Pam Skinner had two reasons for starting MommyFit, a business offering personal fitness training for new mothers. She wanted a career that would allow her to stay home with her son, and she knew the personal anguish of trying to lose 20 pounds of excess baby-weight.
Gut instinct told the 40-year-old Huntington Beach, California, entrepreneur, a certified personal trainer, that there was a market for her business. "[New mothers] don't have time to go to a health club, and they don't want to [exercise] somewhere where they're going to be checked out by others," Skinner says.
Statistics support her intuition. IDEA: The Health and Fitness Source, a San Diego-based association of personal trainers, has seen membership grow 800 percent to 8,000 members since 1991, according to David Gilroy, IDEA's director of communications.
A personal trainer's start-up costs are relatively low, and licensing isn't required. Using $2,000 to purchase an array of basic home fitness equipment, a computer, air conditioning and software, Skinner converted her garage into a fitness studio and began training her friends. Word spread quickly about her business, which has been featured in television and newspaper reports, and Skinner now has an extensive waiting list of clients. "I try to bump people out of the nest once they've reached their [fitness] goals, but they don't seem to want to leave," she says. Clients pay $45 for each 75-minute session, allowing Skinner to gross $25,000 per year working only two days a week. Many full-time personal trainers earn more--up to $50,000 annually.
In addition to personal training, Skinner sells start-up kits for others to start their own MommyFit programs. But this business, she cautions, is about more than ab crunches. "I develop a personal relationship with my clients," Skinner says. "I try to help women feel better emotionally as well as physically."