How to Start a Personal Training Business

Are you an ambitious personal trainer looking to take the next step by starting your own business? Follow our step by step guide below to get started.

Written by
Ellen Tewkesbury
Published on
February 19, 2024

Starting a personal training business isn’t just about transforming your passion for fitness into a career; it's about lighting up the path for others to achieve their health and fitness goals.

Here at UNTIL, we get it. The hustle, the dreams and the all-consuming drive to make your mark in the health and wellness industry. That's why we've crafted this comprehensive guide to starting a personal training business – because we know ambition is key, but a little guidance? That’s gold.

1. Make sure you are qualified and insured as a PT

Sure, you’re eager to hit the ground running, but let’s channel that energy into building a rock-solid foundation first. We don’t want any false starts.

First things first in starting a personal training business: qualifications and insurance. This is crucial, as it's not just about fulfilling legal requirements (whether you're employed by a gym or running your own show); it's about building trust and establishing yourself as a credible, reliable professional in the personal training world.

If you're starting here, check out our comprehensive guide on how to become a qualified PT, and understand why building up your expertise is the backbone of your brand.

2. Join a professional body

Once you're qualified, elevate your professional reputation and establish trust by affiliating with reputable industry bodies, such as The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA) and The Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs). Not only will you get some logos to add to your website to enhance your credibility, but more importantly you’ll be joining a tribe of professionals committed to excellence.

This will show potential clients and peers alike that you're not just part of the industry; you're leading it. It's a crucial step to consider when starting out on your own as a PT, as it says you’re serious – and not just about fitness, but about making a real difference.

Heads up: you’ll need to provide your qualifications and insurance (step 1) in order to join these bodies.

3. Register your business with HMRC

Let’s talk business – literally. Registering with HMRC might sound as fun as a rainy day when you’ve planned an outdoor boot camp, but it’s actually your first step towards empire-building. This process legitimises your business, preparing you for tax returns and other fiscal responsibilities – a cornerstone in starting a personal training business. Follow the HMRC yellow brick road, keep those records straight and you’re golden. Here's how to go about it:

  • Visit the HMRC website: Follow the process for setting up as a sole trader or limited company, depending on your business structure.

You’ll also want to be sure to:

  • Understand the tax implications: As a self-employed individual, you'll need to file a Self Assessment tax return annually, paying Income Tax on your profits and Class 2 and Class 4 National Insurance contributions (see step 4).
  • Keep records: Maintain detailed records of all your income and expenses, as these will form the basis of your tax return.

4. Register for national insurance contributions

Understanding and managing your National Insurance contributions is vital in how to start a PT business. As a self-employed personal trainer, you'll need to be familiar with the costs involved and the process to ensure you're fully compliant. This aspect is fundamental in setting up your personal training business on solid financial ground.

Class 2, Class 4 – it’s not Morse code, we promise. Here's what you need to know:

  • Class 2 Contributions: If your profits are above the small profits threshold (£12,570 for the tax year 2023/24), you'll pay a flat rate of £3.45 per week.
  • Class 4 Contributions: These are paid on profits over £12,570 (for the tax year 2023/24) at a rate of 9% up to £50,270, and 2% on profits over this amount.

How to register: You'll automatically be registered for Class 2 contributions when you register your business with HMRC. For Class 4 contributions, these will be calculated as part of your Self Assessment tax return.

Understanding these contributions is essential for budgeting and financial planning in your personal training business.

5. Set up a business bank account

Starting a personal training business requires managing your finances professionally, making a business bank account indispensable. This step is about more than just organisation; it's about establishing your business's financial identity, crucial for managing and growing your finances effectively.

9. Explore payment methods

Deciding how your clients will pay you is a critical consideration in how to start a personal training business. Will you accept cash, bank transfers or offer an online payment option? Offering flexible payment options can significantly affect the convenience and flexibility you offer to your clients, enhancing their overall experience with your business.

6. Choose your location

The location of your business sets the tone for the client experience. Do you want to tap into the energy of a bustling gym or the intimacy of a private studio? In starting a personal training business, consider the strategic and accessibility aspects of your chosen location, whether it’s renting flexible gym space or working at a public gym, to best serve your clients' needs.

7. Invest in the right equipment

An essential step in how to start a PT business is evaluating your equipment needs. Your decision on whether to invest in your own equipment or utilise the resources of the gym you work from is crucial for offering the best possible training sessions to your clients.

Not sure what equipment is the ‘right’ equipment? We’ve done the hard work for you. Here’s our list of tools you need to succeed, in our Personal Training Equipment guide.

8. Create a business plan

A well-thought-out business plan is your blueprint for success in starting a personal training business. It outlines not just where you want to go, but how you plan to get there, making each step deliberate and each decision strategic. It’s about dreaming big, but planning with precision. Keep it concise, compelling and true to your vision.

For more comprehensive guidance, our article, ‘How to Create a PT Business Plan’ is invaluable here.

10. Find a stream of new clients

Attracting new clients is the lifeblood of your business. We delve deeper into effective strategies in our article ‘10 Ways to Get New PT Clients’, but start thinking about networking, leveraging social media and offering trial sessions to build your clientele. Remember, it's about creating connections that last, and each strategy is a step towards building your tribe.

Join the UNTIL community

Starting a personal training business with UNTIL means more than just finding a space to train your clients. It's about claiming your spot in a community that shares your passion for wellness and is dedicated to creating exceptional experiences for their clients, with state-of-the-art facilities that reflect the cutting-edge of wellness. Our members don't work here; they grow, they thrive.

Join UNTIL, and let's start this journey together. We can’t wait to see where it takes you.