Is Niche for You?

Training’s Ugly Duckling

I decided to walk away from half of my potential customer base in 2010. It was one of the best business decisions I have ever made. Others questioned this drastic change in clientele, and I had to explain, “Yes, that’s correct, I only train women.” “You mean mostly women?” “No, only women.” “Why?”

I started my career, and spent most of it, with the usual grocery list of personal trainer offerings: open to taking anyone as a client, willing to adjust training for anyone. You might do this now, and I understand why. Being open to a wider pool of clients must translate into more clients acquired, right? Not necessarily.

There are a lot of people who need personal trainers, and there are a lot of personal trainers (Pilates instructors, etc.) vying for their business. Being general and all-encompassing in your offerings will leave you unnoticed in a giant sea of competition. Being unique or memorable makes an impression and sets you apart. Niche training makes you different, and as with the ugly duckling, ultimately, different is good.

Interestingly, niche training exposes you to more of the same kinds of scenarios. For instance, I primarily train highly successful professional women. Through years of listening, assessing, training and problem solving, I have honed solutions for these women because they are a very specific group with very specific needs. Let me be clear: Choosing to go down the specialty-training route will require more education and being a better practitioner. (This is the a blog for fit pros that want to exceed the status quo.) Clients will come to you to fulfill specific needs, and if you’re smart, you will acquire training and knowledge that speaks to those needs, solves them and anticipates them. This is a gift to your personal training career and your skill set.

Niche training can foster a culture and brand for your business—an outstanding side effect considering the current marketplace. When we really define who we want to reach and how we want to help them, we find ourselves making better, more informed decisions for clients and for the health of our business beyond training alone. I encourage you to consider refining your training with a specialty. A great decision could be waiting.

How can you identify your niche? My inspiration stemmed from client observation and small business advice. Take notice of underserved populations. There’s often a win-win scenario for those willing to address and solve these populations’ fitness problems. Additionally, start paying attention to small business and marketing advice that addresses niche markets in other industries. Different fields can be a great source of inspiration.