So You Want to Take Your Corporate Gym Clients and Go Independent?

There are 3 things you need to do first. Do the 3 things I share below, and you’ll absolutely cut the cord from your corporate job and have more freedom and more income potential in the process.

I’ve been very fortunate to have a core group of clients that rely on me to take care of their health and fitness needs for a long time. They’ve stuck with me through several job changes. And the ones that I couldn’t continue training when my job shifted to another company or location, I maintained contact with and when it was convenient for them again, we were reunited and I found them back on my schedule. What do I attribute this success to?

For starters, I’ve spent an enormous amount of time maintaining my own brand, even when I was working with other companies.


This doesn’t mean that I wasn’t being faithful to the companies I worked for. Actually, it’s the opposite. I poured my heart and soul into helping those businesses grow. Whether it was a big box gym or a fitness start-up. But even though I trained clients under those umbrellas, I always understood the importance of differentiating my own brand within those businesses.

Another reason it’s important to have your own personal brand? In a crowded personal training space within corporate gyms, you need to find a way to differentiate from your peers. Had I maintained the generic attributes of a corporate trainer, there’s no way I would have stood out and developed the core group of clients I work with now. You’re doomed if you become a simple commodity to personal training clients.

The other part that made it easy to have clients leave the gym and stay loyal to me are the deep relationships I’ve formed with them.

You know how “personal” that personal training gets. You get to know your client’s kids names. Their family struggles. The many hobbies they practice. The personal challenges that they’re trying to work through daily.

If the company you work for is great at what they do, they will work hard to make personal connections with your clients as well, but at scale, it’s just extremely hard for those big gyms to form bonds with their clients and it’s up to us, the soldiers on the ground to give those clients a deeper connection to the whole vision of the company.

So how do you set yourself up to take the show on the road and start training your client’s independent of the gym?

  1. Work hard to make sure you are not a commodity to your clients. If your services are something they can get from any other trainer at their gym, you don’t have a prayer for them to consider leaving that gym to continue working with you. You have to do more for them than anyone else would, including the company you work for.

  2. Form deep relationships with your clients. In a world where gyms are so big and managers can’t possibly make a personal touch with each and every personal training client, it’s important for you to deepen the relationship with your client and make sure they understand that it’s you who has their best interests in mind. They need to feel a deep and personal connection to you that spans beyond the four walls of a gym. Maintaining contact between workouts, attending races they participate in, or curating and sharing content you know they have a personal interest in are all ways to do this.

  3. Create and maintain your own brand. This comes in time with knowing what kind of client you attract and releasing content that’s relative to them and their growth. Like ourselves, the clients we serve are always looking for ways to grow personally. If there’s a specific type of client you attract, you need to take notice. For example, 75% of my client base are professional men in their 40’s and 50’s. Not only am I constantly asking them where their attention gravitates around health and fitness topics, but I’m taking that feedback and developing content in the form of blog articles, social media posts, eBooks, podcasts, video content on Instagram, etc. This further develops and maintains my personal brand and attracts more of the clients I enjoy working with.

Those clients who really relate to you and the content and services you’re producing are going to be loyal to you if you decide to take the show on the road.

If you’ve got the itch to step away from your corporate gym job and take your business independent, make sure you’ve checked the boxes on these 3 things. Become more than a commodity, form deep relationships, and create and maintain your own brand. Your clients will become raving fans and allow you to make that transition to your own private business without a drop in income. I’ve done it and can tell you it’s absolutely an option for you.

DM me at @coachmikeurso on Instagram or Twitter or email at with any questions you have about planning an exit strategy.