Strategy comes from the Greek word ‘strategos,’ meaning general of the army. As such, strategic planning began as military planning. Businesses adopted strategic planning to help gain customers and get a competitive edge. Educational entities began strategic planning to better serve students and better serve their community. The two paths of strategic planning are inherently different, so much so that many believe that educational strategy should be called something else.

Where does personal training fit in? Personal training is a business that, whether incorporated or not, needs to generate income to survive. Personal training is also an educational entity of sorts, sharing knowledge of proper communication, goal-setting, program design and customer care. An ideal place to start is to tie your education strategy with your business mission.

Define your vision and mission
When creating a strategic plan, you might need to get more information on the strategic planning process. The strategic plan should flow from your vision, mission and goals. Your vision is your ‘why’ (some sources say your ‘what’) — the big picture of why you are a personal trainer. It speaks to the future and should be unique to you and your business. Many sources indicate that one or two sentences for your vision and mission are appropriate, but I suggest you try to formulate the vision in 3 to 7 words so that it is easy to remember. An example might be, “A fit Philadelphia.” Your mission is your ‘what’—what you are in business for right now. The mission statement should be memorable and be able to be remembered by staff and customers and, if well-written, can also be your slogan, making it even more memorable. It should contain roughly 7 to 13 words. An example might be, “To provide the best personal training services to all Philadelphians.” Your goals address ‘how’ you will meet your vision and mission. Objectives help you meet your goals. Strategies, then, are your ways to apply your mission to achieve your vision.

Create your educational strategies
First, identify your educational vision and how it ties in with your business mission. Even if you do not own your own business, create a vision and mission for yourself, and align your strategies, including your educational strategies, to your vision and mission. A couple examples of educational strategies might be:
  • Invest in professional development to better understand how to successfully train underserved populations.
  • Present to city-wide church groups, recreation leaders, and community groups to share your knowledge.
Your goal may be to attend two professional development meetings this year and present to one community group each quarter of the year (remember SMART goals!).

Review your strategies regularly
Your vision and mission may change over time. Your goals, objectives, and strategies are always a work in progress, so they need to be evaluated and reevaluated regularly. It is probably best to schedule your strategic planning to occur during less busy times of year. Always keep in mind the educational process when establishing why you exist (your vision) and what you will accomplish (your mission).