The Number ONE Reason Why Personal Trainers Fail … and it’s not what you think it is.

A high percentage of Personal Trainers get chewed up and spat out of the industry within their first 12 months. The most common reason? Not treating their business like they would a client. 

Sound familiar? On the edge? This article is going to save your personal training career. 

Are you a personal trainer who is meticulous with their clients? Your onboarding processes are on point – professional and welcoming. You have tracking sheets, check-in forms, and everything you need for your clients to get the best possible start to their health and fitness journey.

But – let me guess, you’ve never tracked your own leads. You’ve never tracked where clients have come from, or even how much money you are earning weekly or monthly.

Not treating your own business as a client is a sure-fire way for you to be another sad statistic in the high drop-out rate of personal trainers.

In this article, I’m going to show you why you need to focus on your business in the same way you do with your clients, and how simple it can be to transform the way your business works. 

Be smart about your OWN goals 

Let’s go back to basics. You’re taught the SMART principles for goal setting and why they’re so important for your clients’ success. But when have you applied those same principles for your own business goals? It’s difficult to score if you haven’t got a goal to aim for.

Lets quickly review the SMART principles:

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Attainable

R – Realistic

T – Time-based 

When a new client comes to you, you’ll both sit down and go through these principles to ensure that they can achieve what they set out to do. But we’ll often skip that step when we’re looking to make our own business more successful.

Just like Sally coming in to lose 100lbs, we have to make sure that we’re smart about our goals.

We’re good at helping Sally realise that 0.5-1% of her total bodyweight per week is a measurable, attainable, and realistic goal. But somewhere we disconnect with our own goals when we say we want to earn $$$$’s per month.

Just like when Sally wants to lose weight, we will track many variables to see what is really going on to control the outcome – weight loss. It’s the same for our business when we want to create more revenue – we control the variables that allow us to make more money.

For example:

You want to earn £40,000 this year

On the surface, that looks like a fairly large number, and if not broken down it’s probably not an achievable number.

However, if we break it down and say that one session with you is £40, it would mean:

£40,000 / £40 = 1,000 sessions

1000 / 52 = 19.2 sessions per week

20 / 5 = 4 sessions per day

Straight away, how simple does that look? Four sessions per day, five times per week, 52 times per year would be enough for you to make £40,000 this year

Attainable, measurable, time-based, and specific to your goal of making more money. Happy days -right?!

What does your next mesocycle for your business look like?

I know, you haven’t got one.

But I can bet you’ve programmed ahead for your clients based on their goals. You’ve worked out what they need to do this week, for the next four weeks and for the next 12 weeks. You know that if they follow this through, they will achieve their goals at the end of it.

Why should your business be any different? It shouldn’t. Just like your clients, focused phases of programming for your business are imperative to the success of your career.

  • How are we going to make sure we get those 4 sessions a day? 
  • How can we ensure we’re hitting our 20 sessions per week?
  • What’s your social media schedule?

More often than not we will just do these randomly; we have no real structure or plan for both servicing clients, and our marketing efforts. Not only will creating a schedule, and structured plan make your life much easier but it’ll actually help you towards your goals too.

It’s not just that though… you also need to audit your target clients. Find out what they’re going to get value from, choose how you can best help them, and then plan your content around that data. This will ensure your efforts are best met.

It’s not all about social media either. Something so many personal trainers forget is the power of in-person marketing, some examples of which include:

  • Printed recipes and guides handed out to clients in the gym
  • In-person seminars for weight loss, nutrition, and the basics for what your clients might need to be successful
  •  Lifting and technique workshops

What are the calories in your business? 

Remember Sally, our weight loss client? We’ve done the SMART goals and we’ve laid out her programme… So what do we get her to do next? Some form of calorie tracking, depending on where she is currently at.

But what are the ‘calories’ of your business? What metrics are you tracking? All of them? Some of them? None of them?

In order to grow your business, some of the things you should be tracking include:

  • Full and current client database including their details, how they heard about you and why did they choose you to be their trainer
  • How many conversations you’ve had on the gym floor that day
  • How many leads came in this week and where they came from
  • Amount of consultations delivered
  • Current weekly/monthly sessions
  • Your monthly finances, both income and expenses
  • Profit and loss

Not only are these the ‘calories’ of your business, but they’re also the lifeblood of your business. If you don’t know what these are, or have no idea, it’s likely you may become another sad statistic of those out of the industry within their first 12 months.

Just like Sally, track the variables that you know will have the greatest impact on the outcome you want; surviving longer than the average personal trainer and making it into a lucrative career choice. 

Who’s there to call you out and make YOU work? 

Yep – you know it. Sally is struggling this week so you send her a little nudge and dig her out of the hole she was in. You help keep her accountable and focused on the goals you’ve set together. But who does that for you?

Accountability comes in many forms. Whether it is a daily nudge, a weekly check-in, a call or a monthly sit-down and braindump. We do these for our clients, but who’s doing it for you with your business?

Here’s the bottom line, coaches who have their own coaches are often the most successful. Whether that’s someone to learn from, someone to call you out on your own bullshit. We both know that a client wanting to lose 30lbs has a far greater chance of doing that if they seek help from someone qualified to give it.

Go it alone and not only may it take you more time, but you’re more likely to give up when you don’t reach the goals you set yourself.

And there it is…the Number ONE reason why most Personal Trainers fail:


How can you expect to know what to do in business if you’re only an expert in health and fitness? You’re not expected to know and that’s okay. That’s why getting your own coach to help set SMART goals for your business, keep you accountable to your daily actions, and help you forecast the results you said you wanted.

It’s a no brainer.

BUT you do need to be careful. There are a lot of ‘Fitness Gurus’ out there that promise the beach and cocktail lifestyle but haven’t produced any results themselves.

IF you’re going to go down the route of hiring a business coach or personal trainer for your own business then make sure you know, like, and trust that they are the right person to get the right results for your business.

Like our clients, no one size fits all. So, make sure you choose someone who has a proven track record of working with businesses like your own and knows how to grow and scale it. Not just someone who’ll offer you a generic blueprint and expect it to fit your own needs and model.

TL;DR but want the juice

  • Our clients have systems that help them get from point A to B. Your business doesn’t. Create tracking sheets, check-in sheets, and other forms of tracking for your business
  • Spend more time working ON your business than IN your business
  • Try and focus on being more organised with your business. Set times and hours where you do certain things. Plan for your content and your marketing efforts
  • Try and find a coach or someone to keep you accountable to the things you know you need to do
  •  Be careful of whom you trust if you go down the business coach route, there are some great and some terrible fitness gurus in this space

If you are not yet a personal trainer but would like a roadmap on how to become a qualified trainer while working a full-time job, give this blog a read – Click here


Blog Author

Luke Johnson

Luke started educating Personal Trainers out of a desire to improve the quality of the fitness industry. 5 years, two children and 1000 students later, he’s not lost that relentless determination to empower fitness professionals.

Do Personal Trainers need a business coach?