The #1 Business Concept Every Personal Trainer Must Realize

The #1 Business Concept Every Personal Trainer Must Realize


Picture this typical personal trainer scenario:

It’s 7:54 p.m. on a Monday. You’ve just finished with your 8th client of the day, Barbara. And you’re exhausted.  

You think about your first client that morning, José. You were cheering him on, encouraging him. He set a PR and walked out of the session with a proud smile on his face.

But if you’re being honest, you struggled to even get Barbara through her workout. She finished, but she didn’t talk too much, and you’re not sure whether she’ll be back next time.

You were distracted by thoughts of:

  • What am I going to eat for dinner?
  • Am I going to be able to do my own workout after this?
  • Crap. I still have to help Jonathan with his homework — and I haven’t done laundry all week either…

Many trainers would love to have enough demand for their service to train 8 or 9 clients per day, five days a week. But if you’re not training that many people currently, talk to someone who is. Here’s what they’ll tell you:

It’s exhausting.

If you don’t learn to leverage your time or scale your personal training business, you will get burned out. 

Here’s why:

As a personal trainer, you offer a service to a client in exchange for a payment. So, your earning potential is generally limited by the hours in a day.  

A doctor who is paid based on the number of patients he treats can only treat so many patients per day.

A painter can only paint so many houses in a day, just as a personal trainer can only train so many clients in a day.  

But there is another way:

What if that maxed-out (and probably burnt out) doctor produces a product for weight loss? A book, a supplement, a diet program, and begins to sell it?  And what if the painter develops a new kind of paint roller and sells it to other painters?

These are ways other service professionals have developed additional non-service revenue streams. With a little creativity, personal trainers can leverage their time and create revenue streams that eventually become passive too!  

We call these opportunities “products”.  

You might have already taken your first step towards selling a product.

Have you ever sold packages of 2, 4, or more sessions with a discount for clients who sign up and pay up front?  

Selling training packages is a good first step toward selling products, but it still doesn’t help solve our work/pay/time problem.  When you sell a training package, you still have to take the time to complete each session with each client who purchases the product.

Here’s a better option:  

What if you produced an online weight loss program and sold it?  

With this option, most of the work is done on the front end and pays off down the road.  As more and more people purchase your training videos, the revenue comes in without any further time commitment!  

The same could be done with an exercise library subscription or individualized programming fee. For clients looking for an affordable option to personal training, why not offer a hybrid product of both in-person sessions AND online training? Or start an online group fitness challenge? The possibilities are endless.

When you create and sell products, you can make more money for the time you spend working and finally break free of the limitations of a “service only” business model.

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Matthew Johnson is a fitness writer, personal trainer, strength coach, as well as a former gym owner. Matthew holds an MBA from The University of Memphis and a Master’s in Exercise Science from Middle Tennessee State University. Matthew has also earned the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist credential from the NSCA. Matthew recently published his first book, 300 30 Minute Workouts for Busy People, and lives in Memphis, TN with his wife, Anna, and their dog Henderson, and cat, Sox.

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