How to start a personal training business

The UK fitness industry is blooming, with one in eight of us owning a gym membership there’s never been a better time to jump into the world of personal training.  Last year this sector was valued at £4.3 billion and more and more of us are turning to tailored, one-on-one support from a personal trainer. According to renowned trainer Vicky Mahony, “personal training in now the norm in most health clubs and gyms. More and more people are using trainers to get fit and healthy compared to 10-15 years ago. With more focus on health and wellbeing than ever before, people are willing to invest in their health by getting a personal trainer.”

How do I get started?

If you love to keep fit, are good at working with people and are looking for a fun and flexible career, this could be a great business for you.  The key to success is finding a specialism. For example, a growing trend for personal trainers is outdoor workouts; not only do these provide greater physical and mental health benefits but also gives personal trainers the freedom to hold their classes in parks and public spaces. It’s a good idea to choose an area of training you have relevant skills or experience in, perhaps training elite athletes, triathlon training, weight loss or working with pre-natal women. Whatever your desired specialism, you should identify a suitable training course that will give you the training and qualifications you need.

Firstly, draw up a business plan.  Consider your initial costs, these will likely include training (which will vary from £300 to £6,000 depending on your specialism and prior knowledge) and perhaps investing in key equipment, which will be dictated by your specialism. After this, your overhead costs are likely to be quite low.  Insurance is non-negotiable and usually falls around the £100 a year mark, other than transport everything else is dependent on the structure of your business.

Qualifications

There is no one personal trainer qualification available in the UK, but there are a good number of well-respected qualifications within the industry. YMCA is a well-known name in the fitness industry.  They offer an Advanced Diploma in Personal Training in the form of a seven months to one-year course or an intensive course that’s 35 days over seven consecutive weeks, at a cost of £2,999. Other options include a Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instructing and a Level 2 Diploma in Instructing Exercise and Fitness. Once you have achieved your basic qualifications, Level 3 industry qualifications are also valuable. It might also be wise to invest a first aid qualification in case a client is injured and most last for three years.

Once you’re fully qualified, The National Register of Personal Trainers (NRPT) endorses reputable trainers. At a cost of £101.11 annually it acts as both a stamp of approval and access to new business opportunities, as names and numbers of people seeking an instructor are shared with registered trainers. The NRPT looks for a certain criteria to be fulfilled, including a combination of specific health and fitness qualifications as well as valid insurance, before allowing trainers to join.

Insurance and registration

Although any decent personal trainer will aim to avoid injury, sometimes accidents happen and it’s wise to be insured, although it’s not a legal requirement. At the heart of personal trainer insurance policy is public liability insurance, which can cover compensation costs and legal fees if someone sues you for injury or damage.  You might consider insuring your equipment too, but this completely up to you. You will also need to contact HM Revenue and Customs (0300 200 3504) within 3 months from the end of your first month of trading to register your business.

Growing your business

When it comes to marketing, most personal trainers will agree that word of mouth is the most effective – and cheapest – way of raising awareness. You might consider offering a refer a friend discount, or a free taster class, or get your logo printed on the side of your vehicle.

Many personal fitness trainers also set up a website, giving themselves a broader reach. However, geographical proximity is usually pretty important in this industry so it’s not always very effective. However, there does seem to be a growing market for training people virtually. You might consider setting up a skype based training business or offering specialised meal and training plans to clients to clients via email. Social media can be a great place to show off your skills in videos and allow potential clients to find you and current clients to refer friends easily.

What does a personal trainer earn?

This is completely dependant on your plans and how hard you’re willing to work. If you are planning to create an online training business, sending training and meal plans out to clients, your potential earnings will be far higher than if you plan to train people in your local area after work. The average hourly rate for a traditional personal trainer falls between £20-£50 per hour, but this will depend on your location, your specialist skills and your experience.

Useful Tips and Tricks

  • Consider undergoing a wide range of training to start with, keeping your options open. This will give you a good opportunity to test the waters and see what you might like to specialise in.
  • Hand out business card to customers and offer a refer a friend scheme to get your name out there.
  • Don’t forget to get insurance and register your business with HM Revenue and Customs.
  • Consider marketing your self as a group trainer, start classes in a local park or get involved with a sports team overseeing their fitness development.
  • Retrain and update your knowledge once or twice a year to keep up to date with new training techniques and offer something new you your clients.
  • Remember to include a cancelation policy in your agreement with clients, not only will it save you time and money, but it will likely keep them motivated and prevent last minute cancelations due to a lack of motivation.