The personal training industry has more than doubled in recent years. New gyms, studios, franchise business models and countless other opportunities are available to personal trainers today. With so many possible career paths and directions, making a decision on which way to go can be nothing short of mind boggling.
At the same time, a growing number of personal trainers are earning larger incomes than ever before. This is something I have witnessed firsthand, over the years. Not only are trainers increasingly more financially successful in the organization I began over 25 years ago, which now employs 3,000 trainers responsible for training over 30,000 clients each week, but personal trainers worldwide are doing better as well. According to IHRSA, the fitness industry grew 39% from 1997 to 2002, while gym memberships are growing at a staggering rate as well.
This tells us more people are putting revenue into our industry. Not only does this cause financial growth, but it also presents daily opportunities for all of us working within the fitness business to become more proficient professionals and fine tune our skills. Because the more we know about ourselves while learning from the mistakes of others, the better we can serve our clients and earn greater incomes.
On that note, I'd like to present to you two mistakes that I see personal trainers make on a frequent basis. These items are taken directly from The Eight Biggest Mistakes Personal Trainers Make, an interactive, information-rich book I recently published to help other trainers learn more about themselves while drawing from my 25 years of experience in this exciting industry. Let me share these two common mistakes with you now.
First, on a regular basis I meet with personal trainers who are so desirous of being independent that they lose sight of the big picture. They are focused on picking up the nickels and dimes while over-looking the hundred dollar bills staring them in the face. My goal here is to educate fellow personal trainers, never manipulate, so I would like to share what I have learned from my experience in franchising. Since I know the business of franchising so well, as I have set up over 400 personal training studios and now over 40 massage therapy studios, I have learned the power of following a pattern of success. In other words, I do what is already proven to work.
There are many misconceptions held by personal trainers relating to the franchise world, or what I call the "success duplication" model. In explaining the benefits of being involved with a franchise model, I will use Fitness Together (FT) as an example, since I know it so well.
Many trainers are so desirous of doing it on their own that they overlook the benefits of working with a proven success model. By taking advantage of a franchise model, a license, a business opportunity or other proven roadmap, you will be able to take advantage of the success of others. By piggybacking on success, you are not only investing in a proven business plan but also supporting ongoing industry research & development, fresh new marketing plans developed by highly paid advertising and marketing professionals and new operations procedures to better enhance your business operations. Systems such as these could drown a typical "mom and pop" shop but will facilitate success because of the power of a well-designed success model. I can only speak for the systems established by Fitness Together, such as investing over $100,000 per year to develop new marketing and advertising campaigns to help franchise business owners gain more clients. Fitness Together does all the creative work, buys the graphics, creates season-specific ads and even tests the ads for effectiveness. Fitness Together also establishes a coaching and mentoring program called the Great Eight program, where eight new Fitness Together owners work with one Fitness Together leader for six weeks to maximize effectiveness.
Any good franchising company also provides a detailed operations manual so that the new owner can be systems-driven rather than owner-driven. Most personal trainers who are considering studio ownership have no time or training to develop an entire blueprint for studio systemization. As an example, at FT we have put 25 years of experience into the operations manual.
Because there are a handful of key business principles that a business owner must be refreshed on, another trait of a quality business opportunity program is one that trains owners on marketing, advertising, sales, employee acquisition and retention, growth issues, client issues and so forth. To specifically address issues like these, our organization conducts daily teleseminars at 11:00 AM.
In addition, a quality business opportunity will include a regular owners' conference for the owners to meet each other, network, brainstorm ideas and generally recharge their batteries. Not only does this benefit the business owner, but it also reconfirms that they are part of an industry with virtually no limits.
Finally, a quality business opportunity or franchise model will have strong corporate support. For example, at Fitness Together every new business owner is assigned a project manager to assist in the entire studio setup process, very similar to having a general contractor when one builds a house.
While there are many more benefits to being part of a franchise company or other structured fitness business opportunity program, it is unhelpful to have negative thoughts or feeling toward a franchise organization due to a lack of knowledge. Please use the above points to help evaluate your decision-making process. Educate yourself about potential career paths and business opportunities carefully, because choosing the wrong opportunity could be one of the most costly mistakes of your life.
The next topic I wanted to address is project completion. Every day, our lives are literally composed of tasks — some complex, some simple.  Some tasks are more important than others, as they relate to a desirable outcome. It has been my experience that most personal trainers are so proficient at accumulating mounds of cutting-edge information that this is clouding the process of task completion. In other words, worthwhile projects are just not getting done. I have seen many trainers start projects, get halfway and stop. A year will go by and little, if anything, will be accomplished.
We teach many of the franchisees who own their own studio and the trainers they employ a method for gathering fresh ideas, project management and task completion. I am going to share this with you now. First, buy 13 manila folders. Mark them "January," "February," "March," etc., and label the 13th folder "Other".  Next, make a list of all the good ideas you have gathered from seminars, articles, teleconferences, clients and other places you go to collect ideas. Leave the list alone for two days.
After those two days, set aside some time to thin out the list by asking yourself three questions for each idea:
1.       Can I do it? (Do you have the time and energy?)
2.       Should I do it? (Will it have the desired effect? Is it as good an idea as you thought?)
3.       Do I have the money to do it? (Or can I find the money?) 
Cross off any idea from the list that does not survive all three questions.
Now, let's file the "keepers" in your manila folders. Assuming you have a list of 36 great ideas, move your ideas around so you have three ideas to complete each month. Forget about the ideas filed away in your other months. They will not be neglected as they are safely filed away. Stay focused on tackling your three ideas each month. This gives you 10 full days to complete one idea properly. 
Finally, as new ideas come into your life, put them into your file marked "Other."  When someone approaches you with an idea, explain to him or her it will be filed into your execution system to be considered at a later date. When you are six months into this program, repeat the process with your new ideas.
This method is so effective that, as the CEO of the largest wellness company of its kind, I still use it every day. This system helps me to manage the hundreds of business-building ideas that come across my desk and empowers me to get more of the worthwhile ones completed.    

As you and I move forward in this wonderful industry, whether or not you get involved with Fitness Together as a personal trainer or as a franchisee, I encourage you to grow your business skills, keep an open mind towards proven success models and learn to effectively handle more tasks in less time. Do this and you will realize success faster than you ever thought possible.

Rick Sikorski is the CEO of the Fitness Together Franchise Corporation (FTFC). FTFC has been a leader in the fitness and wellness industry since 1998. FTFC's first franchise business model, Fitness Together (, provides personal training services in a private setting. FTFC recently announced a new business model, elements therapeutic massage (, which brings private, cost-effective massage therapy services in a convenient studio setting. Mr. Sikorski has agreed to provide a free copy of The Eight Biggest Mistakes Personal Trainers Make (ISBN 978-1-60451-361-2) to the first ten readers. To request your copy, please call 877.663.0880, ext. 10. The book is also available by sending an email Additional copies are available for $19.95 plus $4.95 S&H. 100% of proceeds go to charity.