Personal Trainer Business Tips
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If you’re a newly qualified personal trainer who wants a career in fitness, you need to get your first paying client.
Here are some tips to help you do just that, whether you’re working face to face in a gym environment, in a client’s home, or exclusively online.
Getting Your First Client in a Commercial Gym
Often, working in a commercial gym starts with being a fitness instructor. In the UK, this is a level 2 qualification which doesn’t allow you to take on any one to one clients. But it does allow you access to the gym members, to build relationships, to design great classes and to be visible in and associated with a particular method of training.
1. Work the Floor
In order to work with personal training clients one to one, you need to have a level 3 personal trainer qualification. Once you’ve got that and you’re qualified (and insured!) one of the ways you might pick up your first client is by putting in time on the gym floor or running classes. Basically, speak to anyone and everyone about everything. Don't be salesy. Let your work come up naturally.
2. Work Hours Instead of Paying Rent
Given the option to choose between hours or paying rent at the commercial facility, take hours every time. The main reason for this is that in the beginning you probably aren’t making enough money from personal training to cover the cost of your rent, and you’d want to be spending as much time at the gym as possible to build relationships.
3. Be Open About Your Position
One of the simplest things I’ve done to get clients in a commercial gym: at the start and end of each class I took, I reminded everyone what my role was.
“Thank you so much for coming to spin with me this morning, my name is Catherine, I’m a group fitness instructor here as well as a personal trainer. It’s my job to help you to reach your fitness goals, so if you need any support in this class - or outside it, please let me know and I will help you.”
This works brilliantly, because although we understand that fitness instructors are sometimes personal trainers who are self employed - the members in the gym do not, and may need this explained to them in clear terms.
Getting Clients in a Private Studio
Private studios vary massively in terms of the services they provide, and the way you market to the members at this type of gym will be just as varied.
4. Does the Studio Market For You?
You'll more than likely be paying rent so check with the studio owner whether any marketing services are included in your fee.
5. Set Up Some Classes
Classes a re a great way to introduce yourself to lots of people. They're usually cheaper so the client doesn't mind paying if they don't know you. If you work in a yoga centre, you might advertise an additional breathwork skills workshop.
6. Create Workshops
If your members are involved in sports, you could offer to show them effective massage or stretching methods as part of a workshop, that they can do at home with minimal equipment.
If your membership is interested in CrossFit style training, you might choose to offer a class on rowing technique, or how to improve a barbell snatch.
Lean into those skills that you are qualified to teach, and offer to run these classes which serve the members of your gym for free.
7. Display Advertising
Ask management if you can display a poster, or advertise the event on their social media accounts. Even invite members directly - this is such an overlooked method, and it’s the most personable and simple ways to invite a conversation with someone.
Getting Clients as a Mobile Trainer
Adverting yourself as a mobile trainer can be a little bit more unusual than other forms of promotion. You are seeing clients in their homes, and you must remember to factor in travel time and costs when you are charging them.
8. Join the Conversation
Getting in touch with these people can include local advertising in Facebook groups, but also through mother and baby groups. Either way, you need to integrate yourself into the local systems and join the conversation.
9. Word of Mouth Referrals
Don’t be afraid to ask people if they have a friend who they think might benefit from your services. In most cases people do but you'd never know until you ask.
10. Local Business Meet Ups
Your town will more than likely have a business networking system already in place where you go along, meet other business owners and make connections. It's a great way to get access to the clients of each business owner without a massive marketing budget. Just be sure to make it a win win situation.
Getting Clients as an Online Personal Trainer
Getting the experience of in-person face to face coaching makes the transition to online personal trainer much easier because ultimately personal training is about being an effective communicator.
11. Make the Most of Social Media
When face to face experience isn’t possible, or you’re looking to develop both aspects of your business at once, posting regularly on social media about training and serving your clients will be essential.
If this is new to you, picking one platform and focussing on being consistent will be more important than a broader, scattergun approach.
If you’re looking to train adults 18-25, instagram will be your best option in targeting.
If you’d prefer to focus on older adults, 24 to 44, Facebook might be a better option.
If you want to move into corporate wellness, going into businesses and putting on workshops for a professional audience, perhaps LinkedIn might be best.
You don’t need any fancy software or even a website at first and can simply use your personal pages as a platform.
12. Your Local Audience
Most personal trainers try and appeal to the massive global audience when advertising their online services. After all, that's the whole point of online training, right?
But we see more success when a trainer offer online training to their local audience because there are usually more than enough local clients who want online training.
Plus, if they already know, like and trust you, it's an easy sell.
More Tips for Getting Your First Client as a Personal Trainer
13. Get Social Proof
Until you have some social proof of what you can achieve for your clients, training people for free - or for a heavily discounted rate - will give you some experience of personal training.
14. Don't Worry About a Niche
Don’t worry too much about finding a niche just yet - you’ll hear a lot of advice about the importance of niches, but until you’ve trained lots of different types of people, you can’t know who your client base is. I find that your niche just finds you as you become more experienced and start to have a better understanding of who you best serve.
15. Track Progress From the Start
When you begin with a client get them to take data points; scale weight, photographs, or tape measurements. This is so they have something to compare their progress to after a certain number of weeks. It will also give you something to use in your marketing - this is what social proof means.
16. Ask for Referrals
At the end of your time period, you can ask them for a referral - which means if they have any friends they think would benefit from working with you, they send them your way. You can also ask for a testimonial or review. You can explain that it’s going to be important in how you promote your business and even agree beforehand that your free or discounted training is dependant on a detailed review of the programme that you can use for marketing.
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