How to start a personal training business

Personal training services are one of the booming industries in the UK’s start-up sector, with over 23,959 personal trainers in the UK in 2023, according to research by IBISworld opens in new window, with the number growing by nearly 2% between 2018 and 2022.

With more people integrating health and fitness into their lifestyles, the demand for personal trainers is growing.

If you’re a fitness enthusiast or sporting professional, you may want to consider starting a personal training business.

With its relatively low start-up costs, working as a trainer may allow you to do rewarding work that fits around your schedule.

With an average salary of £50,312 in London, according to research by Glassdoor opens in new window, becoming a personal trainer could provide the flexibility of generating an income while enabling you to work around other commitments.

 

What skills and qualifications do you need?

There are no regulations that determine the skills or qualifications personal trainers need when starting out on their own – however, commercial organisations such as gyms opens in new window usually require a Level 2 certification in gym instruction if you plan on working with clients through a gym or fitness centre.

However, obtaining relevant qualifications may help increase your credibility and build customer trust opens in new window.

Undergoing training and gaining certification can help ensure your clients receive professional service from someone with the comprehensive knowledge and skill needed to deliver practical training safely.

A Level 2 fitness instructor certification is typically the minimum level obtained by professional trainers, as it covers a range of fundamental aspects, such as:

  • anatomy
  • physiology
  • health and safety
  • client assessment
  • exercise programming.

From here, instructors are encouraged to obtain a Level 3 certification to expand their existing knowledge and refine their expertise opens in new window.

This enables them to design personalised fitness programs for individual clients and demonstrate their commitment to ongoing professional development.

Trainers can gain credibility by joining the Register of Exercise Professionals (REP) opens in new window, an independent register for fitness professionals in the UK.

CIMSPA opens in new windowmembership (Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity) may also help fitness instructors to further their skills through workshops and events.

Read our guide on what skills you need to start a business opens in new window.

 

Business requirements

You’ll need to register your business – such as operating as a sole trader opens in new window or a partnership opens in new window – with HMRC opens in new windowso you can file for tax assessment.

It might be worth reading our handy guide on tax for self-employed people. opens in new window

If you intend to work commercially, you will be required to keep secure, accurate records of client information and comply with the Data Protection Act opens in new window 2018.

You must conduct regular risk assessments to ensure any sports and fitness equipment are safely maintained.

Since you may be working with clients on a one-to-one basis, you may need to practice personal vigilance when meeting with clients as you may have to visit a stranger’s home or be alone with people you do not know.

To ensure your safety and security, it’s a good idea to choose a location that makes you feel comfortable, such as a park or public space and be sure to let a trusted person know where you are going, share your client’s name, and the time you will be expected to return.

Installing a safety app on your smartphone may help provide additional security.

 

Start-up costs

To get qualified, you may have to pay to undergo a training programme.

The cost is determined by the provider and the level of qualification you’re aiming for – prices can range from a few hundred pounds to a few thousand.

Many trainers like to establish a dedicated space for their sessions, so if you’re considering renting space in a gym, studio, or local hall, you’ll need to determine how long you intend to use it and factor in the cost of using that space.

Personal trainers may want to provide clients with fitness equipment such as weights, heart rate monitors, exercise mats, blocks, resistance bands, and cardio machines.

Before you set up your business it’s worth deciding what equipment is best suited to your services and take into account those costs opens in new window.

You will also need to consider equipment cleaning and maintenance costs.

Insurance opens in new window is another key consideration for your business.

Personal trainers should have public liability insurance opens in new window, which can cover them if a client were to injure themselves in a session.

If you are providing equipment, getting product liability insurance to cover client injuries caused by your equipment may be a good idea.

Business equipment insurance can also be worth considering in case of damage, theft, or loss of fitness equipment.

 

Attracting customers and marketing strategies

Creating an online presence to attract clients may also be worth investing time and funding into.

Consider setting up a website opens in new window with a biography of yourself, client testimonials, and good-quality photos.

Setting up social media accounts to reach followers, interact with clients, showcase your skills, and your personality can be an excellent way to attract new customers.

Creating a social media presence opens in new window could be key to your marketing strategy opens in new window and could help you build your clientele.

Discover how to use social media platforms to promote your personal training business. Read our guides on:

Read our guide on how to make social media work for your small business. opens in new window

You can prove your skills and demonstrate the efficacy of your work by presenting reels and videos with helpful fitness tips or promote your classes by posting client reviews alongside “before” and “after” pictures of their successful fitness journey.

Advertising your services locally with leafleting and adverts in local shop windows can be beneficial as many potential customers are likely to live in your local area.

Another way to attract clients is to offer group training classes, as this is usually more affordable and may be less intimidating for clients than one-to-ones.

Read our guide on marketing on a shoestring opens in new window.

 

Promotion

Offering package deals opens in new window can be a great way to incentivise clients to sign up for personal training sessions.

Consider providing referral discounts for clients who bring their friends, family, and colleagues to your service.

It may be a good idea to network opens in new window with other fitness professionals, such as gym owners, nutritionists, physical therapists, and sports coaches and refer each other’s services to respective clients.

 

Scaling your business

If your business continues to grow, consider scaling the enterprise opens in new window by integrating additional services to reach a broader range of clients.

For example, you can obtain certificates in other areas related to health and fitness, such as yoga and mindfulness classes, massage therapy, or nutritional guidance.

Alternatively, you could do further training so you can offer bespoke classes, such as sessions designed for pre- and post-natal or people with disabilities.

If the demand increases, you could hire additional trainers opens in new window to help you meet demand and expand your business by giving extra classes in different locations.

Read our guide on the do’s and don’ts of successfully scaling your start-up opens in new window.

 

Learn with Start Up Loans and help get your business off the ground

Thinking of starting a business? Check out our free online courses in partnership with the Open University on being an entrepreneur.

Our free  Learn with Start Up Loans courses opens in new window opens in new window include:

Plus free courses on finance and accounting, project management, and leadership.

 

Reference to any organisation, business and event on this page does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation from the British Business Bank or the UK Government. Whilst we make reasonable efforts to keep the information on this page up to date, we do not guarantee or warrant (implied or otherwise) that it is current, accurate or complete. The information is intended for general information purposes only and does not take into account your personal situation, nor does it constitute legal, financial, tax or other professional advice. You should always consider whether the information is applicable to your particular circumstances and, where appropriate, seek professional or specialist advice or support.

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