How to start a personal trainer business on a budget

May 3, 2017     /    Fitness Business Coaching    /    Internet FitPro

You’re starting out as a Personal Trainer and you’re ready to start helping people reach their fitness or weight loss goals.  Maybe your budget is stretched and you want to make the most of every penny.  

Where do you start?  

This blog walks you through the program for starting a Personal Training brand on a budget and highlights the essentials as well as how you can start to attract high paying clients right away.

Let’s start off with the essentials.


You’ll need to make sure you have suitable insurance first.  This is an essential because you need to be covered in the case of accident or injury to your clients.  Public Liability insurance is the most common type of insurance you'll need.  You might also take out income protection insurance too if you are self employed, this will pay out if you cannot work.  


The equipment you need depends on the type of training you'll be doing with people.  So its worth thinking through who you will be training and what type of program they will have.  

One of the best pieces of advice I can give you is specialise in training one group of people with the same goal.

This means you will choose who your ideal client is from the start and plan building your business around their needs.

An example might be if you choose to run a bootcamp for ladies who want to lose weight.  Then you'll probably be able to start with a few kettlebells, light weights and add to your equipment list as time goes on.  Your clients will enjoy the fact that there are new pieces of equipment at sessions.

Choosing who you want to work with might sound scary because you want to help everyone.  However, in our expereince the people who grow their business the fastest are those who do choose exactly who they are going to help and in what way from the start. 

Promoting Your Fitness business

Now that the essentials are budgeted for let’s dive into how to get your first client.  

I’m going to talk you through how to do this with the smallest spend possible.  All you’ll need to make this work is a little bit of time, which right now you have plenty of.  

Sample or Taster Sessions

Whether you’re a bootcamp, small group personal trainer or 1-1 trainer you can offer a free sample session to people so they know what they are buying into.  

This does two things.  

Firstly it gives you experience which is invaluable right now because you're new and need to build up your confidence and skills.  

Secondly it gives people a reason to talk about you to their friends and family and how much they enjoyed the sessions.  

Enjoyment for the client is key here, if you beast them to within an inch of their life they will hate it and it's very likely that they will not come back.  

Make a list of names for people who are your ideal client and that you know as;

  1. Family
  2. Friends
  3. Friends of Friends or Family
  4. Local business owners like hairdressers and barbers.
  5. Local shop owners like greengrocers and butchers.

Aim for two people per category and you'll have 10 people who you can contact and invite to a free session.  When they come along and leave feeling fantastic you'll have 10 people promoting your business for you and some may even join as clients too.

Social Media

The goal with social media is to choose ONE platform that you do well rather than trying to do everything at once. Focusing your effort in one place gives you a better chance of building a relationship with your ideal client and getting more interest.

Start with thinking about where your ideal client looks for information and spends their time.  

It's most likely they are on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube.

Pick one.

Then be interesting with your posts.

Unless you are training people for the stage the deep intricacies of training programs and nutrition are very unlikely to be interesting.

Think about your ideal client and what they are interested in (and want).  Ladies who want to lose weight probably want to know the best alcohol to drink (yes they will still drink on a ‘diet') and how to lose weight fast without having to spend hours in the gym.

Using Email

Email campaigns are a great way to build your audience and start to have a conversation with people.  In the most part they are FREE to set up, which is a bonus becasue we are ona budget.

The theory here is that you should give something away for free that people will swap for their email address.  This is known as a lead magnet.

Then you'll have a list of people who have given you permission to email them an promote your training.

Next you'll decide how often you want to email, you'll need to email at least once a week but it could be as much as daily if you are confident in what you want to write about.

Emails, like social media, should be ‘infotaining' that is they do give solid information but they are enjoyable to read too.

Stories about people are normally a good way to infotain, these could be stories about you or the people you are training.

Keep the emails short and punchy so that people look forward to reading them.

Rather than using your free email account which looks unprofessional, try using Active Campaign to send emails from and an email address from your domain name.  You'll see more stuff than you need right now in teh Active Campaign account but it will be great for the future as you grow your personal training business.

Get in the Local Newspapers

There are two ways you can get featured in the local papers.  Firstly as a local story or secondly as a columnist.  

Buy the local paper and look up who the editors are for different sections.  You can then approach these people with a press release or ideas for a regular column.  

The types of stories that will get you noticed are stories about people achieving something exceptional, things that benefit the community or unusual or wacky ideas.  

Columns will need you to show that you are an expert and can provide solid content regularly.

Journalists are often under pressure to get content out the same day and  you should be aware of the demands on their time.

Get on the Radio

Many local radio stations have a chat show with local people contributing.  

Find out what your local radio station offers.  

Then offer to be a guest on their feature. This will position you as the local expert.  

In time, if you do well you may find you get asked to comment on news articles around health.

Host Free Workshops

Wherever you are planning to hold your sessions you can host local workshops too.  These are about giving value upfront and helping people to overcome their single biggest challenge of getting to their goal.  These will often be a great hook to promote on social media and through the local press too.

Try out Local Business Networking Groups

These might not be free but some of them can be as low cost as £3 a session.  They will be a great way of studying business and marketing as they often have educational slots.

You’ll also build up relationships with local people and they are super connected and well networked types too!

Normally you’ll need a elevator pitch, a short 30 seconds of what you do.  In this pitch the best thing to do is talk about what you do for other people.  So the basic format would be, what you do, who you help and what results they get.  

Join Local Community Groups and Buy & Sell Groups

Mostly on Facebook these types of groups have a local community ready to buy.  Contact to admins and ask permission to add value to the group by posting regular posts that help people.  Do not pitch people constantly because they will turn off.  Instead offer helpful advise that enables people to move towards their goals.

Partner With Local Restaurants

This will take some relationship building.  The premise is that you want to advise your clients which local restaurants and take-away's offer the best food.

You want to add, ‘Approve by (your name)’ to certain dishes on the menu and in exchange you’ll promote their business through your social media, email list and press releases.  

Imagine having your name in every restaurant and take-away in your town, how’s that for free publicity?!

Set up talks at local groups

Rather than building the audience yourself, go to the place where audiences already are.  So Women’s groups, parent and toddler, sports clubs etc. 

Find the local community groups and offer to give a free talk on something that you help people with.  

You’ll want to tailor this to the group’s goal. As an example the local rugby club might be most interested in strength training. The the local woman’s group might be interested in weight loss.

So there are the fundamental steps for setting up a personal training business on a budget.  

Start having conversations around what you do with as many people as possible. Make it clear who your ideal client is and exactly how you can help them. 

Rather than telling people you area personal trainer consider having an elevator pitch.

Here is an example.

“I help women in their 30's drop up to 2 dress sizes in 12 weeks without them having to spend hours in the gym or cut out their favourite foods.”

Best of luck with your new personal training business.


You may also like

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}