There are many ways to get more personal training clients, but at the heart of all of these strategies is sales. To some, sales is a boogeyman, but it’s really just a tricky mix of understanding basic human psychology and having a good product or service that people want or want to talk about. Let’s assume you have the latter and we’ll get to work on the former.

Once you get a personal training prospect in the door, the goal is to lead them down the path of “yes.” When you prospect your client, what they say and how they feel can be dictated by the questions you ask. The more closing questions you ask, the more information and power you gain to help you understand their motivations and desires, and ultimately close more deals.

But first, you have to ask the right closing questions to serve three purposes:

1. Expand your knowledge of the client in the first encounter.
2. Guide the client to a specific answer.
3. Discover the barriers that prevent the client from saying yes.

Remember, focusing on emotion is a powerful sales tool. So if you can discover the emotions that motivate your clients, you can get more yeses.

Here are the five questions every business-savvy fitness professional should ask potential clients to help the prospective customer realize that they do, in fact, want your fitness services.

Question 1: “What are the top three priorities currently in your life?”

This question guides your potential client down an answer path where you can relate the services you’d like to sell them.

When you ask a potential customer to list the top three priorities in their life, they might respond with a variation of the following: family, career, and friends. Basically, if your prospect does not indicate their health to be a contender in the top three, it just reveals a big reason why they are out of shape. Of course, you don’t say this aloud, but use their answer as an opportunity to follow up with this effective question:

How do you think improving your health/physical fitness would affect those other priorities?

This follow-up question cultivates the idea that improving their health also means improving their ability to enjoy the things they care about the most. More importantly, it also warms them up to the fact that they can start potentially making changes by taking on your services. So far, so good.

However, if your client does already have health as a top priority, you are still in a good position to ease closer to the sale. It tells you that they’re particularly motivated (possibly by a new doctor’s report, for example) and just need the “right personal trainer” to show them the way. It’s time to make sure they know it’s you. 

Question 2: “What three things do you want to buy right now?”

During times of financial crisis, prospects could be more concerned about job security, the rising prices of food and gas, and generally spending less on luxury items. More than likely (and unfortunately), personal training is often considered a luxury.

But you can convince your clients that personal training is not.

When you ask clients what three things they want to buy right now, you find out what else could be competing for your personal training dollars.


With this knowledge, you can now directly relate your fitness coaching services to the other items that their money might go to. If you use this question in combination with the question about their top three life priorities, you can tell the clients that your services are the one thing that helps them toward those priorities they listed. For example, if they emphasized career, improved fitness and looking good will further boost their confidence and energy for taking on more projects at work, which will pay off in dividends down the road.

All the meanwhile, they can become a better person in other areas of their life as well.

Question 3: “When you stand in front of a mirror, are you happy with the way you look?”

If someone who is interested in personal training is asked this question, they’ll likely admit they don’t feel great about their appearance. They might nitpick about the areas that concern them, perhaps the cellulite in their legs, or they just want to lose 25 pounds overall.

Using their response, your goal is to ask further questions to help them think more critically and positively about how you can help change their physical state. Try asking:

“Why is that important to you?” or
“How would you feel if you achieved your goal six months from now?”

This should improve their emotional state, or the way they feel about themselves when they look in the mirror. These are ways to create a powerful emotional connection with them and use it as a conversation piece to assure them that, with your help, they really can change.

Question 4: “What other things have you tried to get into shape?”

The goal of this question is to target your client’s likes and dislikes.

When you figure out that information, you can align your pitch with only their most enjoyable fitness experiences. You also gain valuable insight into why what they did before did not work, why they stopped, and their previous levels of effort.

If a client reveals that he or she does not like a particular style of exercise, it is obvious enough that your sales pitch should avoid mentioning that. The last thing you want to sell is something they hate doing.

Pay close attention to the other things they’ve tried and why they thought they would work. It’s important that you take the opportunity to talk less here and listen more, and listen very closely.

Sometimes clients are fixated on a particular fitness style because they read about it in magazines or had a friend, whom they admire, try it also. For example, I had a slightly overweight college girl who was interested in personal training, but was unnaturally interested in the bodyweight and simple core exercises she saw in a popular women’s magazine. With her, my question of "What other things have you tried?" helped me close the sale in two ways:

1. It showed me what her expectations were in terms of what she could put in and get out.

2. I learned that there would be a fair amount of client education involved, and ultimately, it meant I also needed to build trust before selling her on something she would be reluctant to try.


In the end, after some education and resistance on her end, I was able to convince her that weight training would help her lose weight.

Question 5: “What is currently keeping you from achieving your goal?”

After talking to clients, seeing them in person, and understanding their workout habits, you know pretty quickly why they haven’t been able to achieve their fitness goals. However, you still want them to reveal this information to you so you can acknowledge their barriers and prove you care about them.

Oftentimes, the reasons a client can’t achieve their goals are not fitness or nutrition related. Rather, they could be a conflicting work schedule, family obligations, or something else. You need to unravel their conundrum that is preventing them from reaching their potential.

If the reason is related to a fitness routine, you can be flexible with coming up with a solution that is best suited to their needs. If the reason is time, which it often is, an example of something you can say is, “I can create a workout routine that fits in with your schedule, so you don’t spend that much time working out.” (And you’d better deliver!)

Overall, the conversations you have with clients can make or break your ability to close deals.

Don’t make it your goal to change their perspective about certain facts, but more about how they feel about certain issues they may care about. When you have an opportunity to speak with a client, engage them with the above five questions over and over again so that in their response, they do the work for you of convincing themselves to buy your personal training services.

Photo Credit: Featured Image by Stock Unlimited, Image 1 by Flickr, Image 2 by Flickr