Opening a Personal Training Studio

If you’re interested in opening a personal training studio, our step-by-step guide will tell you everything you need to know from creating your concept to opening the doors!

In this article we’ll cover:

Before we start, the best way to stand out from the crowd and attract plenty of clients to your PT studio is by completing gaining additional courses. Get started with our Level 4 Sports Nutrition Course or learn more by downloading our course prospectus.

Step 1: Qualifications Needed for Opening a Personal Training Studio

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Chances are you’re already a qualified PT thinking about moving on to the next step to make money as a personal trainer by growing your own business.

However, if you’re not yet qualified you’ll need to complete a personal training diploma, which combines a Level 2 fitness instructor qualification and a Level 3 in personal training.

You’ll need to complete Level 2 before you can complete a Level 3 personal trainer course so it’s vital to obtain both qualifications! With a Level 3 certification, you’ll be able to create bespoke fitness programmes for individuals, combining basic nutritional advice and an exercise regime.

You also won’t be able to get insurance without completing one of the best personal training courses and without insurance you won’t be legally able to practise as a PT. So, it’s super important you choose the right qualifications as well as complete the right levels to practise!

We’ll cover some more progressions in ‘Step 3’ when we cover some of the advanced courses you can take to specialise further.

Step 2: To Start a Personal Training Studio You’ll Need Experience

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Before you start the process of opening your own personal training studio it’s essential that you gain some industry experience of working with individual clients as well as in different spaces and training in different ways.

Not only will this make you more confident working with individuals it will also help your business as you’ll be more familiar with how the industry works.

You’ll also be further into developing your skills and particular niche so that you can market to your target demographic and attract as many clients as possible!

Having experience working with individuals will help with your reputation too and give you invaluable resources that you can use to attract new clients, such as:

  • Before and after pictures
  • Testimonials
  • Industry contacts for cross-referrals

This will also help with your personal trainer market research because some experience will help you identify where the gaps in the market are.

We’ll look at this in a little more detail now so you know how to perform market research and see what your competitors are offering.

Step 3: Research Your Competitors Before Opening Your Own Personal Training Studio

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A vital step for opening a personal training studio is to find your personal training target market and where there’s a gap your business could fill!

Looking at other personal training studios in your area will help you decide on things like:

  • The style of training you want to specialise in
  • Prices for sessions and packages
  • The range of services you want to offer

For example, you don’t want to start a personal training studio that specialises in HIIT if there’s already one in your immediate area, unless you offer something additional that isn’t offered there.

Let’s look at some of the things you could do as part of this market research to make sure you find your USP and attract plenty of clients!

Look on Your Competitor’s Website When Opening a Personal Training Studio

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The first thing you should do for your market research when you’re starting a personal training studio is check out your competitor’s websites.

This will provide some of the most vital information, even if only as an overview, regarding:

  • Services they offer
  • Testimonials from previous clients
  • Where they’re located
  • Their personal trainer mission statement 

Finding out how people market themselves will let you in on what they see as the unique selling point of their business.

This will help you with determining your own and deciding on the kind of service you want to provide.

Be a Mystery Shopper for Your Competitors Services

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This would involve calling or enquiring at the studio and pretending to be a potential client interested in signing up.

A lot of personal training studios won’t list their prices in full on their website because the cost of the bespoke package will depend on:

  • Amount of sessions
  • Style of training
  • The level of nutritional coaching the client wants

Many studios avoid sharing their prices to encourage prospective clients to enquire for more information. By using this strategy to generate enquiries, the PT then gets to speak to the client directly as part of a ‘personal trainer consultation’ – which is essentially a sales pitch.

By enquiring and pretending to be a customer you’ll get an insight into how their business works, how they determine their pricing, and how they sell to their PT clients.

You’ll also gain more insight into the services they offer and learn enough to determine how your business could differ from theirs and attract different people!

You can explicitly ask them questions about their services to gain more information that you wouldn’t just by looking on their website or social media pages.

Check Out Your Competitor’s Google My Business Page When Opening a Personal Training Studio

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If you want to start a personal training studio, you should look at your competitor’s Google My Business page. 

This will tell you a lot of the essential information about your competitor’s such as:

  • Location
  • Social media and website links
  • Reviews

It’s this last one that’s probably the most important! A Google My Business page has reviews from previous customers and will give you an honest impression of the business. 

Having an idea of what previous customers have said will give you some social proof, showing the business’s strengths and weaknesses.

Knowing where your competitors do well and where they struggle will help with starting your own personal training studio because you’ll see what people want and respond well to.

You can do a general search by location on Google, such as ‘personal trainer Sheffield’, to find the highest ranking businesses in your area.

You can then narrow this down if you need to by niche. For example, if you’re interested in opening a personal training studio that specialises in training elderly clients, you can search ‘personal trainer for elderly clients Sheffield’.

This is what reviews will look like on Google My Business:

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As you can see, you can learn how people feel about the equipment, service, and the general attitude of the people working in the studio!

Step 4: How to Open a Personal Training Studio: Find a Location

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When you’re opening a personal training studio, there are several factors you’ll need to consider when choosing a location and space.

Choosing a location will depend on:

  • Where you live
  • The competition in the area
  • Your market research
  • Accessibility

If you’re following the previous steps then you should have completed some in depth market research to see where the gaps in the market are that you could fill. 

Then you’ll need to decide on the geographical location so that you can start to narrow down your search for the space itself!

We’ll run through some of the most vital considerations for this so you know exactly what to look for to suit your business.

Will You Be Renting or Buying a Property to Start a Personal Training Studio?

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If you want to know how to open a personal training studio, once you’ve chosen the area you want to work out of you’ll need to decide if you want to buy or rent fees for a space.

This will be affected by several factors including:

  • What’s actually available in your area
  • What your financial situation is
  • What your plans are for the future
  • The kind of equipment you intend on using

It may be that you live in a quieter area where you’re more limited on what’s available or there are far more properties available for purchase and conversion.

However, you might live near a high street where it’s far easier to rent a space than in other areas because there’s existing studios or spaces with the appropriate planning permission available to rent.

There’s pros and cons to each depending on what you see for the future of your business and what the available leases will allow you to do.

The pros of renting include:

  • Less expensive up front and short term because any deposits will be far less and there may be all the equipment you need already there
  • You won’t be as responsible for maintenance and repairs
  • You’re more freed up to relocate or move with a shorter window and less responsibilities involved in doing so

However, there are disadvantages involved in renting, such as:

  • You won’t benefit from the property from an investment point of view
  • You have far less control over structural changes or expansions to the property
  • You’re beholden to a landlord and their wishes for the property

In terms of structural changes, this may affect the kind of equipment you can install and what you can do if you’re starting a personal training studio with a vision to expand in the future.

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For example, if you want to become a Boxercise instructor and use boxing techniques in your sessions, a landlord may not allow you to install things like a bag that may require structural changes.

The other option for opening your own personal training studio is buying a property. There’s huge benefits to this including:

  • Plenty of grants for personal trainers available to help with the costs of buying a property
  • If you have a large enough deposit, the monthly repayments can be less than monthly business lease costs when you rent
  • More control over the design and structure of the building meaning you’ve got more manoeuvre with equipment you choose

In terms of grants for personal trainers, there’s government funding available for businesses just starting out or expanding and wanting to buy or rent a property.

There’s far more available for buying and renovating a property, however, so this is worth remembering when you’re weighing up whether to buy or rent!

How Much Space Will You Need When Opening a Personal Training Studio?

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Another thing you need to consider when you’re deciding on a location for your PT studio is how much space you’ll need.

Many people start a personal training business with no money so you don’t need the most expensive space! However, your location should depend on the style of training you specialise in and the range of different services you anticipate offering to your clients.

For example, you’ll need to consider the following whilst you’re looking for a property to start your own personal training studio:

  • What machines or equipment are you planning on having?
  • Will you be offering group sessions or teaching fitness classes?
  • Will you need to separate the space for different activities?

If you’re hoping to expand or offer different services to different demographics you might need the space to be big enough to separate or have another room attached.

For example, if you become a sports nutritionist, offering bespoke nutritional services alongside training, you might want a separate more appropriate meeting space for these sessions.

If you want to offer group personal training or fitness classes you’ll need a space big enough to accommodate enough people to make the class and service financially worthwhile!

You’ll also need to consider the kind of activities you want to do with your clients. For example, if your personal trainer niche is circuit training you’ll need to ensure you have the space for different stations.

When Opening a Personal Training Studio You Should Ensure it’s Accessible for Your Clients

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If you want to know how to open a personal training studio that will attract as many clients as possible, you need to make sure that it’s accessible.

This is true both in the geographical sense and in terms of catering to people with disabilities.

You need to make sure that the location you choose is easily accessible by a variety of people no matter their method of transport.

For example, you don’t want to choose a location that has no good transport links and is only accessible by car. 

This will severely limit the amount of clients you can have and the demographic that you can cater to.

In terms of disabilities you should be mindful of the kind of training you want to do and the demographic you’re catering for.

For example, if you want to become a personal trainer for autistic clients you’ll need to choose a space that can be adjusted to fit the needs of the clients.

You may need to have a more minimal space, away from intrusive noise from a busy road, as clients will frequently be sensitive to conflicting sounds, hindering their training experience. 

You also need to ensure you choose a space that can be adjusted for wheelchair access so that you can help people with physical rehabilitation.

This is especially important if you’re interested in becoming an exercise referral specialist, because you’ll often be working with injured people and people with long term health conditions. 

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Before we continue, check out these articles below for more tips on starting your own personal training business:

Step 5: How to Open a Personal Training Studio with the Right Insurance

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Next up for opening a personal training studio is finding the right kind of personal trainer insurance will mean that your studio and business is legally protected should somebody make a claim against you.

The different kinds of insurance you can get are:

  • Public liability insurance
  • Professional indemnity insurance
  • Equipment insurance
  • Loss of earnings insurance

We’ll run through each of these briefly now so you know what you should be looking for and what they’ll protect you against.

Public Liability Insurance

This is the main, and arguably most important, kind of PT insurance you’ll need and is the minimum legal requirement for practising as a personal trainer. 

This protects you from the following claims or situations:

  • If a client sustains injury or illness under your supervision
  • If equipment is damaged

It may be that there’s a fault in some equipment which causes the client to injure themselves. This insurance will protect you from the legal fees should they make a claim against you.

You’ll also be protected if a client breaks or damages your equipment up to a certain amount of money.

Rather than having to fork out for new equipment should they become damaged, you’ll get a lump sum towards the cost as an insurance pay out.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

This is another kind of insurance that’s legally required to practise as a personal trainer as it protects you from any injury or illness sustained due to advice.

Professional indemnity insurance is usually part of a package with public liability insurance because it technically falls under the same umbrella.

The difference is that this is explicitly to do with advice. For example, if a client’s form in a certain exercise leads to injury they may claim that it was a fault of your advice.

If they feel they’ve sustained an injury because of a perceived fault in your instruction, you’ll save money and time by investing in this kind of insurance because any compensation will be covered by your policy.

Equipment Insurance

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Equipment insurance does exactly what it says: protects your equipment! 

You’ll be protected in the event of your equipment being:

  • Damaged during a session by you
  • Damaged in transit if you’re a mobile trainer or travelling to another location
  • If your equipment is lost or stolen

Much like the other kinds of insurance there’s a maximum amount of cover you can get and receive in the event of any of these happening.

However, you’ll be covered for a huge range of equipment and can get sports equipment specific policies!

Loss of Earnings Insurance 

Wherever you are in your career, when you’re working as a personal trainer you’ll need to be physically fit and well to carry out the job.

Loss of earnings insurance protects you if an injury or illness prevents you from working, meaning you lose out on your usual income.

This is usually part of personal accident insurance which protects you from the costs of any rehabilitative treatment. 

Some of the things that can be covered include:

  • Dental treatment
  • Physiotherapy
  • Compensation for more severe and permanent injuries or disablement

Loss of earnings takes it one step further to support you whilst you do recover should you become ill or injured.

You can get all of the above combined in a package that works best for you from Insure4Sport. Check out their website for more information on different policies.

Step 6: Source the Right Equipment for Opening a Personal Training Studio

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Once you’ve looked at all of the insurance policies you can start to source your equipment for opening a personal training studio.

This will depend on your specialism and if you need any specific equipment for a particular style of training.

For example, if you’ve completed an obesity and weight management course and specialise in weight loss you may need specialist body fat measuring equipment and accurate and detailed scales.

If you’re opening a personal training studio from scratch you’ll have to make sure you’ve got all of the essential equipment.

You should make sure that you bear in mind everything we’ve mentioned so far in regards to the space you’ll be occupying.

For example, there’s no point in sourcing large, expensive machines if you don’t have the space for it.

You want to make sure that you’re getting the best deal as well as top quality equipment. 

When you’re just starting out you want to source some of the most essential equipment new, that are likely to get worn or damaged.

However, you can get some of the bigger pieces of equipment from discount websites or auction sites like eBay:

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Obviously you have to be careful to still do your research and ensure you’re getting the best quality you can even on a budget.

Clients will be put off if your equipment looks old and used so make sure you still get something that’s like new if it is second hand. 

It’s also worth keeping your eye out for sale periods as most sports shops will offer huge reductions on some of the more expensive pieces of equipment.

For example, this cross trainer from Sports Direct has been reduced from £700 to £379.99:

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You can still get these reductions for some of the more essential equipment though such as:

  • Dumbbells
  • Kettlebells
  • Mats

You can continue to add items and make changes to an equipment insurance policy as you go so you can have a look at the maximum amount covered and use this to budget for your business!

Step 7: You’ll Need to Build a Client Base for Opening a Personal Training Studio

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Last but not least, one of the most important steps for starting your own personal training business is building your client base.

It’s no use starting the perfect studio if your marketing efforts aren’t enough to secure clients and get people through the door!

We’ll now run through some of the best ways for you to attract people to your business and build up your client base.

Spread the Word Among Your Existing Clients that You’re Opening a Personal Training Studio

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Obviously if you’re already a practising PT then the easiest way to spread the word and gain clients for your new studio is to bring your existing ones with you!

This should be the primary way you gain clients for your studio because you want to capitalise on the trust and rapport you’ve already built up with people.

If you’ve been working with people already then they’ll be more likely to trust you because they’ve seen the results you can achieve!

Loyalty goes a long way when it comes to clients and you want to ensure everybody knows exactly when you’ll be starting your own personal training studio.

You need to make sure you tell any existing clients the exact date you’ll be moving and get you to sign up for your new studio.

Start a Signup Bonus and Referral System When Opening a Personal Training Studio

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It may well be that you’re currently working out of a gym or another fitness facility and have gained clients who are members of that particular space.

Therefore, you may need to have something to entice people to leave their current membership and sign up for your studio.

A great way of doing this is to offer a signup bonus where you offer a discount or a freebie to any newcomers swapping over from their existing memberships to yours!

If you want to know how to get PT clients you could offer the following freebies or discounts as an incentive to sign up for your services:

  • Discounts on membership packages
  • Free nutritional consultation alongside training
  • Offering the first session for free when a client books more than one session in a block

Obviously this will depend on how you’re already working with the client. You don’t want to offer something that isn’t useful so it’s important to have a few options to cater to different clients and needs.

You should make sure you have a time limit on these offers though so that you don’t lose too much money.

These should act as initial incentives to get people to sign up and get them through the door. From there your training should speak for itself and encourage people to keep coming back!

Fitness Keeper is a great example of this, offering 20% off a newcomer’s first session:

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You can also offer a referral scheme. This is where you offer a discount or a free session when an existing client refers a friend or family member for your services.

Running a fitness referral programme works in a similar way to the previous point by capitalising on the strength of your relationship with existing clients.

Essentially you’re encouraging your clients to sell your services to other people and encourage them to join.

People are much more likely to trust people’s opinion who they know, and have tried and tested something, than selecting something cold.

A referral scheme rewards existing clients and entices new ones, ensuring that you maintain a good reputation and keep people wanting to come back and tell people about your business!

Summit is a great example of how you could structure this referral scheme: 

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As you can see, the reward is a lot for the person referring a friend. Having a generous limit or unlimited referrals will incentivise your clients to refer as many people as possible.

Advertise Your Business When You Start a Personal Training Studio

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One of the most significant ways to promote your business if you’re opening a personal training studio is with paid advertising.

There’s a few different ways you can do this including:

  • Facebook ads
  • Instagram ads
  • Google ads

If you’re interested in creating Instagram and Facebook ads you can do this in one place because they’re both owned by Meta.

You can find out more details of how to design these, and what you should include, in our article on fitness Facebook ads here!

Once you’ve set up your ads they will look like this on Facebook:

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On Instagram, you can choose to have them discoverable in reels, to pop up on people’s feeds, and also in stories.

Here’s our own ads as an example so you know what they should look like and the difference between on stories and on reels:

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Paid advertising is all designed to boost your visibility and encourage people to click through to your page and sign up to your services.

Instagram tends to have a much higher reach than Facebook but this depends on your target demographic.

You can combine the two so that you’re marketing to the people who populate both platforms.

You’ve also got the option how you structure your ads depending on the personal training business goals you have. You can choose, with both Facebook and Instagram ads, whether to pay-per-click or pay-per-impression.

With pay-per-click you only pay when somebody clicks on the ad and is directed to a particular web page you’ve chosen.

Pay-per-impression is great for growing brand awareness but ultimately if you’re opening a personal training studio you want people to sign up for your services!

Google ads are always pay-per-click and work in a similar way to boost your content to the top of the search results.

For example, this is what our own Google ad looks like:

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The amount you pay depends on the search term you want to rank for and how long you want to run your ad for!

You can find out more about how to get the most out of Google ads in our article on personal trainer marketing strategies.

Before You Go!

Hopefully now you’ve got everything you need for opening a personal training studio and growing your business!

Remember that one of the best ways to retain existing clients and gain new ones is by developing a niche with courses like our Level 4 Sports Nutrition Course.

You can find out about all of our courses if you download our full course prospectus for free here!

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About the Author: Jessie Florence Jones

Jessie OriGym Author
Jessie has a 1st class honours degree in English Literature from University of Leeds and an MA in English Literature from Durham University. Naturally Jessie has a real passion for writing especially about film, culture and wellbeing. Outside of writing she loves hiking, country walks and yoga, which she has done religiously since lockdown.

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