While setting up a personal training business can be an extremely rewarding career opportunity for many, it also means needing to have a constant supply of clients to keep your business profitable. Whether you’ve recently established your business or have been training for a while, finding new clients can often be a challenge.
With a whole world of online and in-person marketing tactics, there have never been more avenues to promote your brand and get more clients. Not all methods work for all trainers, but I’ve laid out 8 proven techniques to get more clients.
You don’t need to do all of these to be successful, of course – it’s up to you to choose the ones that make the most sense for your business.
8 Ways to Get More Personal Training Clients
1. Ask for Referrals
The easiest – and often best – method to get new clients is simply by asking existing clients for referrals. Word-of-mouth marketing is especially effective for personal trainers, as new clients want to know that they’ll see results and get value out of their training. Positive reports from friends and family help build your reputation.
While you may not want to pester your clients (and risk losing them in the process), most professionals will ask for referrals at one point or another. Ask simply and directly, and even offer business cards they can pass along to anyone they know that might need training.
You could even sweeten the deal with clients that do refer their friends and family by offering referral discounts or a free session for every referral they bring in. While this may mean some lost profits, building up a loyal client base easily counteracts any lost revenue from referral discounts.
2. Establish a Personal Brand
As a personal trainer you are selling yourself and your skills, but the market is full of many others doing the same. If you want to stand out among the competition and grow your client base, it's crucial to establish and maintain a personal brand that helps differentiate you from others.
To do this, it’s important to niche down and understand the wants and needs of your target client. If you mainly work with people trying to lose weight, your branding will be very different from a personal trainer who works with ultramarathon athletes. Whatever your goal, your branding should reflect the unique value you bring to your clients.
Your clients need to be able to identify with your brand and like your style. As a trainer, you won’t click with every client and that’s okay! But by branding yourself early on and understanding what your training style is, you’ll be able to weed out clients that aren’t a good fit, before you even begin, which can help you develop more loyal clientele.
3. Start an Email Campaign
Email marketing may seem like it’s only for big businesses, but it can be an effective way for anyone to grow their client base. This is especially true if you can add value to your subscribers through educational content, discounts, or gear recommendations.
This can be a monthly, weekly, or fortnightly email – just don’t spam your clients or subscribers, as that will have the opposite effect. Instead, focus on crafting valuable, readable content that makes subscribers excited to open your email. You can also post the content on your site, but by sending it out, you’re sure to get people to view it.
By providing free expert advice and guidance, you further brand yourself as an authority in the field. Plus, you can add a simple, non-intrusive call-to-action at the end of each email calling on new clients to book a session with you. You can track this over time to see how successful your email marketing is and adjust as needed.
4. Grow Your Social Media Presence
Similar to starting an email newsletter, growing a social media following is an easy and free way to market your services far and wide. With so many social media platforms out there, though, it’s important to hone in on one or two and grow those followings, instead of spreading yourself too thin across all platforms.
To figure out which platforms are best, do some research into which platforms your target clients use the most. If adults in their 40s or 50s are your main client base, it doesn’t make sense to focus too much on TikTok or Snapchat. Instead, you may want to turn your efforts toward Facebook or even LinkedIn.
In order to see growth, you’ll want to consistently post content that resonates with users. Here are some ideas:
- Providing tips and tricks with short Instagram reel or TikTok videos to help gym goers
- Sharing client achievements through testimonials, before and after pictures, or videos (only if they approve it first though!)
- Answering people’s health and wellness questions through live streams, tweets, or long form posts
Social media is a great way to increase your brand awareness and show off your expertise, which can help gain new clients and retain existing ones. Be sure to continuously nurture your community by responding to comments, engaging in conversations, and sharing other people’s content as well.
5. Offer First Time Discounts
Some people find it difficult to find a personal trainer that suits their lifestyle and goals. They may not want to commit to something they aren’t sure they’re going to like, or maybe don’t fully understand the benefits of having a personal trainer.
As an incentive, you could offer discounts and reduced costs for first-time clients. Some personal trainers might even offer free first time sessions, but generally, this isn’t a great strategy. Offering a discount is good, but too much of a discount makes people question how good something really is – they might think there’s a catch!
During this session you can then build their confidence and show them the true value you bring to their workouts. Use a discounted session as an extended selling opportunity to promote the benefits of having personal training and take the time to customize the session to show you understand their fitness goals.
6. Network With Other Professionals
Word of mouth is often the best sort of marketing for personal trainers. Connect with other professionals in your area to grow a referral network, which can lead to new clients and a better community reputation.
For one, you could network with doctors, particularly if your training is designed for people struggling with weight loss and the associated health issues. Doctors often prescribe exercise along with a healthier diet to get fit, and you can use your connections to get referrals from the patients that need it most.
Another idea is to partner with local dieticians or nutritionists to offer joint services for those looking for a more robust lifestyle change. Many people love package deals, so by teaming up with another professional, you can create a lot of value for people trying to get healthier overall and expand your client base.
7. Create Online Resources
In addition to growing a social media presence, you can work to create valuable online resources for your clients and prospects. Similar to an email newsletter, this content will add value to the client experience and build up your authority and reputation.
You could start a YouTube channel where you post at-home workouts for your client base or design downloadable fitness guides people can find for free on your site. This allows potential clients to get a feel for your style and techniques before booking up with you and shows you as a reputable and authoritative trainer.
To take things a step further, you could eventually monetize these resources for an additional stream of income for your business. You can promote them through ads on YouTube, tips and donations for downloadable resources, or by creating a membership program for those that may want your training service but can’t train in person.
These could even be transformed into online training courses, where you meet with or tailor workouts for clients that want your services but can’t meet in person. It may take some time to get these set up, but they can be worth it if it leads to additional income through new clients or monetization.
8. Improving Your Payment System
One way to grow your client base is expanding your payment system. While some clients may want to pay in cash or by check, these methods are becoming less popular and are often a hassle for both parties.
Clients want to be able to pay quickly and easily, often from the convenience of their phones or computers. With credit cards becoming the go-to payment method for many around the world, accepting credit card payments as a personal trainer can help differentiate yourself from the competition.
Offering different payment options like digital wallets and ACH transfers in addition to credit cards can help even more. Pay.com lets you accept all these payment methods and more, and it’s easy to set up, even if you’re just starting out.
What’s the Best Way for a Personal Trainer to Accept Payments?
With a revolving stream of clients, keeping on top of payments is a must for any personal trainer. Since personal trainers are almost always independent contractors, even if you work in a gym, you’ll be responsible for accurately tracking your finances and filing any business expenses, including taxes.
Pay.com makes it easy to manage your payments. Whether you're paid directly by a client or by the gym you work at, you can use Pay.com to send your client invoice links that they can click to pay securely online.
You can also accept credit card payments over the phone by entering the details manually into your Pay Virtual Terminal. This can be convenient for clients who may want to pre-pay for a session.
When you sign up for Pay.com, you get a system that’s secure, easy, and convenient for both you and your clients.
The Bottom Line: How Should You Market Yourself as a Personal Trainer?
Marketing yourself is an important part of running a personal training business. There isn’t one right way to do it, but generally utilizing two or three of the methods I laid out above will get the widest reach and help you grow your client base.
It’s important to establish a positive reputation for yourself, whether that’s through community network building, word-of-mouth referrals, or a credible online presence. You need to prove your value and credibility to potential clients and show them what you can do to help them in their goals.
In addition, an optimized payment system can go a long way. Pay.com lets you accept a wide variety of payment methods, including credit cards, to help you stand out from the competition. Click here to find out how you can get started.