Today’s blog is a five-point guide to starting your own
sports massage business.
Qualified sports massage therapists are much in demand within
the fitness industry, treating clients at sports clubs, gyms, physiotherapists and
in their own homes.
A Level 3 Diploma in Sports Massage (soft tissue therapy) can open the door to a lucrative freelance career, whether you specialise in working with sports teams or you are a personal trainer or fitness instructor looking to boost your income by widening your offer to clients.
1. Who are your sports
As a sports massage therapist you will need to decide what
kind of client you want to target.
If you are already working as a fitness professional – for
example as a freelance personal trainer – you should be able to pick up some
sports massage clients from your current customer base.
However, if you are starting from scratch or want to widen
your client base, then you will need to present a clear offer to potential
clients. This means deciding on the type of service you will provide, eg sports
massage, general massage or soft tissue therapy.
Here are some things to consider:
- Is there
a gap in the market or shortage of practitioners in the type of massage you
want to offer?
- Do you have something to offer that’s different
from your nearest competitors?
- Could you target a specific group of people, eg
elite athletes or mature gym goers?
- Could you work with people recovering from
2. Where will you carry
out your sports massage?
There are plenty of opportunities for freelance sports
massage therapists to work out of different venues. These can include:
- Sports clubs
- Sports centres
- Physiotherapist, chiropractor or osteopathy
- Spas and beauty salons
- Offices and other workplaces
- At clients’ homes
Sports massage clinics often advertise for a sports massage therapist to work out of their venue in a freelance capacity. This is usually for a fixed hourly rate and number of days,
although some venues may offer a role on a fee-sharing basis.
Some will welcome newly qualified practitioners, but others may
ask for a minimum of one or two years’ experience.
Some qualified sports massage therapists set up business in
their own home; this will require a quiet private space and the relevant
Wherever you work, you will need to have good communication
and interpersonal skills when dealing with clients.
3. Setting up your business
The two main options for setting up your sports massage business are as a sole trader or a limited company.
A sole trader will register with HMRC for tax and National Insurance contributions but can use their own bank account and choose whether or not to create a business with a name, logo, website etc. Sole traders are liable for all debts and losses from their business.
If you set up a limited company, you won’t be personally
liable if the business makes a loss or folds with debts. The usual model is to
pay yourself a salary plus dividends from your income.
In either case, you should ensure that you put aside savings
for your tax and National Insurance bills, as well as for other bills, such as
It’s a good idea to consult an accountant about setting up
on your own, as they will be able to give advice on tax planning – for example,
which expenses you can offset against tax – as well as HMRC legislation that you
must comply with. Although there will be a cost involved, this is often made
back by tax savings – and using a qualified accountant will give you peace of
3. What are the
upfront and ongoing costs?
You will need to have some funds available for set-up and
ongoing costs, eg:
- Massage bed, oils, cotton/paper towels, uniform
- Public liability insurance, business equipment
insurance and business premises insurance if you work out of your own premises
- Marketing costs, eg website, flyers, business
You might find it beneficial to register with a professional
qualification body such as the Sports Therapy Organisation (STO): https://www.sportstherapyorganisation.org.uk/
5. How can you market
Your marketing message and materials should be carefully
thought out and aimed at your target audience. This includes the wording and
images that you use, as well as the marketing outlets. Focus on the benefits
your sports massage therapy services will bring to your clients.
Think of who your ideal customer would be, then consider
where they are mostly likely to get their information. This will help you
decide whether to spend money on printing flyers or focus your efforts on
Options for marketing include:
- Website – this can be a simple page with details
of the benefits of your services
- Social media
- Printed material, eg flyers, posters, business
cards, roller banners
- Newsletters – you will need to build a mailing
list that is compliant with GDPR legislation
- Publicity – sending a press release to the local
paper or writing for a magazine
- Word of mouth – offer your services free in
return for a testimonial or referral
Working at an established venue or targeting your current
clients can save you on marketing costs.
If you plan carefully, take advice and follow the required
legislation, you should soon be on course for a successful career in sports
massage. Good luck!