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The Key For Personal Training Business Growth

A Personal Training Business Guest Post By Ryan Ketchum

It is often easy to see things from an outside perspective and think that they are easy. I know that sometimes I get comments about my business and facility. Everyone wants to have a huge facility with clients; however, they don’t always consider the costs that go with these things.

I know that just one year ago I was at a crossroads. I sat in our elite mastermind meeting and was at a breaking point. We didn’t have enough help, we were overwhelmed and we had been stuck at the same revenue point for months. How in the heck could I do more and get more done at the rate I was going?

I was stressed beyond belief and ready to hand it all in if something didn’t change. It took an intervention from my closest friends and mastermind members. It took a slap in the face for me to realize how we were going to grow and how I was going to accomplish the things that I hoped could be accomplished.

The fact was I was trying to do too much myself and not letting go of the simple things. When I did let go of a few things I didn’t set my staff up for success and expected perfection without teaching it. I was so overwhelmed with what I thought I had to do that I didn’t realize what I didn’t need to do.

How many times do you think that you are the only one that can complete a task?

How often have you done something that could have waited to be completed by someone else because you wanted to get it done right then?

It took a lot for me to get over doing a few things. Doing our assessments and sales process was one of them. Think about it, that is the bread and butter of our business. If you can’t sell a program we have no business.

I will tell you upfront that it wasn’t easy. We lost a few prospects that could have been closed, but we learned how to coach our staff on personal training sales and assessments. It didn’t take many failures to figure out we needed to spend more time coaching our staff on how to do things we wanted them to do.

Right now I am writing this post on a plane at 1:30am because I was delayed in getting home. I haven’t been in the gym since early Thursday morning (it is early Tuesday) and I probably won’t go in tomorrow except to check in on a few things and see if I need to sign off on anything. While I was away helping a friend with their personal training business in Denver I made a few calls to check in with my assistants and office manager to make sure things were running smoothly.

I have learned to delegate tasks and trust that they will get completed as instructed. It wasn’t easy for me to simply let go. I micromanaged my staff for a while before realizing that it was ineffective.

Now I set the standards for the tasks that I ask them to complete, I set the guidelines for how to complete the task and I delegate the task. There aren’t many things that happen on site at the gym outside of refunds or canceling agreements that must be handled by me, and in all honesty those two things can be handled but I like to be the last line of defense for people leaving.

Here are the 5 rules that I have established for myself at this point in our fitness business:

If the business doesn’t depend on the task at hand to be completed by me to survive I will find someone else to complete it.This may not fit your business at this point, but my goals have changed and I am looking to free up some time and explore other ventures.Things that are needed by me are writing marketing plans, writing copy and emails, connecting with our clients, and managing staff. I also manage our business finances and operations. This isn’t as glorious as saying I train our most famous athlete, but that is fine by me!  I want our trainers to be the superstars.I also do most of the programming for our fat loss and boot camps. This is where the magic happens and our results depend on me doing this. I do have a system and haven’t seen a program for me to write since before I left 5 days ago. 
Schedule your tasks!The toughest thing for me to do was figure out what I was doing each day. I had phone calls, training sessions, marketing, financials, operations and other tedious tasks to complete each day. I had no idea what I was doing.I rectified the situation by writing down everything I did for an entire week.  This allowed me to see where my time was going and how I could better manage the time I had. What was I doing that I could hand off to other people and free up time to spend with my wife or on the bigger items that the business needed to have completed?
Write down your goals and vision. Once you do this you can establish what you want and what it will take to get there. Once you know the goals and vision business decisions are simple. Will this help me get closer to or further away from my goals?  If the answer is further away you don’t need to do it.Often times adding new programs or spreading yourself thin to make a buck isn’t going to help your personal training business survive. You must first look at your long-term goals and then decide if you are moving closer to this goal by completing a task.I struggled with this for a long time. I now only add services or other items to our business if it is scalable. I shouldn’t have to complete a new program or task for it to be added. In fact, if I must be the one to complete the task or service I don’t want to add it.
Be prepared for fluctuations. Sometimes when you transition in your business (spending less time in it) you will run into some bumps and rough spots. I am being completely honest when I say reducing my training time negatively affected our membership a little. It might have been the time of year or it might have been the lack of me on the floor. Either way I have learned to weather the storm and figure out a way to get in new clients that don’t know any different.I could have made the knee jerk reaction to move right back into working IN the business; however you must decide that you want to work ON the business and set up programs/systems to get in new clients.
Never get comfortable and think you have this business figured out. As soon as you figure out what you are doing with a promotion or training program things change in this industry. You have to be ready to adapt and change with the times. If a two-week trial isn’t working you might want to look at a low cost month trial option. When that stops working you need to look at your added value. We give away more for a first time boot camper than anyone else I know. We also keep those people for a long time and have a first day close rate of 75%. I know that we will have to change that offer soon to keep it fresh.The second you get comfortable you will start to slack. When you slack you risk failure.


In no way am I saying that you should step away from your business and hand it over to others. I have taken these steps quickly and efficiently but with caution. It hasn’t been more than a month since I have been able to step away. It won’t happen overnight and now I am presented with a whole new set of challenges. Many days I would take our toughest fat loss client over our staff members. I meet with our entire staff once per week as a group and once per week individually. That is 8 hours of my week right there in meetings with staff.

Stepping away is tough, both for you and those around you. If you want to grow your personal training business you must figure out what you want (that might be to work with 100 people or to build a seven figure business).   Once you know what you want you will be able to set your path to that destination.


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