The following is a guest article from Kat Whitfield, If you’re interested in submitting content, please refer to our contribution page.
Your facility is perfect. You’ve hand-selected every piece of equipment to provide the ultimate training experience for every type of client. From the reverse hyperextension you would’ve died to have at your old facility, to the numerous power racks that ensure you’ll never want for a place to squat, down to the brand-new bands with every resistance imaginable, this gym is a dream come true.
Your latest consult comes in at 5:30 PM — peak timing. You’re excitedly showing her how popular your facility is, and there’s even a boot camp running if she’s into group fitness. Almost everyone in your boot camp can bust out 10 push-ups with ease, you tell her.
With pride, you show your consult how that guy deadlifting 315 for reps came in not even having the mobility to get in the starting position.
“Soon you’ll be able to do all of this stuff too,” you say excitedly. You can’t wait to get her started.
“This is the reverse-hyper,” you tell her. “It will help fill out your jeans again like you were talking about.” Way to tie-in and make an emotional connection with her goals! [Editors note: Boom!]
Thirty minutes later she declines your offer to go through a sample workout and mentions how she has to “talk it over” with her husband before committing to a package. You never hear from her again.
What went wrong? After all, you showed her that you were a popular facility; you got people results, and you even tied-in with her goals. That was flawless.
While it’s hard to say what exactly the breaking point was for this particular consult, you’ve probably already spotted a couple of flaws in our hypothetical trainer’s approach.
I’ll preface my advice in this article by saying not every female client you have would be turned off by the above approach.
However, as loathe as I am to admit it, the majority of female personal training clients will be intimidated rather than impressed by how strong your current clients and trainers are — especially if you’re looking to attract clients for fat loss or injury management.
There are three things you need to do to capture and close leads from potential female clients who might be intimidated by your approach to fitness:
- Reduce Anxiety & Intimidation
- Connect Personally & Address Fears
- Paint the Picture
It Starts Online
Whether your potential client is a referral or someone just Googling for a personal trainer, chances are they’re going to land on your facility’s website early on.
While it may be tempting to feature your strongest male client that squats 500 pounds on the front page, if you’re looking to attract more female prospects, remember to feature some of your ladies as well. This is your first step towards reducing anxiety.
To lessen the intimidation factor, make sure you don’t only include feats of Herculean effort. Try to get into the minds of your potential client — things like heavy squats and deadlifts are way off their radar.
Many of them probably don’t even have the proper movement pattern yet. Show clients going through things like mobility drills, basic bodyweight movements, and other beginner-friendly fare.
Have blog posts or easy to navigate pages already set up to address concerns. Remember to include even the most basic information: What kinds of shoes / clothing are appropriate to wear? Are there changing facilities on site? Is there towel service? Water fountains? What does the facility look like when they walk through the front door? Will there be someone there to greet them?
[Editors note: I really like this point. One of the biggest reasons that people don't step foot in our gyms is the fear of looking stupid or not doing the right thing. Teaching them these things before they walk in will have them entering in with more confidence.]
Anything that you can do to prepare your potential client for what will happen when they come in for their consult will be helpful. Remember, if you’re a strength and conditioning facility, chances are they’ve never seen anything like your gym before, let alone imagined themselves there.
Give them the information they need so they won’t be caught off guard the second they step foot through the door.
Setting up the Consult
The first thing about talking on the phone — be kind, be compassionate, and be positive. This is your chance to connect with her personally, affirm and address her fears.
Reassure her that you have worked with clients like herself before with her same goals and limitations. Tell specific stories if you have them. Reinforcing that you have clients at present like her (if you do, that is) will also go miles to helping reduce anxiety.
Even if you already provide the information on your website, go over exactly what will happen when she walks through the door for her consult. Ask if she needs directions or landmarks. Send a confirmation email with all of that information again.
If possible, schedule her consult during a time there will be another female client training, or at least when there won’t be a ton of people. While it’s important to demonstrate that you’re popular, it’s more important that she’s not immediately turned away from your other strong and successful clients.
During the Consult
Avoid giddily showing off how awesome all of your equipment is. I know, a good glute-ham raise makes me really happy too, but to your prospect it is a foreign torture device that she wants nothing to do with and is 100% positive she can’t use.
Sometimes, depending on how intimidated I feel the client is, or how busy the gym is during the consult, I won’t even give them a tour past the changing facilities and where to leave their stuff until we sit and talk first.
The discussion portion of your consult is of critical importance here. There are several other articles that go over this process on this site [Editors note: Here's one: www.theptdc.com/2012/12/selling-personal-training-in-5-steps/], but some key points to touch on:
- The clients that she sees doing awesome feats of strength all started exactly where she is right now.
- If you can relate a story of how you weren’t always a pro at this stuff, or even how you may have been a little intimidated when you first tried to get fit, that will go a long way towards her trusting you.
- The exercises that you’ll show her and the equipment you have at your facility are the best and fastest route towards her goals, despite whatever magazines or television may have told her. Have stories and examples prepared to reinforce this.
- Ask questions about any concerns or anxieties she has. If she has a fear of strength training now is the time to address that, because chances are that’s what she’s going to see on the gym floor and assume you’ll expect the same out of her.
- Address the fact that all of this can seem overwhelming, scary, and intimidating. Assure her that your other clients felt the same way when they started too, and that it’s normal.
With these prospects, definitely take them through a sample workout. They’ll have a better chance to really see themselves as a client, painting the picture of them belonging in your facility, as well as show them that they can do the exercises you’ll prescribe.
Always be compassionate. Listen to every concern that they have and take it seriously. Continuously tie back how these exercises help accomplish their goals.
It’s About Them, Not You
Ask them for their honest opinion of the consult and if they could see themselves working out here. Again, give them the opportunity to bring up their concerns and anxieties.
As always, put yourself in their shoes. For years women have been told only to lift tiny weights, go to group classes, yoga, pilates, and ballet — and to look pretty while doing it.
Many of your prospects haven’t stepped foot in a gym in years. Many of them haven’t even thought about exercise or what it actually entails past the fact that they should be doing it. And your facility probably isn’t what they had in mind.
These women need to train with professionals who know the importance of proper training and you know you can get them to where they want to be. It’s worth your time to try to make them feel comfortable when they come in and like they belong.
Kat is a personal trainer based out of Raleigh, North Carolina. She enjoys lifting weights, puppies, teaching people how to lift weights, and dogs. You can follow her ramblings about fitness in the media on her blog at http://katwhitfield.wordpress.com/