I am inexperienced in the Fitness industry. What are the steps and considerations to start my own training business?
Specifically, I am unsure about how to market myself and build a name. How do I convince people that I can do a great job? In addition, where can I find all of the paperwork needed to properly run a business (ie tax forms, liability waivers, program papers, etc.)?
-DBA (doing business as) and Tax permit (get from your local court house
-Rules and Regulations forms
-Fitness Assessment Logs
-Health/Fitness/Medical Clearance and Recommendation forms
-Informed Waiver forms
Document everything and keep it for at 5-7 years after you stop training that client. write down everything even if you think it's minor. Subscribe to a legal resource such as PRC Publishing's Exercise Malpractice Report. What you don't know can hurt you.
Consult with a legal for all your paperwork.
Keep tax, receipts, etc because you may be audit.
As a business owner, you are 100% responsible.
Once you have all the business aspects together, then focus on all the other great advise from the other comments above.
Michele Blake, MBMHFS Creator/Owner for 26 years.
I certainly think you've chosen an awesome profession. Although getting started can be daunting, the job statisfaction tends to be incredibly high. Helping people to better their lives through better fitness never gets old!
If you are certified through an agency or school with a strong reputation, that would help. Certification organizations like the NASM have trainer locater services that kind of do some marketing for you. (IDEA has it's own called FitnessConnect.) I think I've seen books through IDEA that have a lot of forms you can just copy and use yourself. Be aware that different states may have different laws and rules and make sure your wording fits those expectations. There are also many seminars and conference session offerings that assist with all aspects of setting up a fitness business. Though some of these can be quire expensive, they are probably worth it in the long run. Just be sure they are endorsed by an organization like IDEA or IHRSA (International Health and Racquet Sports Association.) IHRSA is also a great resource for fitness business advice.
A couple of ideas to get your name out there:
1. Have your car wrapped; you know, with those cool, usually colorful and attractive "skins" that act as moving billboards. Or if that's too costly, consider adding a professional-looking placard or stencils to the side and back of your car. Be sure to include easy-to-remember contact info so potential clients can follow up.
2. Enlist one of the mass mailing companies that specialize in fitness postcards. I've seen some really great eye-catching mailers that you can add your business info to. If that's too much money, then you could print up some of your own at Kinkos and distribute them in a neighborhood you'd like to target.
3. A lot of trainers offer a comp session or mini-session (you can add that to the mailers) so people can see how they work and spread the word, even if they don't sign up themselves.
4. If you're just starting out, it may be hard to specialize, but think about what kind of workout you're best at and approach those with the same interests. There also may be a certain type of person you gravitate toward that you might have a natural repoire with such as teens or older adults.
5. Don't forget the "Social Media" option. You can use your own Facebook page or create one for the business. I think they offer advertising now as well.
Ultimately, the best way to get clients, I believe, is still word of mouth. If people like your services, they will tell their friends about you. You can always offer some sort of reward to those who send referrals your way as a thank you and incentive to talk you up some more!
Well, hope this helps at least a bit. I'm sure the folks at IDEA can give you tons of good options to learn more about the Business of Personal Training. After all, that's what they specialize in!
All the best to you.
NASM CPT, IDEA Elite PFT
Gray Institute for Functional Training 2011 GIFT Fellow
I noticed when I looked at your profile that you are an ACE Certified Personal Trainer.
The American Council on Exercise has so many wonderful resources in order to assist personal trainers in building a personal training business.
One of the resources is the ACE Integrated Fitness Trainign Model. Within the model business aspects of fitness are addressed. As an ACE Certified professional you can listen to a webinar regarding the ACE IFT Model free of charge.
Too, I found particularly helpful a book that has been endorsed by the American Council on Exercise called "the Personal Trainer's Business Survival Guide" written by Craig Mastrangelo. You might find that helpful.
Hope this is of assistance to you.
You have made a great career choice!
I have my certification through ACE and there are certainly plenty of materials available through your certifying agency and others who do business development.
The resource I have found most helpful, recently is a booklet called, "Everything You Need to Know to Start Your Own Personal Training Business" by celebrity trainer Chalene Johnson. She is the creator of workouts such as Turbo Jam and Turbo Fire and has been my trainer for my group fitness specialty formats.
It's only 86 pages and available as a download, but she really breaks it down for you. You can buy it at http://www.turbokick.com/store/home.php?cat=38 for only $12.95. She is also doing a pre-convention seminar on Social Media for Fitness Professionals. Get in if you can!
I would also recommend going to the IDEA World Fitness Convention and the Personal Trainer Institute. That way you'll be able to take workshops specific to building your business in many ways, including social media.
It may seem overwhelming at first, but remember, you only need that very first client and then you'll be more confident. It's not about convincing anyone but yourself!
Get more experience, take some courses, get some credibility.
Get employed as a fitness trainer/professional.
Once you establish yourself- the sky is the limit. You have to start small though and I think you are trying to go to fast!
Remember this is only my opinion!
Fuel the Movement,
If you want to do personal training, let your bootcampers know you have times open in your schedule for one on one training.
I agree with Jason, get into a gym as an "employee" an gain experience.
There is no need to have a huge overhead as a new trainer, use your local gyms, parks, or start a home training business, once you get busier and more confident, you can then possibly open your own space, but without a clientele, it's a risk.
As for building a name and reputation, I think that you've already taken a big step by participating in this forum. This is a great way to get other fitness professionals to recognize you, and for the general public to find your profile and answers. Keep up the good work, and continue to look for other professional sources in which you can participate and get your name out there (e.g. blogs, Facebook, other forums).