Business growth How I Launched My Fitness Business While Living in Paradise

Haley Heit of Adventure Built Fitness shares how she started her fitness business in Hawaii

When I first started considering personal training as my profession, I simply had a passion for fitness and being active. At the time, I had recently relocated from Seattle to Hawaii to try living away from the place that I called home for my entire life. So how was I supposed to build a successful fitness business when I only knew a few people on a very small island?

To get started, I would teach group fitness classes for free while still working full time in my previous career as a recruiter and also studying for my fitness certification. I had no clue what I was doing and had plenty of “am I cut out for this?” moments. However, when a client achieved her first full pull up, or another had his first day free of back pain because of the hours he put into strengthening his core, it fueled the passion.

Now I have a full-time fitness business, where each day is mixed with one-on-one training sessions in clients’ homes, online workout planning and check-in’s, and group classes. Of all of the experiences and challenges throughout my career, these are some of the key takeaways from starting a fitness business fresh in Hawaii:

Explore New Business Ideas

Being from Seattle but living in Hawaii, I felt like I was missing out on a huge potential client base. On top of that, when business started picking up and I was training 7-8 clients a day, I was exhausted and not able to give 100%. I heard about online personal training and after a bit of research, I landed on Trainerize because it had the best features and the opportunity to film your own video demonstrations. After advertising my new online training on Facebook and Instagram, I was pleasantly surprised when 15 clients signed up for my free trial. After the free week was up, I was able to convert several of them into long-term customers.

I also train plenty of clients in Hawaii that are visitors and because of online training, can continue to train them wherever they call home. I am now training clients in Canada, Germany, and across the United States. On the other hand, there have been several business ideas that I’ve spent hours preparing and haven’t worked out. As frustrating as the misses can be, spending that time is worthwhile when you find the one that does work!

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Be Authentic

My initial sales tactic with social media advertising was to gain as many followers as possible and self-promote. I couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t leading to more engagement and potential leads. When I started shifting my focus from being popular to providing useful content is when social media started actually capturing business for me. Providing knowledge instead of constantly advertising your services helps build trust, especially with those who haven’t had a chance to work with you in person.

Leverage your Network

I didn’t initially push for new clients being the new person in town. After a few mutual friends started training with me; however, I felt comfortable asking them to refer my business to friends and family. My business really took off when I started participating in events around the island and chatting with people in coffee shops and restaurants.

I also connected with other fitness and health professionals in the area and built myself a community to refer to for questions and new ideas. Building these relationships with other professionals is what encouraged me to look into alternative training options, which led me to online training and a client base that I never realized I could reach.

Ask for Feedback

Your clients are your customers, so they should feel a sense of clarity in regards to their goals and the direction of their training. Regularly set goals with them that are both process (such as “I will walk for 30 minutes, 3 days a week for a month”) and product goals (“I will lose 2% body fat by November”).

With my clients, I continually reassess what parts of training they enjoy and what they could do without. If I have a client that says they hate running, I don’t force them to run. I want clients to enjoy exercising, if not at first then at least over time. I’ve learned that listening to client feedback on my teaching style and programming is the best thing I can do for myself and for them.

If you’ve thought about becoming a personal trainer but are intimidated by the idea of starting your own fitness business, listen to your intuition and go for it! In order to be successful and make an impact, you have to be willing to dedicate a ton of time, effort and passion. Thanks to technology, there is more opportunity than ever to train clients from anywhere, work for yourself, and impact more individuals than ever.

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