Personal Trainers: Finding Your Right Fitness Niche

Personal Training

Personal Trainers: Finding Your Right Fitness Niche

The fitness industry is in great shape, with revenues from health club memberships reaching $21 billion according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA). The industry has sustained growth in the face of a sluggish economy and continues to reinvent itself. In part, that growth has been due to the explosive power of niche markets. For aging boomers and experience-junkie millennials, "fitness" can mean very different things, and trainers who are able to create a specialized fitness experience are going to attract the lion's share of customers.

Personal trainers can build strong clientele bases and expert reputations by targeting these niche markets. Trying to be everything to everyone is a recipe for frustration in today's highly specialized and fragmented world. Here are some of the benefits of a more narrow focus.


Fitness training and sports medicine are exploding fields. Focusing on a niche will allow you to keep abreast of all the developments in your particular area and allow you to develop deep expertise.


It's easier to build a network when you can define your place in it clearly. For one thing, you can help other colleagues by referring potential clients to them when you see a better fit, and you can expect the same in return. You can learn from others in the field and make your own unique contributions, as well.

Brand Differentiation

Knowing your area well will help set you apart in a crowded market. When you meet your ideal client, it will be obvious that you are the perfect fit. Although it may be obvious that niche specialization is the way to go, how do you find the right place and get in where you fit in?

Ask yourself:

  • What attracted you to the field?
  • What are you best at?
  • Who would you like to help?
  • What personal experiences have shaped your own fitness adventure?

Sometimes, the answers come from within, but other times, clues come from without. For example, a trainer may decide to work with new moms because she was a new mom who struggled to get back into shape, but it might be equally valid to be drawn to working with moms because you successfully supported and shared a partner's or a friend's journey.

Also consider:

  • What needs do you see on a daily basis?
  • Who comes to you for help?
  • Have you shared and supported a loved one's struggle to get fit and healthy?
  • When you look at popular programs and routines, who is being left behind? These individuals represent untapped opportunities.

Uncover New Opportunities

Don't limit yourself to categories that are already well-represented. Carving out new niches is a powerful way to differentiate yourself and grow your business. Keep an open mind, and observe. You can tighten your focus or expand a smaller niche as conditions dictate.

For example, a focus on new moms might grow into training working mothers as those moms return to work, or you might narrow in on an even more specialized area, such as helping women work on strengthening weak pelvic walls. Both approaches provide opportunities to develop unique insights and strategies that will set you apart and give your training added value.

Planning and Strategy

Building a niche isn't a lifetime commitment, but you'll want to plan on spending three to five years developing your expertise and building a personal brand in your chosen area, so make sure it's a space you can comfortably stay in for a while.

After building a strong niche, you may want to transition into working with a different community. If your original ambition is difficult to attain, consider working with a different population and gaining a solid reputation before aiming for the bulls-eye. You'll gain hard-won experience that will help you tremendously when you do go after your ideal niche.