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Starting a Personal Training Business on a Budget

jarDang… have you seen all the comments on the Fit Body Boot Camp launch site?

Over 100 comments from fitness pros who want to own a Fit Body Boot Camp territory.

I guess it’s safe to say that this re-launch will sell out quickly like the last two (especially since we’re only taking on half the amount of new owners this time around)

Moving on!

Starting a personal training business … (on a budget)

Okay, so I got a facebook email the other day from a fitness trainer who wanted to know how much he should try to borrow and piece together to start a personal training business.

Here’s what I told him…

If I could do it all over again, I’m pretty sure I could start a personal training business or a fitness boot camp for little or no money.

I’m not talking about opening up a personal training studio or gym for little to no money.

(all though if I were to do that I’d follow this program and save myself thousands of dollars and tons of time)

First off, you should watch this video first where I give you the step-by-step formula for starting a personal training business.

The first thing I would if I were starting a personal training business today is to choose who I wanted to serve. This is the number one mistake I made when I first started out a trainer and I struggled for years because of it…

and it’s the number one mistake I see now. You have to have a defined niche market.

Once you know who your NICHE market is, it’s W-A-Y easier to reach them and to speak in THEIR language. SIDE NOTE: People buy when they feel understood and when you know the ‘language” that your market speaks it’s way easier to get them to make the buying decision.

skinnyFor example if I know that my market is stay-at-home moms then I know that the words and phrases that would resonate with them are:

  • Not having enough time to workout
  • Making better choices for your family
  • Getting back into their skinny jeans
  • Getting a flat stomach (notice it’s STOMACH and no tummy or abs?)
  • Having more energy to take on the day
  • Getting your wedding day body back

You get the point, right?

If I chose the entire world as my market then I’d quickly create a disconnect by using these words with them or I’d have to use general fitness and fat loss words that basically don’t sell because being general sucks.

Next, I’d find a place where I could train my clients. I’d NEVER want to go to them because that’s a lot of driving time that you’re not being paid for.

I want my clients to come to me.

I’d find a gyms I could rent space from, a gymnastic, cheer, or dance center and I’d negotiate a 60 day ramp up time where the first 30 days would be rent free, the next 30 days would be half rent, and then full rent by day 90.

I teach a lot of my coaching clients how to do this and In fact I did that with my training facilities back in the day AND I did the same with my office that I’m in now… (actually I got 90 days rent free here at my office)

Finally, to build up my client roster QUICKLY I’d do Steve Hochman’s human billboard system and get an army of 20-30 people who would serve as my referral army in exchange for free group or boot camp training.

referralAnd I’d do the my business referral network circle where you create a list of local businesses that serve your ideal clients…

Like this:

  • The chiropractor
  • The tanning solon
  • The day spa
  • The massage therapist
  • The supplement store
  • The physical therapist
  • The high end hair solons
  • The health food stores
  • And the boutique dress shops

Then you walk into each of these businesses and offer the owners/manager and the staff free membership to your group or boot camp training program in exchange for them to hand out 4×6 postcards that offer a $1 trial for one week of my program.

I know what you’re thinking… HOW CAN YOU TRAIN ALL THOSE PEOPLE FOR FREE.

First, you should know that only 30% will take you up on the offer – but near 100% will feel obligated to send you referrals because they feel that they have access to your program anytime. It’s like insurance.

Second, it’s group or boot camp training anyway so what does it matter? The bigger the group the more others want to be a part of. (who wants to eat in an empty restaurant?)

NOW here’s the MOST important thing to make the “business referral network circle” marketing system work… you also tell the business owner/manager that in exchange for the referral cards they’ll pass out, YOU plan to refer all you’re clients to THEIR business making it a perfect “referral network circle.”

What business owner in their right mind would not want to get in shape for free and get more referrals from you?

That’s how you go about starting a personal training business on a shoestring budget.

And if owning your own Fit Body Boot Camp business sounds interesting and exciting then be sure to check this out >>

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  • John Cusick

    hey this is a great article maybe a post on how to negoiate the ramp ups would be useful. It would help me at the mo.

  • Trainer J

    Tough to find the time! When your traveling to two gyms, One I just put my business into. I offer 10% only up to 10k. I sell at a high rate. I am training trainers now. Tough to find my twin in this business. Where the f^%&! is ppls passion for life anymore? Pittsburgh ppl are the most miserable ppl on the earth. I Know this I travel for business. And have lived in many states. I wish I was in California. With my skill I would wipe out the compitition! WTF! I am stuck here for now. I have employee from La. After hiring and firing 16 Pittsburghs finest trainers I get him and we work great together. He hasn’t been fukd with by pgh ppl yet! This is a tough place to sell training and bootcamps suck! it rains or its cold I need an investor for a warmer climate! If I can do the numbers I do here I would triple them else where!

  • Robert Foster

    Another great post by the master

  • Rob

    Love it… thanx dude. You, Site kicks ass. I came across a dudes website today trying to sell everything you give away free. He was asking something like $450… lol

    He said he came up with the system through trial and error… shame on him!

  • Brandon Campbell

    Great Post Bedros! I like the boutique dress shops idea. I hadn’t thought of that one yet and it could defintely be great! I’ll search for those today and go talk to a few of them this week!

    Another one that I have recently found that is extremely effective is good day care centers. I’ve partnered with one in my area and we are creating a package for their moms so they can have their kids taken care of while they come to a boot camp that I am running a couple blocks from the child care place. It can be a great way to hit the market of moms and if you find a good one, there is a ton of cross promo stuff you can do with them!

    Thanks Bedros. Looking forward to seeing you in a couple weeks man!

  • Bedros

    Yeah, daycares are great lead sources!

  • Faith Wollner

    Hi, I am interested in teaching yoga at a local studio in my community or doing personal fitness.

  • John Thompson

    Awesome post B- very simple and to the point, but very powerful and valuable.



  • Bob Garon

    Great wording here: “What business owner in their right mind would not want to get in shape for free and get more referrals from you?”

    Makes perfect sense!

  • Casey Kaldal

    Wow great article. You got some real good marketing nuggets in there.

    The 30 day free rent idea is a great one for Personal Trainers just starting out.


  • Michael Ward

    Bedros, you are on the money mate. I started my group training with $250 and used the business network system as well as a 500 flyer letterbox drop I did myself. That was 2 yrs ago and I have 286 members doing 13 sessions/week and about to open 4 new venues. I’ve had businesses call me asking me to let them join my network just so they can get me to refer them to my members.
    Bedros, the biggest cost in setting up ANY bootcamp is personal effort. Trainers need to realise that you gotta get off ya butt and get the people. 80% on your business, 20% in your business. Keep up the great work.
    ‘Aussie Mick’.

  • Carlos

    Great post, this can be applied at any point in your career with almost any industry. Give them something then they will give back!!
    I have just had 12 billboards join in the last 2 weeks and growing…now to get the refferrals….hi energy sessions+personal attention=results!!

  • Cheltenham Gloucester weight loss

    I was totally gonna say that here in England, nurseries are a great source of potential clients and referees. I’ve recently launched a weight loss agency, which is basically a business like Chris’ where I market to pass clients on to my trainers, serving a niche market (so I’m glad your first point confirmed this was the way to go!). I’m waiting for my flyers which I’ll be using in my Billboard efforts, have vehicle transfers coming, have recently been featured in the local press, am in Men’s Fitness UK in the Christmas issue and definitely have you guys to think for some of the buzz I feel for the business. Any chance the three of you will ever pop over the pond? I’m not even sure where to find expos etc similar to the ones you guys visit!

    Fat Free Fitness

  • Brian Smith

    Great idea with the rent ramp up! I’m about to start up a boot camp in an indoor sports center and this could be a huge help!

    Any extra info on how to present that ramp up proposal to the owners would be a great help!

    Thanks Bedros!

  • Rickey

    Hey Bedros, could you do a post about the legalities that come with starting a fitness business such as getting business license, DBA, lawyers, accountants etc?


  • tom moraghan

    this sounds really good and i am going to run it with my partner

    i hope to be in touch with you soon


  • Susan Campbell

    Thanks for all the great suggestions on getting clients.

  • Nikki Layton

    Bedros, good post, we definitely need to talk one of these days. Rickey, check out this post on our blog about some of the things you need to think about when you start a biz for the first time:

    Hope that helps. Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to all!

  • Rickey

    Merci Nikki

  • Callie Durbrow

    Great post once again Bedros. I like the daycare idea Brandon, thanks!

  • Katie

    Great post! There are really no excuses for not taking action!

  • Matt Sutton

    Great post bedros and I’m also liking the daycare idea, genius!

  • FunctionalNut

    “I’d find a gyms I could rent space from, a gymnastic, cheer, or dance center and I’d negotiate a 60 day ramp up time where the first 30 days would be rent free, the next 30 days would be half rent, and then full rent by day 90.”

    Isn’t this the most difficult part? You have to convince them that you’ll be able to pay full rent by day 90. If you are coming in from the street and they don’t know you and your money-making ability, how do you persuade them?

    Also, gymnastic and cheerleader centers often do not have even the most basic training equipment (Squat racks, dumbbells, etc) in there. How do you train clients with no necessary equipment??

    Thanks for any suggestions.

  • FunctionalNut

    PS. Thank you Bedros Coolian for being so cool.

  • Temecula Personal Trainer

    Great post Bedros. Your suggestions are always sweet and simple.

  • Dave

    Great post Badros!!!! I just moved to the west coast and I’m looking for a gym to do fitness and hopefully martial arts privates and group training. This hit the spot!


  • John

    Great post Badros!!!
    It sure gives you lots of ideas on how to generate leads…however i’m still waiting on the close clients dvd that was suppossed to arrived last week so I can close those incoming prospects.

  • Drew

    @TrainerJ – What’s the use in complaining about where u are? You have great self-confidence in your ability to market and train an apprentice; if u can kill it in Ca, go there and do it!

  • Sean Mayfield

    On point information now I have to find a place where I can tell suspect and persective clients to meet for group and or boot camp training. Driving to clients is very time consuming.

  • Lenin Rueda

    your the man !! always sharing and inspiring! This info anyone can use wether you a seasoned vet or newbie.

    Thank bedros,

  • Dean

    Hey Bedros,

    Awesome post as usual. What would you do though if you had to start your info business all over again?

  • Bill Davis

    For your example (moms), many towns and cities have well-established “Mom’s clubs” that often have dozens–even hundreds–of members, all of whom at some point want to get back in shape (even if they weren’t “in shape” in the first place). Having a baby is hard on the body!

  • Renee

    Great article. I know the market I want to target already…fitness for women especially pre and post natal fitness.

  • Sandy Balat

    I appreciate this blog but it’s mostly building your personal training business through boot camps. What about getting clients on a one on one basis?

  • Sarah

    great post … thanks! … but I do have to mention that we find going to peoples homes is a big selling point. People have little free time these days; a personal trainer coming to their home saves time, avoids the hassle of them driving, finding a parking spot etc. etc., its comfortable, and it means you dont have overheads to pay.

  • Corinna

    Great post, Bedros… thanks so much for the info- I appreciate it!

  • MJ

    Hello all,
    Quick question for everyone. What is your opinion on avg. monthly rent for a fully est. training studio w/around 950sq.ft ? This sq. footage does not include the office space for one on one consultation w/ clients and the private bathroom shower. Studio is on a major highway that has lots of traffic. Studio is 7 yrs old and looks brand new.

  • Bedros

    Hey MJ, there are a few other factors to consider like are there clients already? What’s the monthly eft?
    But all that aside I’d say rent for that place would be fair at around $2.00 Sqf


  • bracha

    Hi bedro ,thanks for info. That really helps alot. Can u check My website and tell me Wat u think if i need to add some more info? Thanks Its http://www.brachafit.ça

  • AJ

    Fantastic post. Suppose your limited to 500 square feet? I can only fit a certain amount comfortably (approx 10). I am serving stay at home mothers right now as my niche. They seem to refer the quickest and have the least resistance to closing. How long of a contract or program do you put them on?

  • Bedros

    Hey AJ, you can put your clients on 6 and 12 month agreements. I found those to be the ones that gave them the best results. Plus they’ll give you the most reliable income.


  • Peter Cerrato

    Thanks Bedros for the tip on rent ramp up… I didn’t even know that was possible. Looks like I was paying way to much up front for my first studio, which bombed out. This time around I will take your advice. Thanks a bunch!

  • liquidfire

    consider it a bonus point it wont happen EVERY TIME but it can surely happen if you can project that you know what you are doing…. especially if you can smell that there is a need…. many buisness such as martial arts studios cheer /gym centers etc have struggles of their own theres a good chance that you may be just the thing they need to “stop the bleeding” with their overhead…
    some may have not even considered the idea until you show while other places may be advertising space on craigslist… the important thing is that any of them understands that A. you have a service which can contribute to their bottom line significantly reducing their overhead
    B. most established trainers are well….”ESTABLISHED” and therefore “have no need to rent out your location”
    C.Here is a check or money order post dated for agreed upon future amount as a sign of good faith in the spirit of doing buisness .
    D. your clients and my clients can share the benefits….your boot camp can serve as an upsell to an existing buisness or vice versa with a combo package…
    its really up to you to produce everything you say your gonna produce but negotioate from a position of they need you more than you need them or from position of why its mutually beneficial