How to Start a Personal Training Business

The past year has been a challenge for everyone, with many businesses having to furlough talented staff to save their business from going under. With 811,000 self-employed people in the UK, many are now choosing to go it alone in the hopes of being successful, owning their own schedule and having more earning potential.

Personal training is a particularly successful self-employed niche and as the world begins to open back up, there’s never been a better time to pursue your dream of becoming a personal trainer. Many people are now choosing personal trainers to avoid the crowds and risks associated with busy gyms, while many others have simply lost their confidence and fitness levels after so long at home and need a helping hand to get back into it.

In this guide, we’ll go through how to start a personal training business, from creating your personal trainer business plan, to finding your first clients and retaining business.

Online scheduling, payments and more with Square Appointments.

Scheduling software that helps bring in more business.

Researching your target market

Getting started can be the hardest and most daunting part of your journey to start a fitness business, but if you have the passion, dedication and willingness to work hard then there’s nothing stopping you.

Here are a few steps to take to get started:

Write a personal training business plan

Creating a business plan that outlines your goals and your plan for reaching them will allow you to effectively track your progress. It’s also a good way to identify the must-have resources and to prioritise your ideas.

Who is your ideal client profile?

Rather than trying to be one size fits all, look for a niche area of personal training. Are you a yoga expert? Then target people who are trying to adopt a holistic lifestyle. Or if you’re a middle-aged male. you could target other middle-aged males who are looking to get back into shape as you understand where they’re coming from on their fitness journey.

Who are your competitors?

Do some research on other personal trainers that are operating in your local area and see how you can differentiate yourself to stand out from the crowd.

Demand for your services

Once you have a niche fitness area in mind, find out if there is demand for it before you go down that road. If there isn’t, you may need to rethink.

Pricing for your services

Pricing is a key factor in piquing the interest of and retaining clients. You may need to charge less to begin with as you’re finding your feet and can increase your prices as you become more experienced, get more testimonials and perhaps more qualifications.

Register your personal training business

There are also a few legal steps you need to take when starting your personal training business. These can include:

Join a regulator

CIMPSA or Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity is a professional development body for the UK’s sport and physical activity sector. It’s a good idea to become a member so you can access valuable training, qualifications and professional support throughout your career.

Get business insurance

You will also need to buy business insurance before you start your fitness business and undertake any sessions with clients.

Public liability insurance covers risks of interacting with the public, for instance if a dog walker trips on a kettlebell that’s part of your circuit training in the local park. Professional indemnity insurance is for scenarios in which a client feels you’ve advised them wrongly, perhaps causing an injury.

Register as a limited company with the government

This is a critical part of launching your business, securing your business name and address details and setting up VAT payments. Registering with the government ensures you’re setting up your personal training business legally.

Choose a location for training sessions

There are a few options for your personal training business location and it’s completely up to you to decide where you carry out your activities, based on what would best suit the niche you chose. Some options include:

  • Training at a client’s property – taking the relevant kit
  • Inviting clients to your own home gym space
  • Training in public outdoor spaces like parks
  • Freelance training in gyms

Start-up costs to consider

Before creating your business plan, it’s a good idea to sit down and work out exactly what your expenses will be, in order to budget appropriately. Some initial costs will include:

Gym equipment

Remember, you can always start off small by training clients at outdoor gyms or in a public gym, until you have enough money to purchase your own equipment.


Insurance isn’t a legal requirement (unless you have employees), but it can bring peace of mind to an entrepreneur starting a new business. If a client or member of the public made a claim against your business, legal representation or compensation could be a lot of money.

Room rental fees

Consider what type of venue you will use and how much it will cost you. Trainers who work in commercial gyms generally make less of a profit than others as commercial gyms can charge high fees, however an outdoor gym, a public playing field or a vacant studio in a shared building could be a cheaper start-up option.

Marketing material

Marketing your business is one of the most important first steps to spread the word about your new venture and generate interest and growth. Social media is an effective way to do this. You can quickly reach your niche audience by starting up an Instagram account and posting videos and photos of your live sessions (with clients’ permission, of course) as well as helpful Q&A sessions via the live story feature.

Taking payment from clients

Taking payment from clients could be a timely process. Consider using an automated system like Square in order to free up your time to focus on what really matters.

Square for health and business professionals includes a range of tools and handy features to make your life easier, including:

Square Invoices for remote/recurring payments
Whether you’re charging clients at the session or want to take payment for upcoming sessions, Square Invoices allow you to generate payments, create digital receipts and even integrate with handy appointment software so ensure you can align payments with a client’s upcoming fitness plan.

Square Reader for in-person payments
With the client and need to take payment by card? No problem. Square’s handy portable pocket-sized card reader lets you take contactless and chip + PIN payments on the go, no matter where you’re based.

Want to look professional in your own studio space? Square Stand allows you to create a sleek point of sale system that can easily be moved around to suit your business. Alternatively, there’s a fully integrated countertop touch screen till available too.

Technology to help run/grow your PT business

Looking for more digitally automated ways to manage your business? Square can also provide the following to help:

Appointment booking software

Easily take and manage client bookings with the Square booking system through Square Appointments:

  • Make your classes instantly bookable on a free booking website, Instagram, Facebook and Google.
  • Send automatic appointment reminders to clients via SMS and/or email.
  • Keep a card on file to hold appointments, require prepayment for classes or charge cancellation fees
  • Accept any kind of payment, including contactless and chip and PIN. All your sales are integrated in your Appointments POS.

Free online website

Set up an online website. Square Online lets you set up your own domain to help grow your business. It also seamlessly integrates with the appointment software detailed above.

Marketing your personal training business

Last but not least, it’s essential that you market your personal training business in order to grow your local reach. Some of the most effective ways of doing this include:

Now that you’re equipped with the steps you need to take to start a personal training business, it’s time to take that leap and have a go. Business may not always run smoothly but now is the best time to start.