How to Write a Business Plan for Personal Trainers

ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, How to Write a Business Plan for Personal Trainers

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Many fitness professionals operate without a business plan. This is partly because writing this type of plan takes time. And in the fitness industry, if you aren’t in the gym training clients, you aren’t getting paid. This may lead you to operate your personal training business without a plan as well. But is that really a good idea?

Do You Need a Business Plan as a Personal Trainer?

If you provide personal training services as a hobby, you can probably get by without a business plan. You’re not reliant on the success of your side venture, so creating a detailed plan as to how it will operate isn’t as necessary. Conversely, if you want to make a career out of personal training, there are many benefits to sitting down and writing out a business plan.

For instance, if you want to become a gym owner, it could cost you anywhere from $65,000 for a modest gym up to $1 million if you want a gym loaded with every amenity possible. Where will you get the capital to build your gym? If your answer is “from investors,” you will need a business plan to convince them that your gym business is worth the investment.

Or maybe you want to build and grow an online personal training business. Creating a business plan helps you become crystal clear on what your virtual company needs in order to operate smoothly. It provides a detailed budget, marketing plan, and a thorough look at your competition. All of this will help you position your online personal training company for maximum success. 

Other benefits of writing a personal training business plan include:

  • A clearer understanding of what the future looks like for your fitness business, and how to get there
  • A list of all the people needed to build and grow your training business, such as other trainers, legal counsel, business insurance providers, and other business partners
  • A plan for how you will monitor your business’s success, ensuring that you continue to progress forward
  • Realizing how to stand out from your competition, making your training services more in demand

Understanding Your Business Plan Options

There are two basic business plan formats. They are a traditional business plan and a lean startup business plan

What’s the Difference?

A traditional business plan is more comprehensive. That makes this a good option for a personal trainer who thrives on detail. It’s also helpful if you’re a new business owner and want to ensure that you’ve addressed all issues when building and growing your company.

ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, How to Write a Business Plan for Personal Trainers

Traditional Business Plan

The nine sections in a traditional business plan are:

  • Executive summary. This is where you state your mission statement and provide basic information about your personal trainer business. It is essentially an overview of what your business looks like.
  • Business description. In this section, you’ll give more detail about your training business. You will explain the problems you solve as a personal fitness trainer. Depending on your specialty, this could be helping clients with weight loss, improving senior fitness, or designing fitness programs for youth.
  • Market analysis. How does your personal training business compare to others in the field? What does it take to become a successful personal trainer? What must you do to appeal to a new client?
  • Business structure. This section explains both the legal structure of your training business and the structure of your company internally. You must decide whether you’re going solo or if you want to hire employees.
  • Service and product offerings. Typically, a personal trainer business provides a service. But maybe you want to offer your clients products as well. In this section, you will share your plan for what these services and products look like. 
  • Marketing strategy. Here you will explain how you plan to find and appeal to a potential client. Will you buy social media ads or send out mailers? You’ll also include what you’ll do to retain your clients long term. 
  • Funding needs. If you need capital to start your personal training business, this is where you’ll outline this information. Provide the costs related to building or growing your gym or fitness studio. Be specific about how much money you need, as well as where you plan to spend it.
  • Financial projections. What is your financial plan for the next five years? Don’t forget to consider your reoccurring cash flow needs, such as utilities and gym equipment maintenance.
  • Appendix. This final section includes any supporting documentation for your personal trainer business plan. If you’re seeking funding, you might include a credit report and project price quotes. Other items to consider include building permits, a copy of your personal trainer certification, and vendor contracts. If you’ve been acting as a personal trainer already, provide your past financial statements as proof of your business’s financial health.

Lean Startup Business Plan

Because a traditional business plan is so lengthy, some fitness professionals opt for a shorter, less comprehensive plan. This is where the lean startup format comes into play. Creating a lean plan is often enough for someone who wants to provide personal training services solo. This type of plan also enables you to begin providing personal training services fairly quickly.

Like with a traditional plan, the lean format also has nine basic components. The difference is that they can be outlined more briefly. In some cases, you may be able to get by with a bullet list of that section’s information. These nine components are:

  • Key partnerships. The suppliers or vendors you will be working with as you build and grow your fitness business. 
  • Key activities. The actions you will take to bring in new clients; your personal trainer marketing plan.
  • Key resources. Your business assets, whether financial or people-related, like having staff.
  • Value proposition. The things that set your business part; how you are unique.
  • Customer relationships. How you plan to communicate with your clients. What your customer service looks like.
  • Communication channels. What methods will you use to connect with your client base? Social media? Email marketing? Some other method?
  • Costs. List the costs associated with creating a successful training business. When providing training services, will you offer any discounted pricing? Conversely, what are some ways you can increase your value to your target audience?
  • Revenue streams. How do you plan to make money? Solely by providing personal training services or by selling products too? You can also share your pricing strategy here.

Filling out these sections does require that you take some time, but it is often quicker than providing the detail necessary to complete a traditional business plan. 

How to Write a Business Plan for Personal Trainers

Creating a solid personal trainer business plan can help you build a strong, profitable business. To make this plan more effective, you must get crystal clear on what you want your training business to look like. 

If you’re unsure, take a few moments to close your eyes and imagine your business when it is up and running. How big is it? How many personal training clients does it have? How does it help them improve their fitness? What are you doing to run the business? Do you have staff? If so, how many? The more you can envision your goal business, the easier it is to create a personal training business plan that supports this vision.

Even though you now know all of the elements of a good gym business plan, it sometimes helps to work off an outline. Many online sites provide an easy-to-use business plan template. All you have to do is download it, input the requested information, and you’re good to go.

Review Your Personal Training Business Plan Regularly

A fitness business plan isn’t something you write up and file away never to look at again. Reviewing it regularly helps you identify if you need to strengthen certain aspects of your training business to reach higher levels of success. 

Taking the time to write and review your business plan also helps you get and stay on your desired path. It provides guidance as you build and grow your personal training business. 

Another way to take your business to the next level is to obtain additional certifications. For instance, the ISSA offers Certified Gute Specialist certification, Corrective Exercise certification, and Bodybuilding certification. Gaining more credentials tells potential customers that you have the education necessary to help them achieve their fitness goal!


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