Personal trainer SWOT Analysis

As a personal trainer, a SWOT analysis is one of the most important tools at your disposal. By performing one, you’re able to determine what’s holding you back, and how you can experience future success.

But why should you do one, and how do you get started? OriGym’s guide breaks it down into 5 easily digestible steps, with examples and suggestions for every point along the way. We’ll cover:

The best way to excel with your personal trainer SWOT analysis is to build on your successful foundations by combining your personal training services with a Level 4 Sports Nutrition qualification.

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Why You Should Do A Personal Trainer SWOT Analysis

SWOT analysis personal trainer

Before we look at how you’d structure a SWOT analysis for your personal trainer business, it’s important to understand what one is, and why you’d choose to do it in the first place. 

Essentially, a personal trainer SWOT analysis is a way to determine the key areas of your business that are going well, and those that are likely to need attention or improvement.

You’ll establish these by drawing out a 4 section grid (like the one in the image above) that outlines 4 key areas:

  • Strengths – These are the areas or traits that you feel set you apart from the competition, that make you unique, or that give you an edge in the fitness industry.
  • Weaknesses – Here, you’ll discuss what you feel lets you down, or the areas that you don’t yet feel fully confident in.
  • Opportunities – Now, you’ll outline actions you could take to address those areas that you feel you’re lacking in, or any possible personal trainer professional development you can undertake.
  • Threats – Finally, you’ll look critically at what could feasibly stop you from taking those opportunities, or potential pitfalls with any future business ventures

A personal trainer SWOT analysis often reveals areas of strength and weakness you’d never previously considered, as well as offering you the ideal way to strategically plan out your next moves.

To be successful and make money as a personal trainer, it’s important to take a “step back” and view your business from an outsider’s perspective. This ensures you gain a clear understanding and overview of what you’re doing right and what you could do better.

Ultimately, though, a well thought-out SWOT analysis of your personal trainer business is an intelligent way to move forward, and stand out in a competitive market.

Let’s break down exactly what you’ll need to do to produce a personal trainer SWOT analysis that makes a difference.

Step 1 – Plan Out Your Personal Training SWOT Analysis

swot analysis for personal trainer

Your first step should naturally be to plan out the SWOT analysis of your personal trainer business.

This may seem quite a simple step, but it’s absolutely integral to ensuring that you get as much as possible out of your personal training SWOT analysis, and that you understand how to proceed.

As we’ve already touched on, you’ll need a grid that comprises of 4 distinctive sections:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

In this initial planning phase, you can also begin thinking of initial ideas for each section. You’ll do more in-depth research when you come to each individual section, but it’s a good idea to start thinking holistically now.

For instance, have you done anything over the last 6 months or a year that you know can easily slot into one of those 4 sections?

Maybe you’ve:

  • Completed a CPD course
  • Qualified as a running coach
  • Undertaken a vocational fitness qualification, like swimming or football coaching
  • Developed your business knowledge
  • Researched new strategies to implement in your sessions
  • Gained a greater understanding of approaches to PT marketing

Or, is there something you’ve missed out on over that same time period that you wish you’d been able to do? You could have:

  • Lost out on clients
  • Missed the deadline for a course or CPD
  • Failed a test or exam
  • Fallen out of the Google rankings 

These ideas, however small, can form the basis of what you fill in your personal trainer SWOT analysis with, as well as offer new avenues for consideration as you fill in each area.

Your next step should be to start with the first two sections – your strengths and your weaknesses.

Step 2 – Fill In Your Strengths & Weaknesses

personal trainer swot analysis example

These sections are arguably the most difficult to fill out, because they require you to look objectively at yourself, and establish what you’re best at, and what you can still stand to improve in.

For many, this is the sticking point. They’re often overly critical of themselves, and don’t acknowledge their strengths, or they’ll struggle to note down where they need to improve, and accentuate their positive traits.

Our advice here would be to persevere, as these two areas will help to inform your next steps. Ask yourself a few questions to help determine the answers you’d give.

For example, if you’re struggling to articulate your strengths, consider:

  • What competitive advantages do you have over other personal trainers?
  • What do you do better than others at your gym?
  • Why would a client choose you as their PT?
  • What’s your USP? What makes you unique?
  • How do others view your strengths and market value?
  • What can you bring to the table that others potentially couldn’t?

Each of these questions warrants a different answer, and allows you to consider different aspects of yourself, and you present yourself to others.

Next, to answer those questions, here’s a few examples of what you could include in your strengths section:

  • Your PT Qualification – Here, you could mention where you qualified, what you qualified in, and how recently you completed it.
  • Any Additional Qualifications – If you’ve completed any additional certifications, like a Level 3 sports massage qualification, these are invaluable, especially in the eyes of potential employers or investors.
  • Your Results – Data-driven, these demonstrate your effectiveness in a client-focused capacity, and how you can make a difference for those who opt to use your services.
  • What Makes You Unique – How do you stand out from the crowd as a personal trainer?
  • Your Skills – Talk about where you excel, and mention specifics about what you’ve done to earn that.
  • Your Non-Fitness Expertise – Skills and past experience in marketing, sales, social media, and even administrative duties are all plus-points to consider when producing your personal trainer SWOT analysis.

To give you a more complete picture of how to structure the strengths section, we’ve put together a personal trainer SWOT analysis example, starting with our strengths.

swot analysis example personal trainer

We used the free software Canva to design ours, but you can easily do this on paper, or with another software (like Google Docs, or Microsoft Word). 

With our SWOT analysis example, our personal trainer has outlined key aspects of what makes them stand out, including:

  • Their qualifications (including Level 3 personal training, and advanced sports nutrition)
  • Their additional certificates
  • Their career history (a physical job that requires a good level of fitness)
  • Their passions in fitness
  • Their current role (as a PT with a client base)

Immediately, we can start to develop a clear picture of this personal trainer, what they’ve achieved, and why they might be a great fit for a specific role.

We also understand that, while they may only have qualified recently, they’ve got a significant history with fitness, and therefore are likely to understand how to train, and the different forms of exercise that could work for clients.

Now, let’s look at how to structure the opposite side of the coin – your weaknesses.

Understanding Your Areas For Improvement

swot analysis for a personal trainer

It’s important, when considering the weaknesses section of your personal trainer SWOT analysis, to view these as areas you can improve upon, rather than being overly critical.

There are always ways to address these weaknesses, and as you spend more time in the fitness industry, you’ll learn new strategies and techniques to combat these areas where improvement is needed.

This should follow a similar structure to your strengths – ask yourself questions to determine what you can improve on.

Here’s a few suggestions on what you can ask yourself:

  • How could you improve as a personal trainer?
  • What should you avoid doing?
  • What could other trainers see as a weakness in you or your training?
  • Why might a client choose a different trainer over you?
  • What do other trainers offer that you don’t or can’t?

Again, we’ve used our mock PT to create a SWOT analysis example for personal trainers of all experience levels.

swot analysis personal trainer business

Here, our example personal trainer has, for their SWOT analysis, looked carefully at both what they consider to be their shortcomings, and what others might see as a potential weakness.

They’ve touched on:

  • Their lack of experience (both with personal training, and coaching)
  • Potential costs to their employer (First Aid renewal)
  • Where they fall short in terms of past working experience
  • Factors out of their control (age)

While not all of these may be viewed by employers and investors as a negative, it’s crucial to understand those areas that could be viewed in a less positive light, especially as you seek to improve.

However, these weaknesses and points to improve on form the foundation for the next section of our personal trainer SWOT analysis example – opportunities.

Step 3 – Identify Opportunities For Improvement & Change

personal training swot analysis

A key part of being a successful personal trainer is taking advantage of the wide range of opportunities that are available in the fitness industry.

Whether those are more academic (through courses or qualifications), business-focused, or personal, there’s always opportunity to take your career a step further.

The opportunities section of your personal trainer SWOT analysis is arguably the most integral for that very reason – it informs your next moves, provides you with direction, and gives you clearly defined goals and objectives.

It can, however, be a difficult section to fill out, which is why we’ve come up with a few key questions you can ask yourself:

  • What can you do differently to others?
  • Are there new fitness trends you can incorporate into your sessions?
  • How can you utilise your skills and experience to make a difference?
  • Can you spot any areas where the gym is lacking?
  • Could you structure your sessions to include developments in technology?

By using these questions to inform your personal training SWOT analysis, you’re able to discover answers and suggestions that you may not have otherwise considered.

Take our personal trainer SWOT analysis as an example you can follow:

swot analysis for personal training business

Our PT has touched on relevant and, more importantly, actionable points that they can implement into their plan.

They’ve explored numerous options, including:

  • Courses they can undertake (CPDs, and understanding how to sell as a personal trainer)
  • Schemes and programs (like mentoring)
  • Where they hold an advantage
  • How their existing expertise can fit in with the gym (HIIT experience)

This combination of identifying how you can overcome any shortcomings or areas where you’re lacking, as well as integrate what you already know into the gym’s schedule or environment, provides you with options to grow and thrive as a PT.

Here, you can really start to see the benefits of completing a SWOT analysis for your personal training business, especially if you recognise the next steps you need to take.

However, while understanding the opportunities a personal trainer SWOT analysis presents you with is crucial, knowing what can stop you from taking advantage of those opportunities is equally important.

Step 4 – Pinpoint The Potential Threats

SWOT analysis for new personal trainers

While threats may immediately seem quite an intimidating concept, it’s hugely important that you recognise and understand these obstacles.

They represent the flipside of the opportunities we’ve just discussed, and are integral to understanding what could stop us from achieving our goals. 

There’s questions you can ask yourself here, to ensure that this section of your personal trainer SWOT analysis is as thorough as possible. You should think about:

  • Are any trainers offering something similar to what you offer?
  • Do you have the necessary financial resources to do this?
  • How will you get to and from the gym?
  • What support will you need to achieve your aims?
  • How many other trainers work in the gym?

This isn’t an exhaustive list of the threats you’ll need to consider and ultimately overcome, but they’re ideal starting points for the SWOT analysis of your personal trainer business. 

Our example personal trainer has done this too, exploring key obstacles that they’ll need to navigate to be able to succeed in what is an incredibly challenging, competitive industry.

how to do a personal trainer SWOT analysis

The threats section of our personal trainer SWOT analysis example is self-explanatory, but there are a couple of areas that should stand out for immediate improvement. 

Their first aid qualification, for instance, is a short renewal process, offered online. Similarly, their understanding of cardio and aerobic training isn’t too much of a detriment, and is rather something that they’ll be able to develop as they grow into the role.

However, it’s equally important that they’ve recognised threats that are out of their control, like the closures of gyms from that franchise, especially as these are key developments to be aware of.

It’s crucial to acknowledge that there are factors outside of your control that can impact the role of a personal trainer, even though you’re unable to influence these.

Keen to inform your personal trainer SWOT analysis further? Check out these helpful articles:

Step 5 – Implement Your Ideas

SWOT analysing for personal trainer

Here’s the final step along the way – bringing together every component of your personal training SWOT analysis, and using it to implement the ideas you’ve found.

This is the core reason behind all forms of analysis, but it’s even more important when you’re conducting a SWOT analysis for your personal trainer business, as it ultimately impacts several key factors, including:

  • Your salary as a PT
  • The capacity in which you work
  • Where you find employment
  • Your working schedule

First, you should look at your personal trainer SWOT analysis as a whole. Let’s take a closer look at our mock PT now.

SWOT grid personal trainer

With the SWOT analysis for our personal trainer example, we can fully visualise where this PT excels, where they need to improve, and what they can do to counteract the threats and obstacles they’ll face.

Using their SWOT analysis, this personal trainer’s next steps should therefore include:

  • Joining a mentoring scheme – Their gym offers a mentoring scheme, which this trainer can take advantage of. Explore more on personal training mentors with our comprehensive report, or ask to see if your employer offers a scheme to facilitate this.
  • Enrolling on a marketing and sales course – While it’s not a skill that relates directly to personal training, a SWOT analysis should cover all aspects of the role, which will always include some aspects of marketing and selling your services. 
  • Specialise in HIIT Training – This PT has already stated that they’ve been attending HIIT classes for over 20 years. Why not become a HIIT instructor and turn this obvious passion into an integral part of the business and offer it to your clients?

These steps, alongside other smaller ones (like renewing their first aid certificate), also help to address any areas of weakness or potential threats they might face, and turn those points they’re less confident in into strengths.

Who Should Do A Personal Training SWOT Analysis?

personal trainer SWOT grid

Arguably, the answer to this question is that every personal trainer should do a SWOT analysis. 

Regardless of experience levels, or the stage you’re at in your career, a SWOT analysis for personal trainers outlines everything you’ve accomplished, and illuminates the path forward.

However, there are some PTs who would benefit more from this analytical process than others, especially from a business or marketing perspective. 

Let’s look at some of those now.

New Personal Trainers

SWOT analysis for my personal training business

While many immediately assume a personal trainer SWOT analysis is solely for businesses or more established PTs, it’s actually an incredibly useful tool for those just beginning their journey, too.

Once you’ve graduated from your course, or even if you’re still studying to become a personal trainer, a personal training SWOT analysis gives you the opportunity to look objectively at what you can offer to clients.

You’ll be able to analyse what you can do to progress, or an area you’d like to specialise in, as well as what you still need to improve upon.

You can also pinpoint exactly where there could be a sticking point, or where you feel you lack experience or knowledge, and discover how to overcome those hurdles before they ever arise.

personal training SWOT grid

While newly-qualified personal trainers may not necessarily feel they need to complete any further qualifications, it’s also a great way to preliminarily identify potential areas to specialise in.

For instance, you might have a particular passion for using kettlebells in your workouts, and want to take that further. 

You could then consider completing a CPD in kettlebell training further down the line, or schedule it in now as an area for more professional development.

Ultimately, a personal training SWOT analysis when you first start informs the next steps you’ll take, and sets you up for future successes.

Fitness Business Owners

personal trainer SWOT analysis how to

Now, naturally, as the personal training business owner, you need to make decisions that benefit both yourself and your business, and that’s where a PT SWOT analysis comes in.

With it, you’re able to take an objective look at where your successes have been, which could include your:

  • Finances
  • Client retention
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Services

Understably, each of these might have their own successes and shortcomings, and so we’d advise aiming to limit each section to just the key influences on your business. 

For instance, if you’ve had a significant increase in client retention on one specific package or program, and smaller increases across your other programs, you could represent this as:

Saw a huge uptick in client retention

or something along the lines of:

Successfully implemented numerous client retention strategies

While these don’t fully go into detail about the specifics of how those results were achieved, a SWOT analysis for your personal trainer business should aim to cover everything that’s gone well, and everything that hasn’t, in a succinct, focused manner.

Equally, if you’ve had areas of shortfall, you can represent these under more holistic descriptions to ensure that these describe the problems you’ve faced with brief yet thorough language.

It’s far more important to keep this part brief, and encapsulate the strengths and weaknesses of your personal trainer business in the SWOT analysis’ first two sections, before dedicating more time to the opportunities you can identify, and the threats that stand in your way.

These are what can really help to set your business apart from the competition, and help you progress in a complex, changing market.

SWOT analysis personal trainer how to

In a more holistic sense, the SWOT analysis for your personal training business identifies where and how you can elevate your business, which could be through any number of fitness business ideas, including:

  • New packages and deals
  • Promotions and offers
  • Updated member retention strategies
  • Plans for expansion
  • Upgrading equipment

These are all potential opportunities you could include on your personal trainer SWOT analysis, and represent tangible, actionable ways to take your business to the next level.

However, while the SWOT analysis for your personal training business can be a great way to identify your next move, it’s also a fantastic way to analyse those who could help you there.

Employers (For Potential Employees)

personal training SWOT analysis how to

As the owner of a fitness centre or gym, employing a new trainer or fitness instructor can (and should) be a rigorous process, especially as they’re going to be representing your brand.

That’s why a SWOT analysis for your personal training business is hugely beneficial – you’re able to take an objective look at a trainer you’re considering employing, and discover how they could (or, crucially, could not) fit with your plans.

Naturally, as a business owner, you’ll have completed a personal training business plan, and therefore have an idea of where your business is heading, and how you plan to get there.

example SWOT analysis for personal trainer 

That’s vital to keep in mind when you’re performing a SWOT analysis for a personal trainer you intend to employ.

You can consider:

  • How they can benefit your business
  • The gaps they can fill in your current staff
  • How they’ll augment any initiatives or ideas that you’re implementing
  • What they might be able to start themselves (like additional classes or services)
  • Where additional training might be needed
  • Additional qualifications they possess

You’ll also be able to immediately identify those who simply won’t fit with what you want from an employee, and further inform your interview processes for those who do match with the profile you’re looking for.

A SWOT analysis for a personal trainer business is a multi-faceted tool, and one that you should use at any possible opportunity, especially when it comes to staff employment. 

Employees (For Potential Employers)

PT SWOT analysis

However, while it’s important for an employer to vet their potential employees with a personal trainer SWOT analysis, it’s equally vital for a trainer to use that same analytical approach for a possible place of work.

By completing a SWOT analysis for a place you’re considering working for, you’re able to make a more informed, well-rounded decision.

You’ll be able to note down how that place of work can both further your career, and provide you with the right environment and resources to be able to develop your personal trainer skills in your current role.

In this personal training SWOT analysis, each section can feed into the decision you ultimately make. For instance, a PT business could offer a huge amount in terms of opportunities, including:

  • Mentorship programmes
  • Free courses and training
  • Seminars on key skills, like marketing and sales
  • An existing client base

However, with a SWOT analysis of that personal trainer business or gym, you’re able to counterbalance those opportunities against any potential threats or weaknesses that could stop you from achieving those.

For example, that same gym that offers those courses and development opportunities could also:

  • Have a limited number of members
  • Be part of a chain that’s been hit with closures
  • Occupy a less than desirable space
  • Not accommodate your style of training
  • Lack progression in terms of leadership roles

By completing a personal training SWOT analysis prior to applying, you’re able to discover any potential issues (as well as success points) before you commit.

Before You Go!

With that, you’ve got all the steps you need to perform a thorough, measured SWOT analysis of your personal trainer business.

You’ll be able to explore exactly where your strengths lie, how you can combat the areas you may be weaker in, and what might prove to be an obstacle along the way.

Remember, though, one surefire way to build on your strengths is with our Level 4 Sports Nutrition Course.

Get started by enquiring today or download our course prospectus to see what else we have to offer!

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About the Author: Luke Hughes

luke hughes origym authour
Luke is the Co-Founder of OriGym. Holding a first-class degree in Sport and Exercise and an MSc in Sport and Nutrition, he is also qualified as a Level 4 Personal Trainer with various specialist credentials covering the entire spectrum of health, fitness and business. Luke has contributed to a variety of major industry publications, including Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, Metro, Cosmopolitan, The Mirror, The Sun, The Standard and more.

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