Does exercise improve your mental health?
Being a personal trainer requires more than just knowledge about fitness. 
To work in the fitness industry, you also need to be business savvy. 80% of personal trainers are freelance after all. 
It’s no surprise either. Many people become freelance personal trainers as a way of gaining the benefits of being self-employed
These benefits are well documented and include greater freedom, working on your own terms, and potentially having greater earning potential. 
But getting there isn’t easy. We thought we’d share some top tips for those at the start of their freelance personal trainer journey. 
A lot of these will apply to any freelancer but we’ve made sure they’re particularly relevant to fitness professionals. 
First up… 

Build your network 

It’s a cliché but people do buy from people. And this is certainly the case with being a personal trainer or fitness instructor. 
After all, your entire role will involve talking to and encouraging your clients in one to one or group training sessions. 
Because of this people will need to trust you, and you’ll probably need to have a good reputation in your local community. 
But networking is also how you’ll get a lot of your work. This won’t necessarily involve networking with other businesses, unless you’ve decided they’re your target client. 
Ultimately you need to go where your clients are, and in many cases this will be at the gym. 
There are also freelance roles to be had at a lot of mainstream gyms, so by going along and getting to know the people that work there you have a higher chance of getting time on the floor and they’re more likely to recommend you. 
Chart showing mental health increase

Have a good online presence 

As important as in-person networking to the growth of your business, is your online presence. 
Having an active social media presence and a website that provides people with important information and an opportunity to get in touch is essential today. 
If you don’t have that, not only will people not come across your service as they’re browsing but people you meet in person also won’t have anywhere to go when they want to look you up later. 
Having a social media presence is as much about being authentic and real as it is about looking flashy. Yes, people want to know that the person they’re hiring is fit and enjoys working out, but they also want to know that they’re real, that they care about helping people and also that they’re not completely obsessed with themselves! 
In other words, mix up the pics of muscles bulging, and weights being lifted with some tips and tricks, interviews with your clients and even, believe it or not, posts about other interests you have or events that happen in your life. 

Don’t undersell yourself. Know your worth. 

Assuming you’re good at what you do, you deserve to be paid fairly for the service you offer. 
It can be tempting early on in a freelance career to undercharge as a way of getting more work. Many people think that by charging super cheap rates, more people will come to you. 
Unfortunately, this isn’t sustainable for a long-term healthy business, and importantly, a healthy you. 
With a role like personal training, you’re charging for your time, and you only have so much time to offer, so even if the work is coming in, there’s a limit to your earning potential. 
You’re also charging for your expertise, and this is worth something. Believe it or not other people can’t do what you do, and clients are looking for an expert to help them with a specific area of their life. 
It’s a good idea to charge a bit more than you’re comfortable with and stick to it. If someone is quibbling and not willing to pay what you charge, they may well prove to be a difficult client down the line, and that’s not worth your time. 
People who really want what you offer will be looking to pay fairly for it. 

Get a contract and insurance 

Good clients will also be prepared to sign on the dotted line. 
Covering your own back and ensuring you are covered in any worst case scenarios is important for any freelancer but especially so when physical exercise is involved. 
A contract that clients sign before you both embark on a professional relationship is a great way of making sure you’re both on the same page before you begin. You also have something to fall back on in the unlikely situation that a disagreement arises, and you need proof of your prior agreements. 
Insurance is another must have for personal trainers. Public liability insurance provides cover if a client becomes unwell or experiences injury. Professional indemnity covers you if a claim is made against you, and you need to incur legal fees to protect yourself. 
These are the main ones, but you may also want to consider personal accident cover, covering you in the event of an injury, leaving you unable to carry out your role. 
We talk more about insurance in our recent blog post. 

Get someone to help with money 

If you want to earn a living being a freelance PT, you will have to deal with money. You will need to do a tax self-assessment, but you may have to consider other things, such as whether you get a separate business account and what you put down as expenses. 
This is a broad topic but long story short, you’re probably going to need some help, unless you particularly enjoy crunching numbers, alongside the fitness stuff. 
We’re guessing that’s probably not the case and even if it is, if you’re busy training, you will have less and less time to sort out the money side of the business. 
Hiring an accountant or personal assistant to sort out something that really needs to be spot on, and that you neither enjoy nor have time for, will be a worthwhile investment. 
Some accountants are good value for the small amount of time you need them and will often happily give you advice and tips as well. 

Keep learning 

One of the best things you can do to improve your freelance business and ensure you carry on doing what you love for many years to come is to keep learning. 
Learning how to be a better people person, learning how best to run your business, but also learning more about the topic you specialise in. 
No matter how talented a trainer you are, the chances are there’s still plenty of skills you can add to your arsenal. 
Many of these will allow you to improve your training and, in many cases, will increase your earning potential as you square up against the competition in your area. 
We offer a range of continued professional development courses. These are supplementary courses to the standard qualifications needed to be a personal trainer. These should help you become a better fitness instructor and freelancer. To find out more about these, head here
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