Personal trainers become successful and make money by doing above-average work and taking above-average measures to build their business. Their work extends far beyond the training room doors. Actual personal training sessions are an important part of their work, but a large chunk of their time will also be spent marketing and taking care of administrative tasks. It’s important to pay close attention to all facets of the business, outsourcing when necessary, and giving attention to their clients’ needs.

For example, a successful personal trainer will try to get into the minds of their clients to help them achieve their goals, not simply train them based on a formula. A successful personal trainer also knows enough to invest in their own coaching, education, and business contractors rather than trying to do everything themselves. Success as a personal trainer and making money takes a savvy business sense, good people skills, and an ambitious nature.

In this article, we’ll explore the differences between a personal trainer and a successful personal trainer and how that translates into a more profitable business.

1.Successful Personal Trainers Know Their Client

Of course, you know your clients’ names and a little bit about their families. That’s important. But do you really know your client? Do you know what makes them click, what makes them hesitate, what makes them run in the other direction? If you want to make a living and make money as a successful personal trainer, you need to understand your clients’ core desires and motivations. Because that’s what you’ll use to get the best results for them.

Your focus must always be on your client, from your in-person sessions to your marketing materials. Because your business is more about them than it is about you. Your prospects only want to know what’s in it for them. So the sooner you turn your focus to your customers, the faster you’ll get to your own goals.

Paying attention to your clients’ goals is also essential in order to keep them happy and maintain client retention. Because if they don’t have any goals or their goals are unrealistic, they will likely stop showing up to their sessions. They won’t be able to find the value in hiring you because they won’t be noticing the results. Your job is to draw out their goals and help them set realistic benchmarks to keep them coming back.

And finally, you need to remember that your clients don’t know as much out strength and fitness as you do and they don’t have the same healthy habits or mentality. You need to put yourself in their shoes and their heads to be able to help them from right where they’re at.

How this translates into profit: Understanding your clients to the core will help you find exactly the right people and will make you a more effective trainer, therefore returning better results.

2. Successful Personal Trainers Have Rock-Solid Goals And Regularly Track Progress

Plotting your success will make you much more likely to make it than leaving it to chance.

Successful trainers that make money have a business plan and they follow it. They know their numbers, where they are and where they want to be. They know their typical customer conversion rates and how many prospects they need to talk to in order to get to their desired goal. They know the optimal number of times to post on social media. They know their typical income range and how to jump on it when it dips.

Make sure you have systems in place to track your progress toward your goals. Here’s a newsflash: If you don’t have an aim, you’ll be aimless. If you aren’t sure where your business is headed, then you’re never going to get where you want to be. So write that business plan, track your results, and set goals that make you stretch just a bit out of your comfort zone. Because that’s how you elevate to the next level.

How this translates into profit: By giving yourself a target and parameters around that target, you know your exact direction and how to get there. Having goals and continuously increasing them will turn profit much faster than working aimlessly.

3. Successful Personal Trainers Know How To Leverage Their Income

We broke down in detail how much personal trainers make, but there is so much more potential outside the trading-time-for-dollars framework.

How do you break out of the per-hour framework? By leveraging your time in one of two ways:

By making more money within the same time frame or making money while you’re not working.

Leverage your time

The best way to increase your personal trainer salary in the same time frame is to offer group personal training sessions. You’ll earn more for a one-hour session when you train more than one person at a time, and the group usually saves money when the cost is divided among them. Another way to leverage your time is to upsell. A client may purchase an eating plan and gear from you on top of their training session, which increases your profit.

Set up passive income streams

Passive income streams allow you to make money even when you’re not working. Having passive income streams raises your earning potential exponentially.

Passive income streams are simply things that you can sell on autopilot on your website:

  • Affiliate products
  • A health and fitness app
  • Branded clothing and gym gear
  • Workout videos
  • Membership subscriptions
  • Meal planning software
  • E-books
  • Online course

How this translates into profit: It removes limits to your earning potential. Once you’re not dependent on a per-hour pay model, you set yourself up to make money, even when you’re not working.

4. Successful Personal Trainers Know How To Network

If you know how to network, how to reach out and make friends easily, then you are perfectly primed for business success. Enhancing your network should be built into your nonnegotiable daily task list. The more people you gather around you, the faster your client roster is naturally going to fill up. The more people get to know about you, the easier you’ll come to mind when they decide it’s time to hire a professional.

We’ve got some great networking ideas for you:

  • Send a letter of introduction to relevant businesses in your area: physical therapists, massage therapists, recreation departments, nutritionists, your local chamber of commerce and so on. You just never know what kind of partnerships you can foster. But you can’t foster them if they don’t know about you. So make sure everyone knows about you!
  • Keep a stack of business cards on hand at all times, so when the conversation turns to your profession, you can make sure the people you meet don’t forget you. For more ideas on getting leads with business cards, check out this in-depth post.
  • Volunteer at or sponsor local races and health benefits. You may even offer to host a pre-race stretch before foot races. These events are where your ideal clients are at! So, this is a great way to get in front of a bunch of them!
  • Get active on social media in the entrepreneurial or health and fitness communities. They both have thriving communities, particularly on Twitter and Instagram. Offering value and making yourself visible on these platforms expands your network fast.
  • Keep a database of prospects that have had an initial consultation or have expressed interest that you can keep in contact with. Let them know whenever you’re running a promotion, when you’re adding a service, or when you’re expanding your gym. Each time they hear from you, your business gets better and better. You’ll stay on their radars so that when they finally decide to hire a personal trainer, they’ll think of you first.
  • Nurture your email list. Your email list is one of your most valuable business assets. Offer an opt-in or some kind of free subscription on your website and take measures to drive traffic to your site daily. Your email list will be one of your most lucrative income generators when you launch a product or service online.

How this translates into profit: The more people you have in your network, the more your income potential expands.

5. Successful Personal Trainers Are Information Sponges

Any education you pursue can only make you better at your craft. Whether this education is formal or informal, you can only uplevel yourself and become more of an invaluable resource.

Education could mean getting more personal training certifications or specializations. You have to maintain your ceu’s anyhow, so you might as well get as many specializations as you can. This can help you niche yourself, charge higher prices, open yourself up to new audiences, and connect with different populations.

You can also choose informal education to keep yourself informed. Your clients are going to be coming to you for advice and your thoughts on certain things they’re noticing in the fitness industry. You need to know what kinds of questions are being raised in the fitness community before your clients ever ask you. So you’ve got to keep your fingers firmly placed on that pulse by staying up-to-date on the trends and research and by reading popular health and fitness publications so you can answer questions in an informed way.

Successful personal trainers who make money understand that education is an investment, not an expense. And they likely invest in their own training before they are even making money. Your knowledge is invaluable, and your clients need to feel like you’re informed.

How that translates into profit: The more expertise you have and specialties you acquire, the more indispensible you become. And you can also increase your rates!

6. Successful Personal Trainers Stand Out

Successful personal trainers brand themselves so that they stand out from all the standard-issue personal trainers in the field. They make themselves memorable.

Making yourself memorable could be as simple as making yourself known for something or branding yourself in a certain way.

Stand-out branding ideas:

  • Use matching colors and images on all your marketing materials and a certain aesthetic about your business. Just like purple and non-judgement is associated with Planet Fitness, you want to create some kind of strong association with your brand.
  • There’s a certain scent, vibe, or atmosphere that’s associated with your gym. Soulcycle has a strong branding atmosphere, so study their careful branding elements and brainstorm ways to create your own.
  • Create traditions or habits inside your gym that everyone can participate in. Maybe once an hour, you ring a bell, and everyone drops to the floor and gives you 10. Build a little playfulness and togetherness into your brand.
  • Give yourself or your gym a title and maintain that image. Nominate yourself as THE something, such as THE six-pack sculptor or THE spontaneous yogi or your city’s BEST running facilitator. Then, make sure you’re living up to that image and other people will start referring to you with that title as well.
  • Create your own unique training program that you can market. If you have a certain way of teaching class or initiating people into your tribe, you can become known for that!

Think about how you want to brand your personal training business to create a memorable experience for your clients and make your own business noteworthy.

How this translates into profit: If you have such strong branding that people remember you, you’ll be the first personal trainer that comes to mind. Strong branding makes for a stronger business.

7. Successful Trainers Make A Difference In People’s Lives

It’s not just a job you have here. It’s a life-changing empire! Think of your business that way, and it could completely transform how you operate.

You know full well what weight loss and strength building can do to a person’s life! Their newfound strength carries over into other areas of your clients’ lives. Once they know they can run a half marathon, then they might be courageous enough to ask for a raise. Once they know they can run a half mile, they might have a confidence breakthrough. A clients’ improving health may reduce the number of prescriptions they take or relieve some of their pain. Those things are absolutely life-altering!

Fitness is as much about the mental as it is about the physical. You might feel more like a therapist than a personal trainer at times. And that’s because hitting health goals empowers people in multiple facets of life due to their newfound motivation and confidence.

Considering yourself a life-changer makes your job seem a whole lot more fulfilling under that lens, doesn’t it?

How this translates into profit: coming from a space of caring and life-changing values will make you a much better trainer (and human) than coming from a place of making money.

8. Successful Personal Trainers Get Results

It’s important to get measurable results for your clients. That’s the objective of your entire job. If you’re not getting results, you’re not doing your job. Successful personal trainers who make money get those results.

Selling your services to clients will be a whole lot easier if you have measurable results to give them as proof of your qualifications to help them. And results from clients provide objective testimonials for what you’re able to help them achieve. Other people’s results are much better evidence than your words because they speak for themselves. That’s why “before and after” pictures are so captivating. Because actual results from real people are what your clients want to see.

How this translates into profit: Testimonials and referrals based on results are more effective at selling your services than any selling techniques you could use. They make people want to work with you!

9. Successful Personal Trainers Have Their Finances Sorted Out

Successful trainers keep a reliable accountant on file to manage their money and taxes. Delegating this time-consuming task not only frees up your time so you can spend more time in your zone of genius, but it also puts it into the hands of someone who can do more with your money.

An accountant can help you with sales projections, they can show you how to save on taxes, they can point out where expenses can be cut, and they can help you make investment decisions. Things you may not even be aware of. Basically, an accountant will help you get the most out of your money.

How this translates into profit: An accountant helps you get every drop of profit out of your business possible.

10. Successful Personal Trainers Also Make Sure They’ve Covered Legalities

Although the odds of ending up in a legal situation are small, you need to make sure you’ve lessened that chance as much as possible to protect your business, your family, and your future.

In addition to keeping an accountant on file, you should also have an attorney in your arsenal. You should consult with a lawyer to ensure you have the proper contracts in place, the proper insurance coverage, and any other legalities covered. Hopefully you’ll never need to use their services for anything else, but just having yourself covered will help you sleep better at night.

How this translates into profit: Hiring a lawyer will help protect you from losing your profit, and everything else.

11. Successful Personal Trainers Love Their Job

It’s easy for your clients to read your energy. If you don’t love your job as a personal trainer, it’s going to show through in your attitude and behavior, even if you don’t think it does. On the other hand, if you do love your job (we hope you do!), then that energy is going to subsequently energize your clients and draw them to you.

It’s hard to be successful in any job if you don’t find joy in it. It will dull you. It will dampen your energy. It will make selling come harder. It will make getting up and going to your job a chore. It might even make you a harder person to be around.

On the other hand, if your job as a life-changer makes you jump out of bed in the morning, then it will make it much easier for you to find success. Clients will read your energy and it might even rub off on them. And you’ll be so much easier to work with if you’re coming from a place of enjoyment.

How this translates into profit: Who would you rather work with? A trainer with energy and verve or one who’s just there because they have to be? The trainer who loves their job will always be more successful, make more money and consequently turn more profit.

12. Successful Personal Trainers Budget Time And Money For Marketing

Most of your business won’t just come to you, show up on your doorstep, and demand to be trained. Some of it might. Someone might search for personal trainers in your area and choose you from among a pool of all the others. But for the most part, you have to actively go out and retrieve the business for yourself.

Marketing is a necessary and effective investment. You should have a firm marketing plan and a daily marketing to-do list as part of your business-building plan. Marketing shouldn’t just be something you do when your business slows down, but part of your daily routine.

Successful Marketing Real Estate Includes:

  • Business cards
  • Flyers and handouts
  • Blog posts and website content
  • Social media content
  • Guest speaking engagements
  • Guest posting opportunities
  • Interviews with local media
  • Sponsorships
  • Facebook, radio, and other media advertisements

How this translates into profit: This one’s pretty obvious. More marketing brings in more clients which brings in more money.

In addition to the traits above, successful personal trainers also have certain habits and personality traits that help propel their success.

Additional Characteristics Of A Successful Personal Trainer:

  • Punctuality and reliability: you’d be amazed by how many trainers can’t even comply with being on time! It should just be a given, but this is non-negotiable.
  • Clear policies and boundaries: protect yourself and your time by having clear expectations in place.
  • Looking the part: looking lean, clean-cut, and professional at all times conveys your competence without saying a word.
  • Professionalism: treating your business like the business that it is will make people take you much more seriously and be much more inclined to entrust their money to you.
  • Approachability: if you seem friendly and you make yourself accessible, you make yourself more approachable to anyone, especially shy or hesitant prospects. If you’re always hiding away at your desk, you don’t make eye contact with gymgoers, or you look pissed off, you’re going to scare those same prospects away.

If you’re ready to kill it as a personal trainer, make sure you’re taking all of these tips into consideration and improving them every single day. They could mean the difference between a thriving personal training business and a failing one.

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