How personal trainers get clients


As personal trainers, they are the center of our world. It’s clients that we help on a day to day basis transform their lives. And it’s clients we need to run a successful business.

You can be the greatest personal trainer in the world but without clients, you will struggle. That’s a fact.

Hello ladies and gents!

Coach Tyler here to give you the lowdown on a pretty important subject.

It’s something that I think all personal trainers worry about, especially at the start of their careers or when they decide to go it alone and launch their own personal training business.

I also highly recommend that you take the quiz and find out which personal trainer certification is best for your career goals.

What type of Certification are you looking to get?

And that’s the subject of clients and the best way to secure them for your business. I have put a lot of research time into this and also will be speaking from my past experiences and I believe I have written a pretty comprehensive blog post on the subject.

So I want you to take your time, read thoroughly, and look at the concepts I will cover. This piece will be split into two main concepts.

  • How to secure clients at the gym
  • How to secure clients online

Of course, the traditional way of personal training is in the gym. But thanks to the internet and smartphones, the number of personal trainers taking their work online has exploded over the last couple of years. And it’s certainly something you could look into if you haven’t before.

Once you’ve read this blog, don’t be afraid to ask me any questions you might have by simply leaving a comment below. Also, PT Pioneer is packed with other excellent articles, so be sure to take a look around the website.

Now let’s get right into it and see how to secure more clients as a personal trainer.

The Traditional Way Of Personal Training: How To Up Your Client Roster

The Traditional Way Of Personal Training: How To Up Your Client Roster

Clients are your bread and butter for personal trainers who work for themselves. If you struggle to build up a decent roster of clients, well, you will struggle to pay the bills.

But luckily, you are not the first personal trainer in the world to need methods to gain some new clients. There have been plenty before you and in that regard, there are plenty of strategies and ideas that you can use.

So let’s look at a few of them that I consider to be some of the best, the tried and tested ideas that will see clients seek you out to help them lose weight, increase athletic performance, and improve their overall fitness.

1: Be visible

Be visible

As a personal trainer, you need to be seen. So wherever you work from, probably your local gym, you must be there as much as possible.

That means even if you don’t have a client appointment scheduled at all, you should spend your time in the gym. Of course, you could work out a bit, but it’s more about getting yourself out there.

While at the gym, you can help regular gym-goers, especially newbies, as they try to figure out what’s what. It can be a little intimidating for newcomers, especially if they have never tried out certain training apparatus before.

Of course, if you are going to help, you need to get the permission of the gym manager beforehand. Don’t try to take over without getting the ok first. By helping out gym clients, you can also mention what is that you do – let’s call it personal advertising.

A day without client appointments should be seen as an opportunity to market yourself, that’s for sure.

You could also consider becoming active in your community.

How do you do that? Well, it’s easy if you look for opportunities. For example, you could volunteer your services at local health days and other similar events. In that way, you get your name out there and meet people that could be potential clients down the line. Build up a rapport with them and you will see benefits, that’s for sure.

2: Make use of social media

Make use of social media

A personal trainer who is not using social media is certainly not marketing their business at 100% of their capability, that’s for sure.

In today’s modern world, social media is the perfect way to connect with people, both those who are clients and those who are potential clients.

Now you don’t need to have a presence on every social media form; that will just be too time-consuming. That said, platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter, to some extent, should not be ignored.

And that doesn’t mean just making the occasional post. You should be posting something every day. Just be sure to vary the content you offer.

For example, you could post:

  • Links include articles about fitness, health, and others along those lines. Basically, articles that are not too technical but will interest the general public
  • Pictures related to your services, for example, of a client working out and you guiding them along (get their consent first, of course)
  • Share your personal experience related to personal training and what you have to offer
  • Celebrate current client milestones (with their permission). Remember to tag them as well so their friends can see (more clever social media marketing).
  • Ask thought-provoking questions that will have people give answers and interact with you, things like “How important is your personal fitness to you?” or something similar.
  • Run competitions. Keep them simple with a prize that doesn’t break the bank. In fact, a free personal training session might lead to a future client.
  • Keep posts visual. Always try to include a picture or even a video. Visual posts are far more appealing and will generate more interest than a wall of words.

These are just a few examples of what you can do. Make sure you have your own Facebook page for your business and join as many fitness groups as possible to make your presence known and answer questions people might have.

And remember this simple rule when it comes to social media posts. They should always do one of the following: inspire, entertain, educate, interact, persuade, promote, or network.

3: Use referrals

Use referrals

As a personal trainer, the service you give to others and your ability to help them get fitter and healthier can be used to your advantage.

And to do this, you could ask your clients to refer family members, friends, or colleagues to you who might need or use your services.

A great way to drive this is to give them something back for each referral they give you that turns into a paying client. The easiest way to do this is to offer them discounted rates for each person they refer, for example, 10% of their next monthly fee. You could even build in a bigger incentive, for example, a month’s discount for every five people they refer.

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It’s up to you how you want to structure it really, but referrals are one of the best ways to increase your client base. Word-of-mouth advertising goes a long way, that’s for sure.

4: Don’t forget to focus on the youth

Don't forget to focus on the youth

As personal trainers, we sometimes forget to focus on a range of target markets. That’s because many of our clients are middle-aged and want to make a lifestyle change by getting fitter and healthier.

But that doesn’t mean we mustn’t forget about the younger generation!

And there are a few ways that you can network with the youth market. Start by looking into the various programs that community colleges, universities, and other educational institutions in your area offer.

Connect with the people running these and ask for a place on these programs where you talk about health and fitness. You could even try to get involved in these educational institutions’ various sporting programs. You may consider a few free classes once every quarter to introduce prospective clients to what it is that you offer.

Local high schools may also use your services as a strength and conditioning coach. There is no harm in inquiring to see if they need your services. Again, this is an excellent way to meet and network with the younger generation.

5: Target local businesses

Target local businesses

Without a doubt, you should target local businesses looking for prospective clients. And all you need to do is spend a lunch hour once a week to do so.

Contact large businesses in your area and ask them if you can run a few workshops and information sessions regarding personal training.

These information sessions can be about health and fitness, providing interesting stats and facts, and telling participants about the advantages of using a personal trainer. Some companies may even agree to have you set up an information stand on their health and wellness days.

This is about getting your name out there through networking, meeting people, and planting seeds. And believe me, many of those seeds will grow into clients. You could include some competitions, offer discounts on an initial session, or use other promotional items to get people to the gym to see what it is you can offer them.

This is a brilliant example of how networking can work for you.

6: Don’t be scared to promote yourself

Don't be scared to promote yourself

If you have helped clients reach their goals and they are happy with the service you have offered, make sure you ask them to write a testimonial for you.

A personal review of sorts and testimonials can go a long way to securing new business.


Well, people who don’t like to jump into something new will often see what other people say about the services you offer and your ability to help others reach their goals.

That’s why having testimonials on your webpage or as social media posts can help raise the amount of prospective new clients enquiring about your services.

7: Don’t forget to blog/write for others

Don't forget to blog/write for others

Blogging can be a brilliant way to help promote yourself. So write about fitness, health, and other aspects of personal training often.

Then use your social media accounts to promote your blog or get it featured as a guest blog on other fitness social media accounts or blogs. Blogging is an important part of any internet marketing and it should be something you explore.

The thing is if you are only going to write one blog and then leave it there for years, rather don’t blog at all. If you choose to blog, make sure you remain as active as you can. You don’t need to write something every day but aim for once a week, if possible.

Writing for other local newspapers or magazines also gets your name out there.

Many local newspapers will consider guest articles, particularly if they are well-written. Why not ask your local newspaper if they would like to publish a weekly fitness column that could incorporate reader questions?

If you are unsure of your writing, have someone with a bit more experience (your old English teacher, or a family member who writes for a living, for example) look over your piece before submitting it.

If you are confident in your writing ability, you could even send your guest pieces to local fitness magazines.

8: Use the occasional freebie

Use the occasional freebie

People like free stuff; that goes without saying. Even if it is a 30-minute session with a personal trainer.

Occasionally, as a way to draw in people who might have wondered about using a personal trainer but have never tried, you can use freebies.

Perhaps you could offer one session a week. Market it on your social media sites; the first person to contact you can claim the session. Not only can you use this to draw up a contact list of potential clients, which you can include in future promotional mailers, but by showing them exactly what it is you offer, many may turn into new clients.

How Personal Trainers Get Clients - 17 Crucial Tips 3
How Personal Trainers Get Clients - 17 Crucial Tips 4

9: Keep following up on possible leads and lost clients

Keep following up on possible leads and lost clients

Leads are invaluable. If you have a contact list of potential clients whom you have secured their email addresses through previous marketing efforts, don’t forget to continue contacting them.

I am not talking about harassing them, either. For example, email them as summer approaches – everybody wants to look good for summer, right? Or devise a campaign based on New Year’s resolutions. The possibilities are always there; you need to grab them.

The same can be said for old clients who stopped coming to sessions. Connect with them all over again.

And, no, not through a generic email that you send to all of them. Keep it personal; write something for each of them. Perhaps mention something awesome they achieved while working with you.

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These methods work. Even if it’s just five clients who return or potential clients who become clients… it all counts!

10: Don’t forget the classic marketing methods either

Don't forget the classic marketing methods either

While our modern world is all about new marketing developments, social media, and more, the old, tried, and trusted methods can sometimes do the job.

Things like business cards and brochures are something that you really shouldn’t ignore. While brochures can be expensive, especially if you go the full-color route, business cards are inexpensive.

Not only are they good to have on you to hand out while you are networking, but you can leave them at the local gym, the offices of health professionals in your area, in fact, anywhere you can think of as a way to advertise your service while you are not around. These old classic marketing methods can keep a steady trickle of new clientele walking through your door, that’s for sure!

So there are some really awesome ideas you can use to build your client base.

Online Personal Training: How To Up Your Client Roster

Online Personal Training: How To Up Your Client Roster

Many personal trainers are taking their businesses online and there are several reasons for this.

Firstly, the super-fast internet and the advent of the smartphone/tablet means that most people, especially those who would use a personal trainer, now have the means to do a fitness session in the comfort of their own home.

Secondly, people value their time. For many, driving to the gym, spending time working out, getting cleaned up afterward, and then driving home is just too time-consuming. Why not opt for a gym session at your home?

And while setting up an online training portal and taking your business into cyberspace seems awesome, how do you secure the clientele to do all the work? How do you ensure enough clients to help you cover your overheads and pay your salary?

But before we do, I want to clear something up.

If you are a personal trainer just starting out, the chances you will start an online business immediately are pretty low. In fact, the personal trainers who have succeeded in their businesses, in the traditional sense of the word, are the ones who step into cyberspace.

And there are several reasons why personal trainers do take this step.

For example, many choose to try online training when their families start to grow. Getting married and having kids can be hard when you are at the gym for morning or evening sessions, helping out clients.

Being an online personal trainer allows you to schedule your life in a manner that suits where you are at a certain point in time. Another big reason that trainers move online is that it saves on one major expense – and that’s gym rental.

If you want to know more about becoming an online personal trainer, click here to read an article that I wrote about the subject.

Ok, how will we go about getting those clients, then?

Start with people you know.

Taking your business online? The easiest way to start looking for clients in a group that you work with regularly, and that’s your current clients. While some of them might not want to go the online training route, others might jump right in for the reasons you are doing it.

It’s important to take them through the whole process, how it works, what can be achieved through online training, and the benefits for them; for example, it frees up time.

Over and above your regular clients, it’s also advisable to chat with those close to you, family, and friends who might support your project by becoming a client.

1: Use referrals

Use referrals

As a personal trainer, whether you are working traditionally at a gym or taking your business online, many of your leads and new clients come from referrals from your old clients.

So, you must ensure you don’t sit back on this when starting out. Ask your clients for leads as to people who they think need a personal trainer, would have an interest in using your services, and specifically, those who would be into the idea of online training.

Any good personal trainer knows that referrals are often the lifeblood of their business, and they certainly should never be underestimated. And that’s especially true if you are good at what you do. People will be more than willing to tell others about your good service and ability to help others with their health and fitness.

Continually build your brand.

It would be best to continually build your brand even when you take your business online.

Do this by establishing a brand identity and sticking to it through the course of all your communications with clients, social media posts, marketing, and more. Building a brand elicits trust in both new and old clients, leading to brand loyalty on their part.

Your brand includes your logo, brand colors, your language (which should remain consistent in all your communications), and even yourself.

2: Keep improving your product

Keep improving your product

In truth, this can apply to a regular personal trainer in a gym environment. I think it’s particularly relevant to those who take their business online.

Why? Well, online is certainly different from the outset. And it’s easy to keep things in a status quo as you go along. But that means it can get pretty stale pretty quickly, and that can lose your clients.

So how do you stay on top of that?

Well, your best resource in this regard is your clients. By interacting with them, asking them to be honest about how things are working out, asking them for ideas and input, and having them fill in regular, quick surveys, for example, you can gauge where your product is and how you can make it even better.

3: Always remember client success is the best advertising

Always remember, client success is the best advertising

For any personal trainer, having successful clients is paid for advertising that costs you not one dime. And the same can be said for helping to promote a new online personal training business.

Earlier, I mentioned that you should use clients for referrals. But it would be best to prep them as your mobile advertising.

What do I mean by that?

Let’s take a look at an example. One of your clients, who was severely overweight, has managed to lose 50 pounds through working with you and using the training programs you drew up for them.

Without a doubt, they will be approached by friends, family, and colleagues, asking how they did it. They are the best advertising you can have, so make sure they know how they can explain exactly how you helped them.

It will generate leads, that’s for sure.

4: Devise an online specific program to generate leads/clients

When taking your business online, starting with a completely new marketing idea to generate interest and leads is great.

And while you might want to start with a broad theme, perhaps something like “Get the body you’ve always wanted,” it’s better to find a niche idea and target that.

Your aim is a template design that can easily be changed for each program you implement. In other words, you are solving a specific concern for one group of people.

For example, perhaps you could aim your first program at new moms who want to lose the excess weight gained over their pregnancy.

Each template you devise to reach specific target markets also needs its own online landing page.

Make sure the landing page encourages people to act. That could range from signing up straight away or just leaving their contact details which you can add to an online mailing database that promotes future programs that you will run.

For more information on how to go about this, read this brilliant case study over at Exceed Masterclass.

5: Use influencers

Use influencers

Whether you like them or not, influencers can play a crucial part in online marketing. Without a doubt, this is one of the best ways to reach a huge amount of potential new clients most effectively.

The thing is, when you are just starting out, finding an influencer can be a little difficult. But it will pay to start small. We are not aiming for Kim Kardashian here. Even in your local community, there will be social media influencers.

Creating a mutually beneficial partnership with them can also benefit you and your brand.

6: Make payment options simple

Make payment options simple

Payment options are often forgotten by personal trainers when going online.

When you were working with face-to-face clients, payment was simple and easy. And you want to do the same when you set up a business online.

One of the easiest ways to ensure clients can sign up quickly and pay is to use online payment portals such as Paypal and Skrill. These allow clients who want to sign up to do so immediately without having to either use online banking or actually visit a bank to pay money into their account.

7: Don’t forget the tried and trusted traditional methods of getting clients and retaining them

In the first part of this blog post, I went through several tried and trusted methods that traditional personal trainers can use to get new clients and retain them. Many of these apply to online personal trainers as well, including:

  • Using social media (use Facebook-promoted posts to reach a range of new clients based on criteria you decide on)
  • Promoting yourself effectively and using testimonials
  • Using blogs
  • Networking
  • Writing for local magazines and newspapers
  • Using freebies
  • Using classic marketing methods to promote yourself

Final Words…

Final Words...

Well, that was a lot to get through but I am sure you will agree that there are some really good pieces of information and ideas that you can use as a personal trainer to land more clients.

And that’s for the more traditional personal trainer who wants to work with their clients face to face in a gym or one that prefers to take their business online and build their empire in cyberspace.

All I know is that no matter where you prefer to work as a personal trainer, your overall attitude, love for the job, and caring approach to your clients will shine through and make them want to come back from time and time as you guide them in their transformation.

There is nothing quite like the feeling of seeing someone change their lives for the better and transform into a far healthier and fitter version of themselves than when they first started. And to think that you had a part in that transformation.

I love that feeling!

Please remember, if you want to know more about personal training, including certifications, career specializations you could consider in the field, and more, then check out this link which has all the personal trainer-related articles on my site on one handy page for you to look through.

Or feel free to drop me a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Chat again soon!


  1. “Top 10 Ways to Attract New Clients.” American Council on Exercise,
  2. “Social Media for Personal Trainers.” Wellness Creatives,
  3. “9 Ways to Get More Personal Training Clients.” Precor,
  4. “How Do I Get More Personal Training Clients?” The Personal Trainer Development Center,
  5. “How to Get More Online Personal Training Clients.” Online Trainers Federation,
  6. “How to Get Your First Online Personal Training Clients.” Exceed Masterclass,
  7. “Tips to Pick Up Clients as Online Personal Trainer.” Trifocus Fitness Academy,
  8. “How to Sign Up New Clients to Your Online Personal Training Website.” My Personal Trainer Website,
  9. “How to Get Personal Training Clients Online.” Renegade Fitness Marketing,
Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

Tyler Read

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