With the increasing focus on healthy living, balanced nutrition and exercise, the fitness industry has experienced tremendous growth in recent years. One of the biggest source of growth in the multi-billion dollar fitness industry has been the use of personal fitness trainers in health clubs and in private studios.
Alissa Harakal (www.bodydesignbyalissa.com) is a personal trainer in the Washington D.C. area offering in-home, group and at-work personal training and Pilates. With her extensive dance background, Alissa offers a fun approach to fitness Integrating dance, personal-training, pilates and massage.
More than just her passion for fitness and ability to groove to the music, Alissa has a solid educational background and training in fitness and health. She completed a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology, and completed a certification in massage therapy. She also has a master’s degree tucked under her belt, specializing in biomechanics and knee osteoarthritis. While taking time off studies, she hopes to complete her PhD in biomechanics.
I interviewed Alissa on what it takes to succeed in the personal fitness business (Disclosure: the author is a student of Ms. Harakal in one of her classes in North Virginia).
How did you get into the personal training and fitness business?
From a very young age I always loved exercising and performing! I majored in Kinesiology at Penn State and then received my Masters in Health and Exercise Science. Personal training was a natural choice that merged together my love of health and fitness with communications.
What fitness classes and personal instruction do you provide?
I offer and teach a wide variety of classes including: mat and reformer pilates, weight training, functional fitness training, stretching, interval training, ballet toning, cardio dance, core barre
In your experience, what strategies are most effective in terms of bringing in new clients?
The best way to bring in new clients is to do your job well. If people like you and your training, they will tell their friends. Most of my clients were found through word of mouth. Also, starting a blog will help new trainers get exposure for free!
You teach the class and do in-home training. How do you manage your time? How do find the time to do the day-to-day operations of the business as well as marketing the business?
There is normally downtime in between clients and in the middle of the day. It’s really important to use the breaks to do paperwork, write blogs, answer emails and create new workouts and dances. I try to have a new blog out every Monday and Thursday, that’s my best form of marketing right now.
What is the most difficult part of being in the fitness business?
The hours. If you want to get in to personal training, be ready for early mornings.
How do you use the Web to market your business?
I have my own website, blog and you tube channel to help gain exposure for myself! The internet is a great tool to help get your name out there.
What do you think are the most important factors to succeed in the fitness industry?
Personality and education. First, you must be a people person. People won’t stay with you, if they don’t like you. A degree in health and exercise science and high quality certifications will help set you apart from other trainers. All of my clients said that they chose me as their trainer because of my education.
What advice can you give other individuals who want to start their own fitness and dance training business?
Every person you meet is a potential client, so talk to everyone. Being personable, knowledgable and creating friends is a great free way to get your name out there!