your service. 

3. Be pro-active

It is very unlikely people will just come to you for your help, you have to put in the leg work if you really want to be successful. 

The minute I decided on becoming a personal trainer, if anyone asked me a fitness related question I would reach out personally and mention what I was going to be doing and took down their details for when I was ready. 

When I had finally become qualified I had a whole list of emails for me to contact. 

Having a good bod isn’t going to automically get you clients – end of.

4. Be approachable

When I’m training, I’m in the zone and I’m very aware that I can actually look fairly intimating to anyone who doesn’t know me.

Me when I’m smiling…

I trained at the gym I was going to work at for around a year before, so the minute I decided I was going to be a personal trainer I said to my friend ‘I’m actually going to have to start smiling whenever I can you know’. 

Vs when I’m training…(scary right?!)

And it’s true, as a personal trainer we have the difficulty of wanting people who are most likely intimidated by us to approach us – so always have that mindset when you’re walking around the gym, training or even when you’re not on shift.

5. Know who you want to attract 

As with any business, you will have a target audience – and if you don’t, you’re going to find it difficult.

Trying to attract everyone is going to make it very hard for you to build any kind of marketing strategy – you can’t please everyone. 

For example, if you’re going to be a ‘transformation specialist’ and you want to be able to present the typical ‘before and after’ results – you’re going to need some pretty committed clients who are willing to put in the graft.

The way you present your results will reflect on your business

If that’s the case, you should be doing the same, and your social media, blog posts, even the way you present yourself should reflect the same.

Alternatively, if you’re looking at clients who simply want to train once or twice a week and feel a little healthier – you would adapt your marketing to reflect this. 

The main point is here is that you should know who it is you want to attract.

Think about it and write it down.

5. Offer free taster sessions

There is an argument that you shouldn’t offer your services for free as it devalues your service – part of that can be true.

But if you’re a new PT with no clients, doing shift work and wanting to show what it is you can do – GIVE OUT FREE SESSIONS. 

The minute I was on the gym floor, if I had the time I would do it – I gained several long-term clients out of this. 

Omni Performance training moi…

Give out free sessions to those who aren’t too familiar with the gym, find some friends/family who are willing to be put through their paces so you have some results of your own to present and show what it is you do.

Looking busy on the gym floor is huge, and gaining experience is even more important – so do what you can to work with as many people as you can.

6. Get busy

I asked a few people within the industry for advice on starting out (again, being pro-active) and one of the main things that stood out was ‘get busy with clients and learn from them’ – thanks to Phil Learney for this one. 

Becoming a personal trainer is like learning how to drive – you can pass your test, but the real test begins when you’re out on your own. 

And that’s the best analogy I could give you and something you’ll probably say yourself over and over again. 

Again, this goes back to offering free sessions (it’s for your benefit just as much as it is theirs) or if you’re still learning – why not get some work experience? I personally am a ‘doer’ and was lucky enough to learn a lot at my previous job at Ultimate Performance – I literally managed to learn from some of the best personal trainers in the world. 

Ask around and see if there is any experienced personal trainer you can shadow for a good few hours – I was actually just asked this myself recently and think it’s a great idea.

7. YOU are your brand

My brand is ‘me’, so the way I talk on social media, the information I give out, the way I present myself, the way I walk across the gym floor, the way I present my emails when I have a potential client…this all reflects on my business now. 

Shot by Phill Splaine – Wearing Under Armour

This is just something to think about, so if you’re pissing about on the gym floor with your mates, sat with a face on you, or you’re slagging people off on your social media – just have a think about how that is going to impact your business, will it benefit you? 

8. Find a mentor

As I’ve mentioned in previous points, once you’ve passed your qualification you need to continue to develop your knowledge in both personal training and business. 

In terms of business and marketing, I’m pretty confident but that doesn’t mean I know everything – I’ve listened to podcasts, followed successors on social media and asked as many questions I can to others who are doing it well.

Always improving

And when it comes to my knowledge of personal training, I know there is still a lot to learn – but this also comes with experience. I’ve been lucky enough to have someone I can learn from at the gym I work at ( follow @omniperformance ) and he’s been an absolute blessing (don’t tell him I said that). 

9. Practice what you preach

There is some controversy around this, but my personal views are that if you’re going to be a personal trainer, the way you present yourself should be a given. 

My clients come to me for complete ‘life transformations’, so they want a result but they also want to be able to maintain it (should be a given anyway) and I don’t believe I could push them through this unless I have been there myself. 

Can you understand what your clients are going through?

That isn’t to say you should be shredded 365 days of the year, but I believe in being an inspiration both physically and mentally for my clients as well as showing that it can be achieved. 

10. Always give 110% to the clients you do attain

This is 100% the most important thing you need to remember.

The service you provide your clients should always be of the absolute best quality.

Everything down to the way you present yourself, your communication, the way you deliver your training/nutrition plans, your passion, your energy…the list goes on.

Your clients are paying you their hard earned money in exchange for a service you have promised them – if you go above and beyond what they expected, not only will they stay with you, but others will catch on what it is you do, they will talk about you, you will feel confident in what you do and that will continue to show in your business and how successful it is. 

I cannot stress how important it is – if for any reason you lose a client, you need to ask yourself why? Ask them, get feedback, be better.

Just imagine if it were you, would you be happy with your service? 

I hope this helps, and if you do have any feedback/questions please do give me a shout.

Until next time.


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