PT Business Course: General Business Concerns

Certification and Education

You’ll need a certification and it could possibly help reduce your insurance costs. We recommend a training certification that is based on scientific information and provides a system of principles that will help you quickly learn the skills needed to design safe, effective, and efficient exercise routines for your clients.

Keep in mind that certification is only the lowest rung of the ladder. There is no substitute for experience or mentoring. As far as formal education goes, it might be even more beneficial for you to obtain undergraduate degrees in business, physics, or maybe even graduate degrees in exercise science or even physical therapy. If you ever wanted to choose to open a clinical facility, your options would broaden quite a bit with the ability to take on patients whose insurance plans will pay for their treatments. This population of people could roll right into regular clients once therapeutic goals have been met or insurance runs out. Currently, many schools, and states now require, a 3 year doctorate in physical therapy to be licensed. It’s something to think about and weigh the pros and cons. Obviously, you’ll have more education expenses, and possibly lots of student debt, before you ever get to starting your business. But, go with what you feel and can reasonably forecast will be right for the vision of your business.

ACE, ACSM, NSCA, and NASM are some of the larger and more popular certifying organizations. They all have different methodologies and agendas. There are some 500 other certifying bodies in the country creating a very diluted marketplace. But, like I said earlier, you’ll have to do some research and decide what is right for the scope of your business. Going forward, self-education is going to be key. One thing that the majority of certification organizations are missing is the business component which is the purpose of the creation of this book and our organization overall.

You’ll want to be CPR/AED certified. AED stands for Automatic External Defibrillator. These are available in many facilities now for quick response in the event of cardiac emergencies. You’ll want to be certified in both if you can as well as CPR for children and first aid. As long as you act as a prudent person would and within the scope of your training, no harm can come to you if you were to intervene in a situation. It won’t hurt and you’ll likely be able to do it all at the same time.


Make sure to incorporate in your state by going to your state corporation commission or equivalent office. An LLC will most likely be the right choice for a single member personal trainer company, but check with your attorney or accountant to be sure. Make sure to obtain a local county or town business license.

You’ll need to call the IRS and obtain an EIN (employer identification number). This is like your business’ social security number. You’ll need it to open your business bank account later. Be sure to obtain any trademarks either state or national that might be pertinent to your business logo, slogan, etc. Be certain that you determine if you will have employees or contractors. Don’t make the mistake of hiring people as contractors when they are really employees. You could end up owing back taxes. You can view the IRS’ page on how to determine who is an employee and who is a contractor.

Naming your business. You’ll want to name your business something that is descriptive of what you do or offer and reflects your personal brand. The same is true for your logo design. To operate under a different business name or a shortened one (like S.P.A.R.T.A.) you can file a simple DBA, Doing Business As, form with your state corporation commission. You may need to do this so that you do not have to use the LLC at the end of your name if you chose to incorporate as a limited liability company. More on this shortly.


Objectives:  To learn the differences, pros, and cons of sole proprietorships, limited liability companies, and s-corps, etc.  And to learn what criteria make which corporate entity right for you.

Establishing your Business Entity and Business Model

Compare and contrast the pros and cons of each entity

Sole proprietorship

Limited Liability Company (LLC)




Professional Corporation

Non-Profit Corporation

501 (c)…

What is a Not-for-Profit Corporation?

What is a DBA form and what does it stand for?

What concerns would you have for starting a local public facility?

Will you require the services of an attorney?  What kind? Where will you find them and how will you retain them?

Discussion:  With a friend, mentor, business associate, or business partner, discuss and decide on a business entity for your business and why.  Who will play what role in the organization? Practice writing company roles and responsibilities as well as other job descriptions that will be required in the business.


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