Laura Bender, founder of Bodies and Soul by Bender and our March 2017 PFP Trainer of the Month, has been raising the bar in the industry since 1989. Laura began her career in fitness when personal training was just on the cusp of popularity and she continues to impact lives as a leader and innovator. Here is how Laura is raising the bar for her clients, community and in the industry…

Business Name: Bodies and Soul By Bender


Certifications/qualifications: B.S. Speech Communications, B.A. Dance Penn State University;

Cooper Institute, Master Personal Trainer, Dietary Coach, Biomechanical Specialist; AFAA, Group Fitness; Chopra Center, PSM Meditation Teacher, Yoga Instructor. IFPA, Functional Fitness.



Twitter: @bodiesbybender

Year started in business: 1989


Named as one of Missoula's "Movers and Shakers" 2006

Awarded "Best of Missoula" by the Independent magazine readers poll, Best Personal Trainer 2006, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

"Best of Missoula" Best Yoga instructor, 2017

What inspired you to start your business?

In 1989, I was teaching aerobics at a local health club and working as a special education teacher. Teaching school was a temporary position and I couldn't find a full-time job. There was this new thing called personal training that was sweeping the country. I liked the idea of one-on-one instruction so I thought, "Why not, if other instructors can do it so can I." I brought personal training to my town and started creating and growing the market. I did the same thing in 2014 when I started the first yoga/meditation program in the state of Montana for incarcerated youth.

What is one hard lesson you’ve learned in business you believe has been most valuable?

When I started out, no one here knew what a personal trainer was. I did not know how to run a business and wrote my business plan on a diner placemat. I started by driving from home to home and spent a lot of unpaid time standing at front doors waiting for a client who was a no-show. This lead to one of my smartest business decisions, have a 24-hour policy and never compromise. Never undercut your services, if you think you are a $35.00 an hour trainer you are! If you think you are a $100.00 an hour trainer you are as well. If want people to trust your expertise and pay you the big bucks, look, listen and teach. Believe in yourself and be impeccable with your word.

If I asked one of your clients why they choose you over other places/gyms/trainers, what would they likely say?

That I give them a customized mind/body fitness program. No other trainer in my town can provide a fitness session that combines strength, aerobic conditioning, yoga, meditation and anti-inflammatory diet coaching. I can teach African, salsa dance and I can also hike mountains with my clients. My programs are eclectic, not reliant on the gym and fun.

Name one or two ways you are trying to raise the bar in the industry?

Trainers in our industry should never stop expanding their skills. Explore every avenue and opportunity to learn more in every aspect of fitness and wellness. Get the heck out of the weight room and don't be afraid to slip outside of your comfort zone. The more diverse you are and the more expertise you possess, the better you will be as a trainer and the more money you will make. You will be in high demand because you truly care about every aspect of your clients’ health. Mind, body and soul.