As a newly qualified, aspiring, or even current practicing Personal Trainer, it’s imperative you start to really begin thinking like a business person.
In Personal Training, free rent - or cheap rent - does not have any direct correlation regarding your ability to build a successful PT business. I’ll let that sink in for a second…
Now, I’ll say it again; a free rent at a gym does not have any bearing whatsoever on your ability to approach members, talk to them, build rapport, get them booked in for a consultation and convert them to a paying client.
Free Rent for Personal Trainers: Does it Work?
What it could mean is that you just have a longer and more protracted death of your business; a death by a thousand cuts – so to speak. Qualifying for a cheap rent is not going to suddenly equip you with the ability you need in communication and building up a rapport, combined with the energy and passion to do whatever is required to build a business.
Building a Personal Training Business
The process of building a business comes from knowing what you are doing. It looks like this:
- 1) Decide what your goal is, you have to have a goal either in sessions or monetary terms. Start with that. Perhaps start with what you have to earn to cover your bills if you feel a bit vague about this.
- 2) Assuming you are qualified and in the gym, you are going to have to now approach people. After all, the job of a PT is to talk to people, so practicing makes permanent. Take the pressure off and just start with this;
‘Hi there, my name is Andy. Just to let you know I’ll be around for the next 15 mins in the gym so if you need any help, want spotting, a bit of coaching or just a bit of company in your session, give me a shout. Have a great session.’
- 3) Design your consultation document, make it compelling and have some time in the gym planned as part of the session.
- 4) Get good at closing the deal – this comes from ‘building a case’ as to why they need your product. Build the value for god sake and stop offering vacuous discounts and deals. Get some belief in yourself and what it is you are here to do and take the game to the members.
- 5) Set yourself daily targets as to how many members you are going to talk to – AND stick to it.
Now consider: which part of the above process in building a successful business involved cheap rent? Obviously, if you are polished in this process and you have cheap rent, and you’re happy with your gym, then great! What’s next for you? Further upskilling, an increase in hourly rate... Go for it.
Experiences with Rent as a Personal Trainer
Talk to any of us who worked as a PT over 10 years ago, and we will tell you how much we paid in rent. I would regularly pay over £1000 per month as it was 25% of my total gross earnings. From one month to the next, the gym didn’t check whether my calculations were correct and I could have lied, but who would I have been comparing myself to. And, would I have excelled as quickly as I did if I spent more energy cooking the books, or in this case the logging sheet, as opposed to creating a reputation as a busy PT in the gym? You see, there are some things money just cannot buy. Reputation is one of them. Why waste that energy on looking backwards, when I wanted to invest ALL my energy in looking forward and competing with the best in the country.
Back in 2002 whilst Personal Training at LA Fitness, its big yielding sites were the London City sites where PTs were charging £20 - £40 per hour more than me. At the time, I charged £30 per hour. In contrast, their rent was also at least 40-60% more than mine, but I wanted to compete with them, I wanted to make more and I wanted to give more rent.
How I Became PT of the Year: Paying Rent
LA Fitness had over 50 clubs. There were, of course, multiple PTs within each club, so let’s say there were about 500 PT’s across the UK. My focus was to be the highest earning, highest yield to LA Fitness... Why? Because the more profit I made LA Fitness as a single trainer, the more indispensable I became to them, and the more value I held for them. And sure enough, using this competitive attitude against the highest charging PTs in London, and myself working in little old ‘Northwich’ in Cheshire, I made it into the Top 5 pretty much every month. By 2004 I had won PT of the Year award, and by late 2004 I was officially heading up the first PT Manager roles in the UK within the newly formed concept in LA Fitness.
‘I don’t say any of this to impress you. I say it to impress upon to you that if I can do it, you can do it too. Passion, enthusiasm and purpose, combined with a very clear and definite goal, will exceed and overcome talent, entitlement and words every time’.
Why Free Rent for PTs Doesn't Help Your Business
Now then; back to the point of my title. Had I come in at free rent, that motivating factor to get off my ass and get into the gym to earn money would likely have been reduced, and knowing there were no higher levels of rent being paid in the UK would have also caused a premature plateau of progress in my own mind.
So, in actual fact, not only is free rent or cheap rent not correlational in standing a better chance of building a PT business, contrary to very popular belief, it could actually be detrimental in a PT’s success. This is because there just isn’t enough perceived risk, therefore, not enough motivation.
In other words, the stakes simply aren’t high enough to galvanise a PT into action and break them through their terror barriers of approaching people. You conquer fear through what? Knowledge I hear you think. Well, not always. You conquer one fear through the realisation that if you don’t, a bigger fear is going to come and get you.
Despite the above, I do recognise that many of my own PT’s have truly benefitted from a lower rent as they needed more exposure time to build the characteristics and traits needed to build a business. The fact does remain, however, that they weren’t making a great deal of money during this phase.
Sounds like tough love, but this is the landscape of being self-employed. We do it because the benefits and perks of being such are potentially significantly high, but there is a price to pay. What we can’t do is attempt to enjoy the benefits of being self-employed and then claim we should really have been employed if it all goes wrong. Because you’ve been complicit in ‘playing the game’ until such a time has come that you’ve decided you want to get off the ride. You can read more about this in my previous article ‘Self Employment and PT’s – discussed’.
Let’s remind ourselves of the strength of mind, passion and energy needed to build a business as a sole trade individual - and not spit our dummies out if we fall short of this. The beauty, and I mean the real beauty of being a self-employed Personal Trainer is that you truly are in complete control of the result or the outcome.
I’ve worked with Personal Trainers (in person) in every County, and almost every City of the UK. I have worked with Personal Trainers over a 15-year period (not just recruiting them and never seeing them again, but actually working with them on the shop floor). Through this experience, I have yet to find anywhere that a Personal Trainer cannot work.
Becoming a Successful Personal Trainer
Look to your processes, marketing and systems. Fine tune them continuously until you’ve cracked it. We can help you do this. Damn it, even if it means we come to your gym to assist you, I wouldn’t put it past the obsessively passionate team that I’m privileged to work with to do that for you!
Build Your PT Business with Ease:
GSquared Personal Training Diploma & Personal Training Certificates
GSquared have now integrated the learnings behind these processes into their PT Diploma and PT Certificates. Thoroughly explaining how you can build your Personal Training business, with tried and tested techniques that have been directly formulated by leaders in the industry themselves.