In February of 1996, I wrote an article in NFPT’s Personal Trainer Magazine about a man who emailed me with a problem he was having. Of all things, he asked me for advice on how to salvage his relationship with his girlfriend. At a glance, my first instinct was to direct him to Ann Landers or to an equally talented counselor. But, I kept on reading and found out – I may be able to help. While my advice was given to this love-sick guy in 1996, it still applies today.

The Scenario

The girlfriend owned a personal fitness training business and was at her whit’s end. Her pre-occupation with business matters was adversely affecting their relationship. There simply weren’t enough hours in the day to handle all of her clientele, but even with all of her clients her income didn’t seem worth all the hours of exhaustion and frustration.

Does this sound familiar?

My Response

I wrote back an email including a few simple suggestions that would hopefully spark some creative thought on the couple’s part. (The below info is represented within the graphic below.)

    1. Client Fee Structuring Considerations

Basically speaking, most personal fitness trainers create their fee structures based on hourly rates and/or flat fee contract service agreements. Most successful trainers do both. Remember that it is good to offer different “service agreements” and hourly rate structures, but not to offer so many options that client’s become confused. In short, keep your service fee structures simple, and offer different “packages” dependent upon the client income bracket, and the specific nature of their individual fitness needs. Some clients may simply want general recommendations while others will want your undivided attention. Therefore, there is a good reason to offer different service agreements and hourly fees…but keep it simple.

    1. Are you able to offer unique or specialized services?

Obviously, if services you are qualified to provide are not currently being offered in your area, it should give your personal fitness training business an advantage. However, don’t count too heavily on this one preliminary determination, because maybe similar service provisions have unsuccessfully been offered in the past by someone else. Don’t jump to conclusions before doing your homework.

    1. Learning from others’ mistakes

There’s an old saying in business, “Prior planning prevents poor performance.” Preliminary research is the key. If someone else in your community is offering personal training services, and they are experiencing success, there is reason to believe the marketplace is large enough to support you as well. If this is the case, learn from their success by finding out as much as you can about the ways they offer services, rates and contracts, and their administrative policies. Examine this information and decide whether or not you can do it better. On the other hand, if a service exists and is failing, it doesn’t always mean yours will fail as well. Investigate the reasons why this existing service is failing. See if there are significant flaws in the fee structuring, administrative polices, overhead, marketing, etc. Learn from someone else’s mistakes. Unresearched history of failure has a way of repeating itself among new business owners and managers who don’t do their homework. You may even find that there are no personal fitness trainer services currently available in your community. Take caution not to let this alone be your single criteria for predicting success, only to fail in your new business from lack of community interest.

The graphic below accompanied this article in 1996. Yeah, I know, pretty awesome!


If you are the first to respond, in the comment section below, with the correct page number where this graphic was located in the February/March issue of NFPT’s Personal Trainer Magazine – we will send you a NFPT T-shirt – happy hunting!

Ron Clark

Ron Clark is the Founder of National Federation of Professional Trainers, NFPT. From U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant to Competitive BodyBuilder, then Firefighter and Certified Personal Trainer – he founded NFPT in 1988 with a mission to make fitness training careers accessible to every day fitness enthusiasts who want to turn their passion into their livelihood. Ron has always led with a heart of service, and, in that spirit, he helps people to achieve real and practical career goals that serve a greater good in changing people’s lives. He lives and leads by example, being a personal trainer himself for more than 10 years before setting out to develop a certification program that is real-world and foundational to the goals of personal trainers and their clients. Click Here to learn more about Ron’s story and NFPT’s inception.