Resources Library

ePublication of Australian Fitness Network

If you are employed in a gym or studio and dream about breaking free to start your own personal training business, Donna Hutchinson has some advice for you.

Have you been dreaming about opening your own personal training studio? Are you wondering if the time is right to leave the security of your job and the comfort of low overheads to take on your own business? Although owning a studio can be rewarding and fulfilling, there’s plenty of sweat involved in making it work. Before taking the plunge, it is prudent to consider the following questions;

1. Am I in a financial surplus?

This is probably one of the most important questions to ask. If you have personal or business debt this probably isn’t the right time to open a studio. If your finances are a mess, consult with a financial planner who will get you on the right track. Inform them of your dream to open a studio and they will tell you exactly what you need to do to make this dream a financial reality.

Don’t rely on your clients for financial backing. It’s a kind gesture for a client to offer support, but when the time comes to collect many will back out. Relying on their goodwill to finance your dream is a mistake. The best scenario is to secure your own financing. If a client wishes to invest after this is in place, decide if it is an offer you would like to accept.

2. Do I have the necessary business acumen to run a successful business?

Being a good trainer – or even a great one – doesn’t make you a solid businessperson. We all have blind spots, so it’s best to recognise yours ahead of time and work to either improve them or outsource them. For example, if your maths skills leave something to be desired, you couldn’t market yourself out of a paper bag or you lack fundamental knowledge of how a business is supposed to run, it is advisable to become a student again. Hit the books and learn what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur before you even consider opening your doors. You may discover that it’s not what you expected and decide to keep things as they are. Or it might reinforce your reasons for striking out on your own and make you fall in love with the idea.

3. Am I willing to do whatever it takes to make the business successful?

Running your own business is very satisfying, but it will take up a lot of your time. If you’ve been working as an independent contractor or as an employee, be prepared to double your workload. In addition to your current role of training clients, you will become the marketing department, sales department, customer service department, accountant, bookkeeper and chief executive officer. And these are just a few of the hats you will wear.

In addition, if you have a family, a social life or enjoy a particular recreational pursuit, you will need to factor them into your timetable to ensure that your business doesn’t consume your every waking moment. Maintaining a positive and balanced lifestyle will become your biggest challenge as you nurture and grow your business. It’s like having a baby – the first five years are crucial stages in your business’s development. Are you prepared to commit that much time and energy to building it? An even more important question to consider is ‘do you have the time and energy?’ Will your family support you spending so much time away from them, or will your single-mindedness become an issue, adding to your already stressful and demanding schedule? No matter how much you think you are going to work, add on a few more hours and you will be right.

4. Do I have a business plan?

Oh no, not the dreaded business plan! If you are serious about opening a studio then you must create a business plan. This sounds daunting, but it will answer some important questions about the business you intend to set up.

If you’re thinking you don’t need a business plan because you know other trainers who have set up shop without one, think again. Just because they were able to start a business and skip this step doesn’t make them successful. Would you advise a client to start training without goals or a program to follow? Of course not. You know that goal-setting is vital their success, as it is to the success of your business. If you cannot envisage yourself writing a business plan, hire someone to help you or even do it for you. Do whatever it takes, but if you are serious about opening a studio and being successful, then the journey starts with a business plan.

5. Can I handle the pressure?

This question requires some tough introspection and a touch of honesty. If you aren’t someone who handles pressure easily or finds it hard to roll with the punches then you will struggle with running your own business. Now is the time to seek to understand yourself. You need to know whether you can handle the pressure or if you will crack.

I love owning my own business. I thrive on its challenges and I revel in the variety of my day. That’s on a good day. Then there are days when business is slow, bills pile up and I wonder when the next training or coaching client will come my way. I realise that if anything is going to happen, I have to make it happen – and that’s where the pressure comes in.

Be prepared for variations in your income, because you will have profitable months and slow months. Staff will pleasantly surprise you or let you down; clients will come and go. To survive you must learn to go with the flow. If you freak out every time an unforeseen challenge arises, you will end up stressed and unhappy.

Answer these five questions honestly and do the necessary work to ensure you have the best chance of making your studio a resounding success. Success is no accident. It takes planning, preparation and persistence. Are you up to the challenge?

Donna Hutchinson
Donna is a fitness business coach and author of the How To Guide To Starting Your Own Personal Training Business and The How To Guide To Growing Your Own Personal Training Business. She has over eighteen years’ industry experience and travels the world speaking to audiences about how to grow and develop their businesses. You can contact Donna at

Member Only Content