What’s one of the most important factors to becoming a successful personal trainer that is missing from almost every training course?
Personal Training Marketing!
It’s crazy to me that you can spend thousands of pounds or dollars on a training course to get you prepared for a career as a personal trainer, but you are left with nothing more than a “build it and they will come” attitude to picking up clients.
I’m sorry to say that it is nowhere near as easy as that. I really wish it was.
Just because you are a trainer and there are people training in the gym, is no guarantee that people will come up to you and ask you to train them. In fact, in over ten years of being a trainer in a top London gym, I think it happened twice.
Well, you need to create some personal training advertising if you stand any chance of staying in this career, and in this post, I am going to show you the techniques I used to build and keep a client base of over forty sessions a week for nearly a decade.
Marketing is an essential part of a successful personal training career. You must ensure that members in the gym or people in the local area are aware of your services and fees. Without proper marketing you will struggle to gain new clients, pay fees and make a good living as a trainer.
I’m not going to waste too much time with an intro to this article, as I know you just want to know what works. So with this being said, let’s jump into the personal training promotion ideas.
How to promote personal training in a Gym
1. Teach classes
First on the list because it was my number one way of picking up clients and marketing myself as a trainer.
Teaching classes is such a good way of showing not just one or two people that you know how to give a great workout, but sometimes twenty to thirty people all at once!
If you are thinking “I didn’t get into personal training to teach classes“”, let me tell you this. I got tons and tons of clients from teaching classes, and out of all the methods I will write about today, it is by far the most efficient, and probably the most fun too.
I’m certainly not saying you should teach Bodypump or spinning classes, (unless you want an additional income of course). I am instead, suggesting you teach quick twenty-minute gym floor classes at peak times.
I suggest ab toning workouts because people love those and you’ll get a lot of takers. Announce it on the speaker system in the gym twenty minutes before it starts and then again five minutes before start time.
Be brutal, do not give an easy workout that anyone can do, you need to “wow” people here. Think of it as your complimentary session for twenty people at once.
I found a twenty-minute ab workout with no rest in-between exercises is just brutal enough for people to enjoy but not be throwing up (that’s not cool, you don’t want that).
At the end of the session, pass out your business cards and say you are taking on new clients, and all they need to do is text the number or email if they are interested.
Try and make this a regular thing in the gym, even if you can only do it once a week after you start getting busy. It gets your name and face known and people will love your sessions. It works so well.
2. Create your own profile board
Do not rely on the profile board you are given when you first start training people in gyms. They are boring, they all look the same, and crucially, no gym member wants to look like they need help.
There is something that is commonly overlooked by trainers in gyms, and that is that people are embarrassed to ask for help. They don’t want to be seen looking at the profile board, and they certainly don’t want to be spotted looking at the board by a trainer.
Instead, make your own profile board that looks nothing like the others on the gym floor, and put it in the changing rooms with your business cards next to it.
People are far, far more likely to take a quick look at your board and pick up a business card with the intention of messaging you later in a changing room because no one is watching them. They have no fear of being ridiculed or looked down upon there. It’s pretty simple psychology.
You can still have your own profile board with the rest on the gym floor, but just don’t rely on it getting you any calls.
3. Learn peoples names and say hello
I know, I know, this is exactly the sort of marketing tips you hear and think that it can’t possibly work. Well, let me tell you this.
Don’t get me wrong, this is by no means a quick way to get clients, but it will get you, clients.
The reason this works is that people only usually want to do business with people they like.
If you are one of the few people in the gym that remembers their name and always says hello to them, who do you think they are most likely to approach if they need help, or are referring a friend at work that said they want a trainer?
Remember, for most people, gyms are very intimidating places, and the trainers can sometimes be a part of that. I have seen plenty of trainers that walk around all day trying to look muscular and tough with not a smile in sight. These people may have some clients, but they certainly aren’t busy.
Be friendly, say hello to people, remember their names and you are already at a massive advantage over the other trainers that have never said a word to them until they needed more sessions in their diaries.
4. Do NOT niche down too far
A nice controversial one here.
How many times have you been told the best way to pick up clients is to be super specific in the types of clients you train?
Quite a few I am willing to bet.
I get why this is said, it’s usually because it makes you stand out as an outstanding trainer in that particular discipline, so anyone wanting to train in that niche would, of course, come to you to train them.
The problem with this advice is that it is completely unrealistic for the majority of the big chain gyms. How many people do you think are coming to a Fitness First, Virgin Active or Equinox gym in order to increase their VO2 Max or to prepare for a strong man competition?
I am not saying that you should be a one size fits all trainer, but I am saying you should have a specialty instead of a niche. You should be able to train lots of different people, from weight loss to muscle gain (the two main goals you will hear) but be especially good in one of those fields.
Having a specific training niche to me implies that a trainer only has one discipline that they want to teach their clients. You should have specialties, but be open to training every type of client that you have the knowledge to teach.
If you niche down too far, you will find yourself with a very empty diary a lot of the time.
5. Use different techniques or equipment to stand out
In a highly competitive industry like personal training, you’ve gotta stand out. Do something different that makes people turn their heads and think “I wonder what they are doing?“.
I love training with free-weights, and I definitely did use free-weights with my clients, but I also made sure that every now and then I did something a little different to get those heads turning.
I would make use of kit that most members wouldn’t use, like Kettlebells, battle ropes, HIIT training on spin bikes, or treadmills where I would shout encouragement.
If it made my sessions stand out as being something different and interesting, then I would make sure it got into my client’s sessions ( as long as it was conducive to their goals of course).
A lot of people hate exercise because they think it is boring. They think it’s just lifting heavy weights up and down or sitting on an exercise bike for an hour three days a week.
A great way of showing that your sessions not only get your clients in great shape but (more importantly) are really fun too. Is sure to get people intrigued enough to scout out your profile board to get your details.
Personal training marketing ideas for outdoor trainers
The following tips are how to market yourself as a personal trainer if you don’t work in a commercial gym, and prefer to train people in their homes or the outdoors.
1. Build a great website
Again, something that all these types of posts suggest, but I’m going to be a lot more specific in what I suggest so that it’s actually helpful to you.
If you are going to pick up clients in your local area, you could try the old school method of putting business cards in shop windows, etc, except that most people will ignore them and they will sit in that window for years without you ever getting a call.
And why is that?
There’s this new thing that people are using instead, that’s called the internet. You may have even used it yourself. (I’m not usually sarcastic when I write, but I feel it’s appropriate here).
Don’t use outdated methods, instead, build yourself a great website explaining what services you offer, your rates, advice, and everything else you can think that people would want to know about your business.
Now here’s the really important part!
Make use of a Google my business account. Once you’ve created your account and linked it to your site, you’ll show up in the search results when people search for terms like “Personal trainers near me” and you are listed as working in their local area.
This stops you from wasting time and money on advertising, plus it stops you from competing with thousands of trainers across the UK. You can focus on finding clients in your local area by making sure you dominate the local search results.
Not to be misinterpreted as using any old social media, or building an Instagram following. Those methods are pretty unlikely to actually gain you any clients and will waste a lot of your time.
Instead, use social media and the adverts that you can place on them to advertise your services.
Facebook is considered social media for the older generation (which sadly I am totally a part of it seems), but this is perfect for trainers, as it means that the age range of people using Facebook is going to be well within your target audiences age ranges.
Create yourself a Facebook page that explains your services (just like you might have done if you followed the advice above about setting up a website), then use Facebook ads to target the audience that is most likely to be interested in your services.
I’ve used this tool before and it’s not only pretty easy to use, it’s also very targeted, which means that you aren’t throwing money away by showing your ads to people that will never be interested in you. You can really hone in on the types of people and their locations to ensure you are getting your money’s worth.
Whilst we are on the subject of money, you might be worrying that you can’t afford to start advertising because you don’t have many clients.
I totally get this, but you will be pleasantly surprised by just how affordable the Facebook ads are. It won’t cost you an arm and a leg to get an ad up and running, and they are really quite likely to result in inquiries.
If you aren’t sure how to set up a Facebook ad or make up a page, you can hire someone from a site like Fiverr who will be willing to help and they aren’t usually very expensive. They do usually cost more than a fiver despite the site’s name, unfortunately.
3. Talk to local businesses
There are two ways that local businesses may be able to help you gain new clients.
- They could allow you to put up a profile board in their lobby or gathering area so that guests or employees could take your cards and contact you.
- They could have employee health initiatives in place that allow them additional benefits if they stay in shape.
The second option is the most lucrative.
What you really want to do here (if possible), is to get into negotiations with the boss or manager of the company. You should sell the benefits of employee health and fitness, explaining that if their employees are healthier, they will have less time off work, fewer mental health issues, etc.
This is all true of course, so don’t feel like you are trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes here.
You could set up a referral scheme within the company that allows you to exclusively train them at a set rate that the business would pay you directly to train its employees.
How you would go about training the employees would be up to you, but if you prefer to stick to training in the outdoors, make sure you have got some good insurance and continue to train the employees like you would any other client outside.
This method would generate you a lot of clients, and even a steady paycheque, whilst still working as an independent trainer far away from the big gym chains.
So here’s something a bit weird, in this post I didn’t give you twenty or fifty different marketing tips for personal training.
Why is this?
Is it because I couldn’t think of any more?
Not at all, I know there are tons of ways a personal trainer can market themselves. It’s just that the vast majority of the tips you will read will yield little to no results and take a lot of your time.
The marketing tips I have given above actually work. I’ve tried many ways of marketing my services over the years, and I have omitted all the nonsense ones you usually see and only left the ones that got me, clients.
I am assuming you didn’t want to waste time reading a hundred and one tips for personal training marketing, to find after trying them that only four actually ended up in you having more clients.
Marketing isn’t difficult or scary, just keep things simple, easy, and interesting.
Go get ’em!
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