How Successful Personal Training Businesses Avoid Common Pitfalls

Last updated on : September 22 2020

Female personal trainer and her training business

As with any other business, challenges hinder personal training businesses from success. Statistics show that 90% of personal trainers joining the industry quit in the first year. Why is there such a considerable turnover rate? Most people who join the sector get discouraged when they don't make the money they hoped for in a specific duration of time. 

Success in the fitness industry requires a lot of hard work and business planning. Apart from your certifications, you'll need business management skills and proven strategies to grow. These skills are what successful trainers have learned and practiced throughout the years to scale their businesses. 

Therefore, to help you get started in your fitness career, this article outlines nine pitfalls that most personal trainers make. It further outlines how successful personal trainers avoid these common pitfalls. 

So, let's get started.

Pitfall 1: Diverse Client Roster 

The most common mistake personal trainers make is wanting to be everybody's trainer, which is excellent. But you can't focus when you are working with a wide range of people with different needs. It is draining and expensive to market all the training packages and design training programs for each group, which you must further personalize for individual clients. Besides, it takes a lot of energy to deliver the best training for a diverse population. 

Successful personal trainers have overcome this pitfall by defining a niche from the onset. They understand that they can provide a better, more streamlined service when they target a specific group of people. 

They use their money and time to provide the best training to the chosen group. They better understand their clients and meet them at the point of their need. 

The specific group could be seniors, bodybuilders, group fitness, strength training, among others. These niches are sometimes further defined. For example, you might find seniors' trainers for women over 50 years with arthritis. Specialization allows successful trainers to hone their skills, offer value, and charge a premium for specialized services. 

Pitfall 2: Charging Less for the Training Services

Often, especially when starting, personal trainers set low prices to attract clients. Low pricing may seem like a good strategy, but it is an end in itself. Why? Bills must be paid. Plus, you are bringing your expertise and experience to the table. Many trainers underestimate their expertise, charging less than they should.

Well-known personal trainers set competitive prices that compensate for their services. They highlight the value they offer and attract clients that take their health seriously and can afford the fees.

Pitfall 3: Overlooking Client Assessment 

Personal trainers sometimes neglect conducting a thorough assessment of the client, yet this is an essential step before starting training. Without a clear medical history and health conditions, it's impossible to design the right training program

On the flip side, successful personal trainers take the time to inquire about their client before enrolling them for workout sessions. They conduct a PAR-Q assessment and gather as much information as possible about current medications and medical history. Accomplished trainers use this information to tailor training for each client.

Also, these trainers know that client assessment is a continuous process. Thus, they set goals and evaluate the client's progress continuously. As the training progresses, they either adjust or maintain the routine. 

Pitfall 4: Cooker-clutter Training Programs

When a trainer has neither defined a niche nor conducted a clear client assessment, it is obvious the training program is all over the place. Most trainers use training techniques that don't match the clients' needs. The overall effect is a lack of progress, injuries, or utter boredom that makes the client drop out.

However, trainers that have mastered their craft take their time to design training programs for each client. They create highly effective, safe, and fun workouts that consider the client's goals and needs. 

They take time to learn with each client and grow their skills progressively. Working with a specific group makes their work more targeted.

Pitfall 5: Neglecting Continuous Education

When the hard work pays off, and a personal trainer's income increases, going back to school is always the last thing in mind. However, you cannot forget that the industry is continually evolving in maintaining growth - a new technology, modern training techniques, improved equipment, etc. Most personal trainers forget that continuous learning is a win-win for the client and trainer.

An average trainer gets stuck in the growth circle; however, a successful personal trainer runs his/her fitness business and takes new learning classes on the side. They eliminate unsafe training methods and integrate the best-proven workouts. They take advantage of conferences, fitness publications, expos, workshops, trade shows, and webinars. They take every opportunity to stay abreast of emerging trends. Their efforts always pay off. 

You can have a personal trainer certification list of fitness courses and commit to growing your knowledge in the industry every year by focussing on new learning.

Pitfall 6: Neglecting Networking

It is a common phenomenon to find new trainers focusing on growing their business and increasing cash flow. The work is often too much that networking is the last thing on the list.  

When it's a single people's show, it becomes difficult to connect with others, tap into opportunities in the industry, or have a network within and outside your profession. In the long run, personal trainers end up losing a lot of options that would otherwise grow their business even further.

Successful personal trainers understand the power of networking. They have a list of go-to doctors, physicians, dieticians, nutritionists, colleagues, etc. They use their network to seek clarifications and refer clients when need be. They also tap into their mentors' wisdom to scale their businesses and avoid their predecessors' mistakes.

Pitfall 7: Poor Record Keeping

The best way to establish your progress in the fitness industry or any other business is to maintain a clear record. However, most fitness trainers don't treat these records with the seriousness they deserve. This task is often procrastinated, which is counter-intuitive. You can't maintain all your financial and client records in your head. 

Lack of records leads to poor planning, mismanagement of funds, and stagnation- a common phenomenon that most personal trainers have experienced. 

Renowned personal trainers have evaded this trap by investing in modern fitness applications that capture clients' data, exercises, progress, and payments. They easily track their daily income and expenses. 

Overall, these trainers can quantify their business growth and make the necessary adjustments. A clear record makes it easier to track old clients and revive lapsed contact. 

These trainers are successful because they know the training plans that bring the most money. They repurpose and repackage these plans for maximum income. 

Pitfall 8: Lack of Marketing Strategy

Marketing is the only way to make your business known to the target audience. Despite this fact, many personal trainers do themselves a disservice by relying solely on word of mouth or outdated marketing tactics.

A bad marketing strategy reduces your client's reach. Thus, limiting your business growth. Personal trainers rarely budget for marketing. And when they do, it doesn't get the finances it deserves. 

On the contrary, veteran personal fitness trainers run fitness centers with well-thought marketing strategies. They give marketing a priority because they understand it's the only way to expand customer reach and increase sales. Successful trainers work with either in house or freelancer marketers.

They leverage social media and produce helpful content that increases traffic, leads, and overall sales. They maintain customer engagement and promote their training plans online. 

They equally take advantage of offline marketing and promote their services among their network. They request clients for referrals and offer the best customer service to the existing clients. 

Pitfall 9: Lack of a Meal Plan

At the core of physical fitness is the right nutrition. A great workout plan paired with unhealthy meals nullifies all the training efforts. Most personal trainers don't consider their clients' eating habits, which explains the lack of progress despite working with the client for months. Not guiding clients about correct meals is the most significant setback amongst personal trainers, retarding their business growth. 

Well-known personal trainers give a holistic approach to fitness that incorporates exercise and the right nutrition. They take the time to educate their clients about the right food and maintaining a healthy diet. They further tailor meal plans that align with the clients' goals. 

In a Nutshell

Trainer in fitness training business

The fitness industry is competitive. The trainers that have made it understand the dynamics of the industry. They have tried and tested what works and incorporated the best practices to ensure they keep winning. 

You can reach your business' goal by avoiding the pitfalls above and integrating the best practices in your fitness business.

Take the time to examine your fitness business and identify the areas that you've failed. Next, identify sustainable strategies you can incorporate right away. 

Take one step at a time. You can start with one factor, like marketing. Keep adding one more strategy after a specific duration of time. Before you know it, you'll be on your way to success. 

Remember, patience is a virtue. It might take longer, but if you are persistent, you'll make it.

About Ben Rose

Ben is the co-founder of TrainerAcademy.org. He is a certified personal trainer with 10+ years of experience in the fitness industry. Among other disciplines, he is an expert in sports conditioning and strength training.

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