The world’s largest independent community of personal trainers. We’re Dedicated to Improving the Perception of the Industry, and Your Success. Join thousands of fans on Facebook, because that many trainers can’t be wrong.

The Token System for Getting Personal Training Referrals and Improving Adherence

by Jonathan Goodman | Follow on Twitter

The Token System is a sure-fire way to get referrals for personal training and increase your clients adherence to their workouts and home-time habits. All you have to add is a little of your personality.

Share This

I’d been training two clients for 3 years each. They were both retired and had a host of injuries. Now pain free and with regained function it was time to focus on weight loss but that damn stubborn fat wouldn’t go away. I tried everything in the gym from high intensity to low intensity to training every day to incorporating more rest. Nothing would work.

The problem was home time habits.

They both ate pretty well but snacked daily so decided to go to Weight Watchers. Within 3 months they were both down 20-25lbs. My first response was to be as jealous as Betty whenever Veronica goes out on a date with Archie. Then I decided to look deeper into the program to see why it worked so well.

The first thing I noticed what that a point system was assigned and it helped the participant keep a close eye on exactly what they’re eating. What jumped out at me more was the ribbon that was given and proudly displayed by the participant when they lost 10lbs. At every stage in the game a physical reward was given to celebrate achievement. This is where my Token System comes from. Use it to get your clients results and also to make sure they refer you others for personal training. Heck, it can even be used as incentives to clients to spread your word through Facebook.

The Token System

“How do I ask for referrals?”

“How do I get my client to speak about me on Facebook?” (If you’re wondering just how important this is make sure you download the “Facebook Marketing for Fitness Pros” Ebook). Also feel free to add me as a friend on Facebook on my personal page.

“My client won’t adhere to their home-time habits. They still look like Jabba the Hutt and there’s nothing I can do!!!”

Here’s a simple fix to all of these solutions. Build a certificate and give it to each of your clients. Name the certificate something epic. I recommend “The Quest to Becoming Even More Awesome” and have your name and contact info in smaller letters at the bottom. All around the outside of the certificate have room for stickers. This doesn’t have to be professionally done. Do it in word and keep it basic. It’s the perceived value you give to it that matters.

Create a list of traits that you want your clients to perform. This is individual and something you will have to come up with on your own. Here are a couple examples:

1. 5 Facebook posts tagging you speaking about their workout.

2. 2 weeks without missing a workout.

3. 2 weeks with their home workout sheet filled out in full.

4. Nutrition guidelines followed as shown by a properly filled out nutrition sheet.

5. A direct referral for personal training.

A Couple Notes

Don’t make this all about personal training referrals or the effectiveness goes down. The traits you are giving the stickers for should be about your client’s success first.

Give the stickers to the client immediately after the good habit. Positive reinforcement, as B.F. Skinner explained, is the most effective way to encourage the habit is repeated. This means you must give something to the client immediately after the positive trait is performed.

If that something is of value, or more specifically perceived value, the trait will be repeated. When your client repeats the traits you end up being richer than Macaulay Culkin in Riche Rich (just watch out for Laurence Van Dough, she’ll try to steal your fortune)

The System

Instruct clients to keep your certificate in a visible place in their house. The fridge is a perfect spot (go the extra 10% and stick a magnet on the back of it even). Visiting friends and family members will see the certificates proudly and prominently placed and ask about it. All of a sudden you’re awesomeness is the topic of conversation at the dinner table. Since they want to get more stickers they’ll encourage other people to give you a call.

The stickers can be uniquely made with your company logo or dollar store dinosaur stickers (I prefer the dinos). When your client performs one of the aforementioned tasks give them a sticker to put on their certificate. Once the certificate is full tell them to bring it in for a prize.

That prize could be any of the following:

1. A t-shirt.

2. A free session.

3. “X” $ off of the next package they purchase. This way they can collect certificates and use more than one at a time.

4. Or anything else. Be creative and use what you have at your disposal.

What Really Matters I hate to be the bearer of bad news but the super secret and totally awesome workouts you’re giving your clients’ don’t matter. Your workout could be the most amazing thing since sliced bread but it won’t matter.

Funny story about sliced bread:

Otto Frederick Rohwedder, from Davenport, Iowa, invented the Rohwedder Bread Slicer in 1912 but it wasn’t until Wonder Bread started to commercially produce sliced loaves in 1930 that it become a phenomenon. They marketed it well while Otto was just the inventor of the machine. Just further proof that the system doesn’t matter if you haven’t given people a reason to care.

The Token system gives your clients a reason to care. It’s fun and different and has a perceived value. You’ll find that they won’t care about the reward as much as they enjoy collecting dinosaur stickers and putting it on their “Quest to Becoming Even More Awesome” certificate that they can show off on their fridge. Just make sure you inflict some of your own personality into the system and it’s sure to be popular.

You have the tools to their success. Sometimes it takes a little creativity and out of the box thinking to pave the way. 


Photo credit: Official U.S. Navy Imagery

About the Author
Jonathan Goodman

Jonathan Goodman is the creator and head coach of the PTDC and has a distaste for third person bios ... Hey, I'm Jon and I'd have to say that this site is pretty awesome. Thanks for being here. If you're interested in my brand new book, it's called Ignite the Fire (revised, updated, and expanded). My team and I have also created the first Academy and certification for online trainers. Click here to check out the Online Trainer Academy.