11 Overlooked Ways to Book More Personal Training Clients

What if you’re thinking about how to get more personal training clients all wrong? It’s the end of February and the gym has all but cleared out. New Year’s Resolutions have been brushed aside, forgotten about or given up on.

This post will bring to light some of the overlooked ways and *scary but worth it* methods for filling up your calendar with the kind of clients that make you say: “Why didn’t I do this sooner?!

And one of the most fundamental mistakes I see personal trainers making? Not appreciating the importance of building an unbreakable connection with their clients. Here are 11 overlooked ways to book more personal training clients.

1. Forge loyal client relationships through *genuine connection*

two people building a connection

The greatest form of advertising for a personal trainer is word of mouth. Your clients are the visual representation of all the hard work the two of you have put in. For example, when your clients BFF sees her for the first time in six months and asks how she went from couch potato to crushing a 10K, what do you want her to say?

Sure, you know your name will be on the tip of her tongue, but what comes next? Were you the drill sergeant who barked orders and got her motivated by fear? Or were you an invaluable part of her support network that cheered her on?

Those are two very different perspectives. 

If you want to turn clients into raving fans who are pounding on your virtual door to train, it’s time to develop personal connections. Sure there are boundaries you shouldn’t cross, you’re a professional after all. But there are so many different ways you can *be there* for your client. Brainstorm methods you can use to ignite their passion for a healthy lifestyle and vocalize your support for your clients’ overall well-being. 

2. Talk {and more importantly, listen} to your clients

When a client comes to you, it’s often at a low point in their life. They’re lacking in self-confidence and may feel skeptical of your industry overall {how many of your clients have *already* joined a gym or had another trainer?}.

It’s your responsibility to learn what goals your clients have for personal training, and why those goals specifically are important to them. Spend time investigating beyond superficial answers to get at the heart of why your clients have sought your services. Throughout your time together you should be reviewing and if necessary re-evaluating to stay on track.

As you know, motivation can prove to be one of the most difficult things about personal training. Discovering what drives each of your clients not only guarantees you’ll continue to build a trust-based relationship but ultimately helps you retain and grow your base.

The key to an overflowing calendar? Asking the right open-ended questions and listening to your clients’ answers. Once they know you *get* them, you’ve got a repeat client who’ll happily book weeks in advance.

Related: Why Empathy is a Game-Changer

3. Take time out to build a solid rapport

personal training on box jumps

Building a solid connection with your client takes time. They need to know they can trust you and in some cases, confide in you when life outside the gym gets tough. But doing so will help you develop long-term bonds that’ll keep your roster full { <– even during *drier* times… post New Year’s slump will be a thing of the past 😉}.

Here are a few tips for building a solid rapport with your clients:

  • Ask the right questions, listen for answers and then keep going. 
  • Use open-ended questions to encourage a response that sheds light on deeper desires… and follow up with why?
  • Don’t take yourself (or life) too seriously. Keep a positive attitude and be mindful of how you come across when you’re not training.
  • Be supportive. Clients have a life outside the gym. If they come in for a session and you can tell something’s bothering them; take time to suss out the details they feel comfortable sharing before you dive into training.
  • Find common ground with clients (outside of the gym). Do you like the same bands? Books? TV shows? Be a human and connect on multiple levels.

4. Ask for {and give} referrals the right way

Next to word of mouth, referrals might be the best {and least expensive} way to build a full schedule of clients. But you need to ask in the right way, at the right time.

Speak with your established clients. Reach out to those who are already sold on what a rock star you are and use their enthusiasm to draw in newcomers.

Offer current clients money towards a future session if they bring in a friend who signs with you. The sky’s the limit here. What you need to know is how to motivate your biggest fans to tell their friends and family about how amazing you are.

On the flip-side, make sure you have a concrete list of other health professionals within your network you can refer clients to. It might be a therapist for your marathoner with the sore IT band, or a nutritionist for your new client suffering from food allergies—be as helpful as possible. It’s as simple as that.

5. Make potential clients an offer they can’t refuse

personal trainer with barbells

There’ll always be disagreements over whether you should offer a *free* anything. Week, session, trial—it’s irrelevant. You first need to understand your client. What are their biggest hurdles to signing up with you? Is it the expense, their lack of time, fear of commitment… need I go on?

Once you’ve narrowed down their biggest concerns you can begin to address them using the methods outlined above (^^^). However, if expense or distrust in the process is a biggie, you can help overcome that objection by offering a free session.

This *introductory* offer is a great test from your POV as well. You can see if the client is a good fit during the trial phase, after all, not everyone is cut out for personal training. Wouldn’t you rather know right out of the gate if you’re dealing with a nightmare client?

6. *THE BIG REVEAL:* Share your personal training clients results

Before and after’s are big business. Look at the cover of any magazine in December & January, or the myriad of *makeover* shows—we love a dramatic transformation. You can jump in on this natural obsession for a great story by sharing testimonials and case studies on your website, in emails, and on social media.

Outlining your *framework* or process for potential clients is also a win. If they can picture themselves taking this fitness journey with you it will pique their interest. When you’re able to explain how you’ll take a client from point A to point B (with examples), it gives your potentials a visual road-map they can see themselves following all the way to success.

7. Use creativity to stand out in the personal training industry

gary vee says thank you

The easiest way to stand out in your industry {and start packing your calendar}? Do what no one else is doing. It sounds difficult but it’s not. You see, with social media, email and texting, most people have forgotten about the small, personal details that make allllll the difference.

Don’t believe me? Do a little test and send out handwritten thank-you notes or a birthday card and let me know what kind of reaction you get. We’re floored when someone takes the extra time to recognize us or make us feel special—and we won’t soon forget the person that did it.

A couple of other ways to wow your clients in the personal training industry:

  • Make your business card unique. Take a little bit of time to consider what you stand for. Use your core values mixed with your personality to design a business card. The more unique your card, the more likely people will be to remember you and hold onto it.
  • Go old school. Drop off flyers/cards at local coffee shops, health food stores, therapy rooms… wherever your ideal client will be. This is free advertising (minus the cost of flyers) and major brand recognition. Plus, if you talk to the staff you’ll be putting your face to your name.

8. Build your authority as a personal trainer

You know you’re a great personal trainer. You love what you do and your clients adore you. But are you one of the go-to authorities within your industry? This could be the difference between an empty calendar in May and booking out online appointments months in advance.

There are so many ways you can get your name out there as *the* personal trainer in the age of technology.

Here are a few:

  • Get active on social media. Instagram, Facebook, YouTube: share a *Tip of the Day,* client wins, *Exercise of the Day* video, Free Workouts for those that can’t afford a trainer {yet}
  • Speaking engagements
  • “Lunch and Learn” sessions to local businesses, workshops for students
  • Writing articles for health publications & websites, appearing on podcasts
  • Start your blog with posts that speak to your ideal client, their struggles and desires. Solve their problems and you become their go-to solution
  • Have a professional website
  • Send weekly emails filled with tips, stories, transformations—engage your audience

9. Become a *celebrity* in your community

personal trainer running in community

How active are you within your community? Reality is, the more quickly you become the “go-to” person when asked “who should I train with” or “what gym do you go to,” the sooner you’ll fill your schedule. Becoming that person can start as simple as smiling and saying hello to everyone at your gym. Taking the first step to getting “fit” is scary for 99% of people. They won’t even think of taking that journey with someone who appears to be standoffish or rude.

Go out of your way to be friendly and engaged with each person you interact with. If you’ve been discussing personal training or fitness during a conversation, follow up with an email or text that includes helpful tips, or links to an article. This shows how much you care. Above all, be authentic.

Here are a couple of other tips to become the personal trainer to meet in your community:

  • Become an active participant in your neighborhood (organize a 5K charity race, speak at a fundraiser)
  • Find and establish real relationships with the *well connected* people who hold influence in your neighborhood (real estate agents, hairstylists, barbers, your local barista)

10. Rock a professional look {aka leaving the ball cap at home}

It might seem antithetical but you don’t want to look like you *just worked out* when you’re meeting clients at the gym. Have a look around at what other trainers are wearing and think about how you can level up.

It’s by incorporating subtle touches that make you look more professional—saying no to basketball shorts, or putting on an ironed button-up—you’re going for fit professional, not *just finished a 30-min pick-up game.*

Being a pro also means staying conscious of your language (in session and out). You’re trying to build up the *know, like, trust* factor so while a close-knit relationship is key, it doesn’t mean all topics are up for discussion. Dropping the f-bomb on the regular or bringing up the trifecta of taboo topics should be taken off the table. It’s not only you and your client having the conversation—the eyes and ears around you (translation: potential clients) are listening in.

Lastly, and most importantly, you need to demonstrate your strong sense of self-belief. Not only is it inspiring to be around a person who believes in what they’re doing and who they are, it’s also a core value you want to pass onto your clients. Those with a strong sense of self-belief are bound to be more successful in the long-term. A mega bonus for both you and your client.

11. Run your business… like a business

people personal training with barbells

Being a personal trainer means you need to be on time and not flake out on your clients. That begins and ends with treating your business… like a business.

Here are the key things you need to know:

  • Be early. Don’t miss appointments. Don’t cancel. And don’t brush off your clients to chat with your other trainer buds about the amazing weekend you had. #rude
  • Be available to clients during business hours
  • Don’t give your clients the option to bounce. You’re training their bodies and minds.

And the biggie? Get a personal trainer scheduling app.

Your clients are busy, sometimes forgetful and need to have as many barriers removed as possible to keep them motivated. Save them the headache of having to schedule weekly sessions with you by using a personal trainer scheduler that has recurring appointments built right in. This lets you devise a game plan, not to mention pre-booking appointments creates accountability.

Bonus if your training scheduling software sends confirmations and reminders to keep clients on their toes without you needing to do a thing! { <– oh snap, Bookedin does that 😉}

So, now that we’ve given you 11 of the *right* ways to get more personal training clients on-board what’s the next step? Well, there’s no time like the present to pick a few and test them out! With the New Year’s rush down to a slow trickle, what better time to brush up on your client connection skills?

After all, you don’t want to look back on 2020 thinking, “If only I’d given one of these new ideas a shot.

And, if you’re ready, we’ve got the personal training scheduling software that’ll make it *drop dead* simple for your clients to book more appointments online, giving you the space to focus on building those solid relationships.

Try Bookedin free for 30-days, and see why Ashley Lofton (fitness instructor) said: “It’s made life being a new entrepreneur, fitness lover, full-time cook/bakery support, big sister, junior producer, girlfriend and overall busy body a BREEZE! I am now able to truly chase my dreams on the go!!” Try our personal training scheduling app now.