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The Ultimate Personal Training Business Plan

5 Tips To Creating A Personal Training Business Plan

One of the biggest obstacles that most personal trainers run into when they are trying to step out on their own and start a business is creating a personal training business plan. There are so many things to think about, numbers to know, and facts to gather. Where do you start?

I have some good news for you!

Creating a personal training business plan isn’t difficult if you do it the right way! Yep, you read that right. A personal training business plan is fairly easy to create, especially if you set up your business the right way and boot strap it a little bit.

Business plans are created mostly for banks or investors to see that you have done your research and put in a bit of time thinking about how your business will operate. I don’t actually know of any business owner that had a business plan before starting their business and stuck to it. Things change, businesses change and the real world happens to all of us in business that cause us to alter course and change what was originally written in our business plan.

Personal Training Business Plan

There are 5 things that you need to know before starting your business. If you know and understand these 5 things you will be far ahead of any other fitness business that is getting started, and probably most of the ones that are currently running in your area.

Here are the 5 things that you need to know for your personal training business plan:

#1- Know who do you serve and how will you market to them

The first thing that you need to figure out is who you are going to serve. Once you know your ideal client it is much easier to create a personal training business plan.

Be as specific as you possibly can when choosing your market.

  • Who do you enjoy training most?
  • Are there enough of those people to make a living in your area?
  • What market is underserved in your area?
  • Where do these people spend their extra time and money?

Don’t just be the fat loss trainer in your area, define exactly who you serve and use 15 words or less to define this person.

My business….helps busy, executives get in the best shape of their life in a fun and stress free environment.

Once you have your market dialed in with a descriptor such as the one above you will be able to figure out your marketing plan to attract that type of person. If you try to be everything to everyone you will be nothing to no one.

There is a reason that specialists get paid more than general practice doctors in the medical field. They are the best in their area of expertise, people go to them for a specific reason. You want to be the specialist in your fitness field.

Now that you have figured out who you are going to market to it is time to figure out how to market to them.

Personal Training Business Plan

The marketing plan is one of the most important segments of your personal training business plan.

The mistake that most personal training business plans make is budgeting in thousands of dollars for marketing when they could get better results with some grass roots marketing with sweat equity. Even attracting the highest caliber socialite can be done with grass roots efforts.

The first item in your marketing strategy for your personal training business plan should be networking. Networking is NOT most effective when done in the typical way by attending BNI groups, Chamber meetings, and other standard groups. While these can be beneficial there are higher priority and higher leverage ways to generate leads and more clients.

Networking is best leveraged when you can find ways to make it more personal. It is safe to assume that you know at least 10 people in your local area. Everyone knows 10 people, even if they are just your neighbors or the guy that rings you up at the register when you buy groceries.  These 10 people can all connect you with other people they know that will open up doors for you and create opportunities.


Your network is full of connectors or opportunity creators. The trick is in finding out which one they are, figuring out how you can add value to what they do and then asking for the connection or seizing the opportunity. Do any of your contacts participate in fundraising or charities? Do they have kids that go to schools? Do they own a business or work in an office with others? Are the involved in other organizations within the community?

There are hundreds of opportunities out there if you are willing to look for them and then do the work to turn them into something solid. Don’t go into every situation looking to sell, go in looking to add value. Once you start adding value to what others are doing it is amazing how much business you can create for yourself.

Until everyone in your network knows exactly what you do, specifically, and has been invited to try it out, there is very little need for any other marketing activities to take place.

Networking creates joint ventures, business of the month, list building and many other opportunities for you to grow your business.

If you have trouble networking try these 3 strategies in your personal training business plan:

  • Contact the Chamber of Commerce and ask them how to get the most out of your membership. See if they can put you in touch with other successful business owners.
  • Attend 1-2 community events a month and work on getting introduced to as many people as possible at these events. Charity auctions, benefit dinners, school activities, and open house type events are good examples.
  • Force yourself to get out of your comfort zone and meet one new person a day. If you are not good at meeting new people ask your current network to introduce you to one person a day.

#2 How will you deliver your services?

personal training business plan

The next section of your personal training business plan should explain exactly how you plan to deliver your services to your clients. Will you run personal training, group training, boot camps, small group, semi private? There are dozens of options to choose from, but which one fits you the best?

Don’t follow trends just because they are popular. If you are better suited for personal training don’t run boot camps. If you are all about fast paced boot camp training don’t run personal training.

Your personal training business plan needs to clearly identify how you will provide the best possible service to your clients to get them the best possible results.

As you are figuring out how you are going to deliver results to your clients think about a few things:

  • Personality type- high energy or quiet and reserved, talkative or introvert
  • Style of training- fast paced, intervals, strength,
  • Space to train- >500sq ft or <500 sq ft
  • Current competition in your area

There is no one best program or way to deliver your services. Personal training is still alive and kicking in the industry and there are many very successful personal training studios. Boot camps or group training is headed in a new direction and the market is saturated with low cost, low rate boot camps.

You can choose to provide either service and be successful, but you need to be able to identify how you will be different than the rest of the competition.

There are some key words or terms that you can use to describe what you do that separates you from the rest of the pack as well.

Personal Training – includes any program that gives the client a personal, individualized program with individual coaching in the sessions. NOT just 1 on 1 training anymore.

Team Training – formerly known as boot camp or group training. Team training can replace this and create a distinction point between you and the rest of the competition.

Success Sessions – replace assessments. No one wants to truly be assessed, so find a way to communicate what is in it for the client. A Success Session likely includes goal setting and a physical assessment but it is really about finding the best solution for your client.

You can be successful regardless of the method that you choose to deliver your services however as you are creating your personal training business plan I suggest thinking of how you leverage your time and the scalability of your business model.

How easy will it be for you to hire and train new employees to deliver your services? No one gets into the personal training business or works hard to create a personal training business plan so that they can simply create a job for themselves. You create your business plan to build a business that allows you freedom and build you some form of wealth.

All models of training are scalable if you structure them appropriately. However group training/team training and the personal training (in the form of semi private training) models are easiest to replicate. Remember that you want to be able to leverage your knowledge, help as many people as you can and scale your business to fit your needs.

#3 Identify Your Threats

Business Plan

Normally focusing on the completion isn’t a good thing, but in your personal training business plan you need to, at the very minimum, be aware of your competition. Knowing what they offer, who they are marketing to, how they are marketing and the general health of their business is important.

Knowing a bit of info about your competition allows you to prepare your pricing, marketing and find the best location for your personal training business. As you are creating your personal training business plan research your competition.

Here is what you should be looking for:

  • How many gyms are in your area?
  • How many gyms offer personal training?
  • How many personal training studios/facilities are in your area?
  • What do each of these charge for their services?
  • How long have each of them been in business?
  • Are these businesses well known and recognized in the community?
  • What threats do these businesses pose on your business?

Knowing your competition allows you to more easily create distinction from them. When creating your personal training business plan you should investigate these threats and then use the information to prepare a solid marketing plan and business strategy for your business.

#4 Create your 4 pillars

The 4 Pillars are basically a marketing funnel used to track how you will funnel clients into your business. It all starts with obtaining leads, gaining their interest, creating and experience and selling them what they need.

The first pillar is lead generation. When developing your personal training business plan you need to be able to clearly establish how you will get people interested in what you have to offer. Most of the time when starting out in the personal training business you are working with a shoe string budget. With a small, or no, budget to work with it is even more important to be able to identify possible strategies for collecting leads.

There are two ways to get leads in your business. Internal and External lead generation. Internal lead generation comes from within your business, pretty sophisticated terminology, right…. Things like referrals, networking, relationship marketing, and word of mouth are all internal lead generation strategies that you can put in place. External lead generation happens outside the four walls of your business. This includes networking, email marketing, social media, deal of the day sites, business of the month, and joint ventures.

As a new business you may have trouble thinking of internal lead generation strategies that you can put in place. Heck, you probably don’t have many clients to start with if you are creating your personal training business plan. So, how do you go about getting internal leads?

The first place you should start is with your current contacts. Pick up your cell phone and look at all of the contacts you have listed. Make sure that each one of those people that is local has been individually, personally, contacted by you. Notice that it says PERSONALLY! Don’t send a mass email or just a quick notice of what you are doing. Pick up the phone and personally call each of those individuals to check in and see how they are doing and give them a bit of insight into what you are doing. If it is a good fit invite them in for a free trial or some type of special offer. If it isn’t a good fit find out if they know of anyone that might be interested and ask them to introduce you to them.

Internal lead generation really is that simple. All you have to do is look at your current contacts and those in network and find out if they can present you with an opportunity or if they might be able to connect you to someone that can.

Personal Training Business Plan

The more value you try to add to this conversation the better off you will be as well. If you go in trying to sell them right of the bat you will get turned down 9 times out of 10. However, if you go in making it all about the person and finding out how you can help them you will quickly find opportunities that you never knew existed right within your current network.

Other simple and effective internal lead generation strategies that should be a staple in any personal training business plan are point of sale referrals and referral campaigns. Getting referrals isn’t as easy as it used to be. The old school way of giving away a t-shirt for the contact info of 3-5 friends just isn’t cutting it any more. Besides, you turn into a telemarketer cold calling these leads and having to convince them to come in- that is if you can actual reach them.

The best referral strategies make it easy for the client to refer and keep it at the top of their mind. At the point of sale people are more excited than they will ever be to get started with you and they will want to tell their friends. Two easy ways to capitalize on this opportunity are to (1) invite them to bring a friend with them to the next session for free or (2) give them a gift to give to a friend that allows you to capture the friends information. If you are good at email marketing the second option is the easiest. All it requires the client to do is send out a pre-written email offering a free gift for the friend. The email directs the friend to a website where they can enter their contact info to get the free gift.

Bring a friend days, weeks and even months are huge hits in the fitness community. In your personal training business plan make sure to include at least a few opportunities to allow your current clients to expose their friends and family to what you do.

External lead generation is a bit easier to get started when you are new personal training business. The top two ways to generate leads quickly and ensure they are quality leads is to formulate joint ventures or strategic alliances. These partnerships allow you to work with other businesses in a joint effort to add more value to your clients experience while simultaneously gaining exposure to their clients/customers.

The key to making joint ventures successful is in adding value first and making it easy for the business to refer their customers to you. Create done for you emails and marketing campaigns for them, teach their staff how to promote your business to their clients, and make things as hands off for the owner/manager as possible.

Email lists are the new hidden goldmine in small businesses. Many of the businesses in your local community will have email lists and they don’t fully understand the value of them. Sending out a few emails with fitness and nutrition tips from you and then having a call to action at the end of the emails to contact you with a great offer will lead to more business, guaranteed!

When creating your lead generation strategies you want to have 2 internal and 2 external strategies in place at all times.

The second pillar is having a solid Front End Offer (FEO). Your FEO is the experience builder. It is what allows a new lead to experience what you have to offer them with a low barrier to entry. In the past we have seen this primarily be free trials. Now will find that many personal training businesses are creating low cost short term front end offers. These come in the form of Jump Start Programs, Challenges, and Contests.

Rotating your front end offer is critical so that the offer does not get stale and your leads don’t become numb to it. This is where having a stand alone front end offer that runs consistently while mixing in challenges and contests to hit on emotional triggers is a great blend.

For instance, in your personal training business plan you might have a 14 Day $99 Jump Start Program as your primary front end offer. This would be available on your website and in most of your marketing material. However to keep things fresh you may offer a 21 Summer Slim Down challenge, 6 Week Photo Shoot Fit Challenge, or an 8 Week Transformation Contest every quarter.

Personal Training Business Plan

Your core offerings are the third pillar. These core offerings are based off the decision you made on how you will deliver your services. To create stability in your business make sure that you outline a membership based program in your personal training business plan.

Your core offerings or services should be sold as 3, 6, or 12 month memberships. The membership model allows for you to establish a base of accounts receivable that show stability in your personal training business plan. The benefit to your clients in a membership model is that you are able to hold them accountable and they will be more likely to get great results.

The final pillar is back end offerings (BEO). You can look at back end offerings in two different ways. The first is the opportunities that your current clients create or, the second, is the needs your current programs create.

Your current clients will create various opportunities for your business in the form of corporate programs, joint ventures, referrals, public speaking, networking, youth programs and many more. Developing great relationships with your current clients and delivering them the results they want is a great way to start finding these opportunities. The happier your clients are the more willing they are to help you build your business.
Your programs also create a need for more. As your clients start making progress they will be seeking more information on nutrition, supplements and training. Find ways to deliver this information, products or services to them and capitalize on it. Creating upsells to offer your clients in nutrition coaching, workshops, or accountability programs is a great way to get them better results and increase the amount of money that client is worth to you.

Outlining these four pillars in your personal training business plan will help you lay out your marketing strategies and ensure that you are seeing the BIG picture when it comes to developing your business.


#5 Know your expenses

There isn’t much getting around it, running a business is expensive. Even a small start up personal training business can cost a few thousand dollars to start up on the low end. When you are developing your personal training business plan the more prepared and educated you are on the costs of running your business the more likely you are to succeed.

What expenses will you have for your personal training business?

  • Insurance
  • Equipment
  • Certifications
  • Computers
  • Office Supplies
  • Legal
  • Accounting
  • City and State Permits
  • Bonding
  • Payroll/Staff
  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Inventory
  • Lease/Rent
  • Utilities
  • Taxes

The list of expenses can go on and on! It really depends on the size of your personal training business. Knowing all of your expenses and being able to plan for them will help you determine your path for success. It can be extremely difficult to determine how you will make money when you have no idea of what the true costs of operating a business include.

Leveraging resources and seeking out advice of those that have set up businesses before you is the best possible way to ensure that you are as prepared as possible. Having a team of people behind you, such as the Success Team at Fitness Revolution will give you an advantage over your competition.

Preparing you personal training business plan can be a scary task. There is tons of information that you need to collect and you may not know where to start. Using these 5 key points to start framing your personal training business plan will get you 90% of the way there, the rest are all details that you can fill in as you go.

No one is ever as prepared as they would like to be when starting a business, and if they say there are- they’re lying! Your personal training business plan should give you a sense of direction, it allows you to see how you will get started and where you would like to go. However, know that you will have to change your plan a bit as your business develops, but because you were prepared you know what changes to make and how to make them.


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