carve out niche

How to Carve Your Niche in the Fitness Industry

When it comes to finding success in the fitness industry – whether as an independent contractor or business owner – establishing a niche is a key component. To start out on a solid path, there are four questions to ask yourself as you begin to build you reputation and business.
  • What is my philosophy of personal training?
  • Who do I see myself working with? Who is my ideal client?
  • Where do I envision my practice to be?
  • What are my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?

Why a Philosophy

A professional philosophy is meant to guide you in your journey and it’s expected to change and evolve as you grow in your career and presence in the industry. Think of your philosophy as your compass or map towards success. A strong statement says what you value about the industry and how you approach the meaning of your work. I offer my own as an example.
"I believe in the power of a holistic approach to healthy living. Living an active and healthy lifestyle is not defined or limited by physical stamina, muscle size, or outward appearance. An active and healthy lifestyle is multifaceted and requires commitment and balance in all aspects of personal wellness. Being fit means finding an equilibrium between the physical, social, intellectual, environmental, occupational, and spiritual dimensions of personal well-being. I am personally and professionally dedicated to teaching students and clients how to achieve such balance through learning and focused skill development. It’s not simply about “hitting the gym”; it’s about discovering inner strength, harnessing personal potential, and exercising the courage to pursue a meaningful goal."

The Ideal Client

There’s no single “ideal client”, but there are collections of populations trainers tend to gravitate towards when establishing a name in the industry. For example, do you see yourself working with trained athletes, children, healthy active older adults, special populations (those with pre-existing conditions such as post-surgical rehab patients, executives with tight schedules, etc.)? Most generally, personal trainers have the scope of practice to work with apparently healthy individuals. If you do not envision yourself in a clinical exercise physiology setting (cardiac rehab, for example), consider the type of client you feel you would connect well with and be able to guide effectively.  

The Where

Geographic location makes a difference. Do you envision yourself working in a rural area or urban setting? The market will vary based on your location. For example, smaller areas have smaller markets, but that also means less competition. Larger areas offer a wider demographic and more opportunities. Research both options and imagine where you see yourself in the long run.  


The best personal trainers and professionals are those who constantly engage in a practice of self-reflection. Take the time to examine your strengths and as you identify them, consider ways you can leverage those strengths to sharpen the edge of your business. Likewise, investigate the areas you are weakest in and make a conscious effort to build new skills. Believe it or not – weaknesses can evolve into strengths with a little intention and commitment. Use the following SWOT analysis template. A SWOT analysis is both a self-reflection tool and a strategic planning technique. When used with intention, a SWOT can help you plan, prioritize, analyze, and execute.  

The Take Home

Success won’t come over night. The price of success is hard work and effort. If you take the time to answer these questions and invest in the practice of thoughtful reflection, you’re laying the groundwork for a booming business.  
Dr. Erin Nitschke

NFPT-CPT, NSCA-CPT, ACE Health Coach, Fitness Nutrition Specialist, Therapeutic Exercise Specialist, and Pn1 is a health and human performance college professor, fitness blogger, mother, and passionate fitness professional. She has over 15 years of experience in the fitness industry and college instruction. Erin believes in the power of a holistic approach to healthy living. She loves encouraging her clients and students to develop body harmony by teaching focused skill development and lifestyle balance. Erin is also the Director of Educational Partnerships & Programs for the NFPT. Erin is an editorial author for ACE, IDEA, NFPT, The Sheridan Press, and the Casper Star Tribune.

Visit her blog at: