T Nation

Calling All Trainers

I’m a trainer at a chain gym here in Canada. I love the job, but would love to get out and do my own thing even more.

My question(s) to all you other trainers is, do you work in or for a gym? Do you run your own business? If you run your own business, where do you train your clients? Were there problems in starting that you didnt anticipate? What advice would you give a trainer who is wanting to get out and start his own training business?

Thanks to everyone for your time!

[quote]kheaslim wrote:
I love the job, but would love to get out and do my own thing even more.[/quote]

That’s great, man. It’s a big step, but a worthwhile one.

[quote]
My question(s) to all you other trainers is, do you work in or for a gym? Do you run your own business? [/quote]

I worked at a gym for a few years but caught the entrepreneurial bug and felt like I had too much of a ceiling over my head.

I own my business now.

[quote]

If you run your own business, where do you train your clients? Were there problems in starting that you didnt anticipate? [/quote]

I was lucky enough to have some space available. My family owns and operates a Tae Kwon Do studio, and I set up shop there. I only had a couple hundred square feet for weight stuff, but did well with all the basic equipment.

Stuff I didn’t anticipate and random thoughts:

  1. You have to make sure your systems are in place. Everything from program design to thank-you cards to, well, everything.

A corporate gym will already have that stuff in place for you. Make sure you’ve got all your forms (Par-Q, health history, training purchase agreement, etc.).

  1. If you’re great at what you do and deliver results consistently you’ll have absolutely no problem getting clients. In fact, you’ll have more problems managing growth.

  2. Position yourself as an expert. I’ve never bought an ad for my training business, but have contributed articles, quotes, and general advice to local and national magazines (local magazines and newsletters are a much better bet for direct clientele obviously…)

When you write for a publication or are called upon to supply a quote for a newspaper or TV spot, YOU become THE expert. It just gives you more credibility than the guy down the street who’s advertising everywhere.

What kind of advice do you want? If you like, just feel free to post your questions on this thread and we’ll have a brain-storming session.

Cheers,
Nate

Mr. Nate Green,

Thank you VERY much for your reply. I didn’t expect this, but it is a very nice surprise, and very helpful as well.

I’ll hop on that thread you posted and ask a few questions. I don’t have regular access to the internet though, so if I disspear, that’s why.

Thanks again!!

Well, you already answered one of my biggest questions, which was how to reach potential clientelle. TV interviews and free advice for local magazines are great apieces of advice.

I am also wondering whether or not I should rent a small space and stalk it with equipment, and use that as a 1-1 facility.

The other thought is in-home training. This one would be the cheapest in the way of overhead expenses, but it would limit me in terms of equipment, and the variety of clients I can train.

I am leaning towards renting my own space and filling it with my own equipment.

I’m sorry if I’m rambling here, but my question is, how did you jumpstart your initial ‘burst’ of clientele? Were they old clients from the facility you worked at? Or did they just know your name from publications you have written for?

I have complete confidence in my abilities, but getting people in the door initially is my biggest concern.

Thanks again Nate, for your time!

[quote]kheaslim wrote:

I am leaning towards renting my own space and filling it with my own equipment.[/quote]

If you can find a place with reasonable rent, then I say go for it. You don’t need much in terms of equipment. When I first started I had:

1 Power Rack
1 Olympic weight set with extra plates
1 set of adjustable dumbbells (I had Bowflex…they were pretty much shit and only went up to 52.5lbs, but most of my clientele were un-trained females).
Assorted Medicine balls, swiss balls and bands

The biggest thing for you right now is to try and limit your overhead and try to find some used equipment.

[quote]
I’m sorry if I’m rambling here, but my question is, how did you jumpstart your initial ‘burst’ of clientele? Were they old clients from the facility you worked at? Or did they just know your name from publications you have written for? [/quote]

Actually, every single one of my clients moved with me when I left the gym. Now I mainly rely on word-of-mouth, referrals, and networking.

If you currently have a good amount of clients, you should try to make the transition as smooth as possible for them. If they really like what you do for them they WILL follow.

Also, there’s something about ‘setting yourself apart’ from the others that does wonders for word-of-mouth advertising. People always wonder why you leave and what you’re up to next. Give them a good reason to talk about it.

[quote]
I have complete confidence in my abilities, but getting people in the door initially is my biggest concern.[/quote]

If you have complete confidence in your ability, you shouldn’t have to worry too much. Just be personable. Get out and meet people. Be a shameless self-promoter, but do it with dignity and without being a prick (did that make sense?).

Let everyone else know why you’re different from the run-of-the-mill ‘personal trainer’. Hell, don’t even call yourself that.

You’re a ‘fitness problem solver.’

What makes you different from everybody else? Why would anyone want to work with you?

You have to come up with your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)and figure out what you do better than anyone else.

Keep 'em coming.

:slight_smile:

Cheers,

Nate

That is exactly what I was thinking of in terms of equipment. I agree that you really don’t need a lot to cover your bases.

I would say the biggest factor that sets me apart from a typical ‘personal trainer’, is the attention I pay to detail, and my passion for improving on my knowledge and skills.

This is not just a job to me, it is a lot more, and I think that shows when I work with my clients and even when I am just ‘talking shop’ with my peers. (iI’m not sure if you were actually asking, or just suggesting that I ask myself this question, but there’s the answer anyways :slight_smile: )

Thanks again for your time. I am blown away at how helpfull you are being here!

P.s. I checked out your site (exellent site) and sent you an e-mail.

Thanks very much!

Mitch

[quote]kheaslim wrote:
This is not just a job to me, it is a lot more…
[/quote]

This statement right here is what sets you apart. This is NOT a job for you; this is a career. People will realize you’re serious.

I got your email, by the way. If you have any questions that may benefit other ‘up and comers’ on this site, then feel free to post them here.

I’ve only been ‘in the game’ for a little while, and I’ve got a lot to learn. I’ve had a ton of generous people help me out and just want to pay it forward.

Cheers,

Nate

This is a helpful thread.

The best personal trainer qualification I could find in the UK was the YMCA fit one, so I’m hoping to attain that over the next 6 months or so. I’m sure I’ll disagree with nearly all of the syllabus content, but there’s no getting around needing the qualification. After that I’d like work freelance, pursue further studies and then train with Ian King.

I need to improve my own physique more first, though…I’d want to be squatting 450lb+ in order to feel justified in claiming to be able to train 95%+ of lifters.

[quote]kheaslim wrote:
do you work in or for a gym? [/quote]

I work in a studio gym.

Yep

In my gym.

Mostly the little things, like getting internet hooked up, changing the locks… ummmm… dealing with handymen was the worst. Trying to get the phone connected took about 2wks longer than it should have because the first 3 electricians I contacted refused to give me a quote as the job wasn’t big enough.

1st. Be a great trainer. Don’t waste your time if you only want to make money. If you want to make a difference in someone’s life, then you are in the right business. Following from this, you should mix with people of a similar mindset.

[quote]Sxio wrote:

1st. Be a great trainer. Don’t waste your time if you only want to make money. If you want to make a difference in someone’s life, then you are in the right business. Following from this, you should mix with people of a similar mindset.
[/quote]

The best thing about this job is when people come and sincerely thank you for helping them with their back pain, weight problem, shoulder injury, etc. I realised this when I left my old gym to travel for 9 months and members and clients thanked me.

[quote]Andrew Dixon wrote:
Sxio wrote:

1st. Be a great trainer. Don’t waste your time if you only want to make money. If you want to make a difference in someone’s life, then you are in the right business. Following from this, you should mix with people of a similar mindset.

The best thing about this job is when people come and sincerely thank you for helping them with their back pain, weight problem, shoulder injury, etc. I realised this when I left my old gym to travel for 9 months and members and clients thanked me.

[/quote]

I agree whole-heartedly with both of these commments.

-Nate

[quote]Nate Green wrote:
kheaslim wrote:
This is not just a job to me, it is a lot more…

This statement right here is what sets you apart. This is NOT a job for you; this is a career. People will realize you’re serious.

I got your email, by the way. If you have any questions that may benefit other ‘up and comers’ on this site, then feel free to post them here.

I’ve only been ‘in the game’ for a little while, and I’ve got a lot to learn. I’ve had a ton of generous people help me out and just want to pay it forward.

Cheers,

Nate
[/quote]

“…pay it forward”.

An enlightened and truly noble sentiment.

To give of one’s self, talent or experience is to demonstrate “fullness”: an abundance, an overflowing of that which one is giving (as one who does not have, or perceives that they do not have, does not have to give).

It (giving freely of one’s self) is thus one of the best ways, if not the best way, to distinguish the truly strong man from the truly weak one.

Well done and well said, Nate.

Boatloads of success to you…in everything.

quest.

[quote]Nate Green wrote:
Andrew Dixon wrote:
Sxio wrote:

1st. Be a great trainer. Don’t waste your time if you only want to make money. If you want to make a difference in someone’s life, then you are in the right business. Following from this, you should mix with people of a similar mindset.

The best thing about this job is when people come and sincerely thank you for helping them with their back pain, weight problem, shoulder injury, etc. I realised this when I left my old gym to travel for 9 months and members and clients thanked me.

I agree whole-heartedly with both of these commments.

-Nate
[/quote]

Yes absolutely. It’s the most gratifying thing in the world when it happens.

I have a client who has had 2 shoulder reconstructions. He told me the other day that he was no longer considering surgery as training with me has decreased his pain to the point that it doesn’t bother him day to day.

[quote]Sxio wrote:
kheaslim wrote:
do you work in or for a gym?

I work in a studio gym.

Do you run your own business?

Yep

If you run your own business, where do you train your clients?

In my gym.

Were there problems in starting that you didnt anticipate?

Mostly the little things, like getting internet hooked up, changing the locks… ummmm… dealing with handymen was the worst. Trying to get the phone connected took about 2wks longer than it should have because the first 3 electricians I contacted refused to give me a quote as the job wasn’t big enough.

What advice would you give a trainer who is wanting to get out and start his own training business?

1st. Be a great trainer. Don’t waste your time if you only want to make money. If you want to make a difference in someone’s life, then you are in the right business. Following from this, you should mix with people of a similar mindset.
[/quote]

Exellent advice, thank you for your reply. I’m definately not in this business for the money, and you advice about mixing with ppl of similar mindsets is exellent advice.

Do any of you who own your own personal training business fear the big gyms? What i mean is, when you first set up your business, were you worried about the major gyms in your area and how they would affect your business?

Did you find it difficult to get established in your new locations? (Nate,I know you had all of your clients follow, which is something i would hope for as well).

Thanks everyone.

[quote]kheaslim wrote:
Do any of you who own your own personal training business fear the big gyms? [/quote]

No not at all. Most people come away from the big gyms being so disillusioned about being treated like a number, that they actively seek me out.

No. I just did some research beforehand to ensure that I was the only personal trainer in that area and that the area was fairly affluent (there’s no point if noone can afford you).

The first 6 months I barely paid all my bills, but after that the word of mouth had gotten around and I am now pretty damn busy.

I want to add that if you are working for someone else, it is seen as being VERY bad form to take clients with you. Many people do it, but the industry is smaller than you think and it’s a better investment to leave your previous employer under good terms. The next time you meet you will be competitors. You really don’t need people to be actively wanting you to go out of business just as you’re getting started.

[quote]kheaslim wrote:
Do any of you who own your own personal training business fear the big gyms? What i mean is, when you first set up your business, were you worried about the major gyms in your area and how they would affect your business?

Did you find it difficult to get established in your new locations? (Nate,I know you had all of your clients follow, which is something i would hope for as well).

Thanks everyone.
[/quote]

I actually looked forward to opening my spot around the bigger gyms. There were no gyms specifically for training in the area, so a little bit of the right marketing goes a looong way. Not too mention that I already had established myself with a pretty good clientelle.

However, I do believe that you need to pay your dues and work in a few different environments to get a feel for what is successful and what isn’t. If your first thought when I said marketing is newspaper ads and flyers, then you ain’t ready. I think that it takes a bit of fucking up to figure out how to be successful in this field.

Another point is this, if you take a look at all of the many threads on this site bashing trainers, you’re probably reading about one of the dime-a-dozen trainers that these larger gyms hire and/or breed.