Let’s be honest: Trainers sometimes have a complicated relationship with the business side of the fitness industry.

That makes sense. After all, most of us didn’t get into this line of work because we wanted to make lots of money. We got into fitness training because we wanted to make an impact on people’s lives.

But if we’re not able to pay our bills, we won’t be much help to our clients.

Many trainers feel awkward even talking about money with clients. Still, there comes a day when most trainers realize they need to get a bit more serious about building their business. All the good intentions in the world won’t mean a lot if you’re not able to keep a roof over your head!

And while this realization is an important first step, there are three predictable obstacles that trip many of us up.

Pursuing More Fitness Education in Hopes of Gaining More Business Success

Being a great fitness trainer is the foundation of what you do. But at a certain point, if you really want to help people, you also need to develop some business skills.

We’ve all heard the phrase “Do what you love and the money will follow.” To be fair, getting really good at what you love is a crucial step. But for many fitness professionals, “doing what you love” becomes a comfort zone. If the business aspect of your livelihood makes you uncomfortable, you may find yourself burying your head in yet another fitness certification or learning how to integrate yet another training tool into your system.

A smart place to start learning to build your business is with Michael E. Gerber’s The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It (HarperCollins 1995). There’s a reason why Gerber’s book is on the must-read list at virtually every small business! Having a successful business comes down to choosing well-thought-out systems and executing them consistently.

Studying and implementing business systems will do more than help you grow your business. It will help you understand how to integrate a systems approach into your training as well, which will lead to better and more consistent client results.

Bonus Tip: For a list of exceptional business books to get you started, access my recommended reading list here!

Thinking That Sales and Marketing Are “Dirty Words”

A lot of people are turned off by the words sales and marketing. And with good reason: Most of us have experienced poorly executed sales and marketing schemes more than once.

But when someone tells you about a truly credible solution to a nagging problem, it doesn’t feel like “marketing.” And when you’re offered a chance to invest in that solution, it doesn’t feel like you’re being “sold” something.

As a trainer, you know you can provide real solutions for the people who need your services. And the better you are at what you do, the more important it is that you get the word out and explain to people how you can help them.

Marketing done well is just a matter of spreading the word about how you can help people. And high-integrity sales is about supporting people as they seek the best way to meet their goals. (Want a free tool to build your business and reach 16 million potential customers? Join IDEA FitnessConnect, the largest fitness professionals directory, today—for free!)

Look at it this way: If you had a sure way to serve countless people, you wouldn’t be shy about getting the word out. In fact, if you’re outstanding at what you do, you have an obligation to show others how you can make their lives better.

Another Tip: For a paradigm-shifting look at how to approach marketing and sales without cringing, check out Daniel H. Pink’s To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others (Riverhead Books 2012).

This leads directly to what is, for many trainers, the final and most common roadblock . . .

Not Believing in Your Own Value

Money is a tough subject for almost all of us!

But it’s important that you believe in your value as a trainer. You assist your clients in making major changes and transforming their lives. And it’s appropriate for you to charge for your expertise.

If you’re a committed fitness professional, you probably don’t shy away from spending money on your own education. You know that it’s not an expense; it’s an investment. By spending that time and energy and money now, you’ll actually get more time and energy and money in the long run. You’ll learn to get better results faster for more clients, which in turn means your services will be more valuable—and worth more money.

Perhaps because it’s in your nature to want to help everyone, it’s normal to feel uncomfortable asking to be paid for your time. This is particularly true if you’re concerned about a client’s ability to afford your services. Furthermore, what you do is highly personal. Your sense of self-worth and your sense of the value of your service are closely intertwined.

But here’s where you have to remember the type of impact that you can have as an outstanding trainer: When people give you their hard-earned money in exchange for your services, it’s not an expense for them either; again, it’s an investment. In exchange for your fee, you’ll save your clients time, energy and money.

First, you’ll help to make sure your clients get results in a safe and timely manner. They don’t have time to learn about fitness at the same depth you do, but they don’t need to, because you’ve already done that part of the work for them. You’ll also save them energy, because fit people are more vibrant. Your clients will have more energy for their families, their work and their hobbies. Lastly, you’ll save your clients money in the long run. Healthier people spend less money (and less time and energy!) on their health care, and you’re helping to ensure that your clients adopt health-promoting behaviors.

When you’re dealing with something as deeply rooted as your self-worth, there’s no quick fix. A great place to start is to develop a daily ritual that keeps you in touch with your personal mission in the industry. For example, you can remind yourself each morning of one thing you do to enhance the lives of your clients. Your work is about much more than sets and reps. By staying keyed into the larger impact that you can make in your clients’ lives, you’ll be much better positioned to believe in your own value.

As a high-quality, high-integrity trainer, you have an obligation to develop the business skills necessary to maximize your impact. At first, doing so may feel unnatural, and it may take you out of your comfort zone, but it’s up to you to learn more about the business side of the fitness industry. Further, it’s up to you to learn how to market and sell your services in a way that reflects your values. And toughest of all, it falls to you—and only you—to do the work required to believe in your value.

If you’re in the fitness industry, however, you’re not afraid of hard work. By addressing these three common roadblocks, you’ll be on your way to creating a solid livelihood, serving your personal mission and using fitness to make the world a better place.

Want a free tool to build your business and reach 16 million potential customers? Join IDEA FitnessConnect, the largest fitness professionals directory, today—for free!