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Marketing to the Non-gym Crowd

by Jonathan Goodman | Follow on Twitter

How to market to the non-gym crowd for personal trainers.

non-gym marketing
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The following is a guest post from Carol Gardell. Carol messaged me in response to an article about the “non-gym” crowd a few weeks back. I appreciated her thoughts and asked her to write an article from her point of view not expecting her to do so. Well she did, and it’s fantastic. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did. If you’re interested in submitting a guest post, please refer to our contributor guidelines.

You need to understand three essential elements if you want to market to the non-gym crowd.  These are:  1) You Are the Brand; 2) Creativity Counts; and 3) Referrals Mean Everything.

Just to set things straight from the beginning, do not be so foolish as to think of the non-gym crowd as the non-active, or non-fit crowd.  Some, of course, are not active, but others have found many ways to stay fit outside the gym.  They play sports – tennis, golf, ice hockey, soccer – run, bike, swim, dance, etc.  However, they may feel they want to supplement those activities with a little more structured fitness training. Your job is to find the right balance for each client.

Number One:  You Are the Brand

Personal training in the non-gym environment is, well, very personal. You are the brand.  You don’t represent a gym.  You don’t answer to anyone but yourself and your clients.  Prospective clients notice you and watch you.  But how do you get them to call you?

The best way to market your brand is to be involved in a variety of activities and have unique circles of friends/associates.  I play golf and ice hockey.  I run and participate in races and triathlons.  I am very active with a volunteer group in my town (that has nothing to do with fitness).  I hike everyday with my dogs.  I also have a small part-time job (not training related) that involves an entirely different group of people. I’m out there in the community.  I know people, and they know people, and that helps my marketing world go round.

But, there is more to branding than “being out there.”  You need to look the part.  Women want my arms!  People comment that I don’t have any fat on my body and that I am the fittest person they know.  This helps business!  But, I take this even a step further.  When I see a client, I pay attention to the clothes I am wearing, the earrings I have on, how my hair looks, etc.  I make sure I look awake at 6am… or 7pm!  Guys, you may think this is crazy, but women (and men) really do pay attention to these things!

I don’t diet, but I am conscience of what I eat and my clients, friends and associates know this. They also know that I believe “everything in moderation,” and how important a glass of wine at the end of the day may be to them!

The lesson here is, people notice things.  And the more people that notice, the better it is for your marketing efforts.

Number Two:  Creativity Counts

I have never done the same workout twice with a client. Why?  Because I think that would be sort of boring and if I think it’s boring, I imagine my client would too.  Fun and different, with a special challenge thrown in every time, will keep both you and your client ready for more.  And, have I mentioned laughter?  You have to enjoy your time together!

But on the marketing front, creativity is key.  I send my unique circles of friends/associates a variety of emails during the year.  I get requests every year for my 12 Days of Christmas and my exercise Advent calendar and Christmas Carols.  (Yes, my name is Carol, so I have a leg up of the competition here!)   Here’s an example:

If you don’t want to be a tank,

You better learn to do a plank!


  1. Lie on your stomach with your feet hip distance apart and forearms placed on the ground.
  2. Lift your body off of the floor and raise up until your body forms a straight line from head to toe.
  3. Suck in your gut and squeeze your butt!
  4. Hold and sing Jingle Bells!

Have a dashing day!


Did I mention the part about having fun?!

I also send little reminders about things like New Year’s resolutions (how are you doing with them) and lyrics to “Ittsy, Bittsy ,Teeny, Weeny, Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.”  I’ve picked up a new client after almost every communication.  And, when I don’t, I still know I made someone smile that day!

[From Jon: TV used to be awesome]

Number Three:  Referrals Mean Everything

“Pyramids,” in a business context, have such a horrible reputation that I hate to bring them up here, but that’s exactly how you want to grow your business.  Marina knows me through my “dog friends” and is moved by my “Wheels on the Bus” email to start training.  She goes to her doctor, Alex, who comments on how good she looks and gives Alex my name.  Alex begins training with me.  Alex’s patient, Kelly, tells Alex she wants to get in better shape and Alex gives her my name.  Now Kelly is a client as well. You get the picture!

Most interestingly in this situation, the referral was about not liking to exercise, but liking to spend the time with me!  That brings us back to the beginning of this article – You Are the Brand!

Author the Author

non-gym crowdCarol Gardell is a Certified Personal Trainer from Ridgefield, CT.  After a successful career with a large global company, Carol decided to pursue her interest in fitness and build a new career.  Her prior marketing, finance and communications experience helps her relate directly with many of her clients.  She also understands the physical and emotional issues faced by clients over 40. You can help her build her blog @

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.