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If you are a personal trainer (PT) looking to start your own personal training business in New Zealand, you have a few options available:

  • working within an existing club or facility by renting a space;
  • becoming a freelance or mobile PT;
  • owning your premises (PT studio or small gym); or 
  • taking a franchise of an existing model like Jetts. 

With so many New Zealanders exercising regularly or using fitness facilities, starting a personal training business can quickly become a lucrative venture, as long as you plan things well. This article will outline:

  • the steps to start a personal training business;
  • how to set up your business; and
  • market your services.

Qualifications and Licences 

To work as a personal trainer in New Zealand, you are not required to have any specific qualifications or licences. However, joining the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) in New Zealand may have many advantages for your business, including demonstrating that you: 

  • are competent;
  • have gained recognised and approved qualifications; 
  • are committed to improving your skills through professional development; and
  • work practices are ethical; and
  • have appropriate public liability insurance.

These attributes can help you acquire new clients and increase customer retention, especially in the fitness industry, where word of mouth is such an important tool to grow your business’s brand awareness.

If you are looking to gain further qualifications, including your National Certificate in Fitness (Personal Training Business Skills), you can enquire with Skills Active. This is New Zealand’s Industry Training Organisation for the recreation, sport and fitness industries. There is a cost to study with Skills Active. 

You can also get a New Zealand Certificate in Exercise (Level 4) through Open Polytechnic, for which you may be eligible to get a student loan form the government.

Obtaining your REPs registration gives you the ability to work in over thirty-five other countries. You can check the REPs website for more details. 

Choosing Your Business Model and Structure

If you have recently completed your qualifications, or you would like to explore the benefits of not having to work for other people, you may want to consider starting your own PT business. You could use one of these models:

  • renting a space within an existing club or facility, for example at Les Mills or Jetts;
  • becoming a freelance or mobile PT, and work from your client’s homes, office, gym or outdoor spaces;
  • setting up a PT studio or small gym at home (or leasing a premise); or
  • buying a franchise of an already existing model.

The first two options are the most common as they have a low cost to set up. These models suit PTs that operate their business as a sole trader (you may also know this as self-employed or contractor).

Partnership

You can also structure your business as a partnership, which allows you to work alongside other PTs and share the setup costs and business decision making. 

For example, you may enjoy the fitness-related elements of being a PT, but dislike the administrative tasks required to run or grow your business. Here, you may want to consider starting a partnership with someone who has strong business skills.

Limited Company

Another typical business structure in New Zealand is a limited company. This structure has many financial advantages, such as:

  • being able to limit your financial liability for the debts of the business; and 
  • enjoying a lower tax rate on the business’s income. 

Business Location

If you have access to some spare capital or a business loan facility with your bank, setting up a small gym at home or buying a franchise may be more attractive options. The REPs offer some guidance on what equipment you need to set yourself up and how much it costs.

Running a business from home has many benefits, such as not having to commute to another location and being able to share the expenses of owning or renting your house with your business. 

For example, you can use the business-related portion of these costs towards decreasing your business’s tax debt.

Pros and Cons of Owning Your Own PT Business

If you are having trouble deciding which model to choose to set up your PT business, take a look at this comparison where we have summarised the pros and cons of each.

Business Model 

Pros

Cons 

Renting a space within an existing club or facility.

Positives of this model include:

  • equipment and facility provided;
  • other PTs to learn from; and
  • can advertise your services to existing gym members.

Negatives of this model include:

  • club policies and rules to adhere to;
  • no guarantee of getting new clients (you will still need to market yourself);
  • competition from other PTs for clients; and
  • rent to pay regardless of income.

Becoming a freelancer or mobile PT.

Positives of this model include:

  • no rent to pay (unless you use your client’s gym);
  • fewer restrictions or rules to follow;
  • greater catchment area; and 
  • stronger value proposition to clients. 

Negatives of this model include:

  • equipment cost;
  • vehicle cost;
  • acquiring new clients can be more challenging and expensive;
  • subject to the weather when training outside; and
  • additional travel time and costs.

Setting up a PT studio or small gym at home (or leasing a premise).

Positives of this model include:

  • owning your pricing strategy;
  • rent unutilised space to others; and
  • you can set your own rules.

Negatives of this model include:

  • large overheads (rent, insurance rates, utilities, equipment purchase or leasing);
  • employer obligations; and
  • health and safety obligations 

Buying a franchise

A positive of this model is that you can leverage an existing brand.

A negative is that there are high setup costs.

 

You should run a number of questions past your lawyer, including:

  • deciding on the most beneficial structure for your business, especially if you are going into business with other people;
  • drafting (or reviewing) your commercial lease and employment agreements; and 
  • reviewing your franchise agreement.

Even though you may want to save up startup costs by making these decisions yourself, this could result in much higher expenses later down the track.

Your Essential Legal Obligations

When you start a new business in New Zealand, you have some essential legal obligations, including:

  • registering your business with the Companies Office or the NZBN (optional);
  • registering with Inland Revenue for tax purposes (this may include income tax, provisional tax, GST and as an employer);
  • meeting your health and safety obligations;
  • registering a trade mark for your business name and (or) website domain (optional); 
  • meeting fair trading regulations; 
  • meeting your contractual obligations (when signing any agreement with your clients, lessor or employees);
  • protecting your clients’ privacy (personal information);
  • understanding your legal responsibilities towards your employees and contractors; 
  • meeting your obligations as a franchisee; and
  • meeting your obligations when marketing your services (for example, antispam laws). 

It is crucial to understand these requirements and to think about how you will comply with them. For example, some helpful tools include: 

  • compiling a list of regulations that apply to your business or industry using business.govt.nz’s Compliance Matters tool;
  • setting up key tasks and milestones using a free project management tool like Trello; and 
  • outsourciing the tasks that are outside of your expertise to your lawyer or accountant so that you can focus on the operational side of running your business.

If you need help understanding some of your essential legal obligations, in addition to your lawyer or accountant, you can get advice from:

  • Inland Revenue’s small business unit provides guidance to businesses on tax matters;
  • local chambers of commerce provide support and advice on various business matters to their members; or
  • Exercise NZ offers membership for both sole trader trainers, and to studios and clubs, including advice and support on all business matters. 

Obtaining Business Insurance

From damage to your business property to loss of income, there is a lot to think about when it comes to getting your PT business insured. Every business is different, and therefore your insurance policies should be tailored to your needs. A broker can help you identify some of the most significant risks you should get coverage for, and find the most competitive policies. These are common insurance types taken out by PT businesses: 

  • business insurance;
  • professional indemnity;
  • public liability; and
  • products liability.

Marketing Your Services 

Choosing a Name and Logo for Your Business

The key to choosing a great business name for your PT business is to use your own name. Avoid spending too much on coming up with a business name and focus on promoting yourself as your brand. Many clients do not remember fitness business names, especially if they are mainstream and unmemorable, but they will remember you and your name.

Keep your logo simple and avoid relying solely on colour for its effect. When picking a font for your logo, use a clear one that it is easy to read. Think about how your logo will look on a variety of media, such as:

  • web;
  • print; 
  • clothing; and
  • signs. 

Acquiring New Clients

A vital part of growing your business is acquiring new clients and increasing customer retention. When it comes to acquiring new leads, you should think about whom you target and how you target them. You should consider promoting your business through a mixture of the following channels:

  • a website (a minimum of your profile, picture, contact details and a contact form);
  • email;
  • social media;
  • gym floor and group fitness classes;
  • local papers and publications; 
  • schools; 
  • health professionals; 
  • sports teams and clubs; 
  • public notice boards; and
  • signage.

Right from the start, you should keep a record of every contact and lead you acquire. This includes, at a minimum, their:

  • name;
  • email; and
  • how they came to be on your list.

This will help you to identify hot leads and loyal customers and reach out to them through email marketing. Also, gather testimonials from people you work with at least every two months, to help establish your credibility. 

Key Takeaways 

Setting up your PT business can seem daunting at first, but the key to guaranteeing your success is strategic planning and utilising the support network you have available in New Zealand. You should consider compiling a list of key steps to set up your business, which should include: 

  • getting registered with REPs;
  • choosing your business model; 
  • understanding your essential legal obligations;
  • getting your business insured; and 
  • marketing your services.

If you need help with setting up a PT business, drafting your employment agreements, or reviewing your lease or franchise agreement, contact LegalVision’s business lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

FAQs

What are the different business structures I can choose for my personal training business?

As a personal trainer, you can choose between a sole trader, partnership or company structure for your business. Which structure you choose will depend on your plans for business growth, amongst other factors.

Do I need any qualifications to be a personal trainer?

While you legally do not need any qualifications to be a personal trainer, it is beneficial to join the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs). This will add credibility to your business and show your commitment to professional development.

Do I need insurance for my personal training business?

Each business is different and will have different insurance needs. The most common insurance types taken out by PT businesses are business insurance, professional indemnity, public liability and products liability.

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