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Becoming a Personal Trainer: Decisions, Decisions

You love exercise and you want a career helping others to get the most out of their body. You have decided that becoming a Personal Trainer is the way that you are going to do this. Where do you go from this decision? What do you need to enter the rewarding and lucrative personal training marketplace?


The most important decision: What type of exercise are you going to offer?

First and foremost, you will need to decide what type of fitness activity you want to specialize in.

We believe that high intensity training is the safest, most effective and efficient way to train people and if you are reading this post, you most probably agree with us.

Fear not that HIT has a small audience. It is an advantage to own a niche, something that differentiates you in the marketplace, so that you stand out from the regular Joe personal trainer, as this will give you a competitive edge.

Not to mention that the audience for HIT is growing and will only keep growing. A while back, I interviewed Dr Doug McGuff and he mentioned that HIT “is going to explode and become more and more mainstream”.




Next, with which provider you are going to certify?

There are plenty of personal training certification courses in US, UK and worldwide, and in our humble opinion there is no one better than the other. There is what’s best for you and your circumstances.

Roughly speaking, we have found that choosing where to certify, depends on:

  • Your budget
  • The course delivery: online vs. physical
  • The exercise principles that the course teaches
  • The reputation

When selecting your PT certification provider, assign a value to each of these factors and you will find the mix that resonates with you. We currently offer the HIT PT certification course, but will be releasing more in the near future.


Last but not least, have the basics covered!

There are a couple of fundamental practicalities. Before you start working with clients, you will need to get:

  • Public liability and professional indemnity insurance
  • First aid/cardiopulmonary resuscitation training

The two above points are the absolute fundamentals that you must have in place to start off with.

Now, you are ready to start training clients. The next decisions are driven by your career stage and aspirations.


Do you want to work at a gym?

Do you want to work at an existing gym or facility that is owned/run by an individual or organization? If so, there are two likely options:


A. You could be employed and earn a salary.

Being employed may be a good choice for people, who are entering the industry for the first time and feel that they would benefit from a period of “apprenticeship”.


  • Being employed by a gym or facility will give you the security of a regular salary.
  • So long as the gym you are working for is successful, you will have an abundance of clients that you haven’t had to find yourself.


  • The downside is that you will be earning less than as a successful freelancer.


B. You could opt to work as a freelance personal trainer at someone else’s facility.

Working as a freelancer is possibly a good choice for semi-experienced trainers, who have already built a clientele and are confident they can find new clients, if they need to.


  • You won’t have to make your own investment in equipment, rent and related overheads.
  • You will likely have access to a potential pool of clients that already attended the gym.


  • You will have to give a cut of your earnings to the gym.
  • You will ultimately have to drive your own business and attainment of clients.


Do you aspire to start your own personal training business?

What if you are more independently minded and you want to start your own business from scratch? This is where the options really open up, primarily based on the amount of capital you want to invest in setting up your own business.

Let’s look at some options from least capital required, to most.


A. Minimal equipment and a car

With an investment of a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, you can have an independent, basic Personal Training business.

If you don’t have the space or a specific location to train clients from, you can go to the clients yourself. This may mean working with clients in a local park or their own home, as a mobile trainer.

In this scenario, you will likely need your own mode of transportation. You could also use public transportation – although you would be limited to equipment you can conveniently carry on public transport.

At most basic, you could specialize in teaching bodyweight exercise and only have to carry the most basic of equipment.

However, if you already have a car or can afford to make the investment in a car your options for easily transportable equipment open up.

In this scenario, we would recommend a sturdy transportable bench and a pair of selectorized dumbbells.

Set yourself a geographic zone you are prepared to travel to visit clients and you are good to go. Many potential clients will like the convenience of being able to exercise in their own home or at a nearby venue of their choice.


B. Minimal equipment and a spare room

A second low cost model is similar to the first, equipment wise. If you have a spare room in your home that you can “convert” into a training studio, you can then service clients in your own home.

This can allow for a greater number of clients to be trained in a working day because you cut out your travel time.

In terms of equipment, if you have minimal space and want to minimize your investment in equipment, the bench and selectorized dumbbells option is a wise choice.

If you have a little more to invest, and a little more space you could also add a bodyweight station, like the UXS.

If you also happen to have a car, you can still offer the option of visiting clients too.

Of course, if you have more money to invest in equipment, you can upgrade to a piece of equipment, like the HITGYM AIO, which will allow you to offer professional quality machine based exercises in minimal space, potentially widening your audience.


C. Commercial space to open a facility

The final option we will present here is to find commercial space to open a facility.

This of course means somewhat greater overheads, particularly in terms of monthly rent. However, this option will be perceived as the most “professional” in many clients’ eyes.

You don’t have to choose a large space to start off with and you still don’t have to invest huge amounts of money in equipment at the very beginning.

The possibilities for this option really come down to how much you want to invest at this time. In the future, you can always invest in more space, a more prime location, or more/better equipment as your business grows.

The commercial space could still start out with dumbbells and a bench, and/or a bodyweight station, or you could decide to make a greater investment in equipment and get a line up of new or refurbished machines.


No matter which of the options above is most practical to start out with there are some other expenses you should factor in, such as:

  • Computer/laptop/tablet for business and training use.
  • Setting up a website and other marketing costs, like advertising on social media channels or Google search, print advertising, print flyers, business cards, etc.
  • Your accountant’s fees, if you need one.
  • And of course, your time investment in promoting and growing your business.



The good thing with this line of business is that you can start with an exercise modality that works for you and your clients and refine it, as you go. You can start with a very minimal investment and scale up, over time, and you can decide how much or how little you want to work, as you go.

As McGuff says, “You really can make a good living doing this if you do it well, and I think the time is right for doing it.”


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