How to Start a Personal Training Business

When I first got certified through the American Council On Exercise I was clueless where marketing was concerned and I had no idea how to start a personal training business.
In fact, my first client was Tina, she worked with me at Disneyland (Yep, I worked at the magic kingdom for a period of time).

My best source of clients back then where through word of mouth.

Tina told a friend, that friend told another friend, etc.

As you know, it takes a L-O-N-G time to grow a business through word of mouth…

…so I kept the dinner cook job at Disneyland and got a job as a bouncer on the weekends just to make ends meet. Waltdisneyco1

My passion was personal training, but I needed the bouncer job at the bar and dinner cook job Disneyland to pay my bills.

After about a year of working all three jobs, I figured working as a personal trainer in a big box job might be a better way to break full time into the fitness industry.

So I took the leap. It was the LA Fitness in Fountain Valley, California – right next to world famous Huntington Beach.

Every afternoon a few fellow trainers and I would head on over to HB and swim in the ocean, lay out, for a while, grab some tacos and then come back to the big box to shower up and get ready for our evening clients.

That lifestyle was okay…

…for a while.

But being broke still sucked.

I wanted my own business, my own studio and my own clients.

That’s when I started asking Jim Franco, one of my wealthy personal training clients, how he built his business.

At the end of every personal training session I’d bend Jim’s ear for 10 minutes or so. He was like my built in mentor.

Before long I felt I had a pretty good grasp of what it took to run my own studio and how to start a personal training business from the ground up.

Eventually I worked up the nerve to ask Jim for a small loan and I opened up my personal training gym.

The agreement was that I’d pay Jim back and that he’s still be my partner in the business. I was fine with that deal considering no one else was going to loan me the money at that time.

Now, I’d be lying to you if I said it was a walk in the park to open up and run that first location.

It wasn’t.

In fact it was slow going.

Keep in mind that this was before Facebook and email marketing.

So my marketing consisted of 100 or so lead boxes in local business around town, mailing out postcards to affluent homes within 4 miles of my studio, and setting up a body fat testing table in front of local grocery stores that gave me permission.

The first year was rugged.

Business was slow.
Many a times I wondered how I got myself into signing a lease, taking a loan, financing equipment and stuck with payroll.

After about a year or so things started to pick up in my business.

I wasn’t having to move money from here to there just to pay my rent and payroll anymore… and I actually started making money and it felt damn good to write myself a decent check twice a month!

Now here’s where a lot of people get things wrong when they’re starting up a personal training business, gym or bootcamp.

You might be thinking that the lesson here is to JUST STICK TO IT AND NOT TO QUIT and you’ll eventually make it.


If you’re running a broken or faulty fitness business model then sticking to it ain’t gonna make it any better.

For example…

When I first opened up my personal training business the model looked like this.

One trainer, one client for 60 minutes.

Now, unless you’re charging an obscene amount of money per session, you’re not going to do well with this model. I sure didn’t.

Plus, since I was doing one-on-one 60 minute personal training sessions, I only had so many hours that I could have my trainers train.

AND, because one-on-one training is usually much higher in cost, you end up with a much smaller population to market to.

Had I stuck with that model I would have gone bankrupt AND been in massive debt.

“Sticking to it” would not have saved me. I needed a better business model.

So I changed my model to one-on-one 30 minute sessions.

This instantly increased profit margins in a big way.

Then I switched to “30-minute team training” – this was basically two people in a 30 minute session.  We still offered one-on-one 30 minute sessions but it cost a little more.

Now I was able to train more people with the same number of trainers. Income and profits went up, but payroll didn’t.

I was onto something…

My marketing message was now: get twice the results in half the time.

Then I switched from selling blocks of sessions to selling 6 and 12 month long programs – this was Jim Franco’s idea and while I was skeptical about it, I gave it a try and doggone-it worked! 71414_10151899552737627_1534777423_n

This made my personal training business more consistent, more reliable and gave it “legs”… in other words, it stood on it’s own because I didn’t have to start each month from zero sales.

I had a business that generated recurring monthly income and man it felt good!
Within the next few years, (once I built systems and a strong team into my business), I opened up 4 more locations.

A strong team, great systems, and a program that delivered killer results and an awesome client experience – that’s what I had built and was known for in my area.

Not long after that I got an offer to sell my locations for a really nice buy out, and so I took the offer.

That’s when I went into coaching and consulting our industry – the rest, as they say, is history 🙂

I’ve always been a believer that the best coaches (at least in business) are those who practice what they preach. So it’s always been easy for me to help trainers go from frustrated and broke to happy and successful.

Even today, I use many of the lessons I learned while starting, growing and selling my personal training businesses…

Whether I’m helping my coaching clients grow their fitness businesses to massive success, or scaling the Fit Body Boot Camp empire into the worldwide fitness franchise that it’s become, the lesson from my early days in business serve as the foundation.

I’d like to help you, too… 

If you’re frustrated with your personal training or bootcamp business… or if you need more clients, better marketing and strong systems so that you can take your personal training to the next level then you might be a good fit to join this group of highly success fitness business owners.7 figure formula mastermind

The group is called the 7 Figure Mastermind Group and it’s a private business coaching group for fitness pros who want to build massively successful fitness businesses.

I invite you to watch the video of trainers who went from broke and frustrated to happy and successful on this page ( and see if this exclusive group is right for you.

Talk soon,

Bedros Keuilian