9 Tips for How to Build a Full Personal Training Client List

ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline,

Reading Time: 6 minutes 28 seconds

What does most every fitness professional want? A full personal training client list. This ensures that you will always have ample work. It also creates a sort of social proof that you are the real deal. Before you know it, your training list is accompanied by a waiting list as people stand in line for your services.

If you don’t yet have a personal training client list that is bursting at the seams, here are nine strategies that can help you create one.

1. Be Your Own Business Card

A personal trainer is different than many other service-based positions because clients are going to judge your abilities based on how you look. If it appears that you’ve never seen the inside of a gym, they will conclude that you don’t have a clear grasp of personal fitness. So, one way to grow your training business is to look the part. 

If you’re not in top shape, take the time to brush up and polish your physique. Get yourself on a training plan to lose weight, build muscle, or both. Build a body that says you know what you’re talking about. 

Yes, personal training certification is important too but that is only part of the equation. Your physical condition should verify that you know how to apply what you learned in the certification course. 

People should be able to look at you and quickly see that you understand how to develop an exercise program with a client’s goal in mind. So, think of yourself as a walking business card. Portraying a positive attitude and a passion for fitness can also make you more compelling.

2. Convey How Your Personal Training Business Is Different

There are roughly 373,700 personal trainers in the United States. Why should someone choose you as their fitness instructor? What makes you different from everyone else offering services as a personal fitness trainer?

Do you have a different style than most trainers? Maybe you have a unique fitness strategy or workout plan? Take the time to compare your exercise methods and techniques to other trainers. This enables you to easily say how you are different (better) than your competitors.

Another way you may be different is if you work with a specific type of client, a personal training niche. Perhaps you have the training and skills necessary to create weight loss workouts for the morbidly obese or you provide strength training routines for seniors with diabetes. Establishing your expertise in a specific area of fitness makes you more appealing to potential clients who fall into that category. 

3. Share Bits of Your Workout Routine on Social Media

Social media offers the ability to expand your reach. When you post content that resonates with your followers, they are more inclined to share your posts. You gain exposure to their family and friends, growing your online presence as a personal trainer.

As a fitness expert, people are going to be heavily interested in what you do to maintain a healthy body. This makes posts about your workout routine or diet plan more engaging. Posting advice on how they can improve their fitness level on their own is helpful too.

The goal of social media marketing is to establish yourself as a fitness expert. Stay in their news feed so they naturally think of you when looking for a personal trainer.   

4. Highlight Your Fitness Training Success Stories

Nothing sells your abilities as a personal trainer more than dramatic before and after photos of your clients. Help people visualize how you can transform their bodies too.

Be sure to include photos of clients with various fitness goals. Use pictures of those you’ve helped lose weight and those you’ve helped build muscle. The more someone can connect those photos with their own goals, the more likely it is they’ll want to train with you.

In addition to photos, include client statements and testimonials. Have them say in their own words how your workout or fitness routine changed their lives. Put full statements on your website and post little snippets on social media. When people see that you’ve helped others be successful, they’ll feel that you can help them be successful too.

5. Offer a Free Fitness Assessment or Training Session to New Clients

People can be apprehensive about working with a personal trainer. One way to help them overcome this apprehension is to offer some of your services for free. Provide complimentary fitness assessments or make the first personal training session available at no cost.

Although you will be sacrificing part of your time, the payoff can be huge. Once a client sees that you make exercise fun or that going to the gym doesn’t have to be scary, they’re more likely to come back for more of your personal training services. 

Offering some things for free also gives you the opportunity to win them over with your skills, personality, and talent. It creates the base for a solid personal trainer-client relationship.

ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, Business

6. Always Follow Up with a Potential Client

It’s often said that it takes seven “touches” or seven different contacts before someone may feel compelled to do business with you. So, instead of just handing a potential client your business card and hoping that they call, reach out to them first. And continue to reach out to them repeatedly.

This doesn’t mean that you should call them every day for seven days. That would be harassment and a major turn-off. Instead, use different approaches to stay in touch. Ask if you can add them to your email list, for instance, or let them know about your social media pages. 

Enable them to choose the way that you keep in contact. This increases the odds that they’ll eventually sign up for your personal training services.

7. Reward Client Loyalty

A client who feels appreciated will feel more compelled to stay with you long-term. The lower your turnover rate the better. You’re able to sustain a steady income and retaining current clients is always easier than finding new ones.

What are some ways to reward your personal training clients for using your services time and time again? One option is with your pricing. Offer special deals or promos only to current clients or give them one free session every year they’re with you to celebrate their anniversary.

You can also reward client loyalty by giving them free swag—like a water bottle, sweat towel, or t-shirt with your logo on it—after so much time working with you. Not only does this make them feel valued, but it also helps get your name out there by increasing your visibility. 

8. Ask Existing Clients for Referrals

The main benefit of asking your client base for referrals is that they know what you can do. If you’ve helped them reach their fitness goals, they’re more inclined to want to share you with their family and friends. Plus, they’ll likely only refer you to people who want or need your services, making them more promising leads.

That said, asking for referrals can be uncomfortable. If you struggle with a face-to-face ask, do it via email. End all of your digital communications with a referral request such as, “If you know anyone else I can help meet their fitness goals, send them my way!” 

A statement like this tells clients that you’re interested in growing your personal training business. It also gets them thinking about who they know that can potentially benefit from your services, increasing the likelihood that they’ll make an introduction.

9. Create a Referral Fitness Network

It’s also helpful to receive referrals from others in the fitness industry. These individuals have regular interactions with your target clientele, expanding your reach. Plus, a recommendation from them is going to carry more weight because they’ve already established a level of trust.

Individuals to consider including in your referral network include:

  • Local gym owner or training staff
  • Athletic trainer for a local sports team
  • Any respected local business owner in the health and wellness space

If you offer online personal training services, your network can (and should) expand beyond your local area. Consider connecting with social media influencers, other online personal trainers, and any other fitness professional who could potentially increase your exposure.

How to Build a Full Personal Training Client List as a New Fitness Trainer

As a new personal trainer, you likely don’t have access to a few of these options. Yet, there are still things you can do to build your personal training client list.

The first step is to determine how many clients you want or need. Next, set goals to build your list by so many clients per month until you’ve hit your goal. Decide how you’re going to get these clients by creating a step-by-step plan, using personal training software to help you manage this list. 

Since you don’t have a lot of success stories or a huge client base for loyalty and referrals, focus more heavily on your qualifications. Talk about your certification to help build trust with potential clients. Offer this certification as proof that you are an expert in exercise and, thus, know how to create effective exercise programs.

If you are not yet certified, the ISSA offers a self-guided Personal Trainer Certification program. Upon its completion, you can market yourself as a certified personal trainer. This tells potential clients that, though you may be a newer trainer, you still have the knowledge needed to help them reach all of their fitness goals.


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Certified Personal Trainer

The Certified Fitness Trainer program is designed to equip graduates with the practical day-to-day skills necessary, as well as the theoretical knowledge needed to excel as a personal trainer serving the general public. Along with the necessary exercise science foundation, the distance education program covers client assessment, program design, basic nutrition, and sports medicine along with business and marketing skills.

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