Developing Your Fitness Business Plan

The Trainers Marketing Association has generously permitted us to post this article.


Why A Business Plan?

A commonly overlooked, and fundamentally necessary part of the personal trainers business is the business plan. Many trainers develop great skill in the physical and psychological aspects of motivating and training their clientele, but few devote the time and business planning necessary to become successful at their craft.

A business plan is necessary to help you determine exactly what will be necessary for you to succeed. You wouldnít start training a client without first discussing his goals and developing a plan, so why should you run your business without developing a plan and final goals to achieve? The business plan is fundamental to your financial success.


Developing Your Plan

A business plan is developed to help you determine what will be needed to achieve your financial goals. Subsequently, it covers a lot of topics that are not related to fitness, but will be required to help you attract customers, pay your bills, and make money. The plan contains basic information, but will force you to make specific goals, and help you to develop a plan to achieve those goals.

Parts of the Plan

A business plan will be different for each trainer, as well as for each area of specialization that a trainer focuses on. However, each plan contains fundamentally the same structure. Contents of the typical business plan include:

Company Name: How will you be known to your customers?

Company Goals: State exactly what you want to accomplish with your business. State the amount of money that you want to make and how you want to be known. This is both a mission statement, and a financial goal. It tells you exactly where and who you want to be.

Industry Position: How will you position yourself in your community? What age, genders, and interest groups will you focus on training? Will you train primarily at a gym, or at homes? Why will your customers use you instead of your competition? Does your resume and qualifications package reflect the position that you are trying to achieve?

Available Market: As you choose how you would like to be perceived by your potential clients, also consider the number of potential clients in this group. Are there enough people in the market that you have chosen with the money and need for your services? Are there enough potential clients to employ you as a full time trainer? More importantly, are there enough people in your market to require you to eventually hire a staff to serve all of them?

Services Offered: What specific services can you offer that will keep your customers coming back to you. How can these services be used to charge more and add value to your customerís program. Are there additional products that you can up-sell to your customers to make more money?

Customer Attraction: How are you going to find customers? This is the most important part of the plan because every other part of your business revolves around attracting and retaining customers. How will you get your name out to your potential clients? Will you telemarket, hand out cards at the gym, place advertisements, purchase sales leads, develop relationships with doctors, or spend time in front of Weight Watchers? How will you get in touch with your clientele?

Customer Retention: It is five times less costly to retain a current customer than to secure a new one. Subsequently, customer retention should be a big part of your business. Why would a customer want to continue using your service after they have achieved or given up on their goals? What do you need to do to encourage them to come back? Are you giving them award certificates, confirming appointments, sending out reminder cards, helping them continually redefine their fitness goals? Are you giving your clients a reason to keep their appointments, and motivation to use you again and again?

Customer Re-attraction: Inevitably, some of your customers will quit your program. Some will quit because they have achieved their goals, but more will because of lost interest and motivation. However, just because they quit does not mean they did not believe that you provided them with a valuable service, and it does not mean that they will never use you again. Many former clients reestablish old habits that lead to an unfit lifestyle. Many remember fondly their experience with their trainer, and feel that they should begin a fitness program again. Why not make it easy for them by providing an easy way to come back? How will you get these people back into your active client roster, and how will you keep your name fresh in their minds while they are not using your services? Will you implement a program to periodically call these people? Will you send out reminder cards, promotion or discount cards? Will you send them reminders on holidays and birthdays? How will you get these people back on your active list? Finally, how will you keep your name fresh in their minds so that if they have a friend that needs a trainer, you will be the one they call?

Marketing Strategy: What resources will you use to market yourself to your clientele? Will put a booth up at athletic events, place ads in community newspapers, place banners and posters in your area, or use the internet to create an image for yourself? What type of marketing will your affiliated health clubs help you with, and how much of it will you have to do on your own?

Pricing Strategy: How will you determine what your customers will be charged? What length of commitment will you require? Will they pay per session, pay per month, or prepay for a number of sessions?

Competition: How many trainers are you competing against in your area? How are your services different from theirs, and why would a customer use your services instead of your competitors? Is the competition a threat to your success, and how do you position yourself to minimize the threat of lost business from competition?

Budget and Numbers: One of the most important parts of the trainerís business plan, second only to the customer attraction section, the budget tells the trainer exactly what it is going to take to become successful. The budget sets limits on the amount of money it is going to take to market your services, and lets you determine exactly how many customers you will need to break even, and eventually achieve your financial goals.

You should get firm numbers on how much your monthly bills will be. Detail your costs on a monthly basis, and be as accurate as possible. Document your rent, your gas costs, your equipment costs, your material costs, as well as any costs that you will incur while promoting your services.

Now that you have documented your projected monthly costs, project how many clients you will realistically be able to attract and train on a monthly basis. Be as realistic as possible, and use conservative numbers. Determine how many you can train, what you will charge them, and how many will pay what you are asking. Once again, use realistic, conservative numbers, or you may starve for your first year.

Finally, compare your projected income with the budget and costs that you have established. If the number is positive, calculate out the appropriate taxes (the government on average takes between 25 and 35 percent.) Subtract the tax from the projected profit. This is the amount of money that you will make if you stick with your budget and attract the forecasted number of clients. Is it appropriate to your goals, or does your budget and plan need to be changed?


The business plan is an essential part of every trainers business. The old adage "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail," is especially true with independent business people such as personal trainers. The plan should be made so that you know what to expect, and where you will need help. It helps you identify what you will need to accomplish, and finally lets you know if your venture will be profitable. The Personal Trainerís business plan is unique because it is made only for the trainer. Unlike most plans that are constructed to attract an investor, the personal trainers business plan is designed as a feasibility study for personal success. Your business plan should help you determine what goals are realistic, and what will be needed to achieve those goals.


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