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How to Start a Health and Fitness Business [Free Guide]

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Starting a successful and sustainable health and fitness business isn’t as simple as finding a niche market and telling people what you offer.

It’s way more daunting than that—which is why most people never do it.

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The good news: We’ve broken the entire process down into bite-sized tasks anyone can master.

With this free, step-by-step blueprint, you’ll learn how to:

Start a health and fitness biz now (even if you have “entrepreneur challenges” like a mortgage to pay and children to feed)

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Create products and services you’re proud of (and that your clients are ready and willing to pay for)

Optimize your workflow (so you can maximize your income without sacrificing your family or health)

Delight your clients and create raving fans (so they do most of your marketing for you)

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Even if entrepreneurship isn’t for you, this how-to guide is jam-packed with amazing tools and resources that can help you both work and live better.

For example, through a little partnership magic, we’re providing you with a $700 personality test you can take for FREE, no strings attached. The results will help you better understand what you’re good at and what challenges you—insights that can be invaluable no matter what your career path.

Ready to dig in? Let’s get started.

Step 1: Consider your context

You already know a client’s personal life and responsibilities will influence how much time and effort they can put toward their health and fitness goals.

The same is true for you and your entrepreneurial goals.

For example, if you have little to no savings—and dependents who rely on you—quitting a stable job for an entrepreneurial endeavor may not only seem scary, it could be the wrong thing for you.

So don’t beat yourself up if you’re finding it hard to “take the leap,” or if “now isn’t the right time.”

There are other ways to get started.

First, you can apply entrepreneurial practices within an innovative company, as part of your current (or new) job.

Often called “intrapreneurship,” this allows the creation of new products and services within an existing organization. And it’s becoming more and more popular. Indeed, you just might be able to find the creativity you’re looking for while also having the benefit of a stable paycheck.

Second, you could keep your day job and start a side business. (It might stay a side business, or maybe it eventually becomes your main source of income.)

We recommend this approach for most budding entrepreneurs who already have a stable income and want to test the market with their new ideas.

We’ll go deeper on this later in the guide, but for now, it’s important to spend some time learning about yourself.

Step 2: Gather relevant self-knowledge

One of the best ways to decide whether starting your own business is right for you is to learn more about yourself and how you work.

Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. While some folks’ superpowers align perfectly with what entrepreneurs need to succeed, other people’s skill sets may not be a good match.

How can you know if you’re well-suited to starting your own business?

We’ve created two assessments to help you decide.

Assessment #1: The Workview Assessment

Whether you want to work inside or outside the entrepreneurial realm, this two-minute assessment will help you:

  • Understand how you view your work and the role it plays in your life
  • Establish your own success metrics and use them to guide your daily decisions
  • Outline the key steps to take so you can live a more meaningful and fulfilling life

Click here for the Change Maker Academy Workview Assessment

Assessment #2: The Caliper Assessment

This personality test will help you figure out how to take advantage of your superpowers, mitigate your kryptonite, schedule your time more effectively, and collaborate with others in more mutually beneficial ways. In fact, at Precision Nutrition, every single job candidate is required to complete this assessment.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This assessment is robust and will take about 60 minutes to complete. While it normally costs $700 USD, it’s yours, right now, totally free. Once you complete it, you’ll receive a comprehensive report—with a breakdown of your personality and work insights—within five days.

It’s the most data-driven hiring tool on the market, and we’re excited to share it with you.

Click here for Caliper for Health and Fitness Professionals

Step 3: Map out what “starting” could look like

Let’s say you’ve done the assessments above and feel entrepreneurship is a good fit for you. (If it isn’t, that’s okay too.)

Our advice: Start small.

(Or, at least, start with “experiments” you can refine over time.)

Just as you’d likely recommend your clients ease into new health and wellness habits—and then build bigger ones as their skills and confidence grow over time—we encourage you to do the same when it comes to entrepreneurship.

You don’t need to go from zero to hero. 

Like anything worth doing, building a business takes time.

Unless you’re well-funded and have lots of free time, you might consider starting your business as a side hustle—something you do in addition to your primary work.

This has two benefits.

First, you’ll still have the peace of mind—and the ability to pay your bills—that comes from a steady paycheck.

Next, you’ll be able to test that what you want to offer is something people are willing to pay for—before you expect your business to deliver a reliable income.

While you might have to dedicate some evenings and weekends to make this happen, it’s amazing what can be accomplished in two to three hours of highly-focused, deep work.

Ask yourself this: What would “starting” look like if it didn’t have to be perfect?

Write out a plan for that approach. Even if you decide to “go big” with your first attempt, it’ll be useful to have a map for what it would look like if it were “easy.”

Step 4: Make a list of what you might offer the world

Once you’re ready to start your side hustle (or full-time new business), brainstorm a list of products and services that:

  • You’re interested in offering
  • You actually have the skills to pull off
  • You have access to the necessary resources for, or you have the ability and connections to acquire them
  • You think others might be willing to buy

The list can start long—and that’s fine. Brainstorms are best when lots of ideas, even bad ones, are allowed to emerge. You can prune the list later.

Here’s an example of what your brainstorm could look like:

Notice how there are hundreds of possible business ideas in this mind map.

It’s better to begin with too many ideas than not enough.

Step 5: Talk to people who have a track record of success

Once you have your seed ideas, find a few people who have done what you’d like to do—and have gotten paid for it—and ask them if you can interview them.

If they’re willing to talk to you for free, great. But don’t be afraid to pay them.

Paying to learn from smart, believable people is a great investment.

How much do you even offer? If you know their hourly rate, offering that amount is a safe bet. If you don’t, look up the salaries for similar roles—a quick Google search will do the trick—and use that as your guide.

Lastly, if you’re still feeling stuck, offer a generous amount (say, $100/hour). While it might seem like a lot, getting great advice will save you hours—if not weeks —of your time.

If they’re willing to share, ask more about:

  • where they list their services
  • how they find clients
  • how they get paid for what they do

(Make sure you’re not asking for client leads, pressing for new business opportunities, or asking for money. Remember: You’re just interviewing them about their own thinking, strategies, and tactics.)

Try to get a sense of what their average day looked like when they were building their business—and what it looks like today—to see if you’d actually be interested in the lifestyle that may be waiting for you.

Also, if you trust them with your ideas, consider asking their thoughts on your potential business concepts. Inquire as to which ones they think have potential, which may not, and why.

But…

Choose your sources wisely.

It’s sometimes difficult to tell who is actually doing well in the health and fitness space. For example, some of the best entrepreneurs we know don’t have a big public profile. They’re in the trenches every day working on their craft and motivating their teams.

So, unless your goal is to grow a large social following, we encourage you not to use someone’s number of followers (or public visibility) as your only criteria.

Likewise, some of the people making a big show on social media, or through PR campaigns, don’t have a business that matches their public performance. So, again, make sure you know whether the person you’re turning to for business-building advice is truly believable.

If the person does have tangible success, it’s important to make sure their version of success matches yours. For instance, if you want to create success online through creating sustainable client results, don’t copy someone who’s made money selling short-term (and possibly scammy) solutions.

Step 6: Narrow down your options

After you’ve had some discussions to get a better sense of what others have done to succeed and what they think of your options, begin to narrow down your choices.

Consider which potential business options seem more reasonable, which have a higher probability of success, and which you’re most excited about.

Do one or two rise above the rest? If so, consider setting aside the rest and fleshing out those with the most potential.

Step 7: Organize your ideas into a Lean Canvas

The Lean Canvas is a one-page business-plan template that’ll help you deconstruct your idea into its key assumptions.

Unlike detailed business plans that often take weeks or months to craft (and barely get read), the Lean Canvas takes 20 minutes to create and helps paint a good picture of your business at a glance.

Click here for the Change Maker Academy Lean Canvas Template
(with step-by-step instructions)

We recommend you fill this out to the best of your ability to get a general sense of what your idea entails, what assumptions you need to test, and what steps might be required to take your idea from vision to reality.

You can think of it as a working document that you can update every month or so as you find more evidence and test your idea in the real world.

Step 8: Talk to potential customers

In order to figure out what your potential clients want, and are willing to pay for, you need to talk with them, gather insights, and craft your offering to meet those needs.

Most businesses fail because they assume they know what clients want—and spend lots of time and money building it—only to find out later that no one actually wants what they’re selling.

To better understand your potential customers’ wants and needs, we recommend learning about a research methodology called Jobs To Be Done.

Jobs To Be Done helps you assume less, ask strategic questions, and listen deeply to figure out the real reasons people buy what they do, when they do.

It also helps you map people’s decision-making timelines, like this:

And the forces that push and pull them into making decisions, like this:

A full description of Jobs To Be Done goes beyond the scope of this article. However, here’s a good overview of the process.

Step 9: Create a prototype

Once you’ve collected enough data, distill what you learned from your prospective clients into a written product or service offering so that you can gather more feedback on a real pitch.

For example, you might sketch out the concept of a new gym or fitness center and its offerings. Or you might develop an outline for a 6-week coaching program and describe the benefits. Or you might create an overview of a new online tool or app.

Also write your elevator pitch as follows:

{Name of my product/service} helps {kind of person} 

to {action/benefit} so that they can {brighter future/more inspiring benefit} 

For more on this approach, here’s a fill-in-the-blank template for you:

The Perfect Elevator Pitch: A Template for Health & Fitness Pros

Once you have it, share your elevator pitch and product/service details with potential clients. Then ask follow-up questions like:

Keep tweaking your offering—and your language—based on feedback until it resonates with the people you’d ideally like to hire you.

Step 10: Try selling your offering

Once you have something you’re proud to offer, try actually selling it.

While you can use complicated marketing approaches, we recommend starting off simply. Just reach out to people in your own community by talking to them the way people talk to one another (in person, over the phone, on video conferences, via email, through direct messages).

This is a great way to get started as it’ll feel more natural. Plus, if you can’t get people who already know, like, and trust you interested in what you’re offering, you shouldn’t expect strangers to give you more of a chance.

However, if you’d like to float your idea out to strangers, you can also post your offer on digital platforms like social media, upwork.com, and freelancer.com to see if anyone is willing to inquire about your products and services without actually knowing you.

Trying to sell something is one of the best ways to find out if what you have to offer is valuable to others and is recognized as such. If it is, great. If not, iterate quickly here. Gather more feedback and make changes.

Note: Don’t expect to get paid very much out of the gate.

The amount you make is highly correlated with your level of experience. Early on, some of the best remuneration you can receive comes in the form of feedback and testimonials.

If folks are willing to be your guinea pigs—while providing you thoughtful, structured ways you can improve—embrace it. If you serve them well, they might be willing to provide testimonials afterward, giving you extremely valuable social proof.

Step 11: Deliver the thing you promised

If the previous step worked out well, you’ll be bringing on a few new clients. Congrats! Now it’s time to deliver on what you promised.

That, of course, is an entire article unto itself, so we’ll have to save this advice for another day. For now, we’ll just assume you already have the required skills to produce the products or deliver the services you’re selling.

However, it’s worth mentioning that, in the early stages, it’s important to spend extra time with customers so you can keep on top of problems that arise and really nail the experience.

If it’s your first time selling a product or services, you might even give them a price discount in exchange for feedback every step of the way.

The Thinking Aloud Technique is a great approach to collecting that kind of feedback, and we’ve used it with great success.

Step 12: Reflect on what you’ve learned

After offering your services to one person—or to a small group of people—reflect on how it went.

Specifically, ask yourself questions like these:

Give this some serious reflection. If you discover that you don’t like doing what you thought you’d like, that’s fine. Better than fine, actually. Because you can now stop moving down a path that was headed for disaster.

At this point, you can tweak your idea, choose an entirely different idea, or go find work that better aligns with your new sense of what could bring you meaning and contentment.

Step 13: Keep practicing

When you’re new at something, you’re going to suck. Instead of resisting that reality, embrace it.

If you see every new opportunity as a means to hone your skills and become the ultimate Change Maker, and trust your ability to learn and aggregate thoughtful feedback, you’ll get better.

The key, however, is to hunt feedback. Don’t just make yourself open to it. Go out and gather it. Aggressively. In all formats.

If you’ve struggled with asking for feedback in the past, or struggled with your emotions in response to feedback, these three strategies will help:

Mastering Feedback: Use These 3 No-Nonsense Strategies To Give and Receive Feedback Like A Pro

Step 14: As you have success, scale up

Once enough people are paying you for your services, you feel confident in your ability to generate enough income to support your current lifestyle, and you’re sure you have systems in place to service an influx of new clients—take the plunge. Dive into your business.

At this stage, it might be best to hire a good tactical business coach who can teach you how to price your services and create high-converting web pages and social media pages that will show up for your target audiences, tell your story, and turn visitors into leads.

You may also want to test a few ads for attracting people to your pages and capturing their email addresses. This will allow you to keep in touch with them and share more about your products and services.

(Again, get some coaching: Without some know-how, paid ads will largely be a waste of money.)

As you collect new leads, be sure to keep in touch with them. Some people call this “email marketing” but we prefer what Giovanni Marsico of Archangel Academy says here:

“In today’s notification-filled, busy-busy world, your dream client will need to be reminded approximately 27 times before they have enough information and confidence to be able to actually pay you.

Entrepreneurs who only care about the bottom line might see this as a bad thing because they don’t want to put in the work, but I see it as 27 opportunities to send marketing love notes to my future clients, imbuing them with information and inspiration to support them in their goals.”

And remember to do your math.

If it takes, say, 30 impressions to get an inquiry, and, say, 10 inquiries to set up a consultation call, and you close 50 percent of those calls, that means you’ll need to be exposed to people 600 times to get one sale.

And that presumes you’re able to get on the phone with people. If you’re in the digital game, assume even lower conversions.

A general guideline we use is that, for every 100,000 people you reach through social media, you can expect less than 1 percent of them to click through to your website (1,000 people). For every 1,000 people who click, less than 20 percent will give you their name and email address (200 people). And, for every 200 people who give you their name and email address, less than 10 percent of those will buy something (20 people).

So expect to put in a lot of reps before you earn clients.

Use the experience to tweak your marketing message and your service offering to see what gets you more visitors and which approach converts more of these visitors and inquiries into more clients.

Step 15: Effectively manage your time

Now it’s time to think about your schedule.

When you were working full time, you may have had 2-3 hours—if you were lucky—to devote to your side business. You might assume that when you quit, you’ll be able to multiply your effort by three to four times.

This is not always the case.

The thing about restricting your time is that it often restricts the work that you’re able to do, which forces you to focus on what matters most and minimize procrastination.

With a whole unstructured day ahead of you, it can be easy to get in the habit of sleeping in, working on low-leverage tasks (as a means to avoid doing the tasks that are challenging but actually matter), and spinning your wheels.

Alternatively, you may experience work-life blur, where you’re never sure if it’s “work-time” or not.

To help mitigate the transition, we recommend making a schedule that includes when you’ll be doing what.

Block off time for sleeping, eating, exercising, walks outside, and time with family and friends. Also, block off time for different kinds of work tasks.

In some ways, starting your own business means becoming more schedule-bound. The nice part, though, is that you—in collaboration with colleagues and loved ones—get to come up with the schedule.

Step 16: Create a business structure

As your business grows, you’re also going to need to set up a workflow that’s:

  • repeatable (so routine tasks become more automated)
  • scalable (so adding twice as many clients doesn’t double the work)
  • measurable (so you can quantify what’s happening in the most important aspects of your business)

This is done by looking at your overall workflow, highlighting the components that drive the most value in terms of revenue, and acknowledging which components can be outsourced or let go of altogether.

For example, a high-level workflow of a health and fitness professional working directly with clients as a fitness, nutrition, or health coach might look like this:

Looking at the above workflow, you can see that you’ll need to wear many hats. You’ll need to engage in sales and marketing (so you can attract the type of clients you want in the first place), you’ll need to understand your clients’ needs and help them change using both physiological and psychological methodologies, you’ll need to collect payments, and more.

The good news is that the more often you thoughtfully repeat this cycle, always looking for ways to automate the process, the more skilled and efficient you’ll become.

Over time, you might even find ways to minimize the future effort required for some of your tasks, by creating nutrition templates, information sheets, and more that you can tweak and reuse later.

And, when you can afford to, you might even decide to outsource some of your activities to someone who is more skilled in doing so, or bringing on team members with skill sets that complement yours.

Step 17: Create a customer journey map

As you get more reps at delivering your products and services, a great way to improve is to create a customer journey map.

This is a way to outline the experience your customer has from the time they initially engage with your organization, through the delivery of your services, and beyond.

By taking the time to map out your customer’s journey with you, you can identify and address points of friction.

For example, maybe you discover that your clients are confused about how to purchase your services on your website. You can then spend time making this process seamless, so they don’t get frustrated and walk away.

It can also be used to highlight moments where there are opportunities to delight your customers or create special moments for your clients.

For instance, you might notice that your personal training clients’ journeys tend to look something like this:

As a result, you might plan to give them:

  • a gift card and a handwritten note to make them feel welcome
  • dog biscuits for their beloved dog’s birthday
  • a mid-point spa package to celebrate their progress
  • a trophy for making it through the “Valley of Despair” and building confidence
  • a personalized journal and a high-quality pen to thank them for their referral

In the end, everyone wants to feel special. So you’re either going to need to find a way to make people feel special yourself, in your business, or you’ll need to work for someone else who does.

A customer journey map can help you eliminate friction points as well as find opportunities to surprise and delight your clients and customers.

Step 18: Make your business remarkable

There are three simple rules that govern any business:

  • Find out what people really want and are willing to pay for
  • Do something awesome to deliver it
  • Tell everyone about it

If you want a business that scales, you’ll make something so great (by doing steps one and two) that your clients will want to tell everyone about your services for you.

If you can find ways to meet not only your client’s surface-level needs (like losing weight or getting jacked) but also delivering upon their deeper needs (like helping them become a more present parent or partner) in a seamless fashion, eventually, clients will be coming to you with very little marketing effort.

For a free lesson in which Dr. Berardi details the three steps above, with lots of examples, check out this video:

Customer Research, Product Development, and Marketing with Dr. Berardi

The Entrepreneur’s Opportunity

Fun fact: There are more entrepreneurs today than at any time in history.

This means there are endless opportunities to start a health and fitness business of your own—from creating in-person coaching services, to offering online coaching services, to selling app-based or wearable health and fitness technologies—doing work that you’re passionate about.

Work that can change lives. (And, possibly, the world.)

Of course, no single article can help you figure out everything you need to succeed in business. However, we hope this one provided some tools that you can implement to minimize your risk and maximize your impact.

To get all these tools in one place, for free, check out:

The Change Maker’s Guide To Starting A Health & Fitness Business (Free Download Bundle)


If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

You can help people build nutrition and lifestyle habits that improve their physical and mental health, bolster their immunity, help them better manage stress, and get sustainable results. We’ll show you how.

If you’d like to learn more, consider the PN Level 1 Nutrition Coaching Certification.

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