As people become more focused on prioritising self-care, they are increasingly seeking ways to look after both their physical and mental health, with many turning to qualified personal trainers to help them achieve their goals.
From boot camps and community clubs, to virtual or in-home consultations, tailored nutrition, and exercise plans – personal trainers have a diverse range of avenues to deliver their skilled services, be it remotely or face to face.
So, if you’re thinking about starting your own personal trainer business, then this guide covers everything you need to know to get set up in just seven steps. Let’s dive straight in.
1. Get qualified
The first step to becoming a personal trainer is acquiring the relevant professional qualifications. While not technically a legal requirement, getting qualified is crucial to gaining trust and building credibility in the industry. Not only this, but it is essential in demonstrating your commitment to health and safety.
In the UK, you should obtain an Ofqual regulated Level 3 Personal Training qualification that’s accredited by the Chartered Institution for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (known as CIMSPA).
The course has an entry level pre-requisite of a Level 2 Gym Instructor qualification, so it is important you first complete this foundation knowledge before embarking on your personal training studies.
There are a number of reputable course providers you can choose from, with programmes ranging anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, depending on your mode of study. Once completed, you’ll qualify to work as a personal trainer.
2. Register with CIMSPA
Once qualified, you’ll need to register with CIMSPA, the UK’s professional body for the sport and physical activity sector.
Registering with CIMSPA gives you access to a library of resources and bolt-on courses, to help you continually enhance your skills and stay up to date with the latest industry trends. It also assures clients of your commitment to professionalism and ongoing development, positioning yourself as a reputable and qualified personal trainer.
Registration costs £30 each year and will need to be renewed annually.
3. Choose your business structure
The next step is to choose a business structure and officially register your new business. As a personal trainer, your two most suitable options will likely be to operate as a sole trader, or a private company limited by shares.
Many personal trainers choose to start out as sole traders. This means that you’d be self-employed and required to register for Self Assessment with HMRC.
Each year, you’d be responsible for completing a tax return and paying any Income Tax and National Insurance you owe to HMRC through Self Assessment. This is the most straightforward type of business structure to set up and maintain, with very few regulations and administrative responsibilities.
However, you will have unlimited personal liability for business debts and any legal claims brought against you.
The other popular option for personal trainers is to register as a limited company. This business structure provides you with greater professional status, as well as limited liability for any debts or legal claims your business may face. Plus, you’ll be able to access a range of tax-saving and tax-planning options that could save you money.
In exchange for these benefits, limited companies are subject to stricter regulation, and you’d have more filing, reporting, and disclosure obligations. However, using a company formations agent like 1st Formations can help ease this process.
4. Find a suitable location
In today’s dynamic fitness industry, selecting the right location for your personal training business is a critical decision. There are a whole host of approaches to evaluate when it comes to how to deliver your services. Let’s take a look in closer detail at three of the most popular choices:
Operating from a gym, hiring a studio or even converting a space such as a garage, can offer a professional setting for your training sessions.
An established gym or studio space can prove to be one of the most affordable options, with access to fitness equipment and facilities saving you the cost of purchasing your own.
As well as being cost-effective, a shared gym space can open the doors to a larger pool of potential clientele and help boost your credibility.
However, one small drawback to consider is that utilising a third-party gym might entail more limited control over scheduling and facility usage compared to other potential options.
Delivering training sessions online has become increasingly popular in recent years, particularly during the pandemic when personal trainers had no other choice but to deliver their services via video call or online tutorials.
The great thing about offering your training sessions online is that you’re able to reach clients beyond your local area, allowing you to expand your client base without geographical boundaries.
Not only this, but both you and your clients have the flexibility to schedule workouts according to convenience.
And of course, operating virtually eliminates the need for physical space, meaning lower overheads and bigger cost savings.
With that said, it’s worth noting that virtual training might not appeal to clients seeking in-person interaction for motivation, which is the unique benefit of face-to-face training.
Offering a mobile service can involve travelling to client’s homes, workplaces, or outdoor spaces. This provides optimal convenience to clients, allowing them to train in familiar surroundings without the commute or having to share a space with others; enabling more personalised workouts and often a stronger client-trainer relationship.
However, moving between client locations can eat into your schedule and you will also need to consider factors like equipment portability and the associated costs. which in turn can limit the range of variety you’re able to offer in your workouts.
Each option comes with its own advantages and challenges; your choice will depend on various factors including your target market, budget, and your own personal preferences and style of training.
5. Fund your personal trainer business
Setting up your personal training business will involve several upfront costs, but the investment can be well worth the long-term reward providing you plan carefully.
Initial expenses can vary significantly based on the type of service you plan to offer and the level of quality and convenience you wish to provide to your clients. You will need to budget for qualifications, location, equipment, marketing efforts and any ongoing expenses.
There are a number of funding options to consider in support of your plans, such as:
- Your own personal savings: This can be the most straightforward way to fund your personal training business when you’re just starting out, if viable.
- Bank loans: One of the most typical methods for acquiring funds as a new business. If you have a good relationship with your bank and a well-researched business case, this could be a great option for you.
- Government grants: The UK Government offers a selection of approved grants that can potentially support your startup plans.
6. Get insured
Public liability insurance is an important consideration, no matter what your business type. But for personal training businesses, whose services pose a greater risk of injury to clients and damage to third-party property, it is an absolute must-have.
Whether you’re training clients at their homes, in fitness premises, or in an outdoor space, accidents can happen easily. Public liability insurance will provide cover should any claims be brought against you and your business.
Not only this, but many gyms and leisure centres will often not allow you to use their facilities without this type of insurance protection in place.
Having adequate coverage could prove to be a vital lifeline, so we strongly advise seeking professional assistance from an insurance expert, to ensure you have the correct protection for your business.
7. Build an online presence
Some of the most successful personal trainer businesses operate almost exclusively on social media alone. Whether you’re running your business online or not, potential clients will usually turn to your website or social media channels as their first port of call when deciding to use your services. This means building a strong online presence is essential for your business if it is to be a success.
Nowadays, there are plenty of user-friendly platforms offering professional and customisable templates to help you easily create an on-brand website, such as Wix, Squarespace, and WordPress. Your website should act as a central hub for your services; offering potential clients an overview of your services and allowing them to make a booking with you.
Leveraging social media platforms, such as Instagram and TikTok, can quickly grow your business exposure and help drive traffic to your site. Consider posting regular photos, video workouts, positive reviews, and useful tips that will inspire and motivate your target audience. This can help get you recognised as a thought leader in the fitness world and grow your reputation.
So, there you have it. We hope you’ve found this guide useful and that it’s given you enough information to get started on your personal trainer business.
We understand that setting up your first company can be a daunting and complicated process – remember, we’re always here to help. Reach out to our team of experts today for more advice on getting started.