Note from Jon: I received this email via Facebook. Please feel free to add me as a friend. We have great discussions pertaining to personal training daily. I’m turning this email into a contest. Details are below.
I love your advice on getting clients, as far as asking for referrals, offering free sessions, things like that. Here’s my problem:
I work at a commercial gym, which means every client has to be a member of my gym, I can’t adjust prices much or offer specials, and not everyone in this area has money for training, or training long term. I get a lot of people who buy 5 sessions to learn the basics, then stop.
Referrals are best, but not everyone’s friends go to my gym, so that doesn’t work well here. Ideally I would work in a studio that lets me bring in whoever I want and run my own training business, there just isn’t one in my area.
What’s your advice for commercial gym trainers with a similar situation?
What you’re dealing with is very common. In fact it’s very similar to my situation and the reality is that most trainers at my club fail. Personal training is expensive especially seeing as how trainers are usually young. It’s hard to justify $60-100/hr for a 24 year old if the client is a professional with 8 years of post graduate education.
Working within a gyms rules may be frustrating but who’s to say what you would do is correct (or better) anyway. Lots of trainers set poor precedents by discounting training or giving away too much at the beginning.
For example – I strongly disagree with discounting personal training. The minute you discount your services they lose value. 10% off means you don’t have confidence that your training is worth the full amount. It can also lead to your other clients getting annoyed and demanding a lower price point. Instead of discounting I sometimes offer free sessions as thank you’s for referrals etc. This is sometimes approved by the gym and sometimes not. Fact is you can always offer a free session to a client if you work for a gym. They may not even have to know.
Here’s my 2 solutions for you and they’re very simple:
1. Make yourself the s***: There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be the most popular person in your gym. When you walk in the door every member should want to go out of their way to speak with you or say hi. You should be high-fiving people on the floor left, right, and center. When you see somebody training well offer them a compliment — make it specific. Walk the floor not looking to sign people up for training. Instead make your goal to introduce yourself to 5 members each day. If you know one member who’s speaking to another use that as an opportunity to get an introduction. When a member walks into the gym yell across the floor a hello and wave. Make them feel special.
2. market yourself: Don’t ask the gym for help — just go out and do it. Write a short 500 word article with 5 tips for weight loss. Or what you need to know about low back pain (email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want me to look it over, I’m happy to help). Post the paper up with your contact info at the bottom of it on the corkboard at the gym (if there isn’t a corkboard — buy one and put it up by the water fountain). Have sheets available at the front so clients can take them away. Write a new article every week and post it up.
The take-home is to increase your value. If you make yourself the s*** everybody will want to train with you. Clients will feel special they know you and go out of your way to speak about you in the change room to new members. They’ll want to bring in friends and family because you make them feel popular (and who doesn’t want to feel popular). The written materials add value. You don’t need anything profound but I’m guessing none of the other trainers at your club are doing it.
By making yourself popular clients will feel special training with you. This is more value than you’ll ever be able to provide with your training. They should feel honored that you want to train them and provide them with good service.
Do this for a month and I promise more clients than you can handle will be approaching you asking you to train.
My Mission to Struggling Commercial Gym Trainers (THE CONTEST)
I want you to build your army and send me an email every sunday telling me exactly what you’ve done. Document the whole thing each day (the names of the people you’ve met and as many details as you can find out about them, how you met them, how long the conversation was, how many high fives or handshakes you gave out each day, the materials you write and where you posted them, count how many articles are taken by clients from the front etc.)
Give me as many details as you can each Sunday for a month. Download the form and send it to me no later than March 18th. This is open to everybody who wants to participate. I’ll be sending out 3 free autographed copies of my book Ignite the Fire to the 3 people who shook the most hands over the course of the month. Extra points goes to you if you do something creative to make yourself popular in the gym. Include it in your weekly email to me every Sunday if you’ve done something special and different (email@example.com).
This contest starts Feb 20 and ends March 12. Now’s the time to build your army!