Starting a personal training business

Are you looking to get started as a personal trainer? When do your workout classes and advice stop being a hobby, and qualify as a business? Also, can you combine work as a personal trainer with paid employment? Find out what you need to get started.

All new business owners must come up with a name, start keeping administrative records, take out insurance, and register their business with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK. This article explains what issues are relevant specifically to those starting as personal trainers.

A developing occupation

According to Ronald Wouters, managing director of NL Actief (in Dutch), an association for those operating in the sports and fitness industry, the occupation of a personal trainer is undergoing rapid development. “Until recently, personal trainers were concerned mainly with the physical condition of their clients, but by adding specialisations such as maintaining a healthy lifestyle, sleep, nutrition, and stress management, they are increasingly often referred to as ‘lifestyle ‘coaches.’”

Personal trainers do all kinds of things on the side these days, notes Wouters: "For example, selling fitness equipment and food supplements, organising events and furnishing offices."

Number of personal trainers in the Netherlands (2017-2022)

The number of personal trainers in the Netherlands has almost doubled since 2017. The Chamber of Commerce Business Register included a total of 11,588 registered personal trainers on 1 January 2022. The majority of these personal trainers (7,084) state that personal coaching is their primary activity, while for the others, it is a sideline business.

YearNumber of personal trainers (as of 1 January)
20176,359
20187,385
20198,474
20209,452
202110,362
202211,588

Part-time entrepreneurship

You do not have to start full-time right away. You can also start with part-time business activities. Training and coaching are usually not tied to fixed times, so combining it with a job or study is often possible. Starting next to your job has advantages and disadvantages. For instance, you maintain securities such as income, insurance and pension, but sometimes have less time and attention for your clients. Check in your contract whether you have to inform your boss that you are starting a business.

Freelance

When registering your company with KVK, you choose a legal form. Legal form is the legal form of a company. Most personal trainers choose eenmanszaak (sole proprietorship). Freelancer and zzp'er are not legal forms. These are words used for entrepreneurs who do separate assignments.

Employment Relationships Deregulation Act (Wet DBA)

If you have your own client base, then it is usually clear that you are an entrepreneur. But what about if you are hired by a gym? If the assignment is for a longer period and this gym is your only client, it can quickly look like salaried employment. Familiarise yourself with the DBA Act and avoid false self-employment.

Choosing a company name

People who want to work on their health not only choose a way that suits them but also a person that suits them. Therefore, come up with a business name that shows who you are and what you stand for. Above all, be clear. Feel free to choose your own name with the mention personal trainer or lifestyle coach.

Rules about business names

Whatever name you choose, check that your choice meets all the rules.

Rates 

Setting the right rates can be tricky, especially if you are just starting. You want to attract clients, but while high rates could potentially put clients off, if your rates are too low prospective clients might doubt the quality of your services. The correct rate depends on your business expenses, taxes, and your desired income. You can charge your clients by the hour, offer a subscription, or sell a card for 5 or 10 sessions. Consider special promotions to stand out. For example, a discount for your first 10 clients.

Setting your hourly rate

Location

When first starting, many personal trainers are hired by gyms. The advantage of this approach is that it saves you the trouble of finding a suitable location.

You can also choose to start a business from your home. If you intend to remodel your home or advertise outside the home, you must ask the local authority for an environment permit. Check with your local authority in advance what the terms and conditions are for running your personal trainer business from your home or providing online training.

You can also choose to rent a commercial space to provide your training services, for example in a multi-company building or by renting a space in a local gym. Always check whether your activities comply with the zoning plan of the city or town where the building is located. Next, you must report your activities to the local authority.

Find support

A sector association represents the interests of its members. They share their knowledge by providing information in areas such as hiring, product and methodology development, and general terms and conditions. They also offer their members legal advice, advice on rates, tax tips, and group insurance. The following trade associations operate in the Netherlands:

General information for new business owners

Apart from all the above, new business owners will also have to deal with the following: