How to Be Successful

What constitutes success as a personal trainer? How is it measured? Is it the amount of money you make, how many clients you have, how long you have been in business? You might say, all of the above. There are many factors predictive of success. You must have a strong work ethic to get started and be successful. The proper education, a dynamic personality, and determination are the keys to get you moving toward success. Keep in mind that people do not typically begin their careers as independent trainers, though it can be done. Most trainers start by working in an already established business and choose to go out on their own once they have gained experience, reputation, and a solid clientele.

Building and Maintaining a Client Base

In order to be a successful personal trainer, you must develop an extensive client base. Doing so will require significant time and energy. It may take up to six months or longer to obtain enough clients so you are working twenty to thirty hours per week. Your current location and the type of community you work in will influence the ease with which you grow your business. The more affluent the community, the easier it can be to grow. Because personal training is considered a luxury by many, be sure to focus your marketing on people who need and can afford your services.

Once you have established your core clients, you will still need to spend time maintaining. There is usually a group of clients who remain with you for extended periods of time, and others who come and go. There will always be a need to replenish those who do not reschedule or are inconsistent. It is also nice to have a cushion, so when things slow down you can fill empty time slots. A successful trainer is never complacent about finding new clientele.


Because you will have less face-to-face contact with potential clientele as an independent trainer, you may find yourself tempted to spend more money on advertising. This may not be in your best interest, as it decreases your profit margin. Networking is the least-expensive way to obtain new clients, and should be your primary focus.

Preparing for the Slow Times

As with any business, there will be busy, profitable periods cycling with slower, less profitable times. This will typically depend on the time of year, but cannot always be predicted. Slow times tend to be around the holidays and school vacations. Being aware of this can help you be prepared so you do not suffer financially. If you know a client will be going on vacation, you can do a couple of different things. First, you can suggest to the client that they schedule extra sessions with you before they leave, as everyone likes to look their best when they are away. You should consider trying to schedule your own vacations during the times you know you will be slow, so you lose a minimum number of appointments. You can also try to find other clients to fill in the gaps while your regulars are away. Finally, you will need to put money away during your busy times so you have a financial cushion when business is slow or when you wish to take time off.

Creating Passive Income

Passive income is money you receive regularly without having to perform additional work. You may have to work for it to begin with, but once the system is in place, there is little or no more effort on your part. When you have a passive income, you receive money even when you do not work. This is beneficial because when you are self-employed, you do not have an employer who will pay you for your vacation and sick time. You would therefore have to tap into your savings during the times you take off of work. Passive income makes this unnecessary, or at least decreases the amount you need to take from your savings. When you are working and you have passive income in addition to your regular pay, you are increasing your profits. This money can be used to plan for retirement, reinvest in your business, or to create even more passive income. Think of it as insurance.

The most obvious way to create passive income is to hire another trainer to work for you. Once you have a full schedule, you can take on another trainer or even more than one, and have them pay you rent or a percentage of their hourly rate. If your trainers make $50 per hour and you receive 20 percent, you are making an additional $10 per hour, per trainer. With only one trainer performing twenty sessions per week, you will earn an extra $400 per week. If you can increase that to two or three trainers, you will earn an extra $800–$1,200 per week without increasing the amount of time you are working.

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