For a lot of people, fitness isn’t just a way of life, it’s their career. If you’re one of the people who caught the fitness bug this new year (or if you’ve always had it) you may be wondering how to further incorporate it into your life. Turning your passion into a career can be incredibly rewarding. Not only are you doing what you love, but you’re sharing that love with others.
Here are five tips for turning your fitness hobby into a profession:
1. Find your niche
To truly be a business and compete for market share, you’re going to have to have a specialty. If your goal is to teach yoga, but there are multiple yoga studios in your area, what are you going to do to separate yourself? This could come down to the type of yoga you offer (hot, yin, vinyasa), or to the clientele you serve. If your studio is only for women, children, or seniors you have a differentiator. Look around in your area to find out what’s missing. But make sure you new idea makes sense. There’s a reason why certain fitness businesses don’t already exist.
2. Start with one-on-one clients
If you’re not looking to quit your day job just yet, start slow. You probably already have friends who come to you for your fitness expertise. Tell them you plan on turning your love of fitness into a business and ask them to recommend you to friends. You can also go to nearby gyms and see if they’re in need of personal trainers or group fitness instructors. Not only does this provide you with some structure and training, it’s also a great way to meet new clients. Nothing says you have to launch your business by opening your own studio and having hundreds of clients from day one. If you start small you can even see clients in your home, in a park, or you can rent space from a local business. Be on the lookout for small businesses that have more space than they need, or that are open odd hours. Offering to rent their space could be helping you both.
3. Establish your credentials
Have you competed in multiple marathons and want to train people to do the same? Do you have a degree in fitness or health? Have you completed any courses in personal training. People will be more likely to trust you if you can show them your credentials. This may mean that you need to invest in some training. Look into local PT certification or nutrition and wellness classes at nearby schools. Not only will more credentials give you credibility, the more you know, the more you can help your clients. You should also share your personal fitness journey with your clients. Tell them how you came to be passionate about fitness and why you think it’s important. After all, you were your first client.
4. Find a mentor
When starting your own business having someone to show you the ropes can be invaluable. The best mentors come from similar, but not competing businesses. For instance, if you want to start a Barre studio you could ask someone who owns a crossfit gym for advice. While they’re both fitness studios, you won’t necessarily be targeting the same clients. But be aware of the limitations as well. While someone who owns a fitness business can be a great resource for advice on funding, rules and regulation, and building a database of clients, you’re going to have to figure out the marketing on your own. You can also ask an accountant or bookkeeper who serves fitness clients for help. They can offer financial expertise that could save you from going bankrupt before you start.
5. Seek out your customers
Speaking of marketing, word of mouth can only get you so far. After you’ve exhausted your friends of friends group, it will be time to find new customers. Your local community is a great place to start. Put up fliers in local businesses (coffee shops, churches, health food stores). Create a Facebook page so you have somewhere to send prospective clients, and ask all of your current clients to leave reviews for you. Make sure you have business cards, and don’t be afraid to use them when someone seems interested in your business. You can also offer free first sessions to all new clients. It may mean you’re spending a lot of hours not making money, but building up a client base takes time. Also, seek out the health community in your area. Are there health fairs? Fitness talks at the library? A runners group that’s free to join? Embed yourself in the community and you’ll find clients start coming to you.