How to Grow a Successful PT Business

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How to Grow a Successful PT Business

As a Fitness industry marketing consultant I meet so many personal trainers who come to me completely confused about what’s going wrong in their business. They have the qualifications, they are in the gym every day training, have the odd client here and there but are struggling to grow their business.

This is totally understandable, as a PT you have so many things to consider, your website, pricing strategies, diary management, invoicing etc and you’ve got to fit all of that in around your clients too. So let me help, below I’ll run you through the top 9 areas where most PT’s are failing and how not to be one of them!

1. Your USP

Before you even start you need to be able to answer this question. Who are you?

What is it about you that means someone should come to you versus your competition… you know those thousands of topless Instagram wannabes you’re up against?

It’s important for you to work out what exactly your USP (unique selling point) is. What makes you stand out, what makes you different. The first step to answering this question is to know what you’re good at. Now I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking you’re good at everything! Well no Sherlock, really have a think about this.The truth is there will be one area of your business where you really excel. The one area where you get fired up the most and enjoy daily. So think about that for a moment. What is it you enjoy most as a PT?

Ask yourself the following:

  • What do I have to offer
  • Why should they come to me over anyone else
  • What’s different about me

The power behind answering these questions is it will begin to become very clear who your target market should be and the niche you should focus your business activity on.

2. Identify your Audience

Now I’m guessing like most PT’s you currently work with a wide range of people doing a host of different programmes. You probably do some one to one, some group stuff and maybe even online training.

But here’s the thing, one of these areas you probably enjoy doing far more than others and simply ‘fell into’ doing the other training at some point just to get money in the door; and I get it, we have all been there. But to really grow your business you need to focus on the area you excel at and dominate.

  • For example:
    You could be absolutely amazing one on one with women over the age of 35 who are looking to tone up after baby number 2
  • You could be the perfect drill Sergeant training groups in the park to excel at their first tough mudder
  • Or you could be excellent at rehabilitation exercises for the elderly following surgery

Can you see how different these markets are and how different your business and marketing strategy would need to be to target these markets?

Yet most PT’s I meet have no idea how to differentiate themselves.

If you focus on just one or two areas for your target market, ensure all your education and training is in these two spaces you can easily become the PT that DOMINATES your perfect niche. Think Bret Conteras (The Glute Guy) or Joe Wicks (The Body Coach) – like them or not they dominate in one area, and are raking the monies in.

So now you know:

  • Who you are
  • Your niche

The next step, is your plan.

3.Whats your Plan?

It doesn’t matter how many letters you have after your name, or how amazing your programmes are, without a business or marketing plan you’ll NEVER be successful. This is one of the many ironies of working with the fitness industry. PT’s are absolutely amazing at setting out goals for everyone else, yet the majority of PT’s have NO idea how to set a goal for their own business.

It’s actually fairly simple to do: Simply work out where you want your business to go over the next year and work backwards to see how you can get there. Setting short, medium and long term goals as you go.

4. Marketing

Potential clients are everywhere, but once you’ve worked out your niche and where your audience hangs out both on and offline it’s straightforward to be able to market to them.

This can be done with content on your website or even Facebook or Google ads. Simply develop the marketing plan and off you go. Or better still, get a professional in to help you so you can focus on giving your clients the time they need. But always ensure you are doing some form of marketing weekly. Why? Because continually raising awareness of you and your business puts you on the radar of future clients. If you take your foot off the pedal, you won’t feel the effects immediately, but at some point in the future you’ll run out of clients. This is the point where most businesses fold. It’s so much harder to get new clients in when you’re getting desperate for money. DO NOT FALL INTO THIS TRAP! Keep generating awareness running consistently and you’ll never struggle to find new clients.

5. Networking

Get out of the gym. Crazy isnt it! To grow your PT business you need to step away from the gym. Why? Because you need to network, be it on or offline this is important for you to raise awareness of your business. There are so many opportunities for you to connect with potential clients.

  • Fitness events
  • Fitness expo’s
  • Local business groups
  • Workshops
  • Online groups
  • Weight loss groups
  • Health and fitness clubs
  • Crossfitters
  • Powerlifters
  • New mum groups
  • Women into weight lifting like Chicks who Lift – the possibilities are endless – both on and offline

These provide endless opportunities to meet new people and spread the word about you and your work – but go prepared to go with either flyers or business cards or even a special event offer. Do this at least once a month!

6. Train Yourself

Not just in the gym, so you look the part, but also mentally. You’re a professional after all, you should always spend some time in your week where you are either reading fitness blogs, attending webinars or reading research on

If you hire an accountant or lawyer or even a marketer you expect them to be up-to-date with the latest industry updates so why should you be any different?

7. Jack of all trades, Master of none?

Do you do it all yourself? Like literally…everything …Build your own website, write all your own content, try to get clients, try to keep clients, train clients, run Facebook ads, try to run google ads and wonder what the HELL is going on in your business? THIS! Is a HUGE mistake!

The amount of time and effort you can waste on admin and marketing by learning and doing it yourself is crazy. In that day you spent trying to learn wordpress you could have been doing what you’re meant to! Train your clients.

Do yourself a favour, hire professionals, even a website builder from is preferable to you wasting your precious time doing it! You trade your time for money after all.

8. The Secret Sauce – What your competition isn’t doing

The Following are the foundations to your business growth, by putting the next 3 areas in place you’ll be able to create a base for your business that leaves the competition behind.

This is the differentiator between good and outstanding.

8.1 Number know-how

Now your number knowledge is probably the most important thing to nail. Questions like:

  • How much money do you need to bring in per month
  • How many visitors come to your website a month?
  • How much time does your average client spend with you?

So many numbers that can help guide you in how well your business is performing. So once you have your business and marketing plan in place you need to get a very basic understanding of your numbers. At least understand your living costs and how much money you need to bring in monthly so you can run a health-check of your business. And review these numbers weekly, this is not a ‘one and done’ job!

8.2 Robust Client Management system

This is essentially the database that sits behind your business. Where is all your client data held? Are you one of those people that has everything written down on paper or keeps things in your head? A simple excel spreadsheet (try Google Doc’s) with client name, address, email, and goals is all you need to keep everything in one place and keep track of your client turnover.

8.3 Recorded Operations

Another area that makes the top 1% successful is how they manage their operations. By operations I mean the HOW of the business. I.e do you have a process in place where someone could keep your business running if you are suddenly taken away from your business. Or does your entire business rely on you? If you are the kind of person that doesn’t have systems in place I GUARANTEE your business will not grow. You need to systemize things like:

  • Sending out invoices
  • Creating client plans
  • Getting testimonials etc

So many people don’t consider this and it’s understandable. After all you know what you need to do and it’s all in your head right?

But if you want to grow your business, and ensure it can actually function without you doing everything yourself – work out how things are done and build systems. Top tip! Hire a Virtual Assistant to take care of your admin jobs and free up your time to focus on the things that make you more money.

Boring as hell but super important to have these fundamentals in place.

Now it’s time to talk about THE most important aspect, the area no business can survive without… your clients!

9. CLIENT 101

Regardless of whether you’re an on or offline trainer, yours is a people business. So it’s crucial to be aware of how to keep your clients happy. Understanding people is the difference between making money and going bust, as high client turnover and low client retention is the death-nail for so many businesses.
So why do clients leave?

9.1 Unrealistic/Unsustainable Goals

So there are always going to be those that come to you wanting to drop 50lbs of fat in 2 weeks and as easy as it is to take this person’s money, you must be clear about what’s realistic. What to expect and help them understand what’s actually achievable. Keep reminding your clients of this throughout your time together.

9.2 Boredom

It’s far too easy to keep them on the same diet plan and training regime. But this is a recipe for disaster. We’re humans, we aclimatize and get bored very quickly. Let them know that they are not going to be the same thing day in day out for 3 months so they have something to look forward to and it will be much easier to keep them on track.

9.3 Lack of Rapport

If you can’t maintain a genuine interest in the lives of the people you are working with, then you should definitely reconsider your career path. This is a people business and a lack of rapport with clients will crush your business rapidly. If folk don’t get on with you, if all you do is count reps and load plates you will quickly be replaced by a PT that can communicate with clients.

It’s simply not just a case of building a programme and sending them on their way! You also need to be able to build rapport with them. If they don’t like you, or don’t get on with you, it doesn’t matter how amazing your programmes are, your clients simply won’t stick at it, won’t get the results they need and won’t stay your clients for long. You need to become a mentor, motivator and dare I say it, even a friend. Do this by building time into their training or feedback to see how they are doing, treat them like a human being, it’s not rocket science. People buy from people remember that.

9.4 Quality & Integrity

Please don’t do what so many PT’s do… don’t be an asshole, consistently delivering shit sandwiches! They look great whilst trying to entice a client in, tell the client all the things they want them to hear then once they pay up… bait and switch.

Too many PT’s are so concerned about getting the next client they lose focus on the one they just got and under deliver. Plans are cookie cutter, there’s no personal connection, the client doesn’t feel listened to and low and behold they either stop showing up or leave altogether leaving you wondering what went wrong.

Yes I know you’re under pressure and It’s not deliberate, but you must put time in with your client to fully understand what they actually want, build a plan for them and follow up with them.

After all this is one of the biggest reasons someone hires you! It’s the accountability and support they need from you, so make sure you deliver!

9.5 Lack of Planning

You’ve got your client in, they are working well and getting results, hit their goal and then what? It’s the equivalent of getting someone to lose weight eating nothing but slimming products. Once they go back to eating normal food they pile the weight back on because they haven’t learnt how to eat sustainably. Set your clients up to improve their lifestyle after their sessions end with you. Trust me the Word of Mouth interest you’ll get from this will be sky-high.

9.6 No up-sell

This is a simple way to keep clients coming back. If you have a group class for instance you can offer a discount for one to one training once they have completed 2 months with you. Or perhaps you could offer bonus’s or incentives to people who hit their goals. Create some products and packages that would be useful to people who already know and trust you. It’s easy money rather than chasing new clients all the time.

So there you have it, your top 9 steps to grow your PT business. Let me know your thoughts, how you get on with implementing these tips and what results you get.


Founder & Fitness Freak @ The Fit Agency