The definitive guide on how to get personal training clients on the gym floor

This article was written by Tom Jankowski over at PT Cert.

Are you a personal trainer looking to build your client base, but don’t know where or how to get your first client? Are you a trainer at a gym wanting to start a private business of your own, but are unsure how to get personal training clients? Ever thought of getting some of your trainees to become your first clients?

Getting clients from a gym floor can be a difficult task, but it’s worth it. In recent times, there has been an explosion of options for individuals wanting to improve their fitness, especially in terms of 24 hour gyms and low-cost healthcare facilities. It is likely that these are the spaces where you will recruit the majority of your clients. However, without the necessary tact and honed sales pitch, building a large client base is going to be difficult, if not impossible.

Below are some of the best ways to go about recruiting clients from the gym floor in order to expand your business as a personal trainer


Start with the right attitude, build trust with a friendly rapport

You must begin with the right attitude towards your work and the gym. A client has to see that you love and enjoy what you do in order to place their trust in your abilities. Nobody wants to be trained by somebody who appears lackluster, bored, or who looks like they’re being forced to work.

Appear friendly, warm, and approachable. Wear a smile on your face and be likeable: it may be hard to smile all the time but you need to show your clients those dazzling whites every now and then. Smiling exudes warmth and makes the client feel welcome. To be likeable you have to be confident. Confidence makes you look authentic and stand out from the crowd. Make sure your facial expressions match the conversation. Research has revealed that nonverbal communication accounts for up to 70 percent of the message being relayed.

Remember, people buy off people, and in an industry where you are effectively “selling yourself” as well as your skillset, the ability to build a rapport is priceless.

Don’t just approach a potential client on the gym floor with your sales pitch straight away. On your first encounter, simply say hello, ask how they are. Then, move onto compliments or low-key encouragement, so you stay firmly in their mind. From here, on your third and fourth encounters, you can begin to talk about their goals, their reasons for coming to the gym, what they hope to achieve in terms of their fitness. Offer them some advice, what they can be doing to improve their workout. Nothing too detailed (save that for later!)

Only when the relationship has been built, from relative stranger to a familiar trusted face, do you approach them with your sales pitch.


Ways to get yourself known

Before we delve in here is some ways you can market yourself in the gym to get you initially engaged with gym members:

  1. Invite members to gym challenges

  2. Personal Training profile set-up in every locker

  3. Tannoy announcements every couple of hours

  4. Add your own class to the timetable

  5. Every induction is your chance to impress

  6. Group seminars and workshops


Other Employees are your best friends

This needs its own thorough explanation as that is just how important this part is. Probably the most understated marketing resource are your colleagues, not other trainers I feel I should add.

Like many gyms and businesses, PT Cert relies upon many different team members and departments. When you have a team, be sure to use them!

The sales team and reception staff have first point of engagement and generate rapport with new gym members when they sign up, so your job is to make them your best friend.

They will give you new personal training clients on a plate, but only if they like you. These staff referrals are almost as powerful as a referral from a current personal training clients.

Offer to make them a cup of coffee, cover their break for 15 minutes or simply saying hello with a smile on your face in the morning will go further than you think it will!


Using Open Questions to build client relationships, conducting “needs analyses”

What, where, why, when, and how.

As a personal trainer, asking these kinds of questions at an early stage will pay dividends when you come to close the sale at a later point. You want the client to tell you as much about themselves as possible, and you need to give them that opportunity. Open questions are crucial if you’re thinking about how to get personal training clients.

So, how do needs analyses come into personal training, and more importantly, what are they? Put simply, a needs analysis is the process of finding out why your client is sitting in front of you.

Put even more simply, a needs analysis is finding out what your clients’ needs are; why do they need your assistance to achieve their goals?

What is the easiest way of conducting a needs analysis with your clients? By asking open questions! Here’s some examples:

  • What exercise have you done in the past?

  • Where would you like to be with your fitness at this time next year?

  • How much weight do you want to lose?

  • When do you want to achieve this by?

  • Why do you want to achieve this?

Notice how none of these questions can be answered with a simple yes or no? That’s exactly why open questions are so important for recruiting clients: they directly facilitate conversation and relationship building.

Attracting Multiple Clients

Being on the gym floor and approaching clients on a one-to-one basis is all fine and good, but in order to expand your client base you’re going to have to be inventive with your marketing. A quick way of doing this is to create some free offers, providing potential clients with something tangible that will benefit their workout regime.

Some good ideas include offering a free online nutrition seminar, with a free diet plan timetable. You could also host some free group classes at your local gym, so that customers can familiarise themselves with your personality and training style. Making sure as many people know your face as possible is a really important step in how to get personal training clients.

As a general rule, the more people you can reach with one resource, the more success you will have in terms of quickly recruiting clients.

Where do you advertise your fantastic offers? Again, you want to ensure maximum reach to your target audiences. Some good places to advertise are social media platforms, your own website, any blogs that you are hosting, as well as physical leaflets, business cards, and the ever-reliable word of mouth while you’re on the gym floor. Always look to get something in return when you’re hosting classes or online seminars. You want to be collecting names, mobile numbers, and email addresses, so that you can market to these customers at a later date. This is called “reciprocal content marketing.”


Closing New Clients

We’ve finally arrived at the “asking for money” stage of the process. This is the bit that might make you a little anxious. Here’s the thing, it’s the same for everyone.

There are a few important things you need to be doing in terms of streamlining this process. Firstly, always summarise the client’s goals, based on the needs analysis you conducted at an earlier stage in your relationship. You want to be emphasising why the client needs your services, what you can offer them, and how it would make them feel if they achieved this goal?

Once you have got your client to visualise their goals and how they are going to get there, you need to present to them a price.

Now listen up, because this bit is key….


Always, always, always, offer two pricing plans. This is called alternate closing, giving two options that suit you. Additionally when you see personal trainers with huge timetables drawn out with 18 different pricing terms your giving them something to actually think about as opposed to simplifying them pick between option A and option B – Keeps it simple!.

You should, of course, push the client towards the higher end package, but you need to offer two clear plans that won’t confuse your client.

In terms of getting the sale, ask the client to pick “whichever suits them best”. Again, you are not proposing a yes or no choice, you are asking which price plan they feel more comfortable with.

And now the easy part: say nothing!

Once you have asked “which option suits you best”, saying nothing and waiting for your client to speak leaves the decision completely up to them, this is called the silent assassin technique. This may result in a five minute stand off, but if it bags you the high-end sale, then it’s going to be worth it.


Continue the good work…

You’ve recruited your clients, you’ve promoted your services, you’ve closed your sales, you feel like you’ve answered the question how do I get clients?…Job done, right? Wrong.

Building positive relationships with your clients is an ongoing process. Be sure to offer existing clients new deals, to ensure that clients stay loyal to you and your services. Remember to upsell. You don’t need to feel any apprehension about doing this. The client is looking for your advice and expertise, and if their routine goes stagnant they may feel they are being neglected. Recommend additional supplements, offer an upgrade to a high end package or a course of nutrition seminars. The opportunities to upsell are limitless.

Now would also be the opportune moment to ask for a testimonial from your clients. Again, don’t feel nervous about asking clients for this, and offer them something in return for their time (e.g. a free extra session).

Utilise your social media presence and local forums. Before-and-after pictures of your clients are a great way to demonstrate both their, and your, success.

Ask your clients for a score out of ten, promote the highest scores on social platforms and ask anyone scoring you below eight what you can do to improve.

From your numerical scores, you can also find out who your most satisfied clients are. These are the clients you should ask for referrals from. Again, be inventive with your marketing. For example, if a client refers a friend to you which results in a successfully closed deal, offer both the original client and the new one a free session. Such incentives will go a long way in expanding your client base.

As you can see, the path to becoming a successful personal trainer requires more than just your qualifications and expertise. You need to be organised, dedicated, and creative in your pursuit of clients.

It will also be a long journey. You will need to accept that not every day is a winning day. Not everyone will want to become your client, and that’s fine.

Be the friendly, outgoing person you are with your friends and family. Build a rapport with potential clients, and value your existing ones. You know how to get personal training clients, but don’t forget to advertise your services, and don’t be nervous about selling. If you nurture and grow your business as you would a new client, you will be sure to stand out in the competitive personal training market.

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Written by George Aird

Fitness Professional & Marketer

George Aird is a content writer and marketer with specialist knowledge of health and fitness, online marketing, and start-up businesses. In his spare time, he is a keen climber, and a (reluctant) runner.