One of the biggest areas to go in to when you’re thinking of working for yourself is the health and wellness field. Fitness is a multi-billion dollar industry within itself, with millions of people spending a lot of money to get physically fit. From gym memberships to boot camp classes, the market is huge and is not over-saturated, meaning there’s enough room for you to join and make a very nice living.

One particular career in health and wellness is becoming a personal trainer. A personal trainer is a professional who helps clients individually with achieving their fitness goals, by providing clear instructions on the proper way to perform exercises, holding their clients accountable to maintaining a fitness schedule, and giving them much needed motivation. So if you’re interested in health and helping people, becoming a personal trainer may be for you.

While some personal trainers are employed by gyms or fitness clubs, you can also be an entrepreneur and have your own personal training services. So what are the start up costs involved with becoming a personal trainer?

Personal Trainer Certification

To be taken seriously as a personal trainer, you will need to seek certification. With the popularity of becoming a fitness trainer, there have been more and more organizations offering certification courses and exams. However, there are two that are truly taken seriously and widely recognized in the industry:

  • The American Council on Exercise, better known as ACE, is an authority in this field. They’re a nonprofit organization started in 1985, and have certified over 34,000 trainers. Their personal trainer certification exam will cost you $399, and their study materials for the exam range between $499 and $799. These study materials include an exam voucher that lasts for 6 months.
  • The National Academy of Sports Medicine, or NASM, is another well known name in personal trainer certification. They’re a for profit company that started in 1987, and have certified over 22,000 trainers. NASM’s exam costs $599, and study materials go from $599-$999, including a 180 day exam voucher.
Choosing which certification for you will depend on what your specialty will be. Will you work with all kinds of clients, or a niche like women or seniors? Along with certification, you may want to be credentialed in a particular area of fitness, so that you help certain types of clients. Credentials will range in price, running around $199 and $499.

Choosing a Business Entity

If you’re becoming a personal trainer on your own, meaning you’re employing yourself, you’ll want to choose the right business entity. Let’s say you want your personal training company to be called John Hope’s Fitness Group. You’ll want to ensure you’re protected legally. You may want to be a sole proprietor, an S Corp, or maybe an LLC.

You’ll want to consult a lawyer who specializes in setting up business structures, and an accountant to see which entity will be right for you tax wise. Legal entity costs will vary depending on if you file the papers on your own, or if you choose someone to file them for you (like LegalZoom). Filing fees vary by state and country, as well as which entity you choose.

Marketing Costs

Have you heard the phrase “if you build it, they will come”? Not so fast fitness pro. You’ll need to get the word out about your business. You’ll want to leverage some traditional marketing tactics, like business cards, brochures, and flyers. You’ll also want to use the power of the Internet for more marketing. You’ll want a website, social network profiles, and maybe you can do some online advertising targeting people in your service area.

Getting started with your marketing can cost you around $100 by getting the bare minimum materials: website domain, business cards, flyers. You can either get creative and thrifty, doing everything yourself, or if you want a more professional look, hiring a designer will cost you a bit more than $100.

“Office Space”

So where are you going to be working at? Being an independent personal trainer, you have options. You can choose a park or beach nearby to meet your clients, go to their house, or maybe rent some space for them to come. It all depends on your goals and theirs. If you need more equipment, you should get a space where the equipment can stay and where your clients can come.

There’s no shortage of creative space for trainers. You can turn an industrial looking warehouse into your own fitness club, but it will cost you in rent (upward up $200/month depending on location), and also in equipment if you have to buy fitness machines and other accessories.

Start up costs to become a personal trainer definitely aren’t cheap, but it all depends on the route you take. You can definitely look to spend at least $500 to get started, which isn’t bad when you compare it to other small business costs. Just consider your goals, your clientele, and your market, and go from there.



Briana Myricks is a 20 something freelance writer and blogger. Striving for financial independence as a newlywed, she blogs about young married life at 20 and Engaged.