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OriGym’s Guide to Getting Personal Trainer Referrals

Guide to Getting Personal Trainer Referrals

Getting personal trainer referrals from loyal clients can help your business to grow exponentially. However, the process of obtaining these recommendations isn’t as straightforward as you may expect.

Therefore, at OriGym we have created a definitive guide on personal training referral programs, in which we will discuss:

One of the best ways to ensure you continue to earn your personal training referrals, though, is by expanding your services through a specialist Level 4 qualification through OriGym! 

Explore more by downloading our free prospectus, and discover how to maximise your client retention and referrals with further education.

Why Are Personal Training Referrals Needed?

The importance of Getting Personal Trainer Referrals

Before we discuss personal training referral ideas that can draw more clients to your business, we first must analyse why these programmes are important.

For those who are unaware of what this term means, personal training referrals simply equate to a client’s recommendation. 

These clients will refer your services as a personal trainer to those within their immediate circles such as family and friends. 

This acts as a boost of confidence for your business and is the key to attracting further clients to your business.

Just think, how many times have you bought a product or service off the back of a recommendation from a friend? 

These recommendations essentially stamp that a business is known and trusted, which makes it easier for new clients to approach in comparison to the fear of an unknown. The American-owned business Nilsen stressed the importance of referrals in their consumer perspective. It was here that they noted:

personal training referral ideas

This information is supported by Entrepreneur, who discovered that a business’ total earnings could increase by 10-20% following the implementation of a referral program. 

They further elaborated upon this by stating that companies with referral programs are likely to experience up to 86% worth of experience growth. From these statistics alone we can see how beneficial these personal training referral programs can be for your business.

From these statistics alone we can see how beneficial these personal training referral programs can be for your business. 

Simply put, people are much more likely to trust the word of family and friends, and are therefore more likely to use your services when they come recommended. 

Now that we have established the importance of getting personal trainer referrals we can move on to discussing how to set up your own program, beginning with how to ensure your existing clients are loyal. 

Step One: Lay The Foundations For Your Personal Training Referral Programme By Creating Loyal Customers

personal training referral program loyalty

Loyal customers, and those who value and appreciate what you offer, are much more likely to recommend your services, and ultimately pull in more clients to your business. 

Therefore, you should look at existing customer loyalty as the foundation of your personal training referral program. 
Even qualified personal trainers with years worth of experience still struggle to implement client retention strategies, which is exactly why this section is all about building rapport with your clients.

After all, why would they recommend your services if you haven’t taken the time to build up a good working relationship with them?

One way to immediately establish a rapport with your clients is through a friendly personal trainer consultation.

It’s absolutely vital that you make a good impression during this period. Actively listen and engage with everything the potential client has to say, and try to establish an immediate relationship with them. 

personal training referral program

This could be through the discussion of fitness-related topics, or just general interests such as:

  • Previous clients who have shared a similar goal
  • Your past experience in the industry 
  • Shared hobbies
  • TV and film
  • Favourite sports teams

This general rapport should be maintained throughout your clients time in your service, as getting personal trainer referrals will be significantly easier if the client actually has a positive relationship with you.

Some ways to maintain that rapport include:

  • Reminder texts about sessions
  • Engaging with them on social media, e.g. through a personal trainer Facebook page
  • Texts checking in on their progress
  • Giving them exercises to do at home

personal training referral program check ups

For a more in-depth exploration on this topic, check out our blog on how to build rapport with PT clients.

 

Become a Personal Trainer with OriGym

Enrol in one of OriGym's Specialist Level 4 Personal Trainer courses today! 

Step Two: Decide on Incentives To Offer Your Clients 

Getting Personal Trainer Referrals with incentives

Incentives act as a reward for clients, providing them with an added interest in recommending your services.

Therefore, an incentive program can help to further your personal training referral ideas, generating a higher response as both trainer and client have something to gain from the service. 

This could be in a long-term program that you implement over the course of your time with a client or something that is immediately bestowed to them following a successful recommendation. 

Regardless of which approach you choose, clients should be made aware of these incentives before you ask them to make a referral. But what exactly should you be offering these clients?

#1 - Offer Free Sessions 

Getting Personal Trainer Referrals with free sessions

As discussed in the previous section, one of the primary aims behind getting personal trainer referrals is to draw like-minded individuals to your services. 

If a client has a friend or family member who shares a similar fitness goal e.g. to lose weight, they may be more incentivised to recommend your services if you offer activities such as a  ‘ free bring a friend’ workout session.

This is commonly referred to as a two-sided referral incentive, as multiple parties benefit from the recommendation. In this instance, your client gets a free session alongside one of their friends, and you get a valuable lead. 

The ‘Better’ gym in Bournemouth executes this perfectly, offering their clients a free ‘Bring a Friend Friday’.

Personal trainer referrals Better Gym

By providing a free service, the client who is currently not in your service will be able to experience, firsthand, the high-quality training you provide.

Many first-time buyers may be somewhat off-put by the prospect of a ‘blind purchase’. Therefore by giving them a free taster session, you’re essentially convincing them that your training is worth spending money on.

Just think, how many times have you purchased a product after receiving a free sample at a store.

#2 - Cash & Gift Card Incentives 

Getting Personal Trainer Referrals with money

Some clients may prefer to have something more tangible that you can provide immediately once your personal trainer referral program has secured a new client.

The reward may be something such as a voucher or actual money that can be immediately sent to a client once the referral has been processed. 

Some may regard this as a materialistic approach to a referral scheme, but keep in mind that you want to make this seem beneficial to clients, and some may simply respond better to this form of reward.

An example of how this is implemented can be seen in 24/7 Fitness, who will send their clients a £10 Amazon voucher when they make a successful referral.

Getting Personal Trainer Referrals with vouchers

Similarly, the Fit4Life gym offers a cash incentive of £100 for their referral system: 

personal training referral ideas example

Now, we’re aware that most personal trainers won’t be able to give this much money as a form of incentive to their clients. But even the likes of £10 could convince someone to refer their friend to a service. After all, who doesn’t want to receive money! 

The important thing to take away from this section is that this incentive is something you have readily available to give the client once they make a referral. 

Think of it as a form of immediate gratification, once the recommendation has been processed, you can quickly transfer the money or voucher directly to the client with no waiting periods.  

These are sometimes referred to as advocate rewards and can come in a variety of forms and values, the point behind it is to offer your clients something they can benefit from. Other forms of tangible rewards can be seen in the likes of merchandise.

#3 - Merchandise or Brand Affiliated Products 

personal training referral ideas for merch

We’re aware that some businesses may not have the resources to offer Amazon vouchers or money, in this instance you need to recognise the value in your own brand. Ask yourself what clients love about your business, and how you can reward them with more of what they love.

For example, you could offer:

  • Discount on specific sessions such as kettlebell workouts
  • Free weekly meal planner 
  • Gym water bottles 
  • Inspirational fitness book

For interest, it may be worth noting that some businesses offer a compiled approach to the advocate reward scheme. This essentially means that the client’s benefits will increase with the more referrals they make.

For example, Atrium Fitness lists how their benefits improve with increasing referrals below:

personal training referral ideas example 2

This approach to getting personal trainer referrals can work in your favour and help to significantly grow your existing client base.

An individual may have a specific reward in their sights - such as the 3 free 30-minute training sessions. As a result, they will refer an increasing number of clients to your business in pursuit of their goals.

Furthermore, by offering out branded material you could indirectly increase a client's loyalty to your training, as they’ll be wearing your designs throughout their everyday life. 

Remember, you don’t have to break the bank to provide advocate rewards for your clients, simply provide them with something that can enhance their experience under your training.

 

#4 - ‘Friend’ Discount Offers

personal training referral program friends

Throughout this article, we have discussed the importance of maintaining a strong relationship with your existing clients in order to ensure your personal trainer referral program works in your favour.

However, you can actually get referrals from new clients whilst simultaneously targeting existing ones, through simple discounted advertisements. 

This is often referred to as the ‘friend’ approach to getting personal trainer referrals and essentially focuses on how you can make it easier for potential clients to bring money into your business.

Just think, how many times have you seen a product being advertised as discounted for first-time buyers and bought said item in response. Likewise, how many times have you then told a friend about the same deal shortly thereafter?

An example of this can be found below from VIM Fitness which offer new clients 10% off their first purchase.

personal training referral program example VIM

The same offer is offered to the existing clients but slightly repackaged, here you can see that it's the referral itself that triggered the 10% off discount. 

Therefore, the older and newer clients are all receiving equal opportunities to receive the same incentive. This feeds into the main purpose of the ‘friend approach’ - which again, is to make it as easy as possible for clients to spend money in your business. 

Some may view a PT as an otherwise unaffordable expense, even if they’ve been in your service for quite some time. But discounted offers can prompt them to make a purchase and in some instances, such as the one above, a referral too.

personal training referral program closing

Ultimately getting personal trainer referrals through the friend offer can increase sales and revenue into your business. The only thing you need to do is create an incentive that is tempting enough to draw them to the program.

How you package this incentive can ultimately determine whether the referral is successful or not. This brings us to our next point of getting the personal trainer referrals.

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If you’re enjoying OriGym’s Guide to Getting Personal Trainer Referrals we think you’d like these similar articles:

 

Become a Personal Trainer with OriGym

Enrol in one of OriGym's Specialist Level 4 Personal Trainer courses today! 

Step Three: When to Ask For Personal Trainer Referrals 

personal training referral ideas when to ask

To provide immediate clarity, there is no one ‘right’ time to ask for a personal trainer referral. Every client will respond differently to this request, regardless of when you actually ask the question itself.

However, what we can say is this - the appropriate time will always be when your customer is most satisfied with your service, which can naturally differ from person to person. 

Asking too early could create a bad impression that you view the client as a mere stepping stone, whilst asking too late could mean that your request is ignored.

So, when are clients likely to be satisfied with a personal trainer's work? This typically occurs when they have achieved a short or long-term fitness goal. 

As a personal trainer seeking a referral it's important to celebrate the achievements of a client, whilst simultaneously reminding them of where they began. 

For example, if a client has accomplished a long-term goal of lifting 40kg, you could say something along the lines of:

Excellent work today, I am so proud of you for reaching the goal you set for yourself almost two months ago!. You’ve come such a long way since then, remember in your first session when you struggled with 10kg

Getting Personal Trainer Referrals through testimonials right

By celebrating a client's progress in this manner you are essentially stressing the value of your training, directly highlighting how it has benefited a client’s life. Following this, a client will be more likely to view your training in a positive light, meaning that they’ll be more likely to provide you with a referral.

Another way in which you can ask a client for a referral following the achievement of their goals, is through sharing progression photos on your social media pages. 

For those who are unaware, your post should be constructed in a similar way to the example below:

Getting Personal Trainer Referrals through testimonials  with photos

By congratulating your clients on a public platform such as Instagram you are not only offering words of encouragement, but validating and celebrating their hard work to your large following. 

Just be sure to always include a caption to these progress photos to provide context on where your client began and where the point they have reached. 

Following this, you could ask your client to share it to their respective social media profile/story, 

highlighting the effectiveness of your training to their family and friends. However, in most cases, clients will do this of their own accord, thankful for the kind words you have shared in relation to their progress. 

Therefore, to summarise we’d strongly recommend asking for a referral whilst your client is in a positive state of mind. This will affirm the effectiveness of your training in their mind and encourage them to share their progress with others.

Now that you have an idea of when to ask for these referrals, we can shift our focus to discuss ways in which you can promote these referrals.

Step Four: Methods of Getting a Personal Trainer Clients 

Getting Personal Trainer Referrals method

Now that we have discussed the factors which can contribute to whether or not you receive referrals, we can now analyse how exactly you get these recommendations.

This section will focus on the many ways that you can ask clients for these referrals, and why specific approaches may work better than others.

#1 - Bring a Friend Sessions 

Getting Personal Trainer Referrals bring-a-friend

We have already briefly touched upon the concept of ‘bring-a-friend sessions’ when referring to Ben Malton’s business model. 

Remember, these are beneficial ways of getting personal trainer referrals, as everyone has something to gain from it:

  • The existing client gets a free session
  • The new client gets an introduction to your approach 
  • You get an important lead that leads to a referral

This personal trainer referral program works well when prominently advertised in your business model, that way clients will be able to tell you directly when they wish to take you up on this promotion. 

This will grant you time to create a temporary signed waiver for the referral client to use. This may seem like an irrelevant detail, but in actuality, it’s vital as at the time they would be directly under your supervision without any form of legal protection. 

The best thing about the bring-a-friend approach is that you can personally customise it for your business. For example, Ben Malton allows his former clients to sign up for this incentive too:

Getting Personal Trainer Referrals Ben

This is typically an untapped area for many PTs who like to prioritise rewarding their existing clients above all others. 

However, by offering this deal to former clients Ben can essentially draw back those who have previously left his services, as well as those who have been newly recommended, it’s a win-win scenario. 

Therefore, we’d advise you to not be so rigid in your approach to getting personal trainer referrals with the bring-a-friend method. Get creative, and find an approach that’s uniquely beneficial for you.

#2 - Directly Face to Face

Getting Personal Trainer Referrals friends

When it comes to subjectivity asking for a referral directly can be a hit or miss. Some clients may be more than happy to provide this service and view the conversation as a normal occurrence, whilst some may be put off this approach and respond awkwardly. 

If your client is the type of person to respond well to this approach then you need to gauge how to approach the topic of conversation - e.g. is it better suited for a personal or professional environment.  

If it's the former this process can occur directly after a session when you’re discussing topics such as your client’s performance and general small talk. 

However, be sure to be direct with this, use clear language as any fluff could lead to a misunderstanding of what you’re asking of them. The conversation could go as follows:

Hey (Customer Name) great work today, I’m so proud of how far you’ve come since we first began working together. You really are one of my most trusted clients, so I would like to know how you’re personally finding this experience?

Are you enjoying it, and would you recommend this programme to others?

personal training referral program

If the client is comfortable or doesn’t have time to give a verbal answer, reassure them that you understand and rearrange the conversation for a different platform. 

If you’re interested in taking a more professional approach you could plan it as part of a follow-up meeting with a client.

Whilst discussing topics such as their current goals and achievements, be direct and ask them if they’d recommend your services to others. 

Certain clients will respond better to this professional setup than others, as it will directly highlight how serious you are about the matter.

Again, asking for a referral directly is ultimately subjective but is worth trying. Whilst it can be intimidating and somewhat awkward, try to keep in mind that nothing bad will come of this, the worst that can happen is a client simply saying no.

#3 - Referral Emails

personal training referral program for emails

When it comes to getting personal trainer referrals this is the option that many within the fitness industry opt for. This is due to the fact that it's simple, effective, and easy to personalise, meaning you can send a vast quantity off with the simple click of a button.

If you decide to implement this method you will simply be asking for referrals through your emails. These messages should include:

  • The client’s achievements 
  • An offer for an incentive (as seen above)
  • Call to action - How are you going to prompt the referral to take place

These don’t have to be too long, as you don’t need to elaborate anything in great detail, unless the client responds and asks for further information regarding your referral program.

An example of how a referral email looks could be something along the lines of:


Hi (Customer Name) 

Just wanted to drop a quick line to say congratulations for hitting your goal of successfully running 5k during our latest session! I am so unbelievably proud of how far you’ve come in the last 6 weeks, just think when we first met you struggled to even run 2k! 

Given all your recent success, I was wondering if you know any (friends/family members/colleagues/businesses) who are looking for (Insert your core value here - e.g. running training), if so, I would love to help them achieve this goal.

If anyone comes to mind please tell them to drop me a line, via E-mail or Instagram. If they decide to sign up for training I’d be happy to thank you both with a free 45-minute session which would otherwise be worth £75.00! 

personal training referral program email

Some factors to consider when writing a personal trainer referral email include:

  • Who you’re sending it to
  • When you’re asking for the referral 
  • The level of personalisation within the message 
  • The content included

In relation to the first point you should only send these emails to your most trusted clients, don’t be sending this on a whim to your entire contact list.

You may have your own method of determining who you trust, for example, you could opt for clients who you have a better rapport with. 

Essentially, during this process, you need to read the room and determine who is more likely to support your personal training referral program.

The timing of this email is also important, asking for a referral during the middle of a workday may result in a client forgetting to respond. 

Likewise, if you know they’re going through a personal time of distress this isn’t an appropriate time to ask either.

personal training referral program example of email

Instead, you should send this message during a time in which you know they’ll be free and of clear mind- Be it during the days off, or immediately following a workout session.

You should also pay particular attention to the personable writing included within the example email given above. 

Simply mentioning the clients' names in a copy and pasted email isn’t likely to impress them, therefore try to make reference to topics that are specific to them, such as their current fitness achievements.

This content will signify to the client that you remember key information about their training and progress, whereas the congratulatory nature of the wording will prompt feelings of accomplishment. 

In turn, clients will want to share this progress with others, and will naturally act as a referral. 

#4 - Social Media 

personal training referral ideas for media

Social media is one of the most important tools that independent business owners can implement to grow and extend their reach and attract new clients.

There are a number of ways in which you can implement personal training referral ideas across a variety of social media platforms, with this approach being far less rigid as others to appear within this list.

Therefore, you can essentially customise this approach to suit your business - 

Personally Promote Your Referral Program 

personal training referral ideas instagram

One way in which you can incorporate social media into your personal training referral program is to regularly promote your own plan. 

This can be done in the simplest of ways, by accompanying a photo with a simple statement such as - “Tag a friend and share this post to learn how you can become an ambassador" - An example of how we have personally done this on our own social media can be seen below:

personal training referral ideas example OriGym

Additionally, as seen in the screenshot, you can also promote these referral links whilst simultaneously promoting your incentives. 

We have done this by bullet-pointing what you can earn by becoming an ‘ambassador’. 

You’ve probably all seen a post on either Instagram or Facebook at some point that is similar to the one featured below:

Therefore, when creating a personal trainer specific advertisement on social media you may wish to take a page out of our book and write a post such as:

For a limited time only! When you successfully refer a friend to Jones’ Personal Training you BOTH will receive a free 30 minute trainer session (which would otherwise cost you £50 each!)

To get started click our referral (ADD LINK TO REFERRAL PAGE)

You’re essentially promoting your own work on your social media accounts, just be sure to change these posts up and never follow an identical formula. This will keep customers excited and engaged, ready to act when they see an incentive that will benefit them! 

Enable Sharing Across Your Most Popular Platforms:

personal training referral program social media 2

Once you have created your promotional posts you need to ensure that sharing is enabled across all your platforms.  This will not only help clients to share your information with friends, but it will create a wider brand presence that extends beyond just you.

Whilst you may have a larger following on applications such as Instagram this doesn’t mean that you should negate your other platforms. 

In actuality, the more platforms that have the share option readily enabled, will increase your chances of receiving a referral. 

The kind of content you could include as a trainer can be seen in the PureGym Facebook graphic below:

personal training referral program facebook

As we can see from the comment section many clients have tagged friends who they’re interested in making this referral to. 

By enabling sharing you can allow clients to connect with others within their own social circle who may be interested in personally exploring your personal training programme.

Furthermore, by enabling the share function even if clients don’t directly engage with a specific individual you could still potentially gain a referral from your tagged account alone.

Tailor These Personal Training Referral Programs to Each Platform:

personal training referral program image

Even if you’re unfamiliar with the vast majority of social media platforms, you will at the very least understand that they all operate in different ways. Therefore, the way in which you ask for these referrals needs to differ too.

For example, due to the character restrictions Twitter will require you to be direct and straightforward, as evident from MV Fitness below. In this instance, we’d advise you to always link a referral page that will allow you to expand in greater detail.

personal training referral program twitter

In contrast to this:

  • Instagram & Pinterest: Will require you to post image-centric advertising - So perhaps you should include a brief overview of the referral process and incentive within the text on the graphic, before expanding upon it within the section below.
  • LinkedIn: Should feel more professional with immediate insight and clarity on what you can offer in exchange for the referral.

For further guidance on how to optimise each platform, check out our article detailing social media ideas for personal trainers.

#5 -  Affiliate Marketing 

Getting Personal Trainer Referrals through affiliates

Affiliate marketing is a highly effective way of getting personal training referrals on a grand scale. However, we should immediately clarify that this may only be a suitable option for successful personal trainers.

This is due to the fact that you have to pay affiliates a rate of commission for every successful referral you make. 

This process simply requires you to give a referral code to other individuals or associated businesses. 

These partners will then begin to promote your training wherever possible, sharing your referral link with any interested party in return for profit should their referral lead to a direct sale for you.

The good thing about this is that you don’t need to pay high rates to receive this kind of endorsement. One well-known brand that has mastered the affiliate marketing program is Reebok, who pays affiliates 7% of their total sales.

Getting Personal Trainer Referrals through affiliates example

This is not to say that you have to pay your affiliates 7%. As an independent business, you could realistically offer a deal of 1-2% as part of your growing referral scheme.

For example, if you charge £288 a month as part of your gold package, a 2% referral code could result in £5.76 commission for the affiliate distributing your referral code. 

Ultimately, there are a variety of ways for getting personal trainer referrals, and how you decide to approach this topic of conversation is entirely subjective to your clients. This brings us to some questions you may have in relation to this wider conversation.

Before You Go! 

We hope that this article has provided some clarity on the process of getting personal trainer referrals.

The main thing we’d advise is to remember that the process is entirely unique to each business. What may work for one personal trainer won’t necessarily work for another, so don’t be afraid to experiment with a variety of approaches.

Remember, OriGym’s Level 4 Specialist qualifications provide the perfect opportunity to find your niche, regardless of whether that topic is diabetes control or lower-back pain management

Furthermore, the quality of all our courses is guaranteed thanks to Ofqual regulated training, and further accreditation from awarding bodies like CIMSPA. 

Written by James Bickerstaff

Content Writer & Fitness Enthusiast

James holds a BA (Hons) in Creative Writing and Film Studies and has recently gained a MA degree in Film, both of which he attained from Liverpool John Moores University. After taking up the couch to 5K challenge on a whim, James found a new passion for running, which he combines with his love for healthy cooking and writing. All of this led him to becoming a copywriter for OriGym.  

When he is not writing content for the site, James can be found researching new recipes, writing music reviews, reading and watching latest film releases.   

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