How To Run A Personal Training Business

This article lays out a 9 step framework for the business side of personal training, and how to run and scale a successful coaching business (both online and in-person). If you’re thinking about becoming an online trainer or an entrepreneur, this is pertinent information that will give you a foundation of knowledge to further research on. Please don’t take this article as professional tax or legal advice. 


The 9 Steps To Running A Personal Training Business 

The 9 steps are: 

  1. Get legit
  2. Cover Your Ass(ets)
  3. Brand Your Shit
  4. Build Your Proof
  5. Generate Leads
  6. Track Your Numbers
  7. Double Down (on what works)
  8. Scale & Hire a Team
  9. Add Income Streams


Get Legit 

DBA’s , LLC’s , S Corp’s – Do your research on them and choose which is right for you. Bottom line; get legit. Creating an LLC is usually the most simple and cost effective way to make your business legit. Look into your state laws and see what’s required. Sometimes all you need to do is register your LLC, and other times you’ll need to file with the secretary of state etc. Before you create an LLC, look into the name you want to use to be sure it isn’t taken. Check the trademark registry online and google your brand name idea to see what’s out there. If you want your own trademark, it’s highly suggested that you hire a lawyer or a firm to help you research and get one. It takes a long time, around a year at the moment.

Cover Your Ass(ets)

You need to have liability insurance if you’re training anyone. It’s actually relatively cheap, plans are different in what they cover, but usually cost $120-$200 a year. Contracts are also important for your business, because it secures a working relationship with your clients for a certain amount of time, which in turn creates recurring and predictable revenue. A contract motivates your clients to show up, and allows you to come up with a plan on how to address certain situations, like a client falling off the radar. Contracts provide a way for you to infuse your ethos into how you are going to work with clients while giving you boundaries to cover your ass(ets) and create recurring revenue. It’s suggested that you hire a lawyer to help you write your contracts so your ass is covered. 


Brand Your Shit

Make sure you have your branding down. Not just the name of your business, the colors, fonts, imagery, and logo you want to use, but know WHAT you represent. Is there a tone of voice you want to portray? What sets you apart from everyone else? Please remember, you don’t have to come up with all the answers at first, and it’s natural for a brand to evolve. You can always change anything about your brand. To start, it’s suggested that you have name with a logo (hire someone who knows how to work with Adobe – Someone who works only with Canva is not legit), an email address, a website (not required at first but highly recommended because you can turn your website into a goldmine if set up properly with SEO), and social media accounts.


Build Your Proof

In the beginning, you may need to charge less to get clients through your door to build your proof. Meaning, you need to build social proof of your worth. This comes in the form of word-of mouth references, Google reviews, testimonials and other interactions through your immediate sphere. Simply ask your clients to leave reviews and testimonials, and make referrals a first source for new clients. Focus on building your base through these means before paying for marketing or raising your prices. 


Generate Leads

Generating leads is something to implement after building your proof, and may take some time to implement. Go slow and be methodical about it. There’s tons of free information about this online. Some ways to market your brand/services to generate leads are through a newsletter, lead magnet, content strategy, and client journey. A newsletter is a great way to generate trusting relationships with your clients and potential clients, and usually involves giving value for free, whether that’s through sharing some information you know, offering a PDF, etc. A lead magnet can look very similar in that, again, you’re offering something for free. For a lead magnet, you need a landing page to offer your “freebie” and some sort of automation system that captures email addresses to add them to your newsletter audience and send the freebie. Content strategy has to do with everything you’re putting out through social media, newsletters, your website, etc. Having a content strategy means you have diversified means for the right clients to find you. Client journey refers to the journeys that your clients will move through as they get more in depth in your brand. Creating client journeys ensures that you have different levels of financial investments into your brand and offerings, so you can bring in a wide array of people. Remember – every person that connects with your brand is an opportunity for building your proof and client list organically…


Track your numbers

Here’s a quick list of numbers to keep track of. 

  • Retention and Turnover Rates: How many clients are you keeping and losing each month? A high turnover rate is very telling. Inversely, a high retention rate is a great selling point.
  • Recurring Revenue: This is revenue that is guaranteed each month for the foreseeable future, and also why you need to use contracts. 3, 6, 12 month contracts help you project your recurring revenue quarterly or annually. This is important to know how much money you’re expecting and what additional sales (in person training, programs, affiliate income) you need to make for the month/quarter/year.
  • Offers: You don’t need too many, only 3 offers are good. Make sure you have a high ticket offer (1:1 coaching), medium offer (Group coaching), and low ticket offer (a one-time purchase program/membership).
  • Marketing Budget: You should be using no more than 10% of your recurring revenue to put towards marketing. So, if you’re making $5k/month, you’re looking at $500 or less, which isn’t much for marketing, but it’s something. This rule of thumb will help you keep spending for marketing in check. When you start getting recurring revenue, build in a marketing budget. Too many people wait to start marketing.
  • Lead sources: Know where your leads come from. Know the percentage conversion from newsletters vs. social media on a quarterly basis. This will guide your strategy when you launch a new program or need more clients. You’ll know where to spend most of your time and resources to get more leads. Know where your clients come from. You may think 12 hours of Instagram content each week is getting you clients, but unless you track your lead sources and follow those trends, you won’t know if you’re wasting your time or not.


Double Down on What Works

This goes hand-in-hand with tracking lead sources. At Barpath fitness, our newsletter WORKS. We know our website and  newsletter works, so that’s what we double down on. That could look different for you.


Scale & Hire

There is a sweet spot that you hit when you’re ready to scale and hire. It usually starts to feel like you are drowning in work as your business starts to pick up. Remember, start small. You can hire an awesome virtual assistant to help you 3 hours a week. Make sure you know exactly what your business needs right now, what the next steps are, and what you can delegate out before hiring, and find an expert at that.


Add Additional Income Streams

There is so much potential for additional income streams with an online business. You can make affiliate income, run ads with your blog content, sell programs and memberships, teach certification classes, thought leadership programs, and group programs, sell products or clothing, and more. The list goes on! All of these are great to do on a website, which is why it’s important to have one. There is SO MUCH potential when it comes to adding more ways to get revenue from your business that are not trading time for money. Once you have multiple sources of income for your business, go back to number 6 and track your numbers. A P&L spreadsheet with various revenue sources is super helpful to see the breakdown of all the things bringing money into your business and where you could fill in gaps or cut things out.

With all this, you want to automate and delegate as much as possible. That is how you will scale and stop trading your time for money. 


Final Thoughts

This is a basic framework of what steps you need to follow to create a healthy personal training business. And you should research each step more thoroughly, and there is a wealth of information online. Remember to breathe, Rome wasn’t built in one day. And, it’s ok to mess-up. Being open to learning from your mistakes is what will take you to the next level in your business. You’ve got this! 


Want to learn more about starting your own personal training business? Listen to Episode 130 of the Stronger Than Your Boyfriend Podcast: The Business of Online Personal Training.

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