When I first started working at a bigger commercial gym, I would be there before the sun came up and long after it was dark outside.
I talked to anyone and everyone on the gym floor, because people told me this was the key to get personal training clients quickly. Don’t get me wrong, it is essential, but if you can’t get them to pay you for your service, you still have no clients and no income.
I got good at getting people to sit down for an initial consult with me, but realized my close rate was pretty bad.
I was going in with a classic salesman mentality and I was getting a lot of shallow excuses at the end of each consult, especially when I brought up the price.
There was a fundamental error in my approach. I learned this through frustration, trial and error, and necessity.
Once I changed some essential aspects of my initial consultations, I started closing a very high percentage of my clients. So I want to share with you the 5 best ways to get personal training clients, earn more referrals, and become very profitable as a fitness professional.
This is first on the list because without it, the rest of the process falls apart. As a trainer you are selling yourself as their solution, but what if you haven’t discovered what they truly want solved?
Generic questions get surface level answers. The more unconnected and surface level your initial consultation is, the less likely that person is to sign up for personal training with you.
Every question should lead you closer and closer to finding their “pain point”, that one issue that brought them through the doors to see you. Don’t settle for goals like “I want to tone up my arms and stomach” or “ I just want to get in better shape”. They have no emotional connection with those goals.
Sometimes your future clients haven’t fully processed their “why” until you bring it out of them with your questions. Once you hear something like “my daughter is getting married in 6 months and I want to look good in my dress”, now you have attached some real meaning to this consultation.
They have just given you a specific and meaningful goal with a timeline. That’s the “why”. Now all you have to do is connect with them, and show how your expertise is the most efficient way to reach those goals.
Keeping in the same vein as the last point, the monumental trust built with your potential client didn’t come from you spouting off all of your degrees and certifications. It came from asking precise and meaningful questions, and letting them answer.
By far, most of the talking should be done by the person you are meeting with, not you.
There is a time and place where your knowledge will further solidify their trust in you, but that comes later.
If you aren’t sure why you are asking a certain question, don’t ask it just because it’s on a form. Each question should have a purpose and you should be listening intently to their answer.
This is when they are telling you why they need to commit to personal training, all you have to do is listen.
If you work in a big box gym, there are usually a handful of trainers on staff. From the member’s point of view, they may think every trainer is delivering the same product.
If you are like me, you know you have “your thing” you bring to the table. Mine is corrective exercise and fixing movement dysfunction. It’s your style, and its what makes your services uniquely yours to offer.
We develop this specialty through time and experience, but the problem is your potential clients need to know this.
I have known many trainers go about differentiating themselves in various ways, but here are some that I have seen work wonders.
Do non-traditional exercises. As long as you know your anatomy and biomechanics, you can make any movement an exercise. Add a balance component, use a machine in a different (and safe) way, or make a game out of it.
My favorite was always “explore the studio space”. (Christopher Walken knows best). What I mean by this is get in front of people, especially the ones on the cardio equipment. Have your clients be advertisements for you while they work out.
The elliptical should start to look really boring compared to the creative and engaging exercises you are doing with your clients.
Again, this is you showing your style so find what displays that loud and clear
Not to the point of arrogance, but believe in the value of your time and expertise.
If you don’t truly believe you can make a difference, your clients and potential clients will pick up on that pretty quickly. The best way to be confident is to be prepared.
This could mean practicing your verbal and tactile cueing, or brushing on your anatomy and biomechanics.
Confidence in your abilities as a fitness professional will build trust with your clients. One way to develop confidence is to self-assess after each block of training sessions.
What did you do well and what can you improve on? Find those things that need work and master them. This is what will take your abilities and your confidence to another level.
The trainer/client relationship is a special thing. I have built some really cool connections and friendships through personal training. I would have missed out on that if I was looking at each potential client as a paycheck boost.
Let them know you care about them as a person. Show them you are invested in helping them reach the goal they opened up to you about.
When it’s their session, you are 100% present and all your focus is on them. Give them something to work on for next time. Write things up for them to take home. Ask your clients about the things they care about.
These are a few things I found that really made a difference to my clients.
This person has trusted you with their goals, time, and money. That in itself is a testament to their trust in you. Be the kind of trainer that earns that trust each session.
This will help get your clients results, send referrals your way, and ultimately help you become a more successful personal trainer.
Doctor of Physical Therapy Candidate, Corrective Exercise Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer
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