By Karyn Gallivan, MS, ATC, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, NASM-CPT
Contributor, Sports+Fitness Network
So you have successfully earned your degree and passed a national certification exam — congratulations! What will you do next? The one thing that personal trainers often do not do enough of, especially early in their careers, is to build a solid business and marketing plan. This is often the result of so much time and energy being put into the scientific principles of exercise physiology and biomechanics, not to mention the myriad of specialties that one can choose. With a degree and certification in hand, what’s next? And how do we go about building a business — or building our “brand”?
For anyone who has tried to go it alone as an independent personal trainer, you know that there can be many challenges. Marketing, billing and receiving payments, insurance, travel costs to clients’ homes, the rent costs of a personal training gym, purchasing equipment, etc. These are just a few of the responsibilities that small business owners have. In addition, clients still have to be trained. In order to avoid certain burnout, it is important to decide and stick to a business plan. A few things to consider initially should be the hours you are available for appointments, what your area(s) of specialization will be, how far you are willing to travel (this is especially true for in-home personal trainers) and how this factors into your fee schedule, how you are going to handle client cancellations and personal time off.
Remember that you are an educated and credentialed professional in an industry that still has room for self-proclaimed experts, former athletes, and those who just look good to be very successful personal trainers. So how are you going to stand out? Professionalism is important, as is not promising results that are too good to be true. Be careful to base all of your exercise programming on sound scientific principles, your clients’ goals, and their current health and fitness level.
I operate on the principle that I want my clients to always make positive progress. Doing too much too soon or trying the latest fad may be fun at first. Ultimately, though, there is a price to be paid, which typically manifests as injury or burnout. In building a business, your goal is to build a solid base of long-term clients by avoiding injury and burnout and helping your client to reach their health and fitness goals.