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The Business of Personal Training: Entrepreneurship vs. Employment

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With an increasing emphasis on proper health and nutrition, personal trainers provide guidance for individuals seeking their wellness goals. Personal training is a field of fitness expertise that offers personalized and unique fitness journeys to clients. This can include weight loss, muscle gain, improved cardiovascular fitness, or overall well-being. Personal trainers design customized exercise programs, provide guidance on proper technique, offer nutritional advice, and motivate clients to stay committed to their fitness journeys. The emphasis is on tailoring the training experience to the individual’s needs, abilities, and objectives, creating a personalized and supportive approach to health and fitness.


Personal trainers mainly find themselves at a crossroad of two different career pathways: entrepreneurship and employment with an existing company. Opting for entrepreneurship involves the establishment and ownership of a personal training business, granting the trainer the ability to manage their own clientele, brand image, and prices more freely. On the other hand, the alternative path of employment with an existing company offers the benefits of having a stable income, access to training facilities, co-workers, and existing clientele. Companies also often encourage their trainers to increase their knowledge by offering further training and education. These routes present fitness professionals with a fundamental choice between the freedom and responsibilities of entrepreneurship or the stability and structure of working within an established company, each path carrying its own set of challenges and opportunities in shaping a fulfilling and sustainable career in the fitness industry. In this essay, we’ll explore the world of personal training, looking at how it fits into the fitness industry. We’ll specifically compare the path of entrepreneurship, where trainers run their own businesses, with the option of working for established fitness companies.


Entrepreneurship in Personal Training


The fitness industry has witnessed a shift, with personal trainers increasingly opting for entrepreneurship, instead of employment with an existing company. Personal trainers who choose the route of entrepreneurship have the ability to shape their brand identity, allowing them to establish a unique value proposition and philosophy for the clientele. A well-crafted personal brand acts as a magnetic force, distinguishing entrepreneurs in personal training from the crowd while creating lasting connections with their clientele.


Creating a brand is a freedom that extends its influence on the pricing of services, where the entrepreneur can reflect on the value they bring to the customer and adjust pricing accordingly. This autonomy creates a sense of ownership, empowering the design of personalized fitness programs and tailoring approaches that meet the specific needs of individual clients. Entrepreneurship in personal training presents a financial potential that resonates with ambitious fitness professionals. Financial success as an entrepreneur is closely tied to the value they provide and their ability to attract and retain a loyal client base. The potential for higher earnings serves as a direct reflection of the dedication and effort invested in building and growing a personal training business.


However, the entrepreneurial journey in personal training is not without its challenges. The initial stages of business establishment demand close attention to administrative tasks, marketing strategies, financial planning, and legal considerations. Unlike trainers employed by established businesses, entrepreneurs must actively engage in customer acquisition and retention. Building a client base can be time-consuming, and it requires effort in marketing to carve out a specific niche in the competitive market.


Working with an Existing Company


Working for an established fitness company offers personal trainers a set of advantages and disadvantages compared to entrepreneurship. One of the primary advantages of employment is the security of a steady income. Unlike the potential income fluctuations that entrepreneurs may face, employed personal trainers typically receive a regular salary or hourly wage based on the number of clients, providing the safety of financial stability. Moreover, the existing client base associated with established companies can offer a head start for personal trainers, eliminating the need to build a clientele from scratch. This pre-established customer pool not only provides immediate opportunities for training sessions but also contributes to a sense of job security.


Another benefit of employment is the presence of other personal trainers. Especially for new personal trainers, the support of having other professionals under the same roof can be a benefit. This offers the chance for potential sparring, support, and an overall increase in the work environment. Moreover, building connections within the fitness community can lead to collaborations, referrals, and a broader client base.


Working with an existing company as a personal trainer also offers the benefits of access to their resources, such as their facilities and equipment. Gyms provide a professional and structured environment for personal trainers to conduct their sessions. This setting increases the sense of credibility and legitimacy, contributing to client trust and confidence in the trainer’s expertise. Additionally, being associated with a reputable gym can enhance a personal trainer’s credibility. Clients may perceive trainers working at well-known gyms as more experienced and knowledgeable, providing an additional layer of trust.


Despite the benefits, personal trainers working for established companies face certain limitations. One of the major constraints is the limited control over business decisions. Company policies and protocols may dictate aspects of training methodologies, pricing structures, and scheduling, leaving trainers with less autonomy compared to their entrepreneurial counterparts. The fixed salary or commission structure, while providing stability, may cap the earning potential for trainers, hindering the financial upside associated with entrepreneurship.


Conclusion and Reflections


In the dynamic world of personal training, professionals find themselves choosing between entrepreneurship and employment within established fitness companies. Both paths offer distinct advantages and challenges, catering to the preferences, goals, and values of individual trainers. It becomes clear that the decision between entrepreneurship and employment is not just about financial considerations but extends to the very core of one’s professional identity.


For those contemplating their journey in personal training, a moment of reflection is paramount. As I consider my own aspirations and goals, the allure of entrepreneurship lies in the prospect of shaping a personal brand, defining my unique approach to fitness, and potentially reaping the rewards of financial success tied to the value I provide. The freedom to set my own prices, design tailored fitness programs, and cultivate a brand identity is undeniably appealing.


However, there’s a realization that embarking on the entrepreneurial journey demands more than just passion for fitness. It requires a deep understanding of business administration, marketing strategies, and the ability to navigate the challenges of client acquisition. As a prospective entrepreneur, acknowledging the initial phase’s potential hardships and considering a period of employment within an established company is also a valid possibility.


Working as an employee in the initial phase can provide valuable insights and practical experience, offering stability and support as I develop my skills. The structured environment of an established company may serve as a learning ground, providing exposure to diverse training methodologies, client interactions, and business operations. This phase of employment could be a stepping stone, allowing me to build a foundation of knowledge and expertise while mitigating some of the risks associated with entrepreneurship.


Importantly, the choice between entrepreneurship and employment is not binary. It can be a phased approach that combines the best of both worlds. The initial experience as an employee can offer a safety net and a platform for skill development before venturing into the entrepreneurial realm with a more profound understanding of the industry.


In conclusion, the business of personal training invites personal trainers to carefully consider their paths. Whether choosing the entrepreneurial route, seeking initial stability as an employee, or combining both experiences, each decision contributes to the diverse and dynamic landscape of the fitness industry. This reflection serves as a personal guideline towards a career that aligns not only with personal financial goals but also with passion, values, and long-term fulfillment in the world of health and fitness.




Kärkkäinen, T. (2024) ‘Työskentely Personal Trainerina’, IntensivePT, 22 January.


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