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10 Steps to Start a Successful Personal Training Business in a Low-Cost Gym

April 26, 2022
tim saye

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If you're a new personal trainer, you might be wondering about the best path to start your career and build your reputation. You can take many routes, from trying to find an employed personal training job or starting your own business as a freelancer.

Starting a personal training business can be an exciting and rewarding venture, but it can also be expensive. However, opening a personal training studio or setting up a personal training business doesn't have to break the bank. By prioritizing and making strategic decisions, it's possible to start a fitness business on a budget.

One of the most popular options among personal trainers who want to build their own business is to start in a low-cost gym to get experience and take it from there. Where many struggle, though, is how to become a successful trainer in low-cost gyms like Pure Gym, The Gym Group or Fitness4less. This article will cover the essential steps to becoming a successful freelance personal trainer at low-cost gyms. Let's dig in.

Step 1. Get the Right Qualification and Insurance

One crucial consideration is insurance, specifically professional liability insurance, also known as fitness instructor insurance. This insurance can be customized to your business needs and helps protect your finances in the event of an accident. In this blog, we'll share tips on how to run a successful gym or personal training business without spending a fortune.

Completing a qualification in personal training is imperative for you to take out liability insurance that will cover you should anything happen to a client during a session. This step is also crucial because the gyms will require their personal trainers to have their qualifications in order and show proof of liability insurance for a specified cover amount. Some might accept a £5M one, but most places will go for £10M. It's worth asking during your interviews what they need so you can take measures to have it ready.

Step 2. Add First Aid to Your Skills

Another qualification that might come in handy for any personal trainer but especially for those working on the gym floor is first aid. The gym has to make sure that there's at least one person with a first aid qualification on the gym floor at all times, so while they may not make it mandatory for applicants, having such qualification or being willing to take the course can increase your chances of getting the job.

Step 3. Choose Your Gym Well

When deciding where to start your personal training business, things you want to check are:

- The quality and state of the gym equipment

- The number of personal trainers already on the floor and their specialities

- The terms of working there as a personal trainer

- Progression and Development Options

Some of this information you might find on the gym's website, but the best way to gauge the atmosphere is to go and check them all out. You want to work in a gym where the competition is inspiring, not overwhelming, management maintains equipment regularly, and provides a safe environment for both members and staff. Two of the biggest low-cost gyms have great info on their website, so feel free to check out The Gym Group and Pure Gym career pages to get an idea.

Step 4. Have Another Stream of Income

This is probably the most critical step when building a fitness business from scratch. Having other income is a step that isn't talked about enough in fitpro communities, we believe. If you're under financial stress when trying to build a new business, it will affect everything you do. It might make you look like a pushy sleazy trainer when talking to members and prospects, even if you don't push them your services.

As a result of the debacle on "forced self-employed" status, while constricting rights of personal trainers, you will have to pay rent when working for many low cost gyms as a personal trainer, so you want to make sure you have that and your essentials covered while you're building your personal trainer empire. One of the ways you can offset this is to enter a part-time employed status with your gym as a fitness instructor and work shifts. It's an excellent opportunity for new fitness professionals because being on the gym floor gives you a chance to build connections with members. More on this later.

Step 5. Manage Your Expectations

Whatever fitness business mentors and gurus tell you, understand this. You're a total beginner at being a business owner. Even if you receive great advice and follow it all, you'll make mistakes and go through trial and error until you find what works best. Expect to feel like that for at least 3-6 months or sometimes up to a year, depending on how much time and energy you can dedicate to marketing and generating new interests.

Step 6. Hustle

OK, so you've got your qualifications, insurance, a place in a gym, income that ensures you're not stressed for more money immediately and decided that you'll give yourself time and be patient. What's next?

Get down to business, spend time and energy putting yourself out there, get your name known by members, and figure out strategies that work with your skills, time, and aspirations. Figure out how many hours you can spend on this every day and make it happen without fail for those first 3-6 months. Then evaluate how it went, double down on what worked and tweak or scrap the ideas that didn't work.

Step 7. Become the Go-To PT in Your Gym

The goal is that pretty much all members, or at least those who exercise when you're around, know your name, what you do, who you help, and how. Most of them won't become your clients, and that's not the goal here. When someone asks them for a trainer recommendation, you want to be on people's minds, so you get referrals even from members who aren't your clients. So, how do you become the go-to personal trainer?

Simple. You have to talk to members every day. Set yourself a number for how many NEW people you will speak to on any day and make it happen. Ask how they are, how their training is going, whether they are struggling with anything, etc. Get to know them, the name of their pets, kids, partners, the works. When asked, don't be afraid to give free advice if it only takes a few minutes of your time. If they ask you a lot of questions, you can answer more specifically to them if you know their goals and history better, explain that to them, and offer a free consultation or taster session.

Step 8. Launch Challenges

As part of your mission to become well-known in your gym, you can launch a challenge for each month and offer the top 3 performers a prize. It doesn't have to be anything complicated. It might even be better if it's something they can do in under 10 minutes, so it doesn't take them too long to complete before or after their workout. Think 500m row, a bodyweight circuit AMRAP, most push-ups, sit-ups or burpees in 1 minute, and more.

Step 9. Organise Workshops and Seminars

Putting yourself in front of people in a workshop or seminar is another excellent way to accommodate people getting to know you within a short space of time. Whether you want to teach them the foundational movements, talk about food prep or host an event where experts in specific fields like sleep, nutrition or recovery explain to the attendees how they can optimise their workout performance and achieve their fitness goals.

Step 10. Take Good Care of Your Clients

It won't take too long to pick up your first clients from the gym floor when you follow the strategies above. Once that happens, you can shift your focus slightly to prioritise them above anything else and deliver a service that significantly exceeds their expectations. The goal here is to WOW them, so when other members ask them what it's like working with you, they can only rave about everything you do for them.


Building a successful personal training business in a low-cost gym isn't rocket science, but it requires dedication, commitment and a willingness to work hard and keep members and their needs in your focus.

While it counts where you live and what gyms are available to you, with persistence, you can create a presence anywhere that won't go unnoticed and create the foundations of a fruitful personal trainer career. It might just take a little longer.

If you're only contemplating on becoming a personal trainer, working in a low-cost gym to get started might be a great way to get yourself hands-on experience while building the foundations of your future fitness business.

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