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This article is for educational purposes and does not constitute legal, financial, or tax advice. For specific advice applicable to your business, please contact a professional.
For people with a passion for fitness and a strong entrepreneurial drive, becoming a personal trainer can provide a career opportunity with flexibility and independence.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is also a career that has a strong outlook for the coming years. Jobs for personal trainers are expected to increase by 39% by 2030, compared with a projected increase of 8% for all occupations.
Here are some tips for launching your career as a personal trainer.
1. Find your niche(s).
Fitness training can encompass a range of specialized areas, including one-on-one stretching exercises, working with small groups on exercise equipment, such as stationary bicycles, or bodybuilding or strength conditioning using weights. Keep in mind that however you choose to focus your services, a significant part of your role will be to motivate your clients to complete their workouts so that they can optimize the benefits of exercise.
Many clients also look to their personal trainers for more holistic wellness advice, such as tips on nutrition and reducing stress. You can also decide if you want to partner with a gym to offer your services, if you want to train people in their homes, or perhaps train in a facility of your own.
2. Consider certification.
While fitness training does not require a license or certification, becoming certified could enhance your credibility among potential clients and might also help you obtain liability insurance. It also ensures that you have a good understanding about the latest information concerning your chosen profession. Courses to prepare for certification can take anywhere from several weeks to several months, and are offered both online and in person.
If you choose to partner with a fitness center to offer your services, the facility will likely require that you have certification. A handful of organizations offer certification, including the American Council on Exercise, the National Academy of Sports Medicine, the American College of Sports Medicine, and the International Sports Sciences Association. For more information, you can read about the pros and cons of NASM and ACSM, and a comparison of ACE and ISSA.
3. Protect yourself with liability insurance.
As an independent personal trainer, you will want to have liability insurance to provide protection in the event that a client suffers an injury. The organizations that offer certification may also offer access to special rates for liability insurance, and many national insurance companies offer personal trainer insurance. Plan on paying anywhere from a little over $100 per year up to two or three times that amount, depending on the level of coverage you select.
You can purchase liability insurance to cover injuries to yourself and your client or indemnity insurance to protect against lawsuits and other types of coverage. The higher the level of coverage you select, the higher your premium will be. You should also review some advice from the Institute of Personal Trainers about selecting insurance.
4. Create a contract.
Having clients sign a contract is common practice in the personal training business, and contracts are generally considered beneficial for both the client and the personal trainer. Square offers contract templates connected to your online dashboard and payments via your class bookings. Exercise.com explains personal trainer contracts in more detail.
In general, a contract should explain payment terms, cancellation policies, and financial details without promising specific results to the client. Even though a contract might contain language about liability, having a contract does not eliminate the need for insurance.
5. Market yourself to potential clients.
One of the most common ways that independent personal trainers obtain clients is through their gym. Many gyms allow personal trainers to use their facilities, as long as both the trainer and the client are members. Consider all the tools at your disposal, however, including business cards, online marketing through a website, paid search and social media ads, and flyers posted in local businesses.
To get started, offer a free consultation to set expectations and ensure that you and the client are a good fit. Maintaining an active presence on media channels such as YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram can also help get the word out about your business and allow you to showcase your capabilities with videos, photos, and text. As you gain clients and a following, your customers and fans could become a source of free organic marketing for your business.
Ready to start booking classes? Square Appointments is free for individual trainers and comes with tools to automate booking, payments, and scheduling.