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Bartering Personal Training Services

Trading your services means a higher profit for your business.

If your goal is to increase your personal training profits, one way to succeed is by reducing your expenses. You can save money through bartering—the cashless trading of goods and services that is the most ancient form of business commerce. Bartering is an excellent opportunity for personal training businesses. Why? The beauty of our industry is that everybody wants to look and feel better; thus our services are in demand and people are willing to trade for them.

Our business barters about $10,000 of our operating costs per year, and we have found that trading is a fabulous way
to help offset normal operating expenses and keep more cash in the bank. Learn what services we have successfully bartered for and guidelines for doing your own bartering.

Computer Services

We’ve had good luck trading personal training for a variety of our website and computer needs.

Website Redevelopment. When our website was looking a bit outdated, we obtained a number of quotes from local website developers, including one of our clients. We compared quotes and quality of work and determined not only that our client offered a competitive quote but that her quality of work was exceptional. We approached her to see if she would be interested in trading services partially or in full. Her original quote was for $4,000. Instead of paying the complete bill in cash, we paid $1,500 in cash and traded the remaining amount for personal training services. Check out www.nwpersonaltraining.com and determine for yourself whether the trade was worth our while! It has definitely been of great value to our client, who loves how she is looking and feeling.

Website Search Engine Consulting. Another client is known around the world for his ability to place a website at the top of any search engine list. He approached us to determine if we would be interested in trading services. He typically bills $2,000 for his initial services and has agreed to trade the entire amount for personal training services. Try a search on any search engine using any variety of key words specific to the personal training industry to see how we do in the rankings. We should be close to the top if the trade was in our best interest. Our client has lost over 51 pounds, so he’s ecstatic!

Computer Consulting. Another client is a computer consultant who fixes all our computer problems and answers our questions in return for our group personal training services. He gets group training (for which we would normally charge $49.99 for 2 weeks) and helps us for free. If we have issues with our e-mail server or a computer is not operating correctly, we call him and he either tells us how to fix the problem or looks at it when he comes for his workout. Since his office is close, he’s even been known to drop in a few minutes after we’ve contacted him. He’s a gem. He has been a lifesaver, and we’ve completely transformed his life. He told us, “I can directly point to the day that the quality of my life started improving by leaps and bounds, and that was when
I started working out with you. [You] make exercise highly enjoyable and something to look forward to every day, rather than a drudgery and something that ‘I just gotta do.’”

Printed Materials

We’ve also been able to barter—with great results—for graphic design, printing and mail house services.

Graphic Design. One client is a creative and exceptionally gifted graphic
designer who trades her services for our group personal training services. Our
materials look beautiful, and so does she! She’s saved us thousands of dollars over the past few years. We don’t think we could have afforded her fabulous services without the trade.

Printing. We use a local printer for various projects, and we trade services on a project-by-project basis. For example, we had a brochure that would have cost $1,000 to print, but we traded the job for $1,000 worth of personal training services.

Mail House Services. We host grass-roots continuing education courses for fitness professionals in the northwest United States about eight times per year. To market the events, we mail promotional flyers about three times per year to over 5,000 fitness professionals in Oregon and Washington. The cost is approximately $2,000 for each mailing, for a total of $6,000 per year. Our mail house representative trades his services for personal training for himself and his wife. The trade dramatically reduces our expenses and allows us to keep our continuing education events profitable.

Personal Services

Trading even has its personal benefits
for services such as massage, babysitting and landscaping.

Massage. A local massage therapist trades us time for time. If we want an hourlong massage, she’ll trade us for an hour of personal training or nutrition counseling. We hurt her, and she heals us! We each get a massage once a month, which helps reduce our stress and makes us feel better.

Babysitting. Our babysitter wanted to enroll in our group personal training program but couldn’t afford the fees. We agreed to trade our services in return for babysitting and other odd jobs around our house and business. It has worked out well. He’s lost over 20 pounds and looks great, and we have an instant personal assistant.

Landscaping. When we needed some work done on our home landscaping, we traded some of the expense with a neighbor who is a landscaper. For example, the landscaper’s wife wanted to participate in a group training challenge that we hosted. The cost was $100, so he reduced our bill by that amount. Our yard looks great, and so does our neighbor.

The Power of Trading

As small-business owners, we’ve found that trading has become an important part of our business, giving us higher profits and an opportunity to highlight our services to various local businesses and clients. The clients we trade with have become our best sales force in the community. Bartering is a win-win situation for everyone.

News You Can Use

The Best Mentors for Women:Male or Female?

When personal training was a new industry, many trainers did not have mentors because they were the pioneers. Now times are different. Savvy personal trainers know that a good mentor can boost their career. (See “The Mentoring Pathway,” March 2003 IDEA Personal Trainer, p. 34.)

Female personal trainers: Have you found that mentors have helped you? Other businesswomen have. A 2003 survey looked at the role that mentors play specifically in women’s career success. The “Importance of Mentoring in the Workplace,” a CareerWomen.com QuickPoll, reveals that the majority of women (62%) have a formal or informal mentor—someone who has influenced their personal and professional development and contributed to their career success. According to the poll results, 64% of women reported that their most important mentors were male, while 36% reported that women mentors were the most influential in their careers.

JillXan Donnelly of CareerWomen.com says that the results show distinct differences in mentoring benefits and further highlight the need for women to take advantage of several mentors—both male and female—for guidance, support and advice at every stage of professional development.

Guidelines for Effective Trading

Want to barter your services? Use these tips to ensure a successful trading experience.

  • Figure Out Feasible Trading Options. Review your regular operating expenses and look for services that offer a potential to trade.

  • Pinpoint Potential Trading Relationships. Do you have any current or potential clients who are interested in your services and have a service or product that you use, need or want?

  • Determine the Amount of Time You Have to Trade. We’re fortunate enough to have a team of personal trainers who can participate in the trade process, so the trading hours don’t fall entirely on us personally. We can send one trading client to one trainer and another to a different trainer, splitting the burden among our team members. Although our service is traded at our full personal training rate, our business incurs only the payroll cost of the particular trainer’s time. Therefore, we don’t save the full amount of the service we’re trading for, but trading still helps keep our business expenses down because we’re paying less than the hourly rate of the expert’s services.

    If you are on your own, you can’t trade all your hours or you won’t have any actual income coming in! Keep in mind that since you can’t pay telephone bills, rent, utilities or taxes with trade, actual cash flow is important. Determine the maximum number of hours you can allocate to trade, and then decide which services are most important or most costly; these are the ones it would be in your best interest to trade.

  • Get a Quote Before You Suggest a Trade. Some companies will overinflate service and/or product fees if they know they are going to trade. Get a quote from them before you suggest a trade and compare it with the rates of competing companies to ensure the trade is fair.

  • Talk to Your Accountant. For tax purposes, the Internal Revenue Service considers barter income the same as cash. So, for example, a trading partner invoices our company for its services and we invoice the trading partner for ours. We each pay the other’s bill, so the money is a wash. Speak to your accountant to determine exactly how he or she would like you to process these types of transactions.


Concerned about your place in the new fitness industry? We have 40 years of experience supporting pros just like you! Let’s create a new wellness paradigm together—IDEAfit+ is the extra edge you need. Once you team up with IDEA, be sure to take full advantage of all the benefits of membership.

Sherri McMillan, MS

Sherri McMillan, MSc, has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for 30 years, and has received numerous industry awards, including the 2010 canfitpro International Fitness Presenter of the Year, 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year, 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year and 1998 canfitpro Fitness Presenter of the Year. She is an international fitness presenter, personal trainer, fitness columnist for various magazines and newspapers, author of five books and manuals, including Go For Fit: The Winning Way to Fat Loss, Fit Over Forty, and The Successful Trainers Guide to Marketing, and a featured presenter in various fitness DVDs.

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