A lot of trainers aren't comfortable generating personal training leads and closing sales. If you're one of them, then this article will help you dominate your gym floor interactions and increase your success rate.

Lead generation

Lead generation is all about confidence. You have to cultivate yourself with the deluded belief that everyone wants to train with you because you're the best trainer that's ever set foot in the gym.

I'm not telling you to be arrogant. However, if you don't believe in yourself, no one else will, either. If you tell yourself you're that good often enough, you'll start to believe it and eventually pitch it into existence. "Fake it until you make it." Do this long enough, and you will make it.

I'm delusional. I tell myself everyday that I'm the world's best trainer and that everyone wants my services (even though I know I'm not). This belief allows me to go into interactions with the decisiveness, certainty, and confidence to get what I want with that cheeky James Bond smirk that says "You know you want to train with me."

When it comes to lead generation, you can't afford to hesitate. Hesitation implies you're unsure of yourself or not worthy. So be bold, be decisive, and go for it.

Imagine you're a gym member and you see a nervous trainer walking around the gym, scampering about without really doing anything. Subconsciously you'd start to think this person is unsure of themselves and if they do end up approaching you, you doubt this person can help you.

Certainty gives off the aura that says, "I believe in who I am and what I do." And even if people don't buy from you, they'll respect you. And even if they don't train with you for whatever reason, they'll respect you for showing up and may even refer you to someone they know or vice versa.

Personal trainer lead generation is an art that must be honed, sharpened and mastered; it should never be a chore. Mastering lead generation is all about practice and repetition. After all repetition is the mother of skill and practice doesn't make perfect -- perfect practice makes perfect. Keep practicing the wrong way and you'll get better at getting it wrong.

Work on your approaches, your openers, and asking the right questions and using the right cues to get the answers you want from your clients. After all, the quality of the answers you seek depends on the quality of the questions you ask. So if you want great answers, ask great questions.

There are endless ways to generate leads if you're creative. Some of the ideas off the top of my head range from floor walking, emailing, cold calling, personal trainer referral programs, prize draws, group classes, lucky dip raffles and just good old fashioned networking with everyone you meet.

The gym floor is your bread and butter as you're effectively on show to the world, so your body language, disposition, and attitude are constantly being expressed to those around you. You must be open, confident, and approachable otherwise you'll struggle to connect with anyone. My favorite ways to generate leads are:

  • Being bold and walking up to people on the gym floor
  • Phoning or emailing prospective clients from the health clubs member list
  • Emailing local businesses trying to build joint ventures and partnerships
  • Putting prizes such as a complimentary personal training session, nutrition consultation, or Q&A time into a lucky dip hat and seeing what the client wins.
  • Revisiting and re-contacting my database every 3-4 weeks to see if any of the prospective clients are further along the path from contemplation and are now ready to take action.

Sometimes another trainer and I play the game of who can generate the most leads in thirty minutes with email, phone number, and preferred method of contact all on the sheet. The loser often has to do a silly forfeit, which is incentivizing in itself and it build team rapport, which is always a bonus.


Many will be familiar with mimicry (mirroring the other persons tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language). If you aren't, then you need to learn, as it's a very powerful tool for building rapport and connection when used correctly. (Jon covers it extensively in Ignite the Fire. However, it can come across as fake and seedy when used in the wrong way, so use it but don't abuse it. If anything, get them to mimic you because this is a higher form of complying on a subconscious level and the more someone complies, the easier they are to sell to.

This means pay attention to your client's level of eye contact, speech patterns and body language. If they speak slow and soft, then you speak slow and soft. If they stand tall and proud then you do too. The more two people mirror each other, generally the more rapport they have. The more rapport there is, the fewer barriers there are and the easier the process of closing the deal becomes.

Perception is also vital to lead generation. You have to make yourself look in demand. Draft diaries on your iPad with fake bookings, names, phone numbers help knock a barrier down in the sales process, as the client isn't the first one to buy into your services or the "only one" to commit.

It's far easier to generate leads on a full piece of paper than it is on an empty one. I did this experiment with two trainers in my gym: A trainer carrying a list of 10 names, emails, and phone numbers got eight more contacts than another with a blank sheet, in the same amount of time. Inauthentic? Maybe. But when it comes to perception, every industry is about what people think they see.

Also, iPads are golden, as you can move people where you want them with a drag of a finger, and if you have a gap to fill at a certain time you can visually show your client where your possible slots go. If you're smart you'll give them only two or three options and you'll get them to pick the slot you want them to pick, which means you can control the flow of your diary. I did this in 2012 and managed to fill my diary to 20-plus sessions per week with a mobile-based training client base. My training team found it a very effective way of managing your diary to avoid burnout and unnecessary rearranging of sessions.

Whatever you choose to do to generate leads for personal training is up to you, you must go into the interaction with the view of "what can I add to this person's experience today?" instead of "what can I get out of this?". Don't focus on the money or the sale; instead focus on the rapport and connection, and the sale will come naturally—often without you even bringing up personal training sessions or pricing.

When it comes to closing, believe in yourself and take your time. Don't break eye contact first, speak slowly, and use pauses. When you've said your piece let them be the first to break the silence -- the person who is in control of the sale is the one who speaks second. Selling personal training is both an art and a science.

Often trainers talk themselves out of a sale by overselling it and coming across desperate (I've done this in the past) but this decreases value in the eyes of a client and makes them unsure of themselves. Take your time. Be meticulous and ruthless at the same time. Lead generation is an art that needs to be mastered; it should never be a chore.

Ultimately, for any of this to work you have to become very comfortable talking to new people, and you have to be able to think on your feet. Personal training is a numbers game but it's not necessarily about how many people you speak to, it's about how you speak to those people.

The key to success in lead generation is down to purposeful practice. You can use the various streams of generating leads mentioned above to great effect, but sometimes something as simple as a friendly smile, a firm handshake, and the words "Hey, how's your workout going?" can be the most effective method of generating a lead.

Be confident and assertive, but above all be authentic and the clients will come knocking at your door for years to come.

Articles Referenced

How to Sell Personal Training - Jonathan Goodman

6 Ways to Establish Rapport with Your Clients - Jonathan Goodman

How to Approach Clients on the Floor - Sharí­ Alexander