Whether you’re an online-only coach or you manage a hybrid between in-person and online training, gaining new clients and maintaining the ones you already have is the most important element of being a personal trainer. Yes, programming is important and yes, certifications are important, but at the end of the day, if you don’t have enough clients paying for your services you will not be able to sustain yourself in this industry.
But here is the million dollar question: how do you get more clients? These days it feels like the first and only solution people come up with when they say they need more clients is to start posting more on social media. It’s as if building a following on Instagram will be their ticket to a big successful business.
Although social media certainly has its uses and we don’t discourage anyone from using it wisely, there’s much more to the game than growing your following. We believe these are three of the best ways to gain new clients that don’t involve social media.
Explore different communities
We don’t mean you should pick yourself up and move to a different city, but rather we encourage you to put yourself in a scenario where you can meet new people. More often than not, we typically hang out with the same folks all the time. You’re probably thinking, you already have your friends, family, and clients — how can you possibly put effort and time into a new group of people? And what’s the point anyway?
Consider volunteering, playing an adult version of an intramural sport, or taking a class in something you’re interested in. It doesn’t matter which one you choose; the important thing is that you start spending time with people outside of your normal social circle. Everyone knows someone who has an interest in developing a better relationship with their bodies, both mentally and physically. Spending your time around new people increases the likelihood that you’ll find a new client you would’ve never met had you not tried something new.
Wear clothes in public that showcase you’re a trainer
I worked at 24-Hour Fitness early on in my career and we used to wear red shirts that said Personal Trainer or Master Trainer across the back. They stood out and told people exactly what you did —so I would wear my shirt when I was grocery shopping, especially on Sundays when I knew it was going to be packed. I would also take my time as I meandered through the grocery store in hopes of striking up a conversation with someone after we both reached for the same cucumber. More often than not, I would have someone ask what I was going to use a certain ingredient for. From there the conversation just flowed.
You can learn a lot from a person by looking at what’s in their shopping cart. If people see you’re wearing a trainer shirt and you have a basket full of delicious, healthy food, they’ll take you seriously — and you never know, they might strike up a conversation, especially if you have a friendly vibe. Because if you have your expertise displayed on the back of your shirt, you’re qualified to answer their questions about nutrition, exercising, etc. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there in public places. It could lead to great opportunities, which often lead to new clients.
Go to an improv class
Yes, this expands your network and gets you to meet new people, but that’s not why this strategy is so important. Going to an improv class is valuable because it will teach you the art of improvising, which is essentially telling a compelling, relatable story from thin air. This is especially valuable for those of you who stumble over your words when you haven’t had time to prepare. Some people do well when they’re put in a situation where they can think about their pitch on the fly. But not everyone is like that.
Maybe you excel during a free first-time session where you just spent an hour getting to know a potential client and talking about their goals, and when you’re done you have a prepared sales pitch you can start rolling with. However, when you meet someone out of context at a party or an event, it’s tough for you to take a conversation from small talk to a real discussion about their goals and pain points — and how you are the person that can guide them to success. Working in an improv class can help you with your public speaking skills and help you find the words when you’re thinking on the fly. These are important gifts to have when delivering a last-minute sales pitch to a future client.
While these aren’t the only ways to gain new clients that don’t involve posting on social media, they are certainly some valuable methods. Try them out and experiment with these ideas. No matter what, remember that only one percent of the world population has a gym membership, so you’re less in a fight with other trainers in your area and more in a battle with yourself as you find ways to communicate your message effectively to the right type of people.