10 Proven Ways to Get Clients as a Personal Trainer

Want to land more personal training clients? We've spoken to over 100 PT's and strength coaches to uncover the 10 best ways to find new clients and get them on board. Check out the full list below.

Written by
Alex Pellew
Published on
November 10, 2023

One of the biggest challenges you'll face as a personal trainer is growing your client base. If only there was a silver bullet that gave you a never-ending pipeline of new personal training clients. Unfortunately, for most us there isn't, so you need to leverage different tactics to find new clients.

We share 10 tried and tested tactics that you can use below - some you can get started with straight away, and others can be worked into your marketing efforts over time.

Save this article, bookmark it. Use it as a workbook to comeback to on a Sunday night when you’ve got a quiet week ahead and need to fill the slots!

10 Proven Ways to Get Personal Training Clients

  1. Use social media
  2. Get client referrals
  3. Offer free trial sessions
  4. Specialise in a niche
  5. Network with other professionals
  6. Drive traffic to your website
  7. Send out email newsletters
  8. Get professional business cards
  9. Follow up with potential clients
  10. Look after your existing clients

1. Use social media

Leverage your existing network with posts and stories

  • How quickly can I start? Today
  • How effective is it? Medium
  • How much effort is required? Low

The key to this tip is momentum and getting started today. That’s exactly why we’ve shared it first.  

In today’s world, not being on social media isn’t an option for personal trainers who want to grow their business. The average person spends over 2 hours a day on social media, so sharing and posting content is essential for finding and attracting new clients.

One of the biggest barriers we hear is that social media is too time consuming. ‘I don’t know what to post’ or ‘I have no time to create content’ might be popping up in your mind. If it is, why not start by sharing and commenting on posts from other personal training accounts that you follow?

This can start a conversation, requires very little effort, and might give you inspiration for posts and stories that you can create yourself. We’ve analysed the personal trainers with the biggest profiles and 80% are regularly sharing posts and stories from their network. So, the blueprint is there.

As well as sharing posts from others, you should also be creating and posting your own unique content regularly. This could be videos or photos of you working with clients, sharing different workouts for your followers to do at home, or diet advice, just to name a few ideas.

As a bonus tip, use a free graphic design tool and video editing tool such as Canva to quickly create professional looking assets to share on social media platforms.

Use paid social media advertising to further your reach

  • How quickly can I start? 1 week  
  • How effective is it? High
  • How much effort is required? Medium

When it comes to paid social media marketing, you have a few different options. The best option will be dependent on a) your audience (Some audiences are more likely to be found on certain social media channels) and b) your budget (a bigger budget allows you to test across multiple platforms).

Some of the most common platforms to advertise on are:  

  • Meta (Includes Instagram)
  • Linked in
  • TikTok
  • Youtube

Meta (Facebook/Instagram):

  • Effort: Medium to High - Creating visually appealing content, targeting, and frequent interaction needed.
  • Money: Medium - Flexible ad spends, but costs can be higher due to competition.
  • Start Speed: Quick - Once an account and ad are set up, you can start immediately.

YouTube:

  • Effort: High - Requires high-quality video content, editing, and potentially longer content creation times.
  • Money: High - Often higher cost per impression or click, especially for competitive niches.
  • Start Speed: Medium - Setting up an account and creating acceptable ads might take some time

TikTok:

  • Effort: Medium - Requires creative, engaging short-form video content, potentially less polished but more frequent.
  • Money: Low to Medium - Newer platform for ads, so sometimes cheaper, but prices are rising.
  • Start Speed: Quick - User-friendly interface, quick setup, and instant publishing once content is ready.

LinkedIn:

  • Effort: High - Professional quality content, detailed targeting, and more formal interaction
  • Money: High - Typically higher cost for advertising, due to professional audience.
  • Start Speed: Medium - Professional setup required, content approval might take time.

Within these ad platforms you could boost your ads further with ‘retargeting’ and utilising ‘influencers’.

Retargeting campaigns allow you to re-engage with anyone who previously visited your site or interacted with your content. This means they start to see you everywhere! Scary… maybe, but very effective as this increases the number of touch points and keeps you front of mind.

Working with influencers who your audience trust and paying them to promote your services is another good tactic to use. Even better, you could offer them to use your services for free and share it with their network!

2. Ask existing clients for referrals

  • How quickly can I start? Today
  • How effective is it? High
  • How much effort is required? Low

We love this approach. It’s low effort, high reward and shouldn’t cost you anything.

Word of mouth is the gold standard of getting new clients. Whether you’re a big company or a one-person business, everyone uses this, but many personal trainers don’t utilise it properly.

What’s even better is that you’re in total control, as it’s based on your quality of service.

Here are some top tips on how to maximise referrals:

  • TimingWhen you ask is as important as how you ask. Maximise success by asking when your client has just achieved a milestone, or goal.
  • Incentive – Offer your client a 5% kickback if they successfully refer a new client

3. Offer free trial sessions to new clients

  • How quickly can I start? Today
  • How effective is it? High
  • How much effort is required? Low

‘Make your free sh*t better than their paid sh*t’ Alex Hormozi

I love this quote. The logic being that if a free session gives the prospective client value, they will immediately want to work with you!

If you’re worried that you might be wasting your time, you can qualify your leads first before you offer them a trial session (make sure they are genuinely interested in your services).

Offering free trial sessions does three key things:

  • Creates Trust - You're inviting potential clients into a no-pressure situation where they can judge the quality of your service themselves, without feeling like they're being sold to.
  • Builds Credibility - A free session isn't just a workout; it's a chance to showcase your expertise, knowledge, and skill as a trainer.
  • Encourages Reciprocity – This is taking from the one of the best influence/sales books called ‘Influence’ by Robert Cialdini. This psychological principle suggests that when someone gives us something, we feel compelled to give something back in return. Why not start using this approach with prospective clients right away?

What should your free trial session include?

  • Pre-Session Consultation: Start with a brief discussion about the client’s fitness goals, medical history, and preferences. Personalisation is key to in person services.
  • Tailored Experience: Use the information gathered to prepare a customised workout session.
  • Educational Approach: Don’t just instruct but also educate them about each exercise during the session. Explain why you’re including each element and how it helps them reach their goals.
  • Post-Session Follow-Up: Conclude with a discussion, seeking feedback on their experience, answering any questions, and outlining how a typical session would work if they sign up. This reinforces the value proposition.

4. Specialise in a niche

There are riches in the niches’  

This quote only rhymes in an American accent (apologies!).

We love this approach, as in most circumstances specialising leads to greater expertise and standing out in the market, and therefore more clients! Niches in personal training can come in many forms.

Your niche could be based on

  • Specific transformation goal - e.g losing 20kg in 6 months
  • Audience within a specific demographic - e.g over 50 females
  • Audience within a specific health need - e.g weight loss for diabetics
  • Audience with at important lifestyle - e.g post partum fitness
  • Audience with a specific sporting goal - e.g Staying injury free for an Ironman (rather them then me! Emoji)

By focusing on a niche, you attract and retain clients who are more likely to be satisfied with your services because you cater to their specific needs and goals. This satisfaction can lead to higher retention rates, more referrals, and ultimately, a more robust and successful business. WIN-WIN!

5. Network with people in similar professions

  • How quickly can I start? Today
  • How effective is it? Medium
  • How much effort is required? Medium

There are so many benefits to networking with other health and wellness professionals as a personal trainer. Not only the learning and opportunity to provide better outcomes for your clients, but from a business point of view it can fill your slots!

Ideally, you want to collaborate with other non-competing wellness professionals. For example, physiotherapists and sports massage therapists for cross-referrals. Here at UNTIL, one of our members doubled their business overnight through engaging within the community and offering free sessions to other professionals. This meant they could experience their talents first-hand and know when to refer their client to them.

The next step is to be at the right place at the right time. This isn’t down to luck. You need to place yourself in the right environments for meeting other professionals. Networking at industry event is great, but being able to meet in informal settings tends to be best. Good relationships are built on trust and authenticity so be yourself!

UNTIL offers a unique environment for you to train your clients in and meet like-minded professionals. Our members can rent gym space and access premium equipment in rooms designed specifically for personal trainers and strength coaches. This also means that between sessions, you can socialise with other personal trainers and coaches in stunning breakout spaces. Our clubs currently have 300+ wellness practitioners that see 5000+ a clients a month.

Just being and working within these spaces has generated countless new clients for our members!

Bonus tip: Consider partnerships with local businesses, offering their employees a discount or special promotions.

6. Drive traffic to your website

  • How quickly can I start? 1 Month
  • How effective is it? High
  • How much effort is required? High  

"If your business is not on the internet, then your business will be out of business." - Bill Gates

It’s a strong statement, but you need an online presence - having a website isn’t optional but necessary for growth.

Your website provides so much functionality and value. It primarily acts as:

  1. Informational Resource: Your website can become a go-to resource for clients. By including a blog or articles, you provide value even before a client has signed up. Topics might include fitness tips, nutritional advice, or insights into wellness trends, all of which can attract and engage visitors. But remember always link back to your specific audience and niche
  2. Marketing Foundation: Your website is a central hub for all your marketing efforts. Whether you're using social media, content marketing, or search engine optimisation, all these strategies can drive traffic to your website. From there, visitors can learn more, get in contact with you, or even sign up for your services.
  3. Online Booking and Sales: Implementing online booking allows clients to schedule sessions directly through your website, streamlining the process and providing immediate access.

Need help getting started? Check out our step by step guide to building a personal trainer website.

Use SEO to get organic traffic from search engines

  • How quickly can I start? 1 Month
  • How effective is it? Medium
  • How much effort is required? High  

This can get technical really quickly, but here’s the top line and key things to consider:

Use the Right Words: Think about words your friends might use when they talk about fitness or finding a personal trainer. Those are special words called "keywords," and you want to use them on your website. And remember always link back to your niche. This helps you stand out.

Create Awesome Content: Write about things that you know your audience would love to read or know more about. This could be cool workout tips, health snacks you can make at home, or how to do specific exercises. When you share stuff that's exciting and helpful, more people will want to read it, and Google will start to take notice!

This may take some time to build and start generating leads, however it can pay back big time if you invest now. You could also look to consult the services of a freelance SEO professional, or an SEO agency.

Use Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising

  • How quickly can I start? Tomorrow
  • How effective is it? High
  • How much effort is required? Low  

This can be the ultimate short cut to increasing clients fast! This is like SEO on steroids, as it can get you to the top of google overnight! Here’s how you can get started with PPC, even if you're new to it:

Choose Where to Show Your Ad: You could pick Google, Bing  or other places where people look for fitness tips or trainers. We recommend starting with Google as that’s where most people search.

Decide What Your Ad Will Say: Your ad needs to tell people exactly what they'll get from you. This message is what gets them to click on your ad and learn more about you.

Set Your Budget: Maybe start with a small amount, like paying for 10 clicks a day. If it works you can always decide to spend more later. This also gives you the chance to test your sales funnel and make sure your conversion rate is high!

7. Send out email newsletters

  • How quickly can I start? 1 week
  • How effective is it? Medium
  • How much effort is required? High

Email newsletters are incredibly underrated. They’re effective and a sustainable method of directly communication with your audience. Why? Because you own the platform. You’re never restricted by a social media platform changing their rules or algorithm. You have ultimate control.

Here are 7 steps to get started:

  • Step 1: Set the objective. Be clear about why you are doing this: Is it for leads, website traffic, engagement?
  • Step 2: Build your database of contacts (these can be current clients, previous clients, and anyone in your network!) All you need is first name, last name and an email address.
  • Step 3: Set up an account on an email marketing platform. Mailchimp is a good place to start, but there are others out there too.
  • Step 4: Identify the type of content based on Step 1, ensuring that your audience will value it! The content must benefit the reader in some way. Either it’s your knowledge or sharing industry news and opinions.
  • Step 5: Design the email template. Most platforms will have pre-built ones. I like to keep things simple, include your branding and use a mix of images and text! I also draw on the images to make it feel more human!
  • Step 6: Schedule and consistency: When and how often? Consider how much time you can commit. But you must be consistent. This is the biggest issue we see. People start, slow down, then stop. Remember - never stop UNTIL you’ve achieved your objective!
  • Step 7: Ask for feedback and check the numbers. Tweak the content and see what gets the best response. Check key data points such as open rate and number of responses. Understand which email had the best response rate (and do more of that!)

8. Get professional business cards made

  • How quickly can I start? Days
  • How effective is it? Medium
  • How much effort is required? Medium

A business card can be a surprisingly powerful tool for personal trainers looking to acquire new clients. While it may seem like a traditional approach in today's digital age, the impact of a tangible, well-designed business card can't be understated. Whilst it won’t always generate new clients alone, it can help with the conversions. Here’s why:  

  • Increases Professionalism: It shows that you’re serious  
  • Brand Visibility: It’s a small but impactful representation of your brand.
  • Support referrals: Clients easily pass on your business card to friends or family
  • Serves as a Reminder: A business card sitting on a potential client's desk or pinned to a bulletin board serves as a constant reminder of your meeting, increasing the likelihood they'll reach out to you.

Its cost effective and incredibly easy to get started today!

9. Follow up on every potential client

  • How quickly can I start? Today
  • How effective is it? Medium
  • How much effort is required? Medium

This is an essential quick win. There is no point spending money on ads, creating business cards if you don’t have the time or systems to follow up with all potential clients. You’re wasting leads otherwise.

I recommend having a clear sales funnel with clear steps. There are lots of tools that help with a CRM and sales funnel, but even a simple excel table and using WhatsApp can work! I would start with simple scripts as well, so every time a prospect enquires you know exactly what to say and there’s no time wasted!

10. Look after your existing clients

  • How quickly can I start? Today
  • How effective is it? Medium
  • How much effort is required? High

There is a world where you don’t always need more clients. Imagine if you retained all your current clients, but increased the number of times that you see them each week?

It's easier to keep an existing client rather than find a new one, so client retention needs to be fundamental to your business plan, too.

We’ve found that the trainers that have the highest retention rates have a few things in common:

  • They never get complacent with programming, so don't be afraid to switch it up! It's lazy keeping your routines the same all the time.
  • They work with industry leading personal training equipment, to offer their clients the best experience.
  • Consider adding another string to your bow. For example, we’ve seen the more successful PT’s upskill in nutrition and sports recovery knowledge to really help their existing clients achieve their goals. If you stand still, your competitors will get ahead.
  • Finally, measure, measure, measure. Measuring success keeps your clients focused on improving their scores. It boosts motivation and provides a goal to chase!

Want to learn more about keeping your current clients motivated? Read our guide: 6 Ways to Motivate Your Personal Training Clients.

Join the UNTIL community

At UNTIL there are countless examples of personal trainers who continue to grow their business, and in some cases have tripled their revenue or more. They’ve told us it’s because they can:

  • Work in an environment that enables them to define their product and niche.
  • Create a world class experience using UNTIL’s private gym’s with top spec kit
  • Build a tight knit community to share learnings and develop powerful cross referral services.

If you’re interested in being in a fresh environment, apply now and speak to our membership team today.