Let’s face it: being in the fitness industry is hard work. Trying to run a personal training business puts you in line with your passion, of course, but it also demands a great deal of creativity and innovation and enthusiasm. Running a successful personal training studio requires a lot of unique personality traits, and not everyone can do it well.
This isn’t unique to a personal training business. Running any business is tough. It’s way easier to treat the company like a hobby rather than a real business. It’s also easy to sit around on Facebook all day or get so overwhelmed by the amount of flexibility that comes with being self-employed that you’re not doing much of anything.
This is precisely why so many personal training studios fail. Fortunately, you can get around the potential failure of your studio by understanding how to hack the system and build your dream business. When you know what makes a great personal training business and how to navigate there, you can create a more stable and prosperous company for yourself and your family.
Let’s dive in.
So You Want to Start Your Own Business…
“To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business, and your business in your heart.” —Thomas Watson Sr., chairman, and CEO of International Business Machines
So you want to open your own studio. Great! You love working out, you enjoy helping other people, and you’re looking forward to a life of putting those two things together, opening a studio of your own offers many benefits. Not only do you get to craft your schedule and develop your own dream studio space, but you can cater to your clients in the way you see fit. It’s the ultimate expression of your love for fitness and your freedom.
Despite all this, having your own business isn’t something you can approach randomly. Instead, it’s something you’ve got to come into intentionally if you want to make it work. Do not treat this as a hobby. If you do, it will never grow, and you’ll find yourself struggling with stagnation. Instead, come into your business with a vision for the future. Know that, if it doesn’t get up and running, you’re facing a crash and burn.
We don’t say this to scare you. We say this to light a fire under you, motivate you, and point you toward the successful company you’ve always dreamed of running.
Personal Training Studios, by the Numbers
Personal training is a crowded industry. So many talented people care about fitness, and many take that passion one step further and open their own companies. Today, the fitness studio industry includes many different businesses, ranging from personal training studios to pilates and yoga studios. Some practices also offer spinning, small group or HIIT training, martial arts, and more.
According to The Association of Fitness Studios, or AFS, there are over 100,000 fitness businesses in the U.S. today. Of these 100,000 studios…
- 59% are personal training studios
- 31% are yoga or Pilates studios
- 8.5% are martial arts studios
- 8.5% are dance studios
Today, personal training stands out as the single fastest-growing arm of the fitness industry. In fact, personal training is a bigger industry than all the country’s fastest-growing segment of the fitness industry health clubs, YMCAs, JCCs, corporate, college and university, hospital-based, military, parks and rec., senior living, and physical therapy locations combined.
How’s that for a statistic?
But wait – it gets even better. Today, experts predict about 6.5 million Americans are already using personal training services, and that annual growth of personal training facilities will be about 2.8% through the end of 2020.
AFS goes on to say the following:
“As of 2015, personal training and private training session studios made up 33% of all programs offered by fitness studios. They are followed by functional cross-training (19%), and HIIT (19%). Yoga was the most popular form of group exercise activity offered by studios with 17%. A relatively small percentage of respondents indicated they incorporate alternative health services into their studio’s offerings – services such as massage, physical therapy, and acupuncture. These are all services that are associated with enhancing personal well-being and present an opportunity for fitness studios to enrich their value proposition and generate additional client spend.”
The message is clear: people around the world are waking up to the importance of their health, and they want high-quality, expert-led personal training studios to shepherd them through it.
So, Why do Personal Training Studios Fail?
If personal training studios are so in-demand, why do they tend to fail? Here are three critical factors to consider:
1. They are Underfunded
In many ways, money makes the world go round. This is especially true when it comes to business. If you don’t have ample funds to launch and grow a business, it’s going to be impossible to create a successful studio.
Unfortunately, many owners open their training operations without a realistic budget for revenue, expenses (including advertising, equipment, and marketing), and time to break even. This is understandable, given the fact that, unless you’ve started a business in the past, you probably don’t know exactly what it costs to open and run one. Additionally, every business is subject to variable expenses, and most gym owners have never created a personal budget, let alone a corporate one.
Hands down, the biggest issue that faces personal training studios is underfunding – the studio does not have the resources it needs to thrive, and this makes it impossible to deliver a great product.
2. They Have Unrealistic Expectations About the Work Itself
Many new studios owners are opening a business around a hobby or passion and may fail to realize that, like it or not, you are now a business owner. That responsibility must override the love for the hobby of fitness.
Doing something you love for work is always a bit of an adjustment, and that’s as true for personal training as it is anything else. Personal training should be enjoyable, but it’s no longer something you do just for the fun of it. Instead, you’ve got to balance your training aspirations with good business sense. This combination promotes real results.
What sets successful personal trainers apart from their unsuccessful counterparts is that they’re willing to dive into the business aspect of training. They love what they do, they love their clients, and they’re committed to their art, but they’re also savvy business people who put the health of their company first.
3. They Lack Systems
Systems are everything for a successful business. Policies around training, sales, marketing, onboarding staff, and more create the structurer for a strong business. Without systems, everything falls apart. Without systems, it’s virtually impossible to tell or show someone, “this is how we do things.”
With this in mind, successful personal training studios must have systems. These systems should cover the following:
- Marketing. How will you develop and structurer marketing materials to launch and promote your programs?
- Onboarding. You want to hire a new employee. How will you do it? How do you train future hirers? How do you deliver your employee handbook?
- Sales. What’s your system for setting prices, accepting payments, and managing memberships? How do you adapt your pricing structure accordingly?
When you establish bullet-proof systems for these critical considerations, your entire business runs more smoothly.
Building a Successful Personal Training Business
Now that you know what you shouldn’t do, let’s talk about what you should do to run a successful company. Here are a few tips:
1. Think Like a Business Owner
You’re a business owner now. Take yourself seriously! What’s your goal for this company, and how are you going to get there? Will this be a full- or part-time career? What type of certification will you choose? How will you grow your business down the line?
If you’re not already in a business growth mindset, it’s time to get there. Fitness may be your passion, but learning to be a legit business owner is the best way to make it successful, as well. If you’ve never run a business before, there are dozens of resources to teach you the ropes. Ask around for favorite business book recommendations and lookup business podcasts, like The Tim Ferriss Show.
2. Know Your Audience
Knowing your audience is a critical part of running any successful company. With this in mind, you’ve got to think deeply about whom you’re speaking to and why. Where do your customers live? What are their other options when it comes to fitness and health? Why did they choose you and your facility? Knowing the answers to these questions puts you, leagues, ahead of the game when it comes to marketing and advertising.
How Alloy Helps
With our team of physiologists, therapists, dieticians, and other advisory board behavioral specialists, we have created a program where cutting-edge science meets real, in-the-trenches experience.
Over the years, our programs have been powering a variety of gyms and fitness systems. Alloy training and tools are leveraged in locations across the globe. Today, we aim to bring these highly effective programs to even more members and communities, through the exclusive Alloy gym franchise model, with optimal coach-to-client ratios, customized workout plans, effective tracking tools, flexible membership options, and more.
What You’ll Get With Alloy
Alloy is committed to comprehensive approaches, which is why we equip each of our training partners with the following:
We take the same amount of pride in training a new franchise owner as we do one of our club members. Leveraging the Alloy business concept gives you an opportunity to offer customized fitness solutions, all while utilizing what you learn from the Alloy management team to build a dynamic business.
Our support program gives you the tools you need to make a real impact on your clients and your future.
Start-up Guidance, Initial Training, Ongoing Support, And Refresher Training
We will never stop giving you the tools you need to thrive within your Alloy fitness training franchise – from guidance on setting up your gym location to business management training before you open your doors, to on-site visits and remote support when you need it.
Equipment, Technology And Operational Tools And Operations Manual
You’ll have access to pre-approved suppliers and vendors, and you’ll leverage useful technologies such as accounting software platforms, a unique CRM system including KPI measurement tools and other reporting functions via our exclusive Alloy dashboard. PLUS, you’ll have access to our confidential and detailed operations manual that will help you run your business from day one.
Sales And Marketing Programs And Materials
You’ll have access to a range of materials and tools that will assist in the promotion of your local fitness business, including membership retention initiatives, templates for ads, website presence, and more.
Set Yourself up for Success
Starting a new business is a challenging process – especially in the crowded personal training field. Each year, many enthusiastic, capable, passionate people enter the industry, only to watch their hard-won companies go down in a slump. These people didn’t have the funding, they treated it too much like a hobby, or they needed more stringent systems to make everything come together.
Don’t worry, though – there are things you can do to ensure your business doesn’t meet the same fate. With Alloy’s advanced personal training system on your side, you’ll have access to a virtual launchpad for your business. We are here to help you create the successful business you’ve always dreamed of.
Contact us today to learn more.
Rick Mayo is the founder and CEO of Alloy Personal Training Center (est. 1992) and Alloy Personal Training Solutions. As the owner of APTC, Rick and his team conduct over 60,000 personal training sessions a year. In 2010, Rick created Alloy, a consulting and licensing company as a platform for the Alloy personal training systems. Alloy has over 1000 clubs licensed worldwide. In 2019 Rick and the Alloy team stopped offering new Alloy licenses and converted the concept to a franchise offering. To learn more sign up for our mailing list here.
Rick is a featured speaker at conferences domestically and internationally, speaking on how to best sell and service personal training, leadership, and trends in the fitness industry. He is a subject matter expert in personal training. He has written numerous articles on the business of fitness for trade journals and contributes regularly to national publications such as Men’s Health. Rick sits on the board for the GA State exercise science department as well as the Atlanta School of Fitness. Rick is also an NSCA certified personal trainer and serves on the board for the Industry Board of Advisers for the American Council on Exercise (ACE). Rick is also a Think Tank Adviser for the Gold’s Gym Franchise Association and sits on the advisory board for the Association of Fitness Studios.
Rick currently lives in Atlanta GA with his wife Andrea. Rick has a passion for the fitness industry and the impact that we can and do have on the lives of those we touch. Rick enjoys lifting heavy things, riding motorcycles and traveling the world. On his bucket list is to ride his motorcycle on every continent. Only a few left to go!
Oh yeah- it’s also rumored Rick was also Madonna’s trainer “back in the day” so make sure you ask about that!