How Do Personal Trainers Get Their First Clients?

Today I wanted to share my tips on how to make more money as a personal trainer and how do personal trainers get their first clients? Also about adding in passive income sources.

You can skim for what you need by reading the article below or you can watch this full video:

Obviously the biggest chunk of money initially will come by getting MORE clients and I’ll tell you how I got my big break and I’ll also tell you my biggest mistake.

But first, realize this: Now – people pay for something they want and for years I thought I knew what people wanted. I was wrong and an older trainer told me this early on but I didn’t listen. I just didn’t get it because I was a meat head.

I’ll tell you all about it in the video below or you can keep reading for a more in depth deep dive.

Let me know if you have any questions at all about personal training or being a personal trainer and I’ll make another video.

Here to help,
Raymond Burton

I thought people wanted killer workouts and to get in shape as quick as possible. While some people do and they are mostly athletes that just lack a certain piece of information. Most people want to feel good about doing SOMETHING to get in shape while having fun doing it.

If you kill them in a workout that’s painful and they can’t walk the next day, you’ll lost clients. Some clients are looking for two things in one. A friend and to do something positive for themselves. They don’t want to pay to be degraded, yelled at, and to be put in pain.

You need to know what type of client you have in front of you without them telling you.

I realize now that 80 percent of the clients I had needed a little advice and a friend to keep them safe in the gym while talking to a friend. I wish I would have realized this earlier.

Two of my best friends to this day were personal training clients to start with. And almost all my friends and acquaintances have come from my fitness boot camps. Its a personal business this personal training.

Now back to physically getting the clients…

Initially you may work at a commercial gym as an employed personal trainer and you may be happy with that. Some people make a living that way but you may eventually want more when you realize that you are only making half or less than half the money that the client is paying for your services and the gym is keeping the rest.

When you come to that point you are going to want to approach a smaller independant gym
and they charge you a monthly rate and you pay them. Some will also grandfather you in on a percentage of each session up to a maximum where you actually start paying a flat rate per month. I

If you are lucky, a percentage of your clients from the commercial gym will want to follow you without you because that’s illegal as far as I know. At least I know they can take you to court for it.

If no one follows you, don’t worry about it. This is where the next step comes in. I didn’t have anyone follow me when I left golds gym or world gym because they were all locked into long term memberships.

Further to this method, you can also double your rate and do mobile personal training. There are pros and cons to this and I only did it for a bit to make ends meet. It is largely referral based and once you get your first home based session, word will spread. You may also end up getting small group sessions in people homes where you make more overall but the clients pay less each. It’s a win, win.

The biggest thing I had to understand is that very rarely does what you want come to you. You have to go and get it. This applies to business and life. So you must always be talking about the fact you are a personal trainer and you must always be teaching, training, and talking about fitness in everything you do so you can open up the conversations with people.

Everything in life and in our case of how to make more money as a personal trainer, it’s all about marketing and sales. If you are great at marketing yourself and marketing your business and selling yourself and you’re a hard charger, there’s no end to how much money you can make. You just need to pivot and jump when you see the opportunities and understand that there are booms and bust. Some ideas hit big and then fizzle as other people catch on… so bank or invest that money.

Now back to clients. You need to go where the money is. You need to train people that have money and don’t care about paying for missed sessions they don’t show up to, and can afford paying a rate that you need to live well.

So how do you reach these people? Social media is a great way to market your business but it’s no longer about just posting and hoping. It’s become a pay to play game. I’m not saying you won’t get clients without boosting your message with money but it’s a lot slower and a lot less predictable.

Instagram, YouTube and Facebook are where the people who will pay you are consuming fitness information right now. After you get well known by paying your way to the top, then word of mouth and free press starts to snow ball in and is really helpful. But initially, you are in the slush pile at the bottom and no matter how awesome you are, nobody knows you are there.

You can’t be afraid of the rejection when you go after clients. Going AFTER the clients doesnt need to be offensive, you can be friendly and polite. It’s just about offering what you do and seeing if people are interested. And from there, not getting beaten down by the number of people that are NOT interested. Just keep going.

Do free sessions for new members, what I did was go into the gym and set up shop. I said I would do free personal training for every new member as long as I could pitch them on a personal training session package. But you can also do the same by paying the front counter staff. You can pay them $5 for a cold lead or more if they send a person looking for a trainer directly to you instead of someone else.

Now that’s how I got clients but the thing about training clients is that most of them want to train first thing in the morning or after work. Which means you have a crazy split schedule with a lot of time during the day of dead space. The other thing is that when a client quits, gets sick or goes on vacation, you lose a lot of money. A big percentage of your monthly income especially around the holidays and summer vacations.

This is where fitness bootcamps and small group personal training comes into the picture. Initially if you have a fresh idea, you can make a lot of money and it’s never solely dependant on one or two people. So you have some cushion.

The downside is that as what you are doing catches on in your area, you will get priced out of the market. This happened to me with out door bootcamps. When I was among the first 3 or so bootcamps in Calgary… I made a good living. But then franchises and groupon came into the picture and the prices I could charge dropped into the basement. There was too many of us trainers offering the same thing. And the parks became crowded with multiple classes as well. Wasn’t great.

This is where I switched more heavily into online training programs, selling downloadable courses and selling supplements through affiliate companies if I used the product myself and thought it was good.

On marketing, in order to set yourself apart, you need to become the expert in your area. Or at least be known as a person that knows about what you sell. The skill is important for results with the client and even more important to help people find you and to target your marketing.

This is where the social media comes in again. Give stuff away. Give stuff away for free that doesn’t take a lot out of you but has a high value for the potential clients out there. This just opens up conversations and lets people know you are legit. It’s getting your name out there and moving you out of the slush pile.

It shows people you are legit, friendly and trustworthy. Those are big things in interpersonal relationships right?

So get your name out there. Pay to play if you want it to happen faster and you’ll make more money as a personal trainer by going after the people that look at money differently than most people. Go after the people that value quality and are willing to pay for it. And most importantly, establish yourself in an area of expertise you love and figure out how to make it accessible to a large market that wants it and do it through programs, books and other incomes streams that separate your time and location from your ability to earn money.

If you have any specific questions or want to know about mistakes I’ve made, let me know below in the comments and subscribe and hit the bell so you’ll be updated when I post next.

Here to help,
Raymond Burton
Calgary Personal Training

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