10 Musts for a Thriving, Fully Booked Personal Training Business

personal training businessIt’s not uncommon for personal trainers to work 12-14-hour days. Sometimes 6 or 7 days a week. Maybe that’s you right now.

And on one hand it’s great. You’ve escaped the rat race. You’re out of a boring cubicle, in front of people and doing what you love.

But on the other hand, it’s hard. It’s long days and a constant grind to book appointments and build your client base.

So how do you do what you love in a profitable way, so you can have that epic career you know is possible (and finally make the money you deserve), without burning out or spending every waking minute working?

The secret is, it’s not always about DOING more “things”because that’s what can lead to burnout.

It’s often more about BEING the type of trainer who gets booked up and HAVING the right tools and resources to help you get there.

There’s a unique combination of “must-do’s” “must-have’s” and “must-be’s” that’ll make everything you do as a trainer easier and more effective.

So, you can stop being secretly jealous of your colleagues who are killing it and start living up to the potential you know you have.


#1. Find a niche

You know the saying: “jack of all trades, master of none”. This couldn’t be more true than in the health and fitness world. Think of it this way, anyone who is considering seeing a trainer has a reason. Big or smallthey have a problem that they want solved or some goal they want to achieve.

And they’re looking to find THE trainer to help them get there.When people find a trainer, who specializes in their unique and specific problem that they feel they’ve hit the jackpot and think “yes, this is exactly the trainer I’ve been looking for”!

This is what you want. This is how you will get booked faster, grow your business more easily, use your marketing dollars (and time) more effectively and stand out as an expert in a crowded industry.

#2. Choose the right model

The 1-on-1 model is a hard game if you have lofty income goals because you either must charge high prices OR work your butt off 12+ hours a day. Neither of which can be easy, especially if you’re just starting out.

Look at the way you’re running your business and see if it’s working for you and how possible it is to achieve your personal and professional goals. If not, there are many models that personal trainers can use to up-level their business without spending MORE time working.

Some other models to consider are:

  • Small group training
  • Bootcamps
  • Programs (this could be a 6, 8- or 12-week program where you sell the program, include some other elements aside from training and charge as a program package)
  • Online training
  • Online self-led programs
  • Premium training (because YES you can charge high prices and still work the 1-on-1 model if that’s what you like.

The key is to consider your niche (from above), who they are, what they need, how they like to train and what kind of money they can spend to achieve their goals.

#3. Sell the destination, not the plane

No one cares about the plane, it’s engine size, the fact that it has multiple emergency exits and new, state of the art bathrooms when they’re going to Hawaii, right? They’re only interested in sipping Mai Tai’s on white sand beaches. Airlines understand this fact, so their marketing speaks to the destination. Not the vehicle that gets people there.

Personal training is the exact same. People care about the destination, the outcome, the result. How their lives will be improved, and their problems solved. Not what exercises or body parts they’ll be working each session. That’s what they’ll be doing, yes, but that’s not what gets them excited to book and stay committed to a series of sessions with you.

Whenever you’re speaking to a prospect, posting on sodfkdcial media, in a consultation – speak to the destination and you will have people inspired and motivated to take action.


#4. Lead generation system

You cannot have a business that relies on a regular stream of incoming clients without a way to consistently 1) find them 2) connect with them and 3) convert them into happy and excited clients.

For most trainers, outside of training, THIS is where the most time gets spent. And when it’s done without an actual system or strategy it can be a massive time suck for very little results.

A system let you do things consistently over and over and over which you need to build a successful business.

When you use a proven lead generation business it builds a process that, if done right, can be set-up and automated so you’re receiving a steady flow of leads without devoting hours a day to cold calls that lead no where.

#5. Client retention system

Gaining new clients is a necessity, at least in the beginning, but it’s retaining your clients that will help you build a thriving business long term without burning yourself out.

Your existing clients are anywhere from 5-25x cheaper to acquire than new clients, easier and more fun to work with (if you’re working with people you like). Even increasing retention rates as little as 5% can increase your bottom line between 25-95% so it’s worth your time and effort to keep your clients from ghosting you after only a few sessions.

The beauty of a solid retention system is that it can be almost entirely automated, adding no additional work while increasing your revenue.

The key is using the Triple E Formula to make it Easy, Effective and Enjoyable for your clients to see you.

#6. Crystal clear vision + plan

If you don’t know where you’re going or how you’ll get there then you’re just going in circles.

A clear vision and a proven plan is the only way to reach your goals without sacrificing your sanity.

How do you do this?

FIRST – figure out exactly what it is you want your business and life to look like. Think about all aspects of your life. The more detail the better.

When you work with a clear vision in mind you can then map out a plan.

Consider 1-3 goals that will help you achieve your ultimate vision this year. Then break those goals down into the milestones, projects and action steps required to achieve them. Follow those action steps and you’ll be building a business in line with your vision from Day 1.

#7. A mentor

One of the most important things you can do when building your business is to find someone who can guide you, teach you, keep you on track and maybe save you from a mistake or two.

It can be SO hard to know what to do, where to start AND stay motivated when you’re self-employed.

There will inevitably be mistakes along the way but if you can learn from someone who knows more than you, you can skip the learning curve, save yourself a few headaches and reach your goals WAY faster than trying to “google” your way to success on your own. That can mean investing in business training or coaching or finding a more experienced trainer who can show you the way.


#8. Good at what you do

This perhaps goes without saying for some but truly THIS is the most important thing you can do for yourself and your business. No amount of marketing or advertising will keep you booked up with a steady stream of happy clients long term if you’re not good at what you do.

The better you are, the easier you’ll find everything else because you can know with confidence that your services are valuable, that you are helping people and people will love you for it.

How do you be better? Read or upgrade your credentials regularly to stay on top of new trends, techniques or exercises that not everyone is doing.

And then simply care about getting the results clients come to you for because they know when a trainer is just going through the motions and when one is invested in their outcome. Be the latter and people will be magnetized to you.

#9. Authentic

It can be hard to promote or “sell” yourself when you’re afraid of sounding cheesy, salesy or fake.

And yeah, if you’re meeting random people (either online or offline) and constantly saying “book a complimentary consultation”, “come see me if you have xyz”, “here’s a link to book an appointment” it’s going to start to feel a little inauthentic – to you and to potential clients.

The key is: people work with those that they know, like, and trust. If they don’t feel those things (i.e.: they’re just seeing a “book with me” post on Instagram for the first time) they’re not going to feel ready to call you.

Do this by being open, sharing your story (especially if it is similar to your niche), aspects of your life. And be your genuine self. This doesn’tnecessarily mean being witty and cool like your colleagues on Instagram if that’s not you. If you are being yourself (and incorporating the other elements above) YOUR people will flock to you.

#10. Honest

People can smell BS a mile away.

Don’t lie, don’t manipulate.

Just be honest with people.

The Bottom Line

There’s no ONE thing you must do, be or have that will instantly skyrocket your business. But combining these 10 “musts’” you can create a thriving, fully-booked personal training business that doesn’t steal your sanity or burn you out.

About Kate Matheson

Kate Matheson / Matheson & Co., a business consulting and training company, teaching health + fitness professionals to build fully booked 6-figure businesses. Kate holds a degree in Finance and Small Business Strategy from McGill University is a Certified Professional Coach with CCP and a passionate advocate of health. https://www.mathesonandco.ca/

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