The Importance of Business Education in Personal Training and How to Get It

By Rania Boucher, Director

You broke into the fitness industry because you have a passion for fitness. Trainers love to workout and love helping people reach their goals, so becoming a personal trainer often seems like a no-brainer. In your head you probably pictured yourself training clients all day, giving high fives and being in the best shape of your life. While that does happen, it doesn’t happen by chance. The reality with personal training is that just like any other business, it is a business.

Passion Fuels Business, but There Is More

Passion can fuel the business and take it to great places but only if it’s channeled the right way and it’s treated as a business. It’d be great to train everyone for free and get paid in smiles and results but unfortunately, you can’t easily barter those into paying utilities, rent, equipment, food or even a spiffy uniform. Passion is critical to being a successful trainer but understanding your business and managing it is the difference between a hobby and a career. 

The Keys to a Successful Training Business

When most people hear business and personal training in the same sentence the first thing that comes to mind is sales. Sales is an aspect of the business but only one facet. A business that focuses only on sales has limited potential. If you’re struggling to think of what else makes up a personal training business, it’s a sign you need an education in business. These are the major factors you need to consider for your business, as well as helpful tools and education to execute on these factors so you run a successful (aka profitable) business.

What Does Your Training Business Look Like?

Revenue Goals

Your clients have clear cut goals, you need them too. If you don’t have a goal to work towards, you’ll never reach your potential. Figuring out how much you want to make takes reverse engineering. Sit down and figure out how much of all your bills are, how much you spend and how much you want to save. For good measure you should always put a buffer above this in case of emergencies. Take that number and your business expenses and you’ve got a revenue goal.

What's Your Overhead

Expenses vary drastically depending on where you work and you need to know your numbers. If you’re working at a gym you likely have no expenses, but you’re not getting the full income. There are less headaches and responsibility, but you likely can’t charge anything you want. If you’re renting space you may have a flat fee or percentage to pay out. If you’re on your own online, going to parks or doing home visits you’ll still have expenses like equipment, replacing equipment, software to track revenue, expenses etc.

However you’re training, you need to know your overhead expenses and realize that some of your revenue is going to cover expenses, not right into your pocket.

Now you need to make that revenue goal palatable by breaking it down into how many sessions or clients you need to hit that goal on a monthly and weekly basis. Therefore you have a specific goal to work towards. Once you know how many clients you need to reach your income goals, you need systems and tools to gain and retain those clients.

Gaining clients

Typically a lot of focus is put into gaining clients, there’s never a shortage of advice around sales. Depending on your workplace setting being in a gym, independent or online, the specific approaches may vary but the foundational process is always the same. Personal training is about building relationships and trust.

Sales is just the ability to do this quickly and consistently. Thinking about that is either going to make you feel anxious or overly confident. Anxiety can be calmed by having a system and tools that building trust a replicable and consistent process. If you’re overly confident you may be relying too much on your natural charisma or personality and missing key pieces that would make your approach more effective.

Tools for Building Client Relationships

Our MEFITPRO International Certification in Personal Training teaches you the systems, sciences and tools behind building relationships, trust, value and ultimately closing sales. There is a lot of math and statistics you can run to figure out how many prospects you need, how your show and close rate will predict your revenue. However, you need to be able to connect with the human being, quickly and reliably build the connections you need to close deals.

Client Retention as Revenue

Sales is also often compartmentalized into gaining new clients but it’s not the only way to add revenue. Your existing clients are often the easiest and best sources of adding revenue. It’s much easier to get someone to upgrade and train with you one more time per week than it is to get a new client to train with you once a week. This is where retention is key to not only sustaining your business, but growing it. The better your retention is the easier upgrades and referrals are. 

When it comes to gaining clients, remember that relationships and trust are key. Whether it’s adding a new client or upgrading an existing client you need systems and tools to ensure you deliver that value consistently.

Retaining Clients

Imagine you’re filling an orange 5-gallon bucket with water. You walk between the sink and the bucket with a cup everyday. Imagine that bucket got pierced with a needle. There’s a small but significant hole, enough for water to drip out. Everyday you come back to the bucket and pour the glass of water in, each time the water is higher than the day before. Now, imagine there is a hole the size of a dime, not massive but substantial. Everyday you come back to that bucket, pour in the water and it’s barely enough to fill it up to where it was the day before. If you stop filling up that bucket for just one day you’ll lose a lot of water. Which bucket would you choose? Of course the smaller hole. Many trainers who don’t get a business education get the dime sized hole. They lose clients at the same rate they get them so they have to constantly focus on gaining new clients and business never grows.

Growing Your Business Internally

The secret to growing your business as a Personal Trainer is your existing business. The more you retain and resign, the more your business will grow and the more successful your clients will be. It’s important to be realistic knowing that you can’t retain 100% of clients, so when running the numbers factor in that you may lose 10-15% of clients depending on your experience and service level. Here’s how you can get to the low end of that range.

Client Feedback

There are a lot of factors that go into retaining clients, but the simplest catch all solution to increasing retention is to just ask them what they’re enjoying about working with you. Additionally, ask what more you could do for them and set a short-term goal.

Consolidate the questions you need to ask. This is something you must absolutely do on a minimum monthly basis with your clients to retain them. Never get comfortable with your existing business no matter how long they’ve been a client. The better you service them, the more likely you’ll get referrals to grow your business.

Business Education

There’s never a shortage of new exercises techniques or pieces of equipment. It’s incredibly important to keep learning about the body and exercise but you also need to sharpen your business skills so you have clients to share that knowledge with. If you don’t understand the basics of building a business, managing expenses or retaining clients, it needs to be a top priority. You can never learn about the business side too early and you can never learn enough. To learn the business essentials of personal training, enroll in one of MEFITPRO’s Fitness Business Management courses to run a successful Personal Training business in the UAE and Middle east region.