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How to Start a Personal Training Business

In theory, starting a personal training business can be as simple as taking a weekend course, or an online certification, and you’re off to the races.

The reality, however, is that if your investment is as little as an online course, you’re probably not going to feel confident in your ability to truly give your clients what they need, not to mention finishing a course doesn’t mean you have actual clients to work with.

…And even if you do, if you don’t have the skills to know how to get them the results they want, they’re probably not going to be all that useful in helping you build a referral culture that will allow you to scale your business enough that you can make a living coaching, let alone be able to earn a professional wage. 

So what gives? What does the path to becoming a professional coach look like then? 

Step 1: Be Willing to Invest in the Right Education

The OPEX Coaching Certificate Program (CCP) is an in-depth, all-encompassing coaching education that prepares coaches in, not just how to become effective technical coaches, but it also digs into more practical, real world application, preparing them to be able to have professional full-time careers in the industry long-term. In fact, the CCP’s final project is a practicum that involves the coach creating individual training programs for five unique individuals in the world.

  • More details: The CCP is all about tried and true principles, all the while making the process of working with clients simple, practical and intentional. Because anyone can become a technical coach with a love for fitness, but to be successful in the real world you need a range of tools that will help you be able to deliver results and personalized experiences that lead to lifelong clients. 

Those who have taken the OPEX CCP, like Coach Alex Samaniego, say it has been a game-changer in helping them build their client book to a place where they can make a professional wage doing what they love. 

  • “The biggest impact has come from learning under OPEX and (founder) James FitzGerald, who taught me a lot and not just about fitness, but more about being a professional coach and how to create a business…(It’s) something that I feel a lot of coaching education, whether it’s through college or courses and certifications, don’t really teach you much about,” said OPEX CCP Samaniego, who today has a book of 120 clients in Mexico, the United States and Canada.

  • He added: “While I loved all the science and teaching OPEX does, the main thing I have taken away was the knowledge to set-up a blueprint for a successful career as a professional coach, something that seemed almost impossible prior to OPEX.”

Step 2: Put Systems in Place that Allow for Efficiency 

When you’re first getting going and are working with just a handful of clients, having formal systems in place might not seem all that important; however, once your client book builds from a handful, to 20, to 50, to 100, streamlined systems become crucial for efficiency. Without them, you’ll quickly find yourself working way too many hours, being spread way too thin across various platforms, apps, and communication methods, and quickly burning out. 

This is where the CoachRx platform comes in: It allows you to keep all your client information in one place, making your life a whole lot easier. It’s like a one-stop shop to effectively roll out training and lifestyle programs. 

  • Further, CoachRx streamlines communication with your clients, makes short and long-term planning simple, and features tools to help save you time, such as its video library, which is especially useful if remote clients you need to share videos with on a regular basis.

The bottom line: Without streamlined systems and processes in place, you’ll never be able to scale your personal training business large enough that you’ll be able to properly service enough clients without burning out from working an unsustainable number of hours each week.  

Step 3: Don’t Quit Your Day Job Too Soon

Becoming a full-time professional coach takes time, so even though it can be tempting to drop everything else and go all in with coaching, OPEX CCP Coach Michael Bann, a coach with 120 remote clients, said it’s important to respect the process, and (if you’re not financially set already) that might mean keeping another job as you’re transitioning into the fitness industry. 

  • “Coaches need to recognize that you don’t become a professional coach in two years,” Bann said, adding that it’s OK to start out as personal training being a “side hustle” until you’re financially able to make the leap into becoming a full-time trainer.

Step 4: Work in a System that Allows you to Make a Living

Newsflash: Coaching can be exhausting, especially if you’re coaching five, six, seven, eight on-floor hours a day an an energy-draining one-on-one environment as a personal trainer, not to mention incredibly expensive for the client who often pays between $70 and $100-plus an hour each time they workout. 

  • This is where the individual design model comes in, as it allows coaches to scale their business to a place where they can earn a professional living without spending 30-plus on-floor hours each week. 

The nuts and bolts: Clients begin with a one-on-one consultation on Day 1 before being put through a thorough assessment on Day 2 that looks at everything from their body composition to the way they move to their ability to perform work (OPEX Body, Work, Move). 

  • After that, clients follow an individual training program created for their specific needs, abilities, goals, priorities, schedule etc, and they continue to meet with their coach once a month for a lifestyle consultation. 

In this sense, the coach is able to provide the client what they need to get results, all the while ensuring they don’t have to spend eight on-floor hours a day servicing their clients. And on the client end, they are no longer 100 percent dependent on their coach just to be able to workout, and don’t have to spend $100 each time they go to the gym, creating a more sustainable environment, where they have more autonomy and are ultimately more likely to succeed long-term. 

In practice: Coaches working in individual design gyms are paid a percentage of revenue (generally between 40 and 50 percent) off each of their client’s monthly fees and are responsible for a certain number of on-floor shifts per week, where they have the chance to provide help as needed to their clients, or other coach’s clients in attendance.

  • This means, a coach with 50 clients each paying $300 a month, who earns an average of 45 percent off each client, will earn $6,750 a month, plus compensation for their on-floor hours. 

Real world example: This is exactly the case for Shana Guzman, an OPEX coach with 50-plus individual design clients, each of whom pay between $235 and $300 a month, from which she earns 50 percent of the revenue they generate. Read her story here.

Step 5: Stay Humble

Realizing there’s always more to learn, that there’s always someone who knows more than you who has something to teach, is at the heart of being a professional personal trainer long-term. 

This is exactly what the international OPEX community is all about: A community of passionate coaches and gym owners who constantly seek to get better.

While it isn’t necessary to be an OPEX certified coach to use the CoachRx platform, every user in CoachRx benefits from access to bonus education that is designed to help you be a more effective trainer.

Renato Costa, who said the OPEX CCP helped him quickly grow from 15 clients to 65 clients, put it this way:

  • “Being in the OPEX network gives me the opportunity to always be in contact with other great coaches through the forums, and I can continue to learn through things like the LearnRx. There’s all this education available, so I can always be learning, and learning from a good source,” he said. “It has made a big difference.”

Are you ready to start building your personal training business with the best systems to deliver personalized exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle coaching? Start using CoachRx for FREE today and begin growing your book of clients.