How to Create a Personal Trainer Business Plan

So, you’ve earned your coveted personal training qualification, ready to dive into the fitness industry and build your client base. The excitement is palpable, but before you sprint into the action, pause and consider the importance of a well-thought-out business plan.

Written by
Alex Pellew
Published on
October 12, 2023

What We'll Cover

Use the links below to jump straight to each section:

What is a personal trainer business plan?

A personal trainer business plan is a written document that defines your objectives and how you plan to achieve your goals. Think of it as a roadmap for the future of your business, outlining where you want to get to and how you will get there.

While it might sound scary at first, especially if you haven’t written one before, it doesn’t have to be overcomplicated. In fact, some of the best personal trainer business plans are relatively simple.

At its heart a business plan really has three core elements – the three Cs:

Customer – who is your ideal customer, what are their needs and pain-points?  And why do you want to work with them?

Concept – how do you provide unique value for them and what does your product offer need to look like in order to do this?

Cash-flow – what are your operating costs and revenue targets? And therefore how much do you need to charge and how many clients do you need?

Why do you need a business plan as a personal trainer?

Having a personal trainer business plan helps you to determine 3 key questions:

  • Why are you doing this?
  • How are you going to do it?
  • What you want to get in return?

There is a great book and TED talk on this by Simon Sinek – Start with Why.  It’s impossible to build a great business and brand without answering these questions.  But a business plan will also help with more immediate and practical challenges such as:

Which area to launch your business in – e.g. if you know who your target client is then you’ll know which is the right area to work from to best reach them.

What kind of facility to work from – e.g. should you work for a commercial gym and earn less per session or work at an independent PT gym and earn a lot more but need to generate demand yourself?

What work/life balance looks like for you – e.g. you should your business be in-person, online or both?  

If you need any expert support – do you need help with marketing, building your brand etc and is the upfront and monthly costs of these factored into your pricing?

How to go about marketing – if you don’t know who your target customer is you won’t be able to meaningfully start marketing as you won’t know the best channels to reach them on and what messages will cut through the most.

How to create a personal trainer business plan: step by step

The three Cs can be broken down into steps to help you build a simple but powerful personal trainer business plan.  You don’t need expert business skills or lots of resources, but you do need to be prepared to do some desk research and put the work in…in the same way you expect your clients to!  

1. Write out your mission statement

Start with the end in mind! This is one of the 7 habits of successful people.  Take time to visualise what the end destination looks like. If your business was a huge success and achieved everything you wanted it to, what would that look and feel like? Answering the following questions might help you to write out your personal trainer mission statement: 

  • What kind of clients are you working with?  (this will be your key target audience)
  • What goals are you helping them achieve?
  • How are you changing their lives for the better?
  • How many clients do you have?
  • Do you have your own gym?
  • Do you have a team working for you?
  • How are you living? (i.e. what lifestyle do you want)
  • How much money are you earning?

Paint as vivid and energising a picture of the future as you can as you build this out. Create a future that you’re excited to start moving towards.

2. Research your competition

This won’t come as a surprise but there are already a lot of personal training businesses out there! Everyone from freelancers to the big brands.  Each is making a pitch to the market about why consumers should choose them.  To succeed you’re going to need your business to stand out.  

A good way to do that is to familiarise yourself with your competition.  You can do this from the comfort of your own home through checking out their websites.  But if you’re feeling adventurous I’d definitely advice going and speaking to PTs who have already taken the leap to go it alone – nothing beats the insight you get from high quality discussions with smart people.  

Here are a three top tips:

Steal with glee – very little in business is new!  If you see something you think will work well for you, then don’t be shy to steal it!

Where are the gaps? – do you see a gap in the market in your local area that is under-served?  Do you see an opportunity to do what others are doing better?  Keep an eye out for opportunities like this as you do your research.

Be comfortable going niche – finding a niche is one of the most powerful things you can do.  Having a focused offer for a defined target audience – e.g. PT for new mums.  This can make marketing and standing out from the crowd easier.

3. Conduct a SWOT analysis

A SWOT analysis is a simple planning tool that can help you refine your product offer and business plan. It’ll take a bit of time to do well so make a cup of team and work through each area:


  • What do you do better than anyone else?
  • What else gives you a competitive advantage (previous experience, skills, sporting ability etc)?
  • What resources do you have (money, digital tools, people, space etc)?
  • What capabilities do you have (ability to build a website, accounting skills etc)?


  • What skills do you lack to succeed (e.g. marketing)?
  • What do your competitors do better than you?
  • What resource limitations do you have (e.g. money)?
  • Is your proposition weak and unclear?


  • Is your area underserved by PTs?
  • Are there any niches or gaps in the market?
  • Are there any emerging trends or consumers needs you can exploit?
  • Do you have any tools for getting visibility (e.g. friends who are influencers)?


  • Who are your key competitors?
  • Are there likely to be any new and emerging competitors?
  • Is consumer behaviour changing / likely to change in a way that would undermine your proposition?
  • Is access to capital and talent likely to be an issue that will stop you growing?

Understanding the answer to these questions will help you be clearer about where the opportunities and risks sit for you.

4. Map out your revenue streams

This is a great question to ask early on so you can start to build the right structure from your business on day 1.

You will potentially have primary revenue streams:

  • Will the bulk of your revenue come from in person PT sessions?
  • Will they be delivered at an independent facility where you can earn much more person session or will you work from a chain gym?
  • Will you generate revenue from online programmes?  If so are these scalable programmes or just online sessions? (the former will take a lot more upfront time and cost to build but will pay back bigger over the long term)

And Secondary ones:

  • Will you deliver other complimentary services like massage, nutrition and mindset coaching and will these be delivered in person or online?
  • Will you create and sell merchandise?

5. Outline your marketing strategy

Now that you know your target audience and service offering (your value proposition), you can work out how to start reaching them.

Basically, there are paid and ‘organic’ (unpaid) channels that you can use.  I’d advise starting with unpaid ones such as social media and referrals from friends. This will allow you to test your messaging and content to refine it and understand what connects best. Creating a website is another important step to take to build up your network and brand.

Once you know this you can start to experiment with performance (paid) marketing campaigns.  But this is a big step up and takes time to master.

You should also start to think about retention – i.e. how you keep your existing clients (the basic marketing rule of thumb is that it is much more expensive and time consuming to recruit new clients rather than retain existing one).

6. Calculate your costs and expenditures

There are basically two kinds of costs ‘capital costs’ (i.e. the money you need to spend to get going) and ‘operational’ costs (the money you need to spend to run your business day to day).

Capital costs – these will be things like, getting your website built, getting a logo designed, buying any kit or uniform etc  It’s crucial that you make sure that you keep enough cash in reserve to cover your operational costs for the first few months as you build your client base.

Operational costsrenting a gym space, marketing costs, equipment maintenance and upkeep, professional insurance, subscriptions for digital tools such as client management apps, CRM tools etc

Mapping and then managing your costs closely is going to be a key behaviour to ensure you create a successful business.

7. Decide on your pricing Strategy

Now that you know your audience and your costs you’re ready to define your pricing.

You want to try and make sure that you price so that you have a minimum profit margin of 60% - this means that once you’ve deducted all of your costs you’re left with 60% of your revenue (e.g. if your cost base equates to £40 a session then you need to charge £100).

The best thing to do is research what other similar trainers to you – same level of experience and with a similar niche / proposition are charging. This will give you the industry benchmark, you can then decide to undercut it (I wouldn’t recommend doing this if it means you drop below a 60% profit margin), match it or exceed it (exceeding it will mean more margin but might mean less volume…i.e. it might be hard to attract a high volume of clients willing to pay the higher price point).  

But this is where your business and lifestyle goals come in.  You might want to work less hours to have a better work /life balance so are therefore prepared to have fewer clients paying a higher price point.

So remember:

  • Understand the industry standard in your area
  • Ensure you have a 60% profit margin
  • Be clear on your business and lifestyle goals

Download your free personal trainer business plan template

Now you have a better idea of what it’ll take to build your business plan. Why not start building yours now using our free business plan template for personal trainers? Click here to download yours now.

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