It seems you can barely jog around the block these days without tripping over a new personal training business. They’re popping up faster than you can say ‘give me 10 reps’.

While it’s great that so many people are prioritizing their health and wellbeing, it does mean you need to be proactive and creative to ensure that your business stands out from the crowd and keeps customers coming back for more.

Here are some things to consider to set your business apart.

What makes you so special?

Let’s be realistic for a moment – you don’t want ALL the customers. You’re looking for those special customers who:

  • are drawn to you and your services
  • are engaged
  • keep coming back

In other words, you need to identify your ideal customer. But before you do that, it’s important to find your niche in the market. That attractive, marketable thing that makes your personal training business different to all the others. 

There are few ways to find your niche. Perhaps you’ve identified an unfulfilled need in your area, such as a program for customers with disabilities or those requiring other adjusted programs. If you’ve undertaken any special training such as boxing or gymnastics or had a unique experience like climbing Mt Everest or military service, you could incorporate the skills you’ve acquired into your programs. 

Try to keep an eye on those other businesses and social media to find out what’s trending in the world of personal training. You might be able to put your own spin on it and you can always undertake training and upskill to meet current needs.

You can also tune in to your own passions and strengths. Love animals and fitness? How about a class for busy dog owners so they can fit in a walk with their pooch and a challenging workout? Or maybe something that requires less poop bags, but you get the idea.

Your niche and your ideal customer are linked, and once you identify both elements you can tailor your marketing efforts and coaching services to attract and keep those ‘good fit’ customers. 

How do you say all that in a catchy way?

Unfortunately, you can’t skip ahead to this bit until you’ve identified your niche and ideal customer. See how it’s all connected? The first steps are important because you don’t want to waste your time, energy and money trying to be everything to everyone. It’s impossible and will make you miserable.

Take everything you’ve discovered about your niche and ideal customer and use it to create a unique selling proposition (USP), which is exactly what it sounds like – what you propose to offer your customers that’s unique!

Have a brainstorm session:

  • What things does your ideal customer want to hear? Busy professionals who commute might want to hear about your early-bird or night-owl sessions. Students might want to hear about your concession rates and bring-a-buddy boot camp. Dog owners might want to hear about the human- and doggo-friendly agility course you’ve created.
  • What’s your unique approach to training? Not all coaches are created equal and different customers want and respond to different methods. Are you a take-no-prisoners drill sergeant? Or a chilled-out training partner offering support and hi-fives? Let potential clients know what they can expect and you’ll attract your target market.
  • What specialised skills do you have? Besides your credentials as a personal trainer, what else can you leverage in your USP? Have you completed any additional courses in nutrition, mental health, post-injury recovery, working with specific demographics, using specialized equipment or anything else? 
  • Why should they choose you over other trainers? Now’s the time to brag about yourself. It can be incredibly difficult to boast about your own strengths and general awesomeness. But genuine excitement about yourself and your business can be contagious. Customers won’t be able to ignore your authenticity and joy.

The key to a killer USP is all in the delivery. Most humans these days have notoriously short attention spans, so you need to create a clear, concise, cut-through message to communicate all of the above. This clear framework will form the core of your marketing and communication activity so it might be worth finding someone who’s good with words to help you to craft it.

Can you live up to your own hype?

Now that you’re coaching all of those ideal customers in your niche business, you need to put in 100% effort to keep them happy, coming back for more, and best of all, spreading the word.

People love to rave about their positive experiences, so by providing top-tier, personalised, exceptional customer service, you’ll have happy, loyal clients who want to tell the world about their wonderful personal trainer.

Exceptional service doesn’t necessarily mean providing endless free babyccinos, poop bags and branded sweat bands (though who wouldn’t want one of those?!) Focus on giving your clients your full attention and personalizing their experience. Constantly seek their feedback and customize their training accordingly. Frequently revisit their goals and adjust where necessary. Celebrate their wins and offer encouragement and advice when progress is slow.

Regular and effective communication is essential and should always have a clear purpose. If they are happy with your coaching, don’t be shy about asking them to refer a friend. Never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth referrals. Having a positive reputation in the fitness industry will ensure your ongoing success.

For more tips on how to use customers to bring in MORE customers, look for our upcoming eBook: Spreading the Word – The Power of Referral Marketing 

If you’re not online do you even exist?

There’s no getting around it – to have a successful business you need to build a strong online presence. Luckily there are some clever people out there who have the whole socials thing sorted – you could seek them out and harness their power.

Or follow these tips to easily navigate the net.

You have a website… right? If not – get onto it immediately. If you do, look at it through a critical lens (or better yet, enlist that friend with a sharp eye and sharper tongue – you know, the one with no filter) to weed out the boring, glitchy or awkward bits. Give it an overhaul to ensure it features:

  • Clear branding – it should be instantly clear to customers that they’ve found you.
  • Compelling content – nobody wants to scroll through endless drivel to get to the good stuff. 
  • Easy navigation – a clear menu, links that work, an appealing layout and style – it all matters.
  • Currency – constantly update your content. That decade-old headshot of you adds no value.

Engage and delight a much wider audience using social media platforms. Provide warm-up tips in a TikTok, showcase your new branded sweatbands on Instagram, or provide an infographic on the benefits of breathing training on Facebook. Aim to create a mixture of content specifically about you and your business and general content about health, wellbeing and fitness. A bit of humour thrown in never hurts either.

Being informative and entertaining online can produce a lot of likes and sharing – which can lead to gaining more followers and customers.

Check out the following for tips on making the most of social media:

How well do you know the biz?

You’ve no doubt heard the saying, ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’. First of all, as a certified health and wellness coach, what you know is very important!

However, knowing the right people can also be a huge advantage for your business – that’s right, we’re talking about networking and building industry partnerships

To gain that crucial edge over the competition, consider these pro tips:

  • Attend industry events and conferences for fitness professionals and personal trainers. Absorb everything you can so that you’re up to date with the latest market trends. This alone will give you a considerable advantage over coaches who lack this knowledge.
  • Listen to any speakers or presentations that resonate with your niche and business goals. Strike up a conversation with the speaker afterwards – you never know what connections like these will lead to in future.
  • To really establish yourself as an industry expert, have a go at presenting something yourself. It can be nerve-wracking for some people, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Especially when it’s something that you’re passionate about.
  • Use industry events and general research to identify potential partners such as gyms, nutritionists or physical therapists. If you can find ways to collaborate with other service providers you greatly increase your reach and credibility. 
  • Find ways to leverage each other in a way that’s beneficial to both businesses. You could establish a referral program with a complementary business such as a nutritionist so that you both gain new clients. Or you could share a marketing campaign with a fitness equipment supplier so that you can take advantage of their existing audience (and vice versa).  

By having a clear idea of what you want your business to offer and who you want to offer it to, you can establish a successful enterprise that constantly grows and evolves. Fine-tune that message and send it out to the world and your ideal customers will respond. 

Just as the body needs consistent effort to be in peak condition, so too does your business. Be flexible and ready to adapt to changing market demands and actively seek support and inspiration from within the industry. You’ve got this!

If you’re just starting out as a fitness coach, access our eBook: Launching Your Personal Training Business. The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide for practical advice on building a solid foundation.

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Article by TrueCoach

First published: May 29 2023

Last updated: January 11 2024