The Business Side of Training

By: Tony Gentilcore, CSCS, CPT



Like it or not, if you’re a personal trainer, you’re a business (wo)man. Day in and day out you’re selling yourself and your services to the general public (or if you’re a lucky SOB, Kate Beckinsale). If there is one thing I wish I could do, it would be to go back three years and really make an effort to learn the business side of training in more detail. Luckily I have had the guidance of some very knowledgeable people (Eric Cressey, Alwyn Cosgrove, Mike Robertson, to name a few) who have helped me realize and understand the importance of the business side of things in the fitness industry. Granted I have a TON more to learn, but in the meantime here are some tidbits that I have learned along the way.


1. Indeed you need to know your craft. Reading various training/nutrition books and attending as many seminars and conferences as you can will undoubtedly help you become a better trainer. However, making a point to read books on business is also just as important. For every book on training and/or nutrition you read, try to read one on business as well. Some good starts would be:



Anyone Can Sell by Thomas Plummer



The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell (not necessarily a “business” book per se, but a great book nonetheless on how and why certain ideas take off and others don’t)



Six Figure Trainer – by Ryan Lee. An audio set which teaches you the specifics on how you can earn six figures as a personal trainer using other revenue streams. I can honestly say that this product alone has saved me thousands of dollars



Additionally, you can simply e-mail or call people in the industry for their insight and opinions. Never hurts to ask…(wink).



2. Have confidence in yourself and don’t be scared to ask for people’s money: This is a hard one for many people (me included); yet it makes perfect sense. Basically you need to remind yourself that you’re the shit, and you know what you’re talking about and people should feel fortunate that they’re working with you.



In the past, I have overheard some trainers mention how they feel it’s unethical to ask their clients to pay more for their services as the years go by. To me, this is absurd and just means that they are horrible at business.



I invest good money in myself to attend seminars and conferences, as well as buy books to improve my quality of service. As such, there are times when I increase my rates to reflect this fact. It’s simple really. You’re providing a service and if that service is of high(er) quality (you’re getting results) and there is a demand…rates go up.



But lets not get carried away here. I find it comical that there are many trainers out there who feel that they’re obligated to charge upwards of $130 per session, yet haven’t picked up a book since 2002 and think BOSU balls are the best thing since stone washed jeans. More often than not, the public will let you know whether or not you’re worth what you’re asking for.



3. Open Up Your Own Gym: What better way to learn business than to open up your own facility. Eric Cressey was kind enough to ask me to join him in opening up Cressey Performance Center, in Hudson, MA. I feel like a small fish in a big pond, but to say that I am excited would be a gross understatement. For more info, check out (updates to come soon).



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4 Responses

  1. Espen L says:

    Great article! Im considering becoming a personal trainer myself, and have realised I need to learn the business side of things as well, and your article really helped pointing me in the right direction 🙂

  2. HY says:

    Thanks for the article.
    Do you think “Anyone Can Sell” (Thomas Plummer) is a good book for people outside of fitness industry? or is that hard to tell from your pov?

  3. HY:

    “Anyone Can Sell” is definitely targeted for those in the fitness industry, but could be a valuable resource for those in sales as well.

  4. Racer says:

    Good Luck Tony, I’ve got massive respect for anyone who has the balls to start a business. I’m sure it will be a huge success.