Requirements For a Personal Training Business

A personal trainer is spotting his male client lifting weights in the gym

Getting your personal training business started requires more than teaching people how to exercise.

You need to have a knack for multitasking, whether it’s sending an invoice, filing taxes, or renewing your CPR certification.

This information can be overwhelming, so let’s take a look at the absolute essentials you should have, including a few surprising qualifications that can help set you up for success.

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Here’s What You Need:

A Business Name and Structure.

The first step to setting up a business is to determine the name and structure. As a personal trainer, think about the type of exercise you’ll do. Your business name should reflect the type of training you offer, and that sounds inviting rather than intimidating. Many trainers want to show off how fit they are, but this is not the time to show off your intensity — you want to inspire people to take their first steps to fitness.

Fortunately, we have some great content that can help you pick out the perfect business name, so definitely check it out if you don’t have a strong idea of what your business’s name should be.

Once you’ve chosen your business name, you’ll need to determine what you want your business structure to be. There are a few questions you should ask yourself before you start looking into which business structure you should choose, including:

  • Are you starting a full-time business, or are you doing this as a side business or money-making hobby?
  • Do you want to be personally liable for any business debts, or do you want to protect your personal assets?
  • Are you starting this business by yourself or working with someone else?
  • Are you willing to learn more about any corporate obligations you might have?

Don’t worry if you’re not sure of the answers to all of these questions. The main goal here is to figure out how much time you’re going to devote to your personal training business and how much you want to protect your personal assets. If you’re starting a business with someone else, that could affect the type of tax structure you should choose.

In general, you’ll be asked to structure your business as one of the following:

  • Sole Proprietorship: This is an unincorporated business structure with one person running the company.
  • General Partnership: This is an unincorporated business structure with two or more people running the company together.
  • Corporation: A corporation is an incorporated business structure that limits a business owner’s personal liability, as the corporation is its own legal entity.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC): A limited liability company (LLC) combines the benefits of a corporation with those of an unincorporated business. In other words, business owners have limited liability for debts and aren’t required to pay separate corporation taxes.

For the best guidance on how to structure your personal training business, check out this handy article from the IRS — it can help streamline your decision process.

Additionally, if you want the benefits of an LLC, you can also run a Single-Member LLC. This allows your personal training business to be taxed as a corporation, has minimal regulatory requirements, and to be taken more seriously with the “LLC” behind your name (rather than registering as an S Corporation).

You have to choose to elect yourself as a corporation, otherwise, you are treated as a disregarded entity. Talk to a tax accountant to make sure you select the right business structure for you.

Your Business Plan.

A business plan gets your business started: it provides an outline for what you intend to do with personal training, which includes how you intend to attract clients, finances to keep your biz afloat, and the resources you need to make things happen.

A business plan also provides guidance and feedback regarding whether you’re on track for achieving your personal goals.

For example, if you want to hit a number of personal training memberships or to be recognized as one of the top personal trainers in your area, your plan can suggest milestones you should be accomplishing along the way. It also can help you keep track of additional training and certifications you want to have to continue growing and becoming a master trainer.

In a more traditional sense, the business plan is absolutely crucial for nabbing any funding you may need. Even if you’re planning on raising money from family and friends, a business plan can show you what success looks like, and if you have a solid plan for getting there.

Creating a business plan can be a pain, but we’ve streamlined the learning curve so you won’t waste time with formatting or plan research. Just download our FREE business plan template and follow the step-by-step instructions to create the best plan for you.

Personal Training Equipment.

Exercise comes in all shapes and forms, and may require some equipment or none. Personal trainers are very different — you may have most of the equipment found in any gym, or you may only have some resistance bands, dumbbells, and discs because you’re just starting your business (you might also start out working for a gym and using their equipment).

There’s no one right answer for the exact personal training equipment you’ll need before you consider yourself “a business”; in fact, a lot of personal trainers say they started with just the equipment they owned.

Take a look at what equipment personal trainers recommend purchasing if you want a bit more guidance. If you’re looking to go into the field as a specialist in a specific workout such as HIIT, boxing, or barre, you’ll need to do more research into the required equipment for those activities.

Certifications & People Skills.

Most of the personal trainers we interviewed for this guidebook highly recommend getting a personal training certification before starting your business. Here are some other qualities that set them up for success:

  • Joining a professional organization for networking and continuing education
  • Get CPR/AED Certified
  • The ability to work well with people — especially clients
  • Be willing to invest in yourself and your company
  • Kindness and compassion

“It is crucial to be trained and have a background in the type of fitness coaching you plan to do in order to safely instruct your clients and also legally protect yourself.” — Jessica Delacey, Fitness Instructor

That’s because, according to these personal trainers, having both people and business skills is crucial for starting and growing your business. It makes sense: If you’re not necessarily great with people or you tend to ignore admin work, it might be tough building a business over the long term.

This list should help give you a strong idea of what you need to start up your personal training business, but keep in mind this is just the beginning — make sure you check out our full guide on how to start a personal training business!

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Pauline Germanos

When she’s not writing for SB, Pauline runs an intuitive healing business… and is still writing as she types up psychic readings! As she was raised by entrepreneurs, she knows what it takes to be a small business owner.

Pauline writes on a number of topics such as small business owner resources, marketing, and customer service and retention.