Turning Visions into Reality:
Your Own Personal Training studio
 By Phil Kaplan

Opening a personal training studio is a dream for many trainers, but with proper planning and guidance, dreams can turn into reality. Opening any business with fixed overhead is risky, and most Personal Training studios fail in the first two years. With that said, there are a large number of studios bringing their owners six figure incomes . . . and continuous growth.


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What's the difference between the owners who make it work and those who struggle? In the great majority of cases, the difference lies in level of readiness and level of preparation. Although those terms may initially appear synonymous, they are two overlapping but distinctive terms.

Readiness refers to more than just whether or not you're prepared. A Personal Training studio, unlike a conventional health club, will sink or swim in great part based upon the rapport skills, the marketing ability and willingness, and the determination of the owner. It's unrealistic to believe you'll open a studio, hire trainers, and the world will beat a path to your door. Readiness also refers to your level of Professionalism and your experience. I'd suggest working with at least 100 personal training clients before considering opening a studio. Because, as trainers, we have the ability to train people in their own homes or by somehow arranging for established health clubs to receive a piece of the revenue, we are offered a unique opportunity to command significant fees without incurring a large dollar amount being attributed to expenses. Only when you have the experience, when you've established a reputation as an expert, and you have a dozen or more walking breathing testimonials . . . clients who you've helped achieve dramatic results . . . are you anywhere near ready to consider opening a studio.

Preparation involves planning. Once you are "ready," you'll create your studio on paper way before ever spending a nickel on rent. Many trainers believe a business plan is only for people seeking investors. That's nonsense. A business plan is a map. It allows you to chart the course, to make the mistakes on paper, and then determine what it will take to fix the mistakes and overcome the obstacles. Your plan should consider market size, demographics, competition, necessary time commitment, equipment, visual appeal, marketing, insurance, and a very in depth financial analysis. You'll have to budget for telephone, printing, advertising (not a necessity if a strong marketing plan involving outreach is in place), janitorial, and in some cases for electricity and water. There are many financial pitfalls that can cripple a studio, or prevent it from finding a position of profitability.

Once you sign a lease, you're committed, and that commitment can start a business off with a negative cash flow. There are creative ways to structure leases, to "pre-sell" Personal Training sessions, and to set up Electronic Funds Transfer programs so your studio can open with the monthly expenses being covered by revenue. The scope and volume of work required to make a Personal Training studio succeed is extensive. The great thing is, because we love what we do, much of it doesn't feel like work. When you open a studio, however, you'll have to deal with maintenance of the facility and equipment. You'll have to supervise others and you'll be subject the ramifications of your hired staff's reliability. You'll consult with a lawyer, with an accountant, and with various experts who will offer you advice and counsel. There's far more to the picture than "just training people."

If you feel as if you're ready and prepared, the next step is to consult with an expert, someone who can guide you in putting together a feasibility study to measure the potential of your idea. Feel free to contact me and lay out some of the specifics of your dream and I'll see if I can point you in the right direction.

In every case, a successful business starts with a vision. If you can dream it, you can achieve it. Just make certain your are both ready and prepared to turn the dream into reality.

Note: Phil Kaplan's book, Personal Training Profits has in depth information about business planning. It's a recommended investment for anyone looking for personal training career growth. His PEAK Training seminars have already been attended by some of the most successful studio owners in the world . . . so if you're ready and prepared . . . a trip to Florida may be in your future!


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