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Build Your Client Army: Get More Personal Training Clients

by Jonathan Goodman | Follow on Twitter

I want to tell you the story of how I built my clientele, and show you how to get personal training clients.

Get More Personal Training Clients
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Note: You may also enjoy reading How Do I Get More Personal Training Clients?

I never made flyers, gave free workshops at local businesses, canvassed the streets, or made endless phone calls to get more personal training clients. I’ve also never made a hard sell in my life.

People used to come to me asking to train.

If this is what you want, read my story below. Afterwards I share step-by-step instructions for you to follow in your quest to become unstoppable by building your client army.

Her name was Pam.

Pam had been training with me for 6 months when my club opened its second location. I elected to move locations. Pam was 67 years old when she started at our gym and had never workout out before.  

Imagine how daunting of a task it was for Pam to join the gym. She later told me that she was shaking the day we first met.

I took care of Pam from day 1. 7 years later and she’s still working out.

The early days training were more of a classroom than workout. I taught her jargon, introduced her to everybody (staff and clientele), and did everything in my power to make her feel comfortable.

The problem with trainers is that they’re often unable to keep clients around long enough to prove their worth. Getting results with clients takes time no matter how good your programming is.

You must get good at the soft side of training if you want to provide yourself an opportunity to get results.

>Pam almost single-handily filled my schedule in the new location.

At one point I was training Pam, her two best friends, her husband, her daughter, her daughters husband, and her daughters best friend.

In a week: 16 training hours * $41.80/hr = $668.80
In a month: 16hrs*4wks = 64hrs * $41.80/hr = $2675.20
In a year: 64hrs * 12 months = 768hrs * $41.80 = $32 102.40

$32 102.40. I’d say that making Pam comfortable in the gym paid off.

Some of Pam’s referrals stayed on and some haven’t. After 7 years, 3 are still training 1-2x/wk. Pam was easily responsible for over $100,000 in my pocket and, since I left training 3 years ago to grow this site, she’s been responsible for $100,000 in two other trainers pockets as well (you’re welcome guys).

The best part (other than $100 000). She did it with a smile on her face and none of the sales were difficult.

  • Pam briefed every new client for me
  • She did the leg work and all the convincing
  • She even told them the price most of the time before they came him.
  • Pam was my army

This is a breakdown:

getting personal trainer clients

How You Can Build Your Own Army

Not every client has the potential to be a Pam, but some do. You can’t have my Pam but below are 5 ways to get you own.

1. Teach workout jargon

Incorporate your clients into the workout culture. Teach them the jargon. Tell them what a set, rep, hypertrophy, and even RDL mean. Make sure that they know why they’re doing an exercise and what energy system they’re developing.

Your clients want to show off their knowledge.

They want the opportunity to tell their friends and family that they performed 2 sets of 8 reps of the Deadlift. They may even throw in the story of how the deadlift got it’s name.

(In Ancient Rome the soldiers that hauled dead bodies off of the battle field kept hurting their backs so the army generals trained them to lift properly using rocks, boudlers etc.  It’s literally an exercise originally intended to lift the dead.)

The other great benefit is that they’ll feel a connection to the culture. Retention will increase and relapse into inactivity will go down.

2. Introduce them to everybody

Your clients should be the most popular people in the gym. It’s to your benefit that they know and are comfortable speaking to everybody because, guess what, if they feel popular they will chat up new members. Guess who they’ll be chatting about.

Introduce them to all of the staff and members. I even go for walks in the neighborhood where our gym is located with my clients for a coffee occasionally after the workout and go out of my way to introduce them to all of the local shop owners.

If your client knows everybody in the gym they will stay longer. It becomes a social atmosphere and comfortable haven from their crazy lives that they look forward to.

3. Surprise them with emails

Often books on personal training will advise you to keep in touch with your clients outside of the session. You can do this via sending relevant jokes, relevant info, restaurant advice etc.

Most trainers that I would shadow on the floor only did half the battle. While speaking with a client they get an idea to send them a relevant article. The mistake? They tell their client about it.

When I used to get the idea to send a client a relevant article I would make a note on my clipboard and continue the workout. The next day, I sent the email without notice with the tagline:

“I thought you would enjoy this, it’s what we were speaking about yesterday”

The surprise effect keeps you on top of your clients minds even in off days from the gym. It shows that you’re thinking of them outside of the training hour.

You know that you’ve done well when they send you funny jokes, restaurant advice, relevant articles etc. on their off days. In addition to having them constantly thinking about you, you’ve provided them with material to send on to their friend and family.

And if you do forget to send along the information, no problem — you never told them that you would in the first place.

4. HAF badges

HAF = Hard As Fuck. The HAF badge is an award that I created and gave to a client once a month. It was how I showed appreciation for my awesome clients.

In addition to getting the physical badge to display I profiled the client in a write up on my site highlighting their accomplishments.

get more personal training clients

You better believe it lights a fire under my clients butts. Every day I get asked the question:

“Was that workout HAF?”

I highly recommend you develop an award for your clients. Here’s why:

A. A little competition never hurt

Ever since the HAF badge started my clients began working harder and canceled less workouts. They all want to win. The result? They all reached their goals faster.

B. Building an army

The HAF badge acted to bring my clients together. I would catch them chatting in the gym when I’m not around saying things like:

“Have you been HAF this month?”

The stronger the community between my clients the stronger the army.

C. Show offs

The HAF badge is a physical object. I had it designed and would write my client’s name on it. He or she would usually display it on their fridge or mantle and show it off to their friends and family whenever they can.

After all, who doesn’t want to show off that they’re Hard As Fuck?

They would send their friends to my site to check out the write up on them.

5. Take aways

The first and most obvious take away is to always have business cards on hand. I’m dumbfounded at how many trainers don’t make sure every single one of their clients has at least 5 of their cards.

The next take away is to have a brief bio of your experience and services that you offer available.

Include client testimonials and special niches that you’re proficient in (ex. chronic low back pain, labral tears, exercise for pregnancy). Make sure that each client has a pamphlet and have it available for download on your and your companies website. The easier that you make it for a client to pass along your information, the more likely they are to do so.

The last take away is material written by others (make sure to give appropriate credit). In one of my all-time favorite articles called “What’s in my Desk” I wrote about the file I keep on training for various injuries or special conditions. It has 2 benefits:

1. Proves to the client you understand their problem and are willing to research their condition

2. Allows you to give them a takeaway (with your business card attached of course) for their friends

Becoming Unstoppable

If you’re looking for longevity as a profitable trainer make these 5 strategies a part of your daily practice. Teach your clients jargon, make them popular, surprise them with emails, give out an award, and have takeaways available. The easier you make it for people to talk about you, the more likely they are to do so — especially if they’ve won the HAF badge.

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About the Author
Jonathan Goodman

As the creator and head coach of thePTDC, I'd have to say that this thing is pretty awesome. If you're interested in my book, it's called Ignite the Fire. Feel free to come hang out on my Facebook page where I talk explore the perfect balance between fitness, business, and living an awesome and fulfilling life.