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How to Turn Your Personal Training Clients Into Walking Billboards

Question: What’s the best way to get new business in the gym? Hand out cards? Talk to people while they’re on the treadmill? Stick posters on the walls? Get really good at writing copy? Nope.


Nothing beats word of mouth as an endorsement, and even in the 21st century, with so much technology available, and the fact that every savvy trainer in the industry has caught onto the fact that how you present yourself and market your services is seriously important, the old-fashioned referral method still works best. There are two ways you can get new clients like this. The first is to obviously ask your existing clients if they have any friends who’d be interested in training with you, or simply request they spread the good word about your work, and bear you in mind when talking to anyone about fitness. This works great, but the trouble is, oftentimes clients won’t have any friends or family members who are into fitness, and asking them specifically for referrals puts the onus on them, which can cause them to feel uncomfortable. A better way to “sell without selling” however is to turn your clients into walking billboards.  

What is a Walking Billboard?

You want every single client you train in the gym to be an amazing advert for you. Folks in the gym are a much more captive audience than any random friends and acquaintances your clients have, as you know that by being at the gym, someone at least has a mild interest in keeping fit and looking better. You might be the best damn trainer in the place, but it’s not always easy to get that across to people, as anyone can big themselves up and talk the talk, but it takes a real trainer to walk the walk. Therefore, if every member at the gym sees how well your clients are doing, how much they enjoy their sessions, and witnesses them changing week to week, then as soon as they want a personal trainer, you’ll be the first person they turn to.  

Here’s how you do just that:


Do a Good Job

First and foremost, you have to do a good job – that’s non-negotiable. If you have a fantastic rapport with clients, know your stuff, and help them get the results they want, that will help above everything else. They’ll tell people, AND other gym members will see.  

Make Your Own Uniform

It seems obvious, but give every client you train a tee shirt, even if they only book one session with you. This serves two purposes – not only does it make other people in the gym aware of you, but every time your client puts on your tee shirt, they think of you. This shouldn’t cost too much at all, just bulk-buy 15 to 20 shirts in a variety of sizes.  

Get in View

Don’t be one of these trainers who finds the deepest, darkest corner of the gym to train in. Granted, some clients may be self-conscious, so it’s not wise to drag these guys into full view of everyone and make them the centre of attention, but don’t be afraid to let people see you training. Make sure you coach in a friendly way (as you would usually,) help your client to master perfect technique, and let everyone see that training with you is fun, challenging and interesting.  

Bottles, Not Business Cards

Not every client will be up for wearing your tee shirt – they might not like the design, they might feel a bit embarrassed, or perhaps they just want to always wear the latest Nike or Under Armour gear, so give out water bottles as well. Everyone needs a water bottle at the gym, and a nice one with your logo on makes for a much more pleasurable hydration experience than an old, smelly, battered bottle that was once bought on a day out 6 months ago, and just been refilled every workout day since.  

Hold Open and Closed Q&As

Holding open Q&As is a must-do marketing tip for any gym PT, but holding closed Q&As exclusively for your clients is a highly effective way to get potential new clients. Other members see these go on if you hold them in the gym reception, and feel like they want a piece of the action. I’d advise doing these even if you’ve only got one or two clients, but if you’re a close-on fully-booked PT, they can be just as good.  

Finish with a Smile

Regardless of how the session went, make sure you finish on a positive note with every single client so they’re smiling as they walk away. Even if Bob had to lower the weight on his bench press, Susan had a tough day at work and spent the hour moaning to you about her boss, or Jenny just wasn’t “in the zone” it doesn’t matter. Give them a compliment, tell them something they did well, maybe reinforce a pointer or a goal, and finish so they’re feeling good. You don’t have to be a comedian and crack a joke, or tell them the funniest anecdote you ever heard, but just a few kind words go a long way, and other people will notice this.  

The #1 Rule of Personal Trainer Marketing

Perhaps the best marketing quote I’ve ever heard came from Jonathan Goodman – “Do a good job, and make sure everyone knows about it.” You already do a good job, so all you need to get fully booked is to make more people aware of this. You can do that with flyers, email marketing or putting posters up, but by far the best way is to get clients to do the selling for you, and with the advice in here, that’s now even easier. mike2-224x300-e1465089436622-224x300Mike Samuels is an online coach, writer and personal trainer from Southampton, UK. Alongside his coaching work, he loves helping other young coaches build their businesses (both in-person and online.) He has a love of lifting heavy weights, drinking coffee and eating ice cream.
You can reach him at:
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