SWOT Analysis For Personal Trainers: Guide & Template

If you’re a personal trainer looking to take your business and career to the next level, performing a SWOT analysis should be at the top of your to-do list. Find out more in our guide below and download your free personal trainer SWOT template.

Written by
Alex Pellew
Published on
December 8, 2023

When you start working with a new client you assess their weaknesses, abilities and what’s holding them back in order to show them how to progress. So why wouldn’t you do something similar for your own business?

A personal trainer SWOT analysis will help you to understand what you are doing well and where you need to improve. But don’t worry if you’ve never carried out a SWOT analysis before - we’ve made it easy by breaking it into simple and manageable steps. We also provide you with a simple template for building your personal trainer SWOT analysis at the end of this article.

What We'll Cover

What is a SWOT Analysis?

A SWOT analysis is an evaluation of four key areas that you need to be aware of to ensure you have a healthy and growing business. They are:

  • Strengths – the skills, assets, capabilities or traits that give your business a unique advantage over other PT and fitness businesses.
  • Weaknesses – the parts of your business that aren’t currently performing as you’d like, create a poor client experience or prohibit you making more money.
  • Opportunities – this is where there is headroom to make your business (e.g. training, new service offer etc) or market context you can exploit (e.g. rise in demand for a certain kind of training)
  • Threats – these are things that could stop your business performing as well as it could or, at worst, stop it succeeding.

A good sign that you’ve done this well is that it reveals things about your business before you've even put together a detailed personal trainer business plan.

That’s because it forces you to look at your personal training business through an external lens. This is invaluable as personal trainers are often very head down in the day-to-day. A SWOT analysis is a great way to get your head up and look forwards.

Ready? Let’s get into it.

How to Conduct a Personal Trainer SWOT Analysis

Prepare for the Analysis

As with planning sessions for your clients, the more prep you do, the more impactful the session will be. So it’s definitely worthwhile prepping for your SWOT.

Before you get going make sure you are clear on what you want to get from it – e.g is it to help inform your business plan for the next 2-3 years? Or do you want to understand how to improve your business today?

The quality of your SWOT will then be defined by the quality of the inputs to it. So take the time to prepare properly.  We’ll give you lots of suggestions for where to look below:

Identify Strengths

These are the skills, assets, capabilities or traits that give your business a unique advantage.  To unearth them consider:

  • Doing a skills assessment (e.g. what qualifications and knowledge expertise do you have and why is it valuable / unique.  Take time to think of both fitness and non-fitness related qualifications like languages, customer service, communication, marketing etc)
  • Do a product assessment (I.e. do you have any specialisms or areas of focus that differentiate you from other PTs?  Do you deliver your service or manage clients in a way that gives you and edge and if so why? Etc)
  • Get feedback from existing clients about what they love about working with you

Recognise Weaknesses

These are the parts of your business that aren’t currently performing as you’d like. This can be the hardest of the four as it means asking the hard questions of clients (and yourself) and being willing to hear what you could be doing better. To spot them try a few of these techniques:

  • Get feedback from previous clients (especially those who you think might not have been happy with your service)
  • Do a skills assessment (but this time look for areas where you are weaker than the competition / deliver a sub-standard client experience)
  • Speak to peers and ask them to critique your PT skills and how you manage clients

Look for Opportunities

This one is always a lot of fun as it also forces you to look outside your business at the wider market.  To spot opportunities consider:

  • Find networking opportunities via fitness events, collaborations or look to join communities of top wellness professionals like UNTIL – you can apply here.  
  • Pull key financial data from your business accounting docs (e.g. where and how do you make most of your money?)
  • Do some research on PT industry trends and local market research (i.e. who is doing well and why and who isn’t?)

Acknowledge Threats

These are things that could stop your business performing as well as it could or, at worst, stop it succeeding. Here are some steps that you could take to acknowledge threats to your personal trainer business:  

  • Conduct a competitor analysis to identify new entrants and successful competitors
  • Sign up for different PT specific newsletters to understand how consumer behaviour and spend is changing (i.e. are more consumers looing for online coaching or classes and you have an in-person PT model)
  • Start reading the business news to get a sense of the larger macro forces and how they might effect your business in the future (e.g. economic downturns, changes in fitness regulations, pandemic impacts etc)
  • Analyse your current lifestyle and working patterns to understand if they will create potential future risk (I.e. having too many clients across too many locations, having a long commute etc)

Translating Your SWOT into Actionable Strategies

You can use your SWOT analysis in a number of different ways depending on what your objectives are. Here are some examples:

  • Utilise your strengths to capitalise on opportunities – if you observe that you excel in a certain area such as nutrition, then you might consider positioning yourself as a ‘Lifestyle coach’ rather than just a PT. You could then fold in nutrition and lifestyle advice, as well as coaching and training.
  • Turn weaknesses into opportunities by identifying headroom to grow – e.g. identifying weaknesses in catering to specific demographics, opening new client avenues.
  • Using wider trends to evolve your offer to stay ahead of the competition – for instance you might start incorporating a new bit of technology of methodology into your offer as a new revenue opportunity and point of difference.
  • Optimising how you work by removing a threat– for instance you might decide that your commute is too long to warrant doing in-person sessions everyday, so you might look to create a hybrid online / in-person offer.

SWOT Template for Personal Trainers

Now it’s time to put it all into practice! To help you get started we’ve created a ‘Personal Trainer SWOT analysis template’ that you can download here and fill in.

Good luck and remember this should be second nature to you! See it as a thorough new client assessment but for your business!