What are The Requirements to Open a Personal Training Business?

Oct 6, 2023 - 10 min read
A man with a t-shit of a personal trainer and a woman on an exercise bike in a gym ( Requirements to Open a Personal Tr

Starting a personal trainer business is a promising venture in the booming fitness industry.

As people struggle to meet their fitness goals on their own, the demand for personal training services is higher than ever.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of fitness trainers and instructors is projected to grow 14 percent from 2022 to 2032.

This means that it is the right time to move forward with your dreams of becoming a personal trainer.

But what are the requirements to open a personal training business? Let’s find out.

Get Certified as a Personal Trainer

A girl in the black graduation uniform is holding a graduation certificate

Being a certified personal trainer (CPT) assures potential clients that you have been evaluated by industry professionals and deemed competent, especially if you’re starting a new personal training business.

This is especially vital when working one-on-one with clients who place their trust and health in your hands.

Choosing the Right Certification

The fitness industry is filled with many certifying organizations. Some of the most recognized and respected among them include:

When selecting a personal trainer course, consider factors such as the curriculum’s focus, the organization’s reputation, the duration of the certification process, the support provided post-certification, and of course, the cost.

Preparing for the Certification Exam

Preparation is important. Most certification bodies will provide study materials like textbooks, videos, and practice exams. Here are some strategies to ensure success:

  • Structured Study: Create a study schedule leading up to the exam date, ensuring you’re well-prepared for your personal training certification.
  • Practice Exams: These not only familiarize you with the format of the actual test but also help identify areas where you might need further study.
  • Study Groups: Joining or forming study groups with other personal trainers pursuing certification can be beneficial. Sharing knowledge, discussing challenging topics, and collective revision can enhance understanding.
  • Courses and Workshops: Some organizations or independent educators offer preparatory courses and workshops. These can be particularly helpful if you find certain subjects challenging.

Maintaining Your Certification

Certifications are generally not a one-time process. Most organizations require personal trainers to renew their certification every couple of years.

This often involves earning continuing education credits (CECs) which ensures trainers stay updated with the ever-evolving fitness industry trends and research.

Word registration is written on the notebook paper with legal entity stamp. there also computer, pins, glass of juice, markers, pens and a phone on the table

The choice of a business structure determines many factors, from how you report income, and how you pay your taxes, to how personal liabilities might affect you. Registering your business correctly:

  • Legitimizes your business: It shows potential clients, partners, and other stakeholders that you are a professional and serious about your personal training services.
  • Provides tax benefits: Different structures come with various tax implications that can affect your business’s profitability.
  • Protects personal assets: Certain structures limit your liability in case of business debts or legal issues.
  • Business Name: Before registering, you’ll need to choose a suitable personal training business name. Ensure it’s unique, not used by other businesses, and ideally reflects your services.
  • Employer Identification Number (EIN): This is like a social security number for your business, essential for tax purposes. You can obtain an EIN from the IRS for free.
  • State Regulations: Business registration processes can vary by state. It’s important to understand the requirements of your state, which may involve filing articles of organization (for LLCs) or articles of incorporation (for corporations). Some states also require additional permits or licenses, especially for fitness professionals.
  • Operating Agreement: Especially relevant for LLCs and partnerships, this document outlines the business’s internal operations, including member roles, profit distribution, and other management specifics.

Ongoing Compliance

Once registered, businesses need to ensure ongoing compliance.

This may involve annual report filings, renewal of licenses, and staying updated with changing business laws relevant to the fitness industry.

Get Liability Insurance

Paper with umbrella drawing and word ‘insurance’ on top lays on the table, on the left from laptop

Liability insurance is designed to protect personal training businesses from potential claims that could arise during business. These could result from:

  • Injuries: Despite precautions, a client might get injured during a session, leading to medical expenses or lawsuits.
  • Property Damage: If you train clients at their homes or other venues, there’s a possibility of property getting damaged, intentionally or unintentionally.
  • Professional Errors: Mistakes can happen. A client might claim that your training regimen caused them harm or didn’t deliver the promised results.

Types of Insurance Coverage

  • General Liability Insurance: This covers claims related to bodily injuries and property damages that might occur on your business premises or during off-site sessions.
  • Professional Liability Insurance: Also known as Errors & Omissions (E&O), this covers claims that arise from your professional services, like providing incorrect advice or training that results in injury.
  • Product Liability Insurance: Relevant if you sell fitness-related products. It covers claims arising from damages caused by the products you sell or recommend.

Choosing the Right Insurance Provider and Plan

Personal training insurance needs can vary based on the specifics of your business:

  • Coverage Amount: Some trainers might require higher coverage limits due to the nature of their clientele or the type of exercises they specialize in.
  • Location Specifics: Training in certain locations or environments might demand specialized coverage.
  • Special Services: If you provide niche services like nutritional guidance or therapeutic exercise regimes, make sure your insurance covers these aspects.

When evaluating insurance providers, consider:

  • Reputation: Choose well-regarded insurance companies known for their reliability and claim handling.
  • Cost vs. Coverage: While affordability is essential, don’t compromise on the comprehensiveness of coverage. Remember, a more expensive plan can prove cost-effective in the long run if it provides robust protection.
  • Customizability: Some providers offer plans tailored to the unique needs of personal trainers.

Renewal and Updates

Liability insurance isn’t a one-time thing. You have to regularly review and renew:

  • Annual Renewal: Most insurance policies are annual contracts that require renewal. Set reminders to review your policy terms and make timely renewals.
  • Update with Business Changes: As your personal training business grows or evolves, your insurance needs might change. Regularly assess and update your policy to reflect any new services, equipment, or business expansions.

Find a Suitable Location and Equipment for Your Personal Training Business

Modern gym with wooden floor

Establishing the right environment is crucial for the success of your personal training business. This involves choosing an accessible, convenient location and equipping it with the necessary gear. Here’s a detailed exploration of this step:

Selecting the Right Location

The choice of location influences the client experience, operational costs, and overall brand image. Different locations have their benefits and challenges:

  • Gyms or Fitness Studios: These are ready-made environments, which can be advantageous for a start-up trainer. They usually have a built-in clientele and equipment. However, they might also have specific regulations, and trainers might need to share profits or pay rent.
  • Home Studio: For an online personal trainer preferring a more intimate setting or for those wanting to function as an independent personal trainer, converting a part of their home into a studio can be cost-effective.
  • Client’s Home: Offering services at a client’s home provides convenience to clients but may limit the exercises and equipment usage, considering the variability in available space.
  • Public Parks or Open Spaces: These are economical and can offer a refreshing environment but may lack privacy and can be weather-dependent.
  • Online Platforms: Getting personal training clients online can be a versatile and cost-effective solution to reach clients globally, but it requires you to be good with technology and may lack the personal touch that is required for certain clients.

When deciding, consider factors like:

  • Rent and Overheads: Balance the rental costs with anticipated earnings.
  • Accessibility: Locations should be easy to reach and have ample parking.
  • Competition: Research nearby competitors and market saturation.
  • Demographics: Understand the preferences and needs of the local population.

Acquiring the Necessary Equipment

Depending on the location and training style, acquiring suitable equipment is crucial:

  • Essential Equipment: Start with the basics like dumbbells, resistance bands, exercise mats, and stability balls, focusing on versatility and space efficiency.
  • Specialized Gear: Based on your client’s needs and niche, consider investing in specialized equipment like rowing machines, kettlebells, or TRX systems.
  • Technology: For online trainers, a stable internet connection, high-quality webcam, and microphone are indispensable.

When sourcing equipment, consider:

  • New vs. Used: While new equipment guarantees quality and warranties, used gear can be cost-effective.
  • Leasing Options: Some suppliers offer leasing options, allowing access to high-quality, expensive equipment with lower upfront costs.
  • Budget: Align your equipment investments with your budget, focusing on essentials before expanding.

Setting up the Space

Once the location is finalized and equipment acquired, focus on optimizing the space:

  • Layout: Arrange equipment to maximize flow and safety, considering clients’ movements between different exercise stations.
  • Ambiance: Pay attention to lighting, color schemes, and cleanliness to create a welcoming atmosphere.
  • Safety: Ensure that the space adheres to safety standards, with clear emergency exits and first aid availability.

Market and Promote Your Business

Woman speaks in loudspeaker on the street

Marketing is pivotal to creating brand awareness, attracting prospective clients, and retaining existing ones.

In the saturated fitness market, distinct and consistent marketing helps in standing out, establishing credibility, and building a client base.

Create a Strong Brand Identity

Before you start promoting your services, it’s essential to create a strong, cohesive brand identity, including:

  • Logo and Design: A unique and memorable logo coupled with consistent design elements establishes brand recognition.
  • Brand Message: Clearly define what you offer, your values, and what sets you apart from other personal trainers.
  • Target Audience: Identify and understand your ideal clients, their needs, preferences, and how to reach them effectively.

Create an Online Presence

An online presence is non-negotiable in today’s digital age. It’s essential for reaching a wider audience and establishing credibility:

  • Website: Make a professional, user-friendly website showcasing your services, testimonials, contact information, and blog.
  • Social Media: Use platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to share content, interact with followers, and promote your services.
  • SEO: Optimize your online content for search engines to increase your website’s visibility and attract organic traffic.

Make Use of Different Marketing Strategies

Different strategies will appeal to different segments of your target audience. Here are some to consider:

  • Content Marketing: Regularly publish informative and engaging content on your blog, covering fitness tips, workout plans, and nutritional advice to establish authority and attract organic traffic.
  • Email Marketing: Build and nurture an email list to send newsletters, updates, and promotional offers, maintaining regular contact with your clients and prospects.
  • Referral Programs: Encourage existing clients to refer new clients by offering incentives like discounts or free sessions.
  • Fitness Networking: Attend industry events, collaborate with local businesses, and join professional organizations to build relationships and gain referrals.
  • Local Advertising: Utilize local newspapers, bulletin boards, and community events to promote your services to a local audience.

Track and Analyze Performance

Understanding the effectiveness of your marketing efforts is crucial for continuous improvement:

  • Use Analytics: Tools like Google Analytics can help you track website traffic, user behavior, and conversion rates, enabling you to tweak your strategies for better results.
  • Feedback and Surveys: Regularly seek feedback from clients and use surveys to understand client satisfaction and areas for improvement.
  • ROI Analysis: Regularly assess the return on investment of your marketing strategies, focusing on those that yield the best results and optimizing or discarding the less effective ones.

Set a Budget

Figure out how much you can realistically spend on marketing, ensuring a balance between investment and returns.

Allocate your budget based on the effectiveness and reach of different strategies, prioritizing those that align with your business goals and target audience.


The process of starting your own business in the personal training sector can be challenging, but with the right steps and dedication, you can achieve your career dreams.

If you are about to set off on your journey in personal training, use the resources outlined in this article and make your mark in the fitness business world.

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Abril Llado Mendoza

Digital Marketing Intern US/UK

Abril Llado works in US/UK digital marketing at Virtuagym. She loves learning new things and has a passion for fitness and health, which she shares through her blog posts. Abril is currently pursuing her bachelor's degree in Public Administration at Erasmus University, with a minor in Business Management