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Talking to any new Personal Trainer there are some very common themes when it comes to how to sell personal training.

  1. I don’t have any testimonials from previous clients!
  2. But I don’t have a big flashy gym with fancy equipment!
  3. I don’t know how to sell!
  4. What if I mess it up?

It can all seem a little daunting when you first start out. Even if you have been training clients for a while, you may not have been involved in the sales process if you worked at a big box gym.

Either way, your fitness business needs clients and you are the best person to get those clients to sign up.

People buy from people. You may have heard this before. It’s a phrase used a lot in sales and marketing training and it’s very true.

If you think about it you have probably made a purchase were you felt relaxed about handing over your cash as you really liked the salesperson.

Equally, I’m sure you have at times made a purchase were you didn’t like the salesperson and even though you got what you paid for you felt something was missing.

This applies to almost any purchase of a product or a service. But it goes up a level with Personal training.

It’s already in the name “Personal”. That’s what it is. It’s a one to one relationship that requires a certain level of trust and comfort from the clients perspective.

Often the new client will be uncomfortable in a gym setting and be embarrassed about their fitness level or weight gain etc. There can often be underlying emotional issues that can have a major effect on individuals.

When someone makes the decision to train with you they are putting there trust in you and your service. Remember that this is the case. You are not just selling groceries here.

How to sell personal training-Where do I start?

One thing I see trainers get caught up in a lot is certifications and credentials. Don’t get me wrong, it is very important to have the correct qualifications, insurance and experience to be able to safely deliver a training program. Please make sure you have all of these before you consider doing anything.

What I mean is the average client at the gym doesn’t care where you got your certification or how many specialist certificates you have. They really don’t. Your the gym guy or girl and you train people. That’s usually as far as that thought process goes with potential clients.

So why am I talking about this? Simple!

Stop trying to dazzle potential clients with certifications and letters and sell them the benefits.

They are looking for a trainer usually for one of the following reasons:

  1. To lose Weight
  2. Improve Fitness
  3. Train for an event
  4. Improve overall health possibly for medical reasons (always seek medical clearance in this case)

They want to achieve their goal and they don’t know how to get there. Your job is to show them the road. Sure it might be a difficult road with ups and downs and obstacles but that’s why they have come to you.

If it was easy or they could do it themselves they wouldn’t need a personal trainer.

Figure out who the prospect is

So as we looked at above prospects (potential clients) tend to fall into certain categories. You need to figure out which category it is so you can tailor the benefits that are relevant to them.

You will get better at this over time but you can learn a lot with a few quick questions. Once you know why they are seeking a personal trainer you can sell them on the benefits.

Let’s take the Weight Loss client as an example

They do not want to know the inner details of the latest over complicated training method that you use or the science behind the latest fat loss system.

What they do want is to lose weight and usually achieve a certain goal. Fit into an item of clothing, return to a certain weight size, feel comfortable in a bikini and so on.

When it comes down to it they need to know that you understand what they want, what they want to achieve and they need to feel confident you can get them there.

A lot of clients want to deal in certainties and exact measurements.

“How many sessions will I need to lose 10lbs?”

“How many weeks will this take?”

“Can you just write me a program to do myself?”

You need to move them away from this way of thinking and frame the goal for them.

Assure them that if they stick with you they can achieve their goal. However, not everyone is the same so it is difficult to put an exact amount of sessions as a target.

Instead of selling a ten session package (which is a really bad idea) I will suggest a monthly plan that includes a certain number of sessions per month. You will have tailored this to suit there goal and current fitness level.

Layout the steps involved to get to where they want to be and set smaller goals along the way so they can celebrate some successes as they go.

If you sell them on a ten training session package and say it will be great they are highly likely to give up and not carry on with training.

Here is the typical scenario of the standard short-term package for this type of client:

  1. Signs up for ten sessions
  2. They think they will magically succeed in a very short time
  3. They are unfit so the first few weeks are really tough
  4. Most of this period is spent with muscle soreness and feeling tired
  5. Often no major weight or fat loss occurs in this initial period
  6. Client feels the training is not working and is just causing them pain and making them tired
  7. They leave and blame the trainer

So what is the result here? You have lost a client and they tell everyone they saw no benefits from training with you. It’s a losing situation for everyone involved.

There is so little honesty in the fitness world these days. Keep it simple and be honest. Your clients will thank you for it.

If they believe they can go from overweight and unfit to Captain America in a few weeks you don’t want them as a client. You will be setting yourself up for failure and damage your business in the long run.

Those who are seeking a quick fix will continue to buy crazy supplements and the latest crash diet. These people are not your target market so move on.

Honesty is the best Personal Training policy

Samantha calls to the gym and wants to inquire about Personal Training. I take Samantha to a quiet part of the gym so there are no people grunting and throwing weights around making her uncomfortable.

I ask Samantha what she wants to achieve and if she has any history or experience with training and fitness programs.

She tells me she has a Wedding coming up and she wants to fit into a dress which is too small for her at the moment. She has tried diets before and had mixed results usually putting the weight back on rapidly.

Based on my assessment I estimate that with the right lifestyle changes and training she can achieve the fat loss and body goals in approx 3 months. It would be really easy to just say yep sure that’s easy, it will take 3 months with 3 sessions a week and it will all be fine. This is a recipe for disaster.

The right way to sell personal training

What I actually do is show Samantha the details of her assessment. I explain that based on her current measurements and weight that you estimate it will take around three months to reach her goal. Explain that this is based on your experience with other clients and that it is not an exact science.

She needs to understand that different people respond to training differently and that it also depends on how rigidly she sticks to the lifestyle and nutritional changes which happen outside the gym.

One thing I always tell every single client is that the during the first two or three weeks they will feel like quitting. They will be tired, their muscles will ache and they may experience changes in toilet habits etc due to dietary changes. I even tell them it’s quite possible they will see little or no change in body fat or weight during this period.

You might be thinking, why do I tell them that? Am I trying to scare them? Am I trying to put them off? No, I’m being honest and setting expectations.

I tell them that I want them to remember I said that from the outset. You can remind and reinforce this during the initial period. I also tell them that once they make it past that initial hurdle things will get better.

They can look forward to great things like:

  • Improved energy
  • Body fat loss
  • Feeling better
  • Shrinking waste line
  • A sense of enjoyment from exercise instead of Dred.

If you have made it this far into this article you are probably thinking what is this guy talking about? I thought he was going to tell me how to sell Personal Training.

The thing is it’s all about the process from end to end. In my opinion, there is no shortage of clients around looking for personal training. Most will start a program without too much hesitation it’s securing the clients for the long haul that causes most trainers problems.

By setting up every single client for success and the results they want you will keep those clients and they will tell just about everyone they know about your services. This will bring in more clients who are already pre-sold on your service.

Sounds great right?

So what about Samantha?

Well, she started my program. She trains with me three times a week and follows the nutrition plan I gave her. It’s the middle of the second week. She is tired, her legs hurt and she is having issues with going to the bathroom. I could literally write a script for this scenario I have seen it so many times.

She has, of course, weighed herself just about every morning on her bathroom scales and is worried she hasn’t really lost any weight.

At this point, a lot of clients give up but since I framed all of this in advance I simply remind Samantha that we discussed that all of this would happen and that she is more than halfway through this initial tough period.

Of course, it helps if you can point to some other clients who have been through the process as examples. But if you are new you may not have that option to just reinforce that you said this would happen and they will get there.

Reaching the first milestone

When it gets to around week 3 or 4 Samantha arrives at her next training session, she is smiling and full of energy. She says she is feeling much better, Her cravings for sugary food have subsided and she noticed her jeans are getting loose.

I celebrate this with her and praise her for sticking with it. So many important things have happened here.

First Samantha is on track to reach her goal. She is feeling great and is now enjoying the initial benefits of her lifestyle change.

Since I did what most trainers won’t do and told the truth at the beginning Samantha now realises that the events have unfolded in the way I said they would.

This is a powerful tool. Samantha now trusts my advice and will stick with the program even if it takes a little longer than planned. She will also now go and tell everyone she knows that I am a great trainer and that I tell the hard truth but get you there and deliver on my promises.

So what has been achieved here?

Well, you may have heard that it’s much harder/more expensive to capture a new client than retain an existing one? This is true. However, I believe Personal Trainers are in a unique position to benefit from the nature of the trainer/client relationship in this industry.

Samantha will likely remain a client for a very long time as she continues to enjoy the benefits of her training and your programming. She is unlikely to take the advice of other trainers and now understands that fad diets are just that.

She also tells her family, friends and co-workers about me and what she has achieved. It is entirely possible that I could have enquiries from three or more new clients who have been referred by Samantha. Since they have seen and heard about the results and the process from Samantha they are already pre-sold on the idea. This makes my job easier when it comes to closing the sale with them.

It doesn’t need to be complicated

Once you have this up and running all you need to do it be consistent. Every client you serve well will bring you more clients and build long-term relationships.

This might not sound like the sexiest way to grow your fitness business and I certainly don’t claim to have some 6 figure instant magic sales formula. What I can tell you is this works and if you stick with it and deliver on your promises you will grow your business with ease.

You will become relaxed with the Sales process and find you take it in your stride. Now it’s over to you. So remember:

  1. Figure out who the prospect is
  2. Frame the goal they want to achieve
  3. Explain honestly how you will get them there
  4. Deliver on the promises
  5. Rinse and repeat

It sounds so simple when its written down like that and to be honest it is. Try it and let me know how you get on.

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