I’m not talking about the process of becoming an expert. That part is fairly simple. It’s a long daily grind of relentlessly learning, practicing, and refining your skills, then demonstrating your results to people in your industry.
No, I’m talking about BEING AN EXPERT. You see, these days I am pretty much the go-to expert on starting successful fitness businesses. This comes with a lot of perks: financial freedom and security for my family, the pride of accomplishment, and a huge range of exciting opportunities open to me every day.
But there is one part that I struggle with…something called the “Expert’s Paradox.”
The Expert’s Paradox works like this: people with serious problems in their lives want and need the help of experts, but they often resist going to actual experts because they see experts as impossible to relate to.
For example, someone on the edge of bankruptcy might look at an accomplished financial advisor and think “I could never manage my money as well as that guy, I shouldn’t even bother reaching out to him.”
And sometimes, I worry about these same thoughts holding back the people who need my help the most: personal trainers who are flat broke, have zero business experience, and can’t imagine working in any other industry.
If you are one of those trainers and you don’t think you could ever earn the sort of lifestyle I have now, you seriously need to keep reading this. I’m going to prove you wrong by giving you a simple, fast, step-by-step guide to opening your own fitness business.
I’ve told my personal story a lot on this blog, and I’m going to keep doing it until every single personal trainer out there understands that they CAN earn a lifestyle of freedom and abundance.
Because the thing is, I did not start out with freedom and abundance.
I started out as a 6-year-old kid who couldn’t speak a word of English, arriving in this country with a family who had just fled from a communist government.
Then I was a chubby kid in high school who couldn’t get girls to look at me for one second. My family, by the way, was still dirt poor.
And despite all that, heck maybe because of it, I’m here now living a life of freedom and abundance, changing people’s lives all over the place, and building a legacy that I’m proud of.
And on every step of the journey, my success has come from the moments where I got humble and took the advice of successful people who came before me. In high school, I got in great shape by studying and copying fitness professionals.
Then, when I was a struggling personal trainer, I transformed my passion project into a massively successful business by carefully following the advice of sales legends like Tom Hopkins, Dan Kennedy and Brian Tracy.
So now, in the same spirit as them, I’m going to give you a step-by-step blueprint for how to start a fitness business that will bring you massive success.
Step 1 – Identify Your Niche and Your Unique Selling Point
Which demographic in your community is the one that no other personal trainer is selling to?
What is the one thing you do better than anyone else in your training?
Write down the answers to both those questions and you’ll have the foundation of everything you need to do in your business, everything from your marketing strategy to your location design.
The answer to the first question will tell you your market niche. The answer to the second will tell you your Unique Selling Point (USP).
In this day and age (and especially online) the biggest successes in business come to those who know how to target the right niche and offer them the most compelling USP.
Don’t think for one second that you can sell to “everyone” or that you’ll impress anybody by having a huge list of features.
With so many options and so much advertising in the world, nobody is going to be interested in you just because they see your name pop up a few times. Everyone wants a personal connection with their products and services, and they aggressively look for social proof among people who look like them to make sure they’ll get something that works.
Step 2 – Create Testimonials
Key word here is “create.”
Now don’t get me wrong, you can and will get testimonials that happen organically – people sending you emails or leaving voicemails raving about the amazing results you gave them.
However, when you’re just starting out you don’t want to take any chances. Testimonials are a form of social proof, which these days is the most important form of marketing. Social proof is when your prospect sees people like themselves approve of your product. As you might imagine, a good testimonial builds trust like nothing else in the world.
So, to “create” a testimonial here’s what you do: as soon as you’ve worked out your niche and your USP, go find people in your niche who are willing to be your first clients. Here, you want to carefully screen which people will become your future testimonials.
Find the people who are most likely to succeed using your product or training – people who are highly motivated and cooperative. Then, watch those people like a hawk. Follow up with them, keep them accountable, and do everything in your power to make sure they come out of your program satisfied with their results.
THEN, once they’re feeling happy and grateful and transformed, ask them to do you a HUGE FAVOR by writing (or helping you write) a testimonial.
Step 3 – Start Building Your Email List Through Great Content
Ready for the most important step in how to start a fitness business?
Now that you have your testimonials and you know your market, it’s time to build the most crucial marketing tool in your business: the email list.
To build an email list, start putting together great content that helps your niche solve a common problem in their life. Maybe you give them an easy, healthy breakfast recipe, or maybe you show them the most effective workout a person can do at home in 30 minutes.
Whatever you show them, it has to be something they can easily apply in their own lives. Put it in a YouTube video or a blog post or whatever platform is most comfortable for you, then use Facebook ads to boost that piece of content out to your niche.
AND, this is the most important part, make sure your content includes an opt-in to your email newsletter.
You want to avoid just slamming your email list with a bunch of offers once you’ve got it. Send them helpful, friendly content so you can build the Know, Like and Trust factor with them.
The Know, Like and Trust factor is the only way that people will ever buy from you. Work on building that every day, then send out direct offers every once in a while and work soft sells into your content emails (soft sells are basically just casual mentions of your product or service with a link attached).
Step 5 – Choose the Right Location
If you do it right, you should be able to raise enough money from your first set of clients so that you can invest in your location on your own or at least get most of the way and have friends and family pitch in. Personally I’ve always preferred this strategy over going to banks and investors because I don’t like anyone else having control over my business.
When you pick your location, don’t worry too much about street visibility. Street visibility is nice to have, but remember that the majority of your clients will discover you online and come seek out your location.
As far as square footage goes, you really don’t need any more than 2,000 square feet. That will be just enough to fill up with your first set of clients, and if things get a little cramped in there that’s fine – it makes your business look popular and busy, like a good restaurant or bar does. The last thing you want your clients and prospects to see is a bunch of empty space.
One Last Thing… (or Maybe Two)
This guide is a good place for you to start, but honestly I could take any one of these steps and dive into so much more detail. If you want to learn more about how to start a fitness business keep an eye on this blog.
You can also watch this video. It features my fitness franchise Fit Body Boot Camp, yet the story is relatable for any fitness business owner. And hey, if you’re looking to skip a lot of the hardest parts of building a business and instead use a “business in a box” solution, Fit Body Boot Camp is your best bet!
Committed to your success,