Create a Personal Trainer Business Plan

A personal trainer business plan—does it exist? 

A personal trainer business plan—does it exist?

Yes, you’ll find one below.

But business plans for personal trainers aren’t usually part of the equation. Most of the time, they’re completely absent.  

Here’s how a trainer usually tries to make a living: 

  1. Trainer loves the gym and either gets a credential or a university degree. 
  2. Trainer starts training people. 
  3. Trainer can’t make enough money and changes careers.

For far too long, the fitness industry has lost amazing coaches who just couldn’t find a way to make a good living. That’s because they had no plan to market, scale up, generate revenue and create a business—either on their own or inside another business. 

Without income to support their needs, these coaches leave the industry because of burnout or because they have to make a change to support their families. 

A solid personal training business plan can change everything for a fitness professional. 

Business Plans and Personal Trainers

Below, we’re going to tell you exactly how to make a good living in the fitness industry. 

We’ve included sections for gym owners and individual coaches because there’s synergy between the two groups—but few people realize it. 

If you’re a gym owner, we’ll explain how you can add thousands of dollars of PT revenue to your gym and help someone create a great career. 

If you’re a trainer, we’ll show you how to start or scale your personal training business and maybe even work with a gym owner who will support your business and reduce your risk. 

We’ll talk a little about programming and credentials, but we’ll spend most of our time telling readers how much to charge for personal training, how personal trainers should be paid when working in a gym, how to scale up a business and make more money, and how to add additional revenue streams. 

That stuff has long been absent from a personal trainer’s education. But know this: It isn’t enough to be a great coach. To earn a great living for decades in this industry, personal trainers need business plans. 

Read on for a CrossFit trainer business plan created by Two-Brain founder Chris Cooper—who went from a struggling coach to the CEO of a worldwide mentorship practice that helps coaches and gym owners make more money.   

To talk to a member of Chris’s team about mentorship, click here. You don’t have to figure this out on your own. 

Click here to download the PDF version of this article: “How to Add $10,000 of Personal Training Revenue to Your Gym in 10 Days or Less.” 

Personal Trainers: You Need a Business Plan

My biggest day as a personal trainer came in July 2005. 

I was working out of a windowless 10 x 12-foot room in a tiny studio. Two other duplicate rooms sat along the back hallway of a coffee bar and tanning business.  

My first client arrived at 6 a.m., and my last left at 8 p.m. They all stayed for a full hour, and I had booked 14 in a row. I opened in the dark, and it was dark again as I closed for the night, stomach aching from too much coffee and no lunch. 

I counted up my client hours and multiplied by my hourly rate: $21. I had earned nearly $300 for my long, boring, starving day.

My first thought: “It’s not enough”. 

My second thought: “This is the most I can possibly earn.” 

And my third thought: “I can’t do this again.” 

My reason for earning in the first place compounded the issue. My wife and baby daughter were asleep at home. I’d missed a full summer day with them. Avery was walking already and learning a new word or two every day. We had a new house and one income. But my biggest risk wasn’t financial. It was the fear of spending every day like this and missing her little life for the money we needed. 

I had to do something different.  

Building a Career as a Personal Trainer

Into that low point walked Luc and Norm, my first partners in Catalyst. They were partners in an entrepreneurial science firm and asked me to start a business with them. I was still terrified. Despite my angst as an employee, I didn’t want to give up our family’s income source. They practically dragged me into opening my own gym. And, over time, I learned to love entrepreneurship. 

Today, I own several companies in our city. I’m landlord to a dozen others. And my mentorship umbrella includes over 600 entrepreneurs in the Two-Brain Business family.  

But that’s not why I started down this road. I started coaching people because I wanted to be a coach. 

My degrees aren’t in business; they’re in exercise science. Fitness changed my life, and all I ever wanted to do was share that gift with others. Opening a business allowed me to make my passion a career.  

In 2005, it was the only way. Now it’s not. 

In this guide, I’m going to show you how to build a career in fitness. 

The career you build might be your own: You might work as a personal trainer in another gym, as a coach in a gym, or even out of your garage. Or you might build careers for others: If you own a gym, this guide will teach you how to help your coaches make great careers without working 14-hour days or missing their kids first steps. 

After working with over 1,000 fitness entrepreneurs, I’ve seen dozens of ways to make a personal training business scalable and profitable. I’ve seen a dozen ways to make it fun and sustainable. Here they are, step by step, all because I want to keep you in the game of making others healthy, happy and strong. 

Your friend in the business, 


How to Make a Living as a Fitness Coach

There are three ways to make a living coaching fitness: as an employee, as a subcontractor and as an owner. 

I’ve been a fitness coach since 1996. And I’ve made income under all three models. 

At different stages of my life, each model made me happy. Here’s a quick overview: 

1996-2001—Employee, paid hourly. Getting clients wasn’t my problem; my responsibility was to show up and train them. This was a “lifestyle job” perfect for a college student and recent grad. Low pay but zero risk. 

2002-2005—Subcontractor, paid per client. I found my own clients and basically “rented” space by the hour. This worked well because I still had very little responsibility (and no confidence to go it alone, though this would have been the optimal time to start a company). Eventually, I hit my ceiling, which you read about earlier. 

2005-2010—Owner/employee. Though I owned my gym, I had really just bought myself a job. I wasn’t making more than my coaches, but I had “control”—whatever that means. I think it means, “I didn’t get paid to mop.” 

2010-present—True ownership. I started working with a mentor and built my business to rely on my systems instead of my back. I make a lot more and have true freedom of time. 

After 21 years in the coaching business, I don’t coach a lot. But if I could go back to my golden age of coaching from 2002 to 2010 and give myself some advice, this would be it: 

  • You can’t make a living coaching only group classes. There simply aren’t enough of them. 
  • You also can’t make a living coaching only personal training clients. There are plenty of them, but not enough hours in a day. 
  • The best ROT (return on time) is actually coaching semiprivate sessions: 2:1, 3:1 or 4:1. That’s what many successful trainers did when their time was maxed out. 
  • Other people value things differently than you do. When I was broke, I thought, “No one will pay more for personal training.” But of course they will, because they’re not broke. 
  • The best opportunities are the ones you, the coach, create. If I had gone to the facility owner in 2002 and said, “I want to coach a cycling group,” he’d have been overjoyed, and I’d have made far more money per hour. I loved cycling, I was good at it, and people wanted it. But I didn’t pitch the group because I was waiting for the owner to have the idea. Duh. 
  • Your best living comes from a combination of 1:1 training (priced appropriately), small group training and specialty group training. You can make a great income and still have very little risk.  


When I opened Catalyst in 2005, I was scared stiff. And rightfully so: I was taking a huge risk with my family’s income. I have a big ego, but even I didn’t have the hubris to think, “This is all going to work out because I’m awesome.” I just didn’t see any other way to make a living. 

With stable gyms everywhere now, coaches can make a fantastic living without taking that risk. Gym owners can give coaches opportunities—and a meaningful, rewarding life—if the gym is set up for them.  

There’s no need to take a huge risk—like I did—to have a huge reward. 

How to Add Personal Training to Your Gym

Our business is not group coaching. Our business is training people one on one. Sometimes that’s done in a group environment. 

Some clients might prefer the privacy of a one-on-one session. Some might prefer the flexible scheduling. Some might have a special condition. But the biggest obstacle to selling personal training sessions isn’t the price: it’s you. 

Could you afford a personal trainer yourself? You can’t “sell” personal training sessions because you’re trying to sell them. Instead, ask yourself a question: “What would help this client most if price wasn’t an issue?” Then recommend that service. It’s your job to present the best possible solution to your client. Doing so should be one of your values. 

After reviewing opportunities, you’ve probably decided it’s time to add personal training to your business (or build up the program). You’ve delineated the personal trainer role, written contracts and evaluations, and presented the opportunity to your staff. Now it’s time to roll it out. Here’s how to do it. 

Most of your new personal training (PT) clients are going to be new clients. Selling PT to existing clients requires a change in consumer behavior that few gyms can manage. On average, about 10 percent of PT sales will come from your current clients (see Skill Sessions below) and 90 percent from new clients who haven’t yet set the expectation that “fitness is done in a group. 

On-Ramps and Intros

Every gym needs a program to introduce and acclimate people. In the Two-Brain model, we use No Sweat Intros—free consultations—to interview clients, listen to their needs and prescribe the perfect solution. As you’ll recall, we always seek to provide the best solution to the client, and in many cases it’s PT.  

Almost all gyms have on-ramp programs of some kind, and they are powerful filters for group and PT clients, even if an owner or trainer doesn’t know it yet. In on-ramps, trainers can again find out what clients need to succeed, then recommend the right course of action. For some people in the on-ramp, the path to their goals leads through PT. 

Skill Sessions: PT Framed Another Way

Sooner or later, most clients in a group program will reach a point where one-on-one attention is required to address sticking points. 

Skill sessions are critical to helping your clients overcome fears and frustrations and critical to helping you put your mark on your programming. Time spent outside the group setting can be a pivotal game changer but only if you approach it the correct way. 

For starters, you want your clients to understand that a one-on-one coaching session is a high-value proposition. Yes, it’s going to be more intense in many ways than throwing down with buddies in the 8 a.m. class. It’s much more fun to do 30 muscle-ups for time next to friends, for example, than to power out 90 ring pull ups and 90 ring dips in front of one trainer. But the session provides a chance to really work on sticking points. 

If you are unsure as to how this might look, here are some likely steps: 

  1. The value proposition: “You haven’t had a snatch PR in awhile. I know some things that will help, but they’re beyond the scope of this group. Do you have a half-hour free to work on some really specialized stuff one-on-one with me?” 
  1. Action: Book a half-hour skill session for $40.
  1. The delivery: “Here’sa video of you doing snatches with a warm-up weight. Now, here’s another as we get into the heavier weights. See how you don’t pull yourself under the bar when the weight increases?” 
  1. Action: Demonstrate exercises that will helpand assign homework (to be done during open gym time, for which you should also charge). 
  1. Homework delivery: “I’ve shown you how to do overhead squats,and we’ve practiced snatch balances. We’ve also tried a Sots press as part of warm-up. I’d like you to do 5 sets of 5 overhead squats and 10 singles of heavy snatch balance once per week. I’ve also added a second homework assignment that includes mobility exercises and some wider-grip bench pressing. You’ll do these on your own during open gym time for two weeks, and then we’ll meet up again and move to the next step. Let’s book that appointment time now. How’s this time work for you in two weeks?” 
  1. Action: Follow up with added valueor additional feedback, perhaps in an email: “Great session today! By practicing your landing and improving your overhead position and overhead squat, we can get you under a PR soon. Here’s your homework and a link to the YouTube video of our split-screen video analysis. Keep these for reference as you improve. See you next Thursday at 2 p.m. 


If you are shy about charging for your time, consider this: If you could receive targeted coaching to address your weaknesses from an expert, targeted homework assignments and video to review, would you pay $40? 

Of course you would. We all would. It is tremendous value. 

Programming homework, uploading split-screen video and emailing follow-ups will take a total of five extra minutes outside the half-hour skill session itself. Tracking software will allow you to record notes on a client’s profile. They can log in and access their homework and video links anytime—and see notices about upcoming groups when they do. 

One-on-one sessions are great for increasing gross monthly revenue, but, more importantly, they can help people when general group programming cannot. They establish your expertise and help new trainers be more entrepreneurial.  

It’s a winning formula for everyone 

How Much Should You Charge for a Personal Training Session?

Dr. Sal Arria of the National Board of Fitness Educators claims the average rate for a personal training session is $60-$70 in the US. 

But that rate varies a great deal. According to Arria, the rate’s principal determining factors are location and experience. I haven’t found that to be the case.  

While some personal trainers in San Diego charge $25 for a session, others in the same city charge $15,000 for a six-week challenge. And while some trainers with master’s degrees charge more than the average, the most famous personal trainers in the world don’t list their education anywhere.  

From Women’s Health Magazine: “In general, the more fancy-schmancy your gym is, the more personal training sessions will cost. For instance, while personal training sessions at Equinox cost about $110 to $160 per hour, they cost about $100 to $155 per hour at Crunch, $80 to $130 at BRICK  and $60 to $100 at Life Time Fitness. 

The definition of “fancy-schmancy” might be as hard to find as the ideal PT rate.  

Thumbtack, which probably provides a better mean average, says personal trainers average $50-60 per session across the U.S. 

But does a personal trainer who charges $160 really make clients twice as fit as a personal trainer who charges $80?  

Does the trainer who charges $155 per hour help clients lose weight 55 percent faster than the coach who charges $100? Of course not.  

A trainer’s rate isn’t determined by education, experience or geography. It’s determined solely on her client’s perception of value. 

So what’s valuable to a client? 

  1. Comfort—Does the trainer make theclient feel “at home”? Does he or she createa strong rapport? 
  1. Convenience—Howmuch schedule-shifting mustoccur for a client to make the sessions? Convenience is a huge reason many clients choose 1:1 appointments over group classes. 
  1. Location—same as the above.
  1. Presentation—Wearing a backwards hat and random T-shirt at the first meeting will probably cut a trainer’s rate in half.
  1. Personalization—Does the client feel as if theworkout program is custom built and unique?
  1. Path—Can the clientsee a clear path to achieving his or hergoals? 


What’s less valuable to a client? 

  1. Education, experience, credentials—This is all far less important than anyone thinks. Where did Suzanne Somers, the top-selling fitness coachof all time, go to college? She didn’t. 
  1. Equipment—In my experience, it’s far more important to have a customizable space that changes to match the client’s program at each session.

How Much Should a Personal Trainer Earn?

According to, the average personal trainer makes $18.77 per hour in the U.S. The range of hourly pay for personal trainers is $10.09 (less than minimum wage in some states) to $49.73.  

The greatest factor affecting that rate wasn’t education, experience or geography. It wasn’t the ability to prescribe rehabilitative exercise or even to add a nutrition plan. Personal trainers selling Pilates charged, on average, 31 percent more. Personal trainers selling “corrective exercise” charged, on average, 23 percent less.  

This is because clients associate Pilates with a clean, professional environment. And they don’t associate “corrective exercise” with anything at all. 

The highest-earning personal trainers on were the self-employed (average of $83,200). But those numbers don’t account for overhead or administrative costs. When taken into account, self-employed personal trainers might actually make far less. 

Resource: Personal Trainer Salary in the United States 

Before I took a job at a personal training center, I operated out of my car. I took my equipment from one client’s house to another. I had little overhead. But that’s not always the case. 

Finally, experience counts less than the ability to explain value. Starting personal trainers averaged $35,000 per year; trainers with over 20 years of experience averaged $48,000 per year. But the cost of living increased far beyond the latter amount between 1999 (when I started as a trainer) and 2019. The standard of living purchased for $35,000 in 1999 would now cost $52,991.60. This means that, after 20 years in the business, the average personal trainer is poorer than when he or she started.  

It doesn’t have to be this way. 

The Two-Brain Model allows a personal trainer to make a meaningful career in the fitness industry. And the trainer can do it with or without owning a gym. 

How Much Should a Personal Trainer Be Paid?

My record for hours of one-on-one training in one day is 13. I did not want to live after that day.  

Most gym owners can’t handle more work, and they’ll recruit other trainers to do PT sessions under their umbrella. Done right, it can create a fantastic new revenue stream for the gym, help a new trainer build a career and provide the best experience for the client. 

I write a lot about the 4/9ths Model for paying staff. In a nutshell, 2/9 of your gross revenue should cover your fixed costs, such as rent and electricity, 3/9 of your gross revenue should go to the owner and allow purchase of new toys, and 4/9—the largest chunk—should go to the trainers working with the clients. 

But the trainers don’t care about percentages. They care about dollars. 

At a globo gym, the trainer would earn far less than 4/9 on the training they delivered. If the globo gym charges $70, it probably pays the trainer $15-20 for the session. Under the 4/9 model, we pay the trainer $31.11 for the same hour. And if the gym takes my advice and adds at least 10 percent to the globo gym’s PT rate, the trainer earns even more. 

Even better, the trainer is incentivized to book the highest-value service (4:1 or small-group PT) because she can net more per hour. In our example, the trainer would be paid $75.66 per hour for 4:1 training. That’s pretty good. 

When presenting the option to your clients, focus on the benefits: personalized attention, private environment, flexible schedule. When presenting PT to your staff, focus on the actual dollar amount earned instead of the percentage. 

We did over 3,000 PT sessions at just one of my gyms last year. It’s more than an important revenue stream: It’s often the best possible service for your clients and coaches. 

One final note on paying trainers: Bill the client up front but pay the trainer on delivery of service.  

One terrible horror story came when an owner did the opposite. Clients paid for their packages up front, and then the gym owner immediately gave the coach “his share.” After a few weeks, the coach’s interest started to wane. But the client had paid the business in advance, so she had to be served.  

The gym owner had to make a hard choice: force the coach to fulfill his obligation half-heartedly or step in and fulfill the client sessions. What a huge problem. 

The owner chose—correctly—to have the coach fulfill the sessions. The coach got better at scheduling for a while, but his disinterest showed, and the client eventually asked for a refund. Of course, the coach’s share was long gone. Was the owner responsible for refunding the client? 

Even the best-case scenario was terrible. And because each coach “owned” his or hePT clients, the owner had a lot on the line.  

There are smaller, easier problems with prepaying coaches. If the coach quits, someone has to fulfill the obligations to the client. If the coach takes a vacation, does the client take a vacation too? And what happens when the coach blows through his or her money? Will the coach have to get a different job? Is it the owner’s responsibility to help the coach manage money better? 

Bill up front, pay on delivery and dodge the landmines. 


How much education do you actually need to be a personal trainer?  

Enough to qualify for insurance coverage.  

The cheapest PT certifications online cost around $69. Conversely, others can cost $1,000 for a two-day, in-person course. 

Theoretically, a personal trainer with the first credential could sell one hour of time for more than the credential cost.  

Of course, no one would believe that credential is as valuable as a $1,000 credential—or even a $40,000 bachelor’s degree—would they? Well, professionals would know the difference. But most customers don’t. 

Uncertified trainers can still get great results for their clients. They just can’t get insurance. Trainers don’t legally need much education to get started.  

After they begin their practice, though, their education should support both their philosophy and their counter-philosophy. In other words, they should choose educational paths that challenge their belief structure and their current experience. 

What can a weightlifting coach learn from a spin lesson? Plenty. The coach might learn that he or she hates sitting on a bike. Or the coach might learn that he or she doesn’t like working out to dance music. Beyond that the coach will learn a lot about motivating people, personality and charisma. 

Here’s my story about credentials: In 2000, I returned to Canada from the U.S. and began to kindle my coaching practice. Few other fitness coaches were around, so I sought out conversation online. I found discussion boards on Yahoo and some other websites. 

I was new, so I listed all my certifications: NSCA CSCS, ISSA CFT, ISSA SPS. I actually can’t remember all the parts of my “alphabet soup” now. In some cases, I even argued that education was more important than experience because a coach could easily spend 20 years saying the wrong things. 

What I didn’t realize was that I was justifying my lack of experience to better coaches than me. And to myself. 

Coaching is a two-sided coin. On one side is the knowledge necessary to get our clients to their goals. The other side is the empathy and charisma to keep them showing up and doing the work. On one side, knowledge; on the other, action. 

I love attending certifications and seminars. I love gaining knowledge and bringing new ideas and experts to my staff through Two-Brain Coaching. But when I look at my 10-year clients, I know they’re not around for new cues or “levels” of different movements. They stay for care. 

The truth we’d all like to ignore is this: Unqualified coaches still get results. 

Bad “nutrition experts” still help their clients lose weight. 

P90X workouts still make people fit. 

But no client stays with an uncaring coach for long. 

No client will pay a coach who makes a bad first impression. 

And no client will weigh a credential against a dirty shirt. 

I was once mentoring a gym owner through the Two-Brain Business Incubator program, and he was struggling. Most gym owners can add at least $10,000 to their bottom line by selling PT at their gym. But this one wasn’t selling any, and I couldn’t figure out why not. 

He used the same website design as our other clients. He followed the same scripts when a client came in the door. His pricing was perfect, and I knew he had the experience to really help people. But after a full month, he still didn’t have a single client to train one on one. So I asked him to record his No-Sweat Intro and share it with me. 

I was disappointed, but I wasn’t surprised. 

First, the coach started the meeting a few minutes late. The client was on time but sat waiting while the coach finished his workout, put his shirt on and mixed up a protein shake. 

Now, a client with very low self-esteem might have thought, “This is the kind of treatment I deserve,” but not most clients. Five minutes into the video, I could tell the client was looking at the door. The client was being polite but had decided not to sign up even before the trainer’s sweat could soak through his gray T-shirt. 

The first impression the client got from the coach: “You come second. I come first.” 

No one wants to come second. They’re signing up to fix their problems, not because the trainer needs to make more money. 

Earlier, I mentioned that my business card used to look like alphabet soup. When I was a new personal trainer, I thought education was more important than anything else.  

But as time passed and I met more people in the industry, I realized that education—and even experience—have very little bearing on how successful a coach can be over time. The final epiphany came from a coach named Marisol. 

When Marisol opened her doors, she immediately attracted a few early adopters of the program she focused on. Her initial success encouraged her to hire an assistant coach named Paul. Marisol coached the morning clients, and Paul took over in the afternoons. 

Marisol was a highly trained coach. She was an accomplished weightlifter and had been coaching other weightlifters for more than a decade. By comparison, Paul was a young but bright college kid. He had a hard-working nature, and because he didn’t have much experience, Marisol could pay him a small wage. Paul even volunteered to do a free “internship” that lasted three months before he started coaching! 

Things went really well for about a year. Then Paul grew tired of the low pay and left to open his own gym. 

Most of Marisol’s clients left with Paul.  

One of my clients was in Marisol’s area for work in late 2014, so I asked him to drop in and take her a coffee. He told me that he arrived at the gym at 6 a.m., but all the lights were off. Marisol rolled in around 6:07 with a Starbucks coffee and a hood pulled over her head. As she unlocked the gym doors, four or five other clients emerged from their cars and shuffled inside. 

My client introduced himself. Marisol told him to “go warm up with the others.”  
This was a new approach to my client—who was used to being greeted at the door with a bright smile a few minutes before his session began, then guided step by step through his warmup. But he played along and asked the other clients what they were doing. One pointed out a poster on the wall with the gym’s “official warmup” on it, and my client read through it.  

By 6:20, Marisol still hadn’t explained the workout. My client still hadn’t signed a waiver or been asked anything about his exercise experience. He watched Marisol joking with one of the other members—hood still up, coffee half gone. Finally, she walked over to the whiteboard. 

“Everyone ready? Hey, get over here!” she barked at one of her members.  

I won’t share additional details, but the message was clear: Marisol didn’t want to be there. It was too early and she was too tired. In other words, her needs were overriding her clients’ needs. By 7 a.m., the real workout had just begun, but my client had to leave for work. 

When I called Marisol, she expressed disappointment that so many of her clients had quit her gym to join Paul’s.  

“He doesn’t know anything. He’s just a baby! I taught him everything he knows!” she nearly yelled down the phone line. 

Maybe that was true. But Paul had something more important than knowledge: He had the love and trust of the clients in front of him.  

For more info on becoming a great coach, visit 

Finding (And Hiring) a Personal Trainer

Phase 1: From Within 

It’s often easier to train a new coach from scratch than to fix a veteran’s mistakes. We run an annual “advanced theory course” to identify clients with an interest in coaching and keep their attention in case we need more.

Phase 2: Local Icons 

Of course, if another local personal trainer aligns with your vision, you can give the coach a great opportunity. As the owner, you can provide a stable base of clients, cover all the non-coaching work and costs, and allow him or her to focus only on the area of passion. Ask your best clients if they’ve worked with other coaches in the past, and then invite those coaches to coffee. Find out what they liked about their previous coaches.

Phase 3: Blank Slates 

Your style, clientele or vision might not align with other trainers in your area. Your clients might not be willing to leave their careers to become a coach. In this case, we recommend contacting a local university or college with a fitness program. You can offer an internship opportunity, which comes with pros and cons. On the one hand, many interns work for free. On the other, you’ll have to “parent” some skills into your new staff that more mature staff members might already possess. 

Phase 4: Ads 

You can find a great example of an ad below. As you’ll see, it was written specifically to screen out certain people and encourage the right people to apply. It also lists the steps in the process so interested applicants understand that it’s an investment with a great reward at the end. When you get to the end of the ad, you should feel like this is a great opportunity, but it’s only available to amazing people who are willing to invest. 

As an additional resource, a sample staff contact is included. 

Sample Staff Contract: 

Sample Job Posting for Coach 

WANTED: Group Fitness Coach and Personal Trainer for Growing Company 

We are Looking for more members of our team! If you are dedicated to making positive changes in people’s lives and love fitness, we have an amazing opportunity for you! 

Apply only if: 

– You are passionate about health and fitness. 

– You are extremely motivated to grow personally and professionally. 

– You are looking for a career in the fitness industry. 

– You are dedicated to working with a top-level team that continuously breaks the mold in the industry. 

Let me tell you about our company and the position we are looking to fulfill. My name is Mateo, and I run a growing fitness company here in Hoboken. Our business is dedicated to helping women and men achieve their health and fitness goals through nutrition and fitness programs. 

I’m looking for an enthusiastic, motivated and energetic person to start training some of our current clients. We currently offer one-on-one customized nutrition, fitness programs, and small group training. We educate, motivate and support men, women, and teens to improve their health and fitness. 

We understand that to hire the best, you have to compensate the best. 

Bottom line: you’ll become a part of an elite fitness team that is leading the way in every capacity. 

My gym offers a fun environment, great training equipment, and the opportunity to learn the inner workings of a strength and conditioning gym. 

Oh yeah—I’m also very fair, respectful and appreciative. I like having fun and making money while providing highly valuable fitness services and products. 

We promote and train from within, and there are tons of growth opportunities on the horizon. I want someone who enjoys working with people and making a difference in the lives of others—because that’s what we do in my studio. 

Are you an “A Player?  

There are a lot of jobs out there today. At Bowery Fitness, we’re only looking for A Players to join our team—people who are committed to excellence in everything they do. They can get a job anywhere, but they take the time to research the companies they’re considering, they’re selective in the interviews they do, and they go the extra mile in searching for the right position because they’re looking for more than a job. They’re looking for a long-term career opportunity. They’re looking to be part of a team where they can have a positive impact on the world through the work they do while being challenged to grow and become a better version of themselves. If that doesn’t sound like you, then feel free to stop reading this page and close your browser window now.  

If you think you are, in fact, an A Player, then please read on to learn more about the exciting opportunity we have available for the right candidate. 

A Fair Warning 

Our hiring process isn’t quick and easy. We’re going to ask you to jump through a few hoops to prove you’ve got the character and can demonstrate the values that align with our team and mission. 

You’ll be asked to take multiple tests. 

You’ll have a least two or three interviews. 

And we’re going to take our time in making sure you’re someone we want to invest our resources in growing. What we’re really looking for is someone who wants to grow with us in the years to come. 

Many of our top-performing team leaders got their start in this position as little as 16 months ago. 

And because they’re Players, they were promoted quickly through the ranks in our company. 

If I haven’t scared you away just yet, then let’s continue. 

Tasks You’ll Be Expected to Perform 

Tracking client progress—To ensure a client’s success in our programs, you’ll need to track progress and current successes and challenges, review client nutrition and exercise log worksheets, and more on a weekly and monthly basis. It will be your job to hold a client accountable to his/her health and fitness program to ensure the best results possible 

Perform fitness evaluations—Ideally, you’ll have some fitness assessment skills and can test for body composition, body weight, girth, blood pressure, heart rate, and various strength and flexibility tests. You do not need previous experience, but if you do, that’s a bonus. 

Coach clients through fitness and workout programs—You’ll be responsible for weekly exercise sessions and keeping detailed weekly progress reports on the clients you’re working with. If a client is having challenges in his/her program, you’ll coach, motivate and make appropriate changes to ensure consistent progress. You’ll work with clients one-on-one, in small groups and in large groups. We will show you the ropes for all sessions. 

Demonstrate proper exercise instruction—This is a big one. I need you to be able to provide proper coaching, instruction and motivation during a training session. You should have a working knowledge of the human body (i.e., muscles, movements, functions, etc.) and be able to provide appropriate exercises for clients’ goals 

Provide ongoing health and fitness education—Our clients rely on us to service all their health and fitness needs. It is your job as a fitness coach to provide your clients with health and fitness education on various topics that empower them to lead healthy lives. You’ll be provided with educational tools and resources, and you’ll be expected to study them and speak with your clients about them. 

Minimum Training/Skills Required 

– CPR/AED certified. 

– High school degree. 

– Bachelor’s degree. 

– Graduation from an accredited coach’s development program (must be able to provide proof of graduation). 

– Must have at least one group-fitness credential. 

– At least 6 months of coaching experience (if this requirement is not met, please inquire about our Apprenticeship program). 

– Certifications from NSCA, FMS, ACSM, EXOS, ACE (and other governing bodies) are not required but preferred. 

If you think this is good fit for you, take the first step and apply. 

Job Type: Full time. 

Who “Owns” the Client?

Many service professionals build a “book of business.”  

Financial planners, investment salesmen and insurance agents use the term often. These are all licensees: They pay a small fee or percentage to use a larger brand (such as an insurance agency or real estate business) but mostly operate autonomously. They might get some small benefit from the brand for lead generation or a discount on signage. They might share office space or administrative staff. They’re not entrepreneurs, but they’re mostly responsible for finding their own clients.  

And they also keep their clients for a very long time, even if they leave their agency to work somewhere else. 

For a client list to have value, the agent must be reasonably sure of keeping the client for decades. For example, when a financial planner retires, his or her “book of business” can be sold to another because most people stay with their financial planners for life. In the sale, the retiring planner is transferring value to another agent.  

This is not the case in the fitness industry. 

When you enter the Farmer Phase of entrepreneurship—the second stage after Founder in the Two-Brain Business model—other fitness coaches build careers on your platform. Your role is to find them clients; provide booking, billing and scheduling resources; cover their insurance; pay for the lighting; give them access to equipment; keep your space safe, etc. You have a dozen other responsibilities.  

Their role is to train the client on the stable platform you’ve built for them. 

The trainers do not own the clients 

Whether as employees or contractors, fitness coaches are not building a book of business because the client won’t leave the gym to follow a coach elsewhere. 

The coaches and personal trainers at a gym are there to serve the gym’s clients. 

What’s the difference between an intrapreneurial coach and a gym owner? The whole world. 

An intrapreneurial coach maximizes the opportunities created by the gym owner. A gym owner creates enough opportunities for coaches to build meaningful careers. 

But a gym owner can’t create a stable home for coaches if each coach owns his or her clients.  

I’ve seen this case play out over and over: Gym owner offers a coach a part-time job. Coach is thrilled and gets even more passionate as time goes on. Coach wants to make fitness her full-time career. But how? Gym owner says, “Find some personal training clients.” Coach finds one or two, but it’s not enough.

Coach thinks, “The only way I can make this my career is to open my own gym.” Coach leaves. If the coach has built a personal book of business, her clients leave with her.  

Gym owner says “Never again!” 

How do I know this happens? Because I was that coach! 

Your clients must associate their training relationship with your brand, not with one specific coach. Even if clients primarily train with one coach, they should sometimes train with another, receive nutrition advice from another and interact with your customer service manager often. Forge their relationship with your brand to be stronger than their relationship with your coach. 

I’ve also lost long-term clients when a long-term trainer left, and I lost sleep over it. I had to resist the strong impulse to bad-mouth the coach the clients were following. But in the end, I knew it was my fault. The clients had built a stronger bond with that coach than with my brand. I could have avoided the problem, but didn’t. 

I have a dentist. She’s been my dentist for a decade. In those 10 years, she’s moved her practice three times. Every time she moved, I followed because my relationship is with her, not her office. Obviously, this is great for her. She’ll be my dentist for life. But it’s not great for the dental offices she leaves. 

I have a financial advisor. He has a book of business with my name in it. He knows that I prefer index funds over RSPs and real estate over any paper investment. If he moves his practice to another brand, I’ll go with him. Obviously, this is great for him. But it’s not great for his office. If he leaves, so do I. So do his other clients. 

In most professions, a shift in dealerships or franchises happens only once or twice in a career. But in the fitness industry, it happens around every three years—especially in microgyms, where the barrier to ownership is so low that trainers can move in and out of gyms pretty often. And if you don’t want your clients to follow trainers down the street, you have to take a different approach. 

Your clients need to have a relationship with your brand that overrides their relationship with any coach. 

Here are some tips to keep your brand in the forefront of your clients’ mind:

– Change your lexicon. Avoid using phrases like “coach for life.” Instead, refer to “the excellent coaches at Catalyst” and use “we” in your correspondence. 

– Regularly switch coaches around in group class times. 

– Sub out a client’s PT coach occasionally. It’s fun for coaches to work with new clients and better for the clients. 

– Put the best person in each role. If you say, “Client retention is the coach’s job,” then that coach will manage the entire client relationship. If they’re bad at sending birthday cards or congratulating clients, the client suffers. But if you have one amazing staff person in this role, it solidifies the relationship between your gym and the client. 

– Sign correspondence with “Your friends at [business name]” instead of your name. 

– Tell coaches to keep communication lines with clients professional. Don’t give out personal mobile numbers or email addresses. There’s a strong legal reason for this, too: if a client ever tried to sue the business, the coach’s personal text and email history could become the property of the plaintiff if they’re using it with the client. 

– Encourage all coaches to establish their authority outside coaching sessions by producing educational videos and blog posts. 

– Hire a diverse array of coaches. I love to say, “I want you to train with Mike for the next three months. He’s great at accountability. Then you can move back to Bill in September when you’re getting ready for ski season again.” 

– Don’t depend on your coaches for sales. If they’re your clients’ only points of contact, of course the clients will follow the coaches wherever they go. Do goal reviews or have a separate staff specialist meet with the client three times per year. 

– In general, expose every client to three different members of your staff at minimum.  

You got the clients. You signed them up. You paid for your website and painted your office. 

You’re also doing your best to provide meaningful careers for your coaches.  

But if it doesn’t work out, do you lose the kids in the divorce? 


Make sure you have insurance for your business. It’s extremely important. 

In the U.S., we recommend AGuard. 

In Canada, we recommend Joanne Legal.

The Perfect Personal Training Session

In my 22nd year as a personal trainer and coach, I know there’s no formula for guaranteed success. 

That goes for client results and financial rewards. 

But what I have found is that all great personal trainers have things in common. And while not one of us follows the exact same script, we all share some habits 

This is the list I give my staff when they start one-on-one training at my gym. Their personality and expertise should shine through, but every private training session should include: 

  1. A great greeting.
  1. Banter during the warm-up that includes a personal detail mentioned at the last meeting: “Hey, how was your daughter’s play?” Let the client know that you care about what happens in his or herlife. 
  1. An inquiry abouthow the homework assigned at the last meeting played out.
  1. A brief outline of the goals forthe workout.
  1. Skill instruction reinforcedthrough repetition. Keep it positive and corrective. This is where you want 100 percent perfection on technique. Coaches should try to keep client smiling during this portion because it’s the frustrating partwhere people can get down on themselves. 
  1. At leastone scientific explanation—but keep it short. This isn’t just good salesmanship(“Look what I know!”). It’s part of building a more knowledgeable clientele. 
  1. Anexplanation ofthe why behind the workout. How will this workout help them achieve their goals? 
  1. A more specificoutline of the goals of the workout (i.e., anaerobic capacity) and the rationale for the weight chosen: “I know you can do more, but I’m concerned that grip strength will limit your performance instead of work capacity. I want you to keep moving, so I’ve chosen a lighter weight.” 
  1. Changes of voice, inflection, posture and attitude depending on the type of workout. When a client is doing HIIT work, use shorter sentences, exclamation points and fewertechnical instructions. Keep a commanding tone. 
  1. The “sharing of water” after the conditioningpiece. Now’s the time to tell a story. “Last year, we had this tournament called FranFest. One lady lost a tooth. She kept going anyway. Ha! 
  1. Stretching and review ofhomework challenges for the week. Encourage contact through appropriate channels and logging of workout results. 
  1. An opportunity for the client to ask questions.
  1. Bookingof the next appointment if it’s not already scheduled. 
  1. Another mention ofsomething coming up in the client’s life: “Enjoy painting that fence this weekend!”  


The checklist is imperfect exactly because it’s a checklistTrainers must be able to touch on all of these elements without robotically referring to a spreadsheet in the sky. 

If you can’t do anything else: 

  1. Make the client laugh.
  1. Remember things that are important to the client.
  1. Tell the client how the workout will help him or her accomplish personal goals.
  1. Remember that you have to sell your service everytime the client visits, not just the first time. 

Building a Program for a PT Client

Over 80 percent of the clients at Catalyst will never compete beyond a fun weekend 5K or throwdown. But we train them like athletes to create a buffer of health in their lives. 

Every client at Catalyst is an individual with his or her own particular needs. But those needs can be broadly categorized into a few goals: 

– Weight loss. 

– Athletic preparation for competition. 

– General fitness. 

– Strength. 

These four groups comprise over 80 percent of Catalyst clients. The other 20 percent require specific and detailed programming, with custom exercise enhancements or modifications. Senior trainers will work with the “outlying” 20 percent. But we commonly see members of the 80 percent in Catalyst PT programs.  

Their needs can be satisfied in this way: 

  1. Start by selecting the template most closely associated with the client’sgoals and availability. (Examples: Weight loss—3x/week or Athlete—in-season.) 
  1. Select workouts by typeand plug them into the tracking software (Trainerize).(Example, two HIIT workouts and one aerobic workout.) 
  1. Modify the workouts to a level wherethe athlete can achieve the desired stimulus. 

Send the workouts to the athlete. 

Most trainers overthink their clients’ programming. They search for constant variation and novelty instead of returning to the effective basics. This is “features-based programming” instead of “benefits-based programming” (click here to read more about that). 

When we see coaches scouring the internet for “interesting” workouts created by other coaches, trying to include every exercise possible every week or looking for workouts they haven’t seen before, we know the coach is programming novelty for its own sake instead of considering the client’s goals first. Worse, it’s often a sign that the coach doesn’t understand what effect a given workout is trying to produce, and the coach is choosing to be different for the sake of being different. 

Programming for a PT client should take 10-20 percent of the time required to perform the session. If you’re spending an hour creating the workout for an hour-long session, it’s time to get back to the template. 

Using a template doesn’t mean repeating the same workouts over and over. It simply creates a general starting point so you don’t have to start with a blank canvas. It’s a positive constraint that allows for more creativity in workout programming. 

Weekly Templates 

Athlete, preseason—2 speed days, 2 strength days (i.e., anaerobic lactic, anaerobic power, anaerobic lactic, anaerobic capacity). 

Athlete, in season—2 speed days, 1 rotating strength day (i.e., anaerobic lactic, anaerobic power, anaerobic lactic, anaerobic capacity). 

Weight loss, first phase (increase work capacity)—2 aerobic days, 2 aerobic lactic days. 

Weight loss, second phase (increase BMR)—2 aerobic days, 1 strength day, 1 aerobic lactic day. 

Weight loss, third phase (burn fat)—1 strength day, 2 aerobic lactic days, 1 aerobic days and another optional (easier) aerobic day. 

Get fit—varied, intense functional movements performed 3 days on, 1 day off, with skill or strength work followed by a conditioning workout (“met-con”) of varying intensity, load and duration. 

You can download a personal training programming template here. 

Read: “Working With Endurance Athletes” 

Scaling Your Personal Training Business


The simplest way for a personal trainer to make more money in the same hour is to train two clients at once. 

If you have two people with similar capabilities and goals, or even two people who just want to train together, you can put them in the same training slot and charge more for it. 

Ideally, both people will follow the same training plan between sessions (“homework,” if you assign it.) To be clear, these are not two 1:1 sessions done concurrently. If two clients have very different needs and follow different training programs, that’s not a 2:1 session. 

If you have to do extra work between sessions—such as writing two completely separate sets of homework—then it might not actually be worth training two clients at once. But in most cases, this is the fastest way to scale your income without adding additional time. 

Functional fitness is widely understood to be “group training,” but its roots are in personal training. When the first trainers couldn’t fit any more individual clients into their schedules, they partnered some of them up. Each client saved money and the clients worked harder when they had training mates. 

Programs eventually evolved to 3:1 and 4:1 training, and then they eventually became small-group training with common programming.  

Functional fitness coaches didn’t invent 2:1 training, but they popularized personal training in small groups far more than anyone else. When I was a personal trainer in 2002, I remember hearing about a trainer who was taking two clients at once. He was in a different city, four hours away. That’s how rare it was. 

How to Charge for 2:1 Training

First, multiply your normal rate by 2. Then reduce the price by 15 percent. 

Fifteen percent is the minimum threshold to elicit a change in the perception of value. People don’t notice 10 percent discounts, but they do notice 15 percent and above. And there’s no need to give more: You won’t do less work with two people, but you will spend less time.  

How to Partner People Up

In most cases where two people want to train together at my gym, they came in the door as partners. Often, it’s a husband and a wife. Because they usually have similar goals (they’re either both overweight or they both run marathons), the benefit they receive can be far greater than the sum of their individual results.  

For example, if I put them both on the same training schedule, they can train together. If I put them on the same diet, they don’t have to prepare separate meals. And, frankly, training with your spouse improves your marriage.  

In other cases, I use “affinity marketing to have clients invite their spouses or best friends. When I know exactly whom they want to invite, I offer one free 2:1 training session as an introduction. I want them to have fun together. That makes it easier to keep them coming together later. 

As a third example, I could look for overlap when doing client goal reviews. When I see two cases where men want to run their first marathons, I can approach each and suggest that a partner will help with training and accountability. And if I see five people who want to run a marathon, I tell my coaches they have an opportunity for a specialty group. 

Approach the client and focus on the value 2:1 training will supply. Instead of saying, “My schedule is getting full and this is the only way I can fit you in,” say, “I have an idea. I think you’re going to love it, but you can try it to make sure. I have another client with the same goals as you, and she could benefit from a bit of a push. So could you. How would you feel about training together?”  

You might also mention small monetary savings, but this isn’t your primary reason for partnering them up, so I’d only mention it if asked. 

When to Prescribe 2:1 Training to a Client

I prescribe 2:1 training when I know, without a doubt, that both clients will benefit more than they already are.  

I don’t try to clump mismatched pairs together just for the sake of saving time or making more money. 

How to Deliver Their Programming

When I’m running an in-person session, I like to give each client something tangible: a printout of his or her homework assignment. Holding the paper with my logo in his or her hands makes the client feel as if he or she is leaving with a gift. 

We also put clients’ workouts in Trainerize, which is very handy for tracking their progress and integrates with MyFitnessPal for food tracking. They can see videos, text me through the app and even pay me. But that hard copy is priceless for creating a sense of valueand for advertising purposes. 

Before I had a gym where people could do their homework, my clients typically kept a cheap globo-gym membership in addition to paying for PT at my private gym. They would carry their homework with them—with my bright green logo displayed at the top—and set it on the bench beside the squat rack or on the treadmill while they ran. Many of them were asked about their workouts, their descriptions became conversations about me, and I gained new clients.  

The hard copy was a conversation-starter that no app would ever be. 

What to Put in Their Programming

The more people you train at once, the more general your programming has to be. No two people have exactly the same goal, and every additional person multiplies the potential variance.  

In functional group training, the needs of most are addressed by a few movements, such as the deadlift. Everyone needs to deadlift, regardless of his or her goals. Pareto’s Law (that the needs of 80 percent are met by 20 percent of the work) becomes important when programming workouts for multiple people. 

So stick to the big, important basics. Teach the squats and deadlifts, presses and pulls. Make workouts interesting not through exercise selection but through combination.  

Two-on-one training has two clients sharing the same time slot and workout plan. But the clients are not carbon copies of one another. A trainer will still have to work harder to train two people than one. On the flip side, sometimes the hardest part of a 1:1 session is just maintaining a conversational flow. With two clients together, that problem is largely solved. 

Small Group

The principles of small-group training are the same as 2:1 semiprivate training. Group together individuals whose needs vary by degree, not kind. Program workouts to address general instead of specific needs 

Pricing small-group training:  

3:1—triple the 2:1 rate per person and subtract 15 percent. 

Base rate—60 minutes of 3:1 training = $151.73 (119 / 2 x 3 – 15 percent). 

Base rate—30 minutes of 3:1 training = $97.54 (76.50 / 2 x 3 – 15 percent). 

4:1 – quadruple the 3:1 rate per person and subtract 15 percent. 

Base rate—60 minutes of 4:1 training = $171.96 (151.73 / 3 X 4 – 15 percent). 

Base rate: 30 minutes of 4:1 training – $110.55 (97.54 / 3 X 4 – 15 percent). 
If you have a private group that’s larger than four, consider your growing needs to deliver your best service.  

First, you might need an assistant coach to help. Second, you’re going to take up more space in your facility, which might preclude other classes or other training.  

Calculate your base hourly rate for coaching, or how much you earn in your “best” hour. 

Add 50 percent to that rate at minimum. Ask yourself, “How many people can I effectively coach at once?” Cap the group at that number. If the group is larger (for example, a sports team) add more for the second coach.  

A final note on accepting payments for small-group training: You must make your terms and conditions very clear.  

First, you need a cancellation policy: If one client in a 3:1 session cancels at the last minute, the other two can still attend. The cancelling client simply loses a session. 

If all 3 clients in a 3:1 session wish to cancel, they must cancel according to your cutoff time (either 24 hours or by 8 a.m. on the same day) so you can fill your schedule spot.

When training more than four people, insist that they collect from each other and then write you one check for payment. You don’t have time to chase people for payment. Especially when training kids on a team, you can be sure that one will need to take time off or miss a few sessions. In those cases, you don’t want a parent calling for a partial refund. 

The bottom line is this: when a client books a session, he or she owns it. If one or more don’t attend, you’ll use the time to work on their program, but you won’t allow them to simply skip sessions.   

Additional Revenue Streams

Nutrition Planning

Nutrition planning is one of the fastest ways to scale your personal training business. 

A nutrition plan requires less time to deliver than an in-person session, and it delivers even greater value to the client in many cases. 

It’s also necessary for client success with almost every goal.  

At intake, nutrition should be sold as a separate (but equal) service to training. Some clients might choose to start only with nutrition coaching; some might add it later. But most coaches forget to offer the service because they’re excited to coach exercise. 

But nutrition is really at the base of the fitness pyramid. It can also be scaled without additional costs: You don’t need a larger gym floor to create more nutrition plans. You don’t need more barbells. You really only need an assessment device and a way to deliver your prescription. 

For more information on how to become a nutrition coach, visit 


Offering personal training and supplements to your clientele really is the perfect blend of two worlds. Personal training allows you dig deeper into a client’s goals and needs (i.e., increase workout capacity, decrease body fat, improve PRs, etc.). While doing this, you’re getting to know the client better, which also means you’re in the perfect situation to walk him or her through the supplements that can be most beneficial in helping them achieve their goals. 

For example, if someone is trying to increase her power clean by 50 lb., you have the opportunity talk with that client about the need to increase protein consumption and why doing so will be beneficial.  

“It’s going to help your muscles recover more quickly after your workout and increase your overall lean muscle mass.”  

That can then lead into how and why the client should start taking creatine.  

“Creatine is one of the most widely studied supplements on the market and helps increase strength and power output. Both protein and creatine are vital for increasing overall strength.”  

That short discussions provides the opportunity for you to talk about how those specific products will be kept in stock and how you can offer your members a discount over online pricing. 

Most gym owners aren’t into “selling” supplements. That said, it’s important to understand your clients are buying supplements. They’re just not buying them from you. 

Served by a random salesperson at the store, they’re likely to be led down a rabbit hole when they could turn to you—someone they trust—for solid information that will help them attain their goals through proven products matched perfectly to their needs.

Specialty Programs

When several of your clients share a common goal, you can build a short-term program to group them together. 

For example, if Jeff notices that nine of his clients list “get my first pull-up” as one of their goals, his time might be best spent offering a six-week pull-up program and charging $129 for it on top of regular membership fees 

Pricing Specialty Groups

No matter what stage of business you’re in, your goal is the same: More revenue, less time. 

In other words, increasing the value of your “working” time. 

Like you, my job doesn’t always feel like “work.” But if I can leverage my time better, I can spend more time playing with my kids, my barbells and my investments. And I can afford better coffee, shoes and coffee—my coffee budget is easily twice my shoe budget, so I’m listing it twice. 

Pretend you’re a lawyer, and you bill at $120 per hour. Now add up the time you spend on Facebook. What’s that time worth? 


Your time might not be worth $120 per hour yet. But our goal is to get it moving in the right direction, and that means increasing the value for your time. 

Start by calculating the value of your time spent coaching: 

Take your gross membership revenue and divide by your total number of clients. This will tell you what the average client pays you each month.  

Gross / total clients = average membership 

Divide by average attendance. How many times does the average client attend each month?  

Average membership / average attendance = average revenue per visit.  

Multiply average revenue per visit by your average class size.  

Average revenue per visit X average visits per class = value of your coaching time. 

For the sake of example, let’s assign an arbitrary value: 10 clients pay an average of $10 per visit = $100 value of each class coached. 

Making Specialty Groups More Valuable Than Average Classes

When you’re planning a specialty group, the value of your time should always be higher than in an average class, because of: 

– Novelty. 

– Specialty knowledge required. 

– Limited time. 

– Limited space. 

The value of your time should always be moving up. It doesn’t make sense to do more work for less money. 

Let’s imagine we run an eight-week obstacle-course prep program. Based on your average time value of $100 per coaching hour, access to equipment and gym time, we should price it accordingly: 

Attendance cap: 12 

Visits: 8 (one hour once per week) 

If we charge $10 per visit or $80 for the program, the value of your coaching time goes up ($120 per hr.)  

But we shouldn’t assume you’ll get more people in the program than you will in your average class, so let’s price the program slightly higher per visit. The novelty factor (and others bulleted above) will increase the perception of value to the client anyway. 

If we charge $12 per visit, or $96 for 8 weeks with skills and some running homework, that’s fantastic value to the client, and your value per hour goes up to $144: 12 clients at $12/visit. 

If the class meets twice every week: 12 clients at $12 per visit x 16 visits = $192 for the eight-week program. Still a great deal. 

How to Sell out Any Specialty Program

By Jeff Burlingame, TwoBrain Business Mentor 

Filling programs can be difficult—especially if you don’t have a strategy or plan.  

In order to get the most involvement and signups for any program—a barbell club, a six-week course, a seminar or even personal training and nutrition programwe follow this template. 

6 Weeks Out

Host a 20-minute session with all your coaches to test out pieces of your upcoming course. Be sure to record this session so you can use clips as marketing content. Post the clips publically on your social-media profiles at least once a week for the next two weeks. 

4 Weeks Out

Host a free 30-minute clinic with your mavens, aka your seed clients(If you’re not sure how to identify your mavens, click here for more information.) 

You’ll want to record the 30-minute clinic and get some good photos as well as. Make sure you get video of mavens who have tried a new progression and were then able to accomplish a movement they didn’t think they could do. Try to capture as many before and after videos and photos as you can because they speak to the efficacy of your program. 

This before and after content should be posted three times per week for the next four weeks, which will take you right up to the launch of your new program. 

2 Weeks Out

Host a free class or event at which you can test this new program on your members. Make this a public event so you can bring in more non-member leads. Create a website page for your free event and post a sign-up button. Share that page everywhere you can. 

Keep this free class or event to 30 minutes maximum and be sure to have a sign-in sheet you can use to collect attendee names, phone numbers and emails. 

The people who show up for this free class or event are interested and should be considered hot leads. Create an email newsletter to follow up with these people each week leading up to the course. Email them even after the course because they might not have been available for this program but might be interested in the next one. 

At the free class, be sure to provide a clear call to action so these leads are presented with an opportunity to become customers. At the end, bring them all together and tell them about the new program and how they can book a spot. 

We recommend having a higher price for non-members and a lower price for current members because they are already paying for your services. This approach makes existing members feel valued and encourages non-members to join your gym. 

Finally, you’ll award one maven a free course. You can do this any way you choose, but I prefer to award it to the most interested person and do it privately. The benefit of this gift to the interested maven: He or she is far more likely to sing your praises and promote your course to your members for you. Mavens are very socially involved with other members, so sharing is natural for them, and they do it with positive energy. 

As part of the agreement made with the maven, he or she will talk to all your members and post about the course on social media, exposing you and your course to more people.  

Keep in mind that you’ll want to cycle through your mavens for each program launch so each gets the opportunity to take a course for free while sharing with others. We’re up front with our mavens about this, and they know it’s a perk they get. We also have a private Facebook group for our mavens so we can communicate with them all easily. 

Take this six-week pre-launch template and put it into place for your next specialty program and you’ll see much-improved sales results. 

How to Launch a PT Business

How to Introduce a New Personal Trainer Into Your Practice

Whether you’re adding a new personal training service into your gym or expanding your PT studio by adding a new coach, the steps are the same. Your clients have to welcome a new bear into the den. They have to extend their trust in you to the newcomer. And you have to turn over your carefully cultivated clients to a new coach. 

Before you hire: 

  1. Clearly write out a job description, including responsibilitiesbetween sessions, for your new personal trainer. A sample can be found below. 
  1. Ask the candidate to complete threepersonal training sessions with your currentclients for free as a “tryout.” See below. Your opinion of the trainer is secondary to your clients’ opinions, and the tryout will help a successful candidate begin to fill his or her calendar.
  2. Familiarize the new staff person withyour booking and billing system; your policies, procedures and pricing; your appointment booking process; and your dress code. Give the trainer a physical copy of your staff playbook.
  3. Explain the 4/9 Model detailed above. Share an invoice template.
  4. Have the new trainer sign a contract for three months.

Sample Personal Trainer Job Description 

Under the direction of [supervisor] and in collaboration with other trainers, contractors, employees or directors of [business], you will: 

  1. Scout, enroll clients, prepare and implement individualized or small-group training strategies for them.
  1. Scope, prepare and execute individual or small-group training sessions within or outside[business’] training premises based on market demands. 
  1. Invoice clients, collect monies and write receipts to clients through the software system [system].
  1. Assist in the promotional endeavors of[business] through group participation, public speaking, and delivery of promotional materials. 
  1. Provide trackable resources via shared documentsfor each client or group[insert specific details as needed]. Each workout’s prescription and any notes should be included.  
  1. Adhere to all standards of behavior in [business] coaches manual.
  1. Operate and oversee[business] as an attendant as scheduled. 
  1. Assist in maintaining, cleaning, and resupplying consumables for the facility. 

Introducing the New Trainer 

You’ve worked hard to establish your authority in the community. You’ve gone the extra mile to build trust with your clients. Your new trainer must do the same. 

Step 1: Produce videos to establish the new trainer’s authority. 

First, Interview the new trainer on camera. Ask questions about his or her life. Why did the trainer want to coach others? What’s his or her favorite and least favorite exercise? What’s his or her nutrition philosophy? Who is the ideal client for that trainer. 
Publish the video to your YouTube channel, share it to your Facebook page, put a 60-second version on Instagram and add it to the trainer’s bio on your website. Send a link to the video to your email list. Share it in your private clients’ group. Put it at the bottom of the day’s workout post. Make sure your clients see it. 

Second, prepare 10 short videos of the trainer. Have him or her answer common questions about fitness, demonstrate movements or both. Need questions to answer? Look at the headlines of popular fitness magazines.

Publish these videos one at a time over a week or so. Make sure you distribute them to your current clients in all your channels. 

Third, invite your seed clients to try a 1:1 session with the new trainer. Use clients who don’t normally do personal training unless all your clients are PT clients. In that case, have your best PT clients do a free session with the new coach. 

Tell the client: “I really like the new guy, but what really matters most is your opinion. I’d love to have you try a session with him and give me your feedback. What do you think?” 

Even if the client doesn’t like the new coach, you’ve reinforced your relationship with the client by sharing this confidential trust. 

Ask the client to complete a Feedback Form (below).   

The last two questions on the form are really Net Promoter Score—essentially a measure of a client’s relationship with a business or brand. If the client answers with an 8, 9 or 10 on the last question (“Would you consider another session for yourself or your family?”), have the new trainer call the client and book the next session. Or call the client and ask if he or she knows anyone else the new trainer can help. This is more than a rating; it’s a path to affinity marketing, a referral-based strategy to grow a PT business. 

Personal Training Services Feedback  

Thanks for helping us improve our services. We picked you to test our new coach because we trust your judgment! Your feedback will form a major part of our decision to hire.  

  1. Did the coach arrive on time?  
  2. What was your first impression?  
  3. How much did the coach smile? 
  4. Was the coach dressed professionally?  
  5. Would you trust the coach to babysit your kids? (That’s how much trust we like to have in our coaches. 
  6. Did the coach teach you anything new?  
  7. Did the coach make your day better, worse or have little effect?  
  8. On a scale of 1-10 (10 is best), how much did you benefit from the session? 
  9. On a scale of 1-10 (10 is “definitely”), would you consider another session or recommend this coach to your friends and family?  

Thanks! You’re really helping us out here.  

Selling Monthly Personal Training Plans

Selling personal training packages is out.  

Recurring PT plans are better. 

We started as a personal training studio before we did group fitness classes. And before opening Catalyst, I had been doing 1:1 training as my full-time career since 2002 (and part-time since 1996). 

That’s a lot of 1:1 time. 

The way I sell PT sessions has changed over time. At first, I simply billed clients at the end of the month. I was doing some in-home PT, and collecting was a nightmare. 

Then I relied on the owner of our local PT studio to collect for me. That worked most of the time, but when it didn’t, I took the loss. 

When I opened Catalyst, I started selling packages—10 visits and 20 visits. Now I’m moving on to a subscription model, which we call our ID Program (Individual Design). 

There are two ways to sell a subscription-based PT model. The first is to simply charge a recurring rate every month, like $199 for four 30-minute sessions per month. That’s what we do. 

The second way: sell 150 sessions at a large discount, then finance the purchase for your client. For example, let’s say I charge $80 per hour, but a client can get a 25 percent discount for purchasing 100 sessions up front. Then I offer to finance the purchase for them at 15 percent interest, and they pay monthly. I could actually make back a lot of the discount on the compounding interest. And the client is committed to 100 sessions in advance—or else your collection agency will get them.  

Boom: retention! 

Here’s the ID Program at Catalyst, broken down into its finer details: 

Nuts and Bolts 

– $249 per month for 4 30minute sessions, and access to open gym (excluding group times.) 

– We use the Trainerize app for ID. It provides better 1:1 communication with the client, and it syncs with MyFitnessPal in case he or she chooses the nutrition accountability option (which brings the price to $269). 

– Clients get homework after each session, they visit the gym to do the homework, and track their results through Trainerize. 

– Every third month, one of their sessions is used for an Inbody scan and goal review. 

Who It’s For 

– Busy professionals. 

– People who like our workouts but don’t want to do them in a group. 

– People overcoming a weak link (an injury, a skill deficiency, etc.). 

– Clients who are burned out on our group programming (it happens). 

How We Sell It 

– At intake, after an InBody scan: “Would you prefer to do these workouts in a group or 1:1?” 

– At goal review, when a client says he or she is not getting results quickly enough. 

– During a reboot period, when a client is trying to get back to group training as quickly as possible. 


“Do I need a special certification to do Individual Design or call my program ID?” 

No way. If you have any certificationyou’re probably covered. “ID” and “Individual Design” are not trademarks. Personal Trainers have been using the terms (and delivering the service) since before I was born. 

“What kind of workouts do your clients do in ID?” 

The workouts are personalized and linked to a client’s stated goals. We focus on success and will use any workouts that get clients closer to their goals.  

“Do clients get 24/7 access to the gym?” 

We’re lucky enough to have a private ID space so we can give access when the main gym space is busy with class times. But before we had the space, we just gave clients open gym access between class times. 

“Is this like ‘remote programming’?” 

Very much so. In fact, many of our clients do their homework at local 24/7 gyms instead of in our space. They only come to Catalyst for their appointments. And that’s fine. Most of the 24/7 globo gyms have all the equipment these folks need now. 

“Who’s your target audience?” 

It’s not functional fitness competitors or people looking for “the next cool thing.” It’s business people—many are entrepreneurs—who need the combination of a flexible schedule and quick, efficient workouts. 

“How do you sell the higher-rate item?” 

Through a consultative process, just like we sell everything else. 


I like the subscription model better than packages. After my province enacted its “gift-card law” a few years ago, any unused sessions in a package have to remain on my books forever. In other words, packages never expire. But with a personal training “membership,” they do. 

Second, cancellation rates for ID clients are better than cancellation rates for package clients. This is the first time I’ve ever had this data (and I‘ve never seen it anywhere else). My guess ID cancellations are less frequent because a client will probably lose the session if he or she doesn’t make it in ID, but with a package the client can just postpone training indefinitely. 

That means ID is probably better for clients, too, because it encourages better adherence.  

I also really like the amount of texting that occurs between coach and client through the Trainerize app. I don’t like a lot of personal emails/texts/calls between coach and client because I think their relationship should pass through the Catalyst filter. And with Trainerize, it does. Seriously, check it out. 


We still do a lot of 1:1 training at Catalyst. It accounts for just under 30 percent of our gross revenue each year. 

If you’re trying to grow your PT program, you first need to create a clear path for clients to get started. 

Think about the following questions 

– Do you offer a one-on-one intro? 

– Do you sell personal training and/or a one-on-one on-ramp option? 

– Do you have a one-on-one or group on-ramp? 

– Do your coaches sell personal training during/after on-ramp? 

– Do you offer 30-minute skill sessions? 

– How many coaches do you have offering PT? 

– Do you create content to help grow interest? 

If you answered no to any of these questions, you might want to re-evaluate your businessTake a step back and walk through your intro and on-ramp processes as if you were a new prospect. 

The only way to maximize results for your members and your gym is by creating a clear path 

We don’t subscribe to any one exercise model. We’ll use any program that will help a client succeed—but Two-Brain is our business model.  

That means better opportunities for the business, the coaches and the clients.