How to Obtain and Retain Clients Using Data on Consumer Preferences

Whether you are a personal trainer or a gym owner, one of the most difficult aspects of personal training is obtaining new clients and retaining the ones that you already have. This is the business aspect of personal training that you were never really taught when you studied for your personal training certification.

There are 1 million different sales techniques out there ranging from hard selling to soft selling personal training packets. In terms of retaining clients you obviously have to be personable and be able to get your clients results. But beyond those traits, what should you be focusing on?

In this article I will be focusing on consumer preferences when it comes to personal training. By focusing on the consumer, you can adjust your personal training sales techniques as well as build strong habits in order to keep client retention high.

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How do consumers typically find personal trainers?

Before you can start obtaining clients you first need to know which avenues lead consumers to personal training in the first place. In a study done by Gartner there are two primary avenues that lead consumers to personal trainers. All the statistics from this article come from the same report.

The first tendency for consumers finding a personal trainer is that they are already partnered with a gym that offers personal training services. This accounts for 47% of all customer tendencies. The second tendency is that they are referred to a personal trainer from a friend or family member. This accounts for 36% of all customer tendencies.

How do consumers find personal trainers?

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As a gym owner this is fantastic news. There should not be one gym member that has not been offered personal training services. It is very possible that they joined your gym to obtain a personal trainer at some point. As a personal trainer you can take advantage by knowing that more than a third come from family and friends referrals. You need to get your name out there and let word-of-mouth work its wonders.

Actionable steps for gym owners

  • Make sure every new member of your gym gets offered personal training services.
  • Offer discounts on monthly memberships or on training sessions if purchased together.
  • Give one free personal training session for new members.

Actionable steps for trainers

  • Purchase business cards online that you can hand out freely. Vistaprint is a relatively cheap website.
  • Create social media accounts on the big networks such as Facebook, Instagram and twitter .
  • Simply let your friends and family know about your services and tell them to spread the word.

What do consumers value most when looking for a personal trainer?

Do you know which qualities are most sought after in a personal trainer? If you remember anything from your textbook on becoming a personal trainer, it should be that communication is King. Yes that’s right, consistent communication is the quality that consumers find most important in regards to their personal trainer. Communication is even more important (28%) at than holding a personal training certification (23%) in their eyes.

What personal trainer trait do consumers value most?

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As a personal trainer or gym that oversees multiple personal trainers, you need to drive communication as essential. This means more text messages, e-mails and updates on their progress. But besides the amount of communication, you also need to focus on the quality of what you’re communicating to your clients.

The type of communication I am talking about is what I call “motivational communication”. Motivational communication helps keep your clients on track and excited to work with you. This can be encouraging words, motivational sayings or the most important of all: progress analysis.

Showing your clients how they have been progressing is the best type of motivational communication. By providing them with quantitative data on how many pounds, inches or body fat percentage they have lost provides an immense amount of motivation which in turn improves client satisfaction.

This is why taking measurements and tracking results is essential. If you are only sending motivational quotes to your clients but they are not seeing any results, it’s just a matter of time before they leave you for another trainer or give up altogether.

Actionable steps for gym owners

  • Make sure that you hire personal trainers with excellent communication skills.
  • Offer free communication classes available to all of your personal trainers.
  • Make sure your trainers are measuring and tracking results and communicating those results frequently with their clients.
  • Provide personal training software with built-in messaging for all of your personal trainers.

Actionable steps for trainers

  • Make a personal effort to focus on your communication skills with your clients
  • Become methodical with taking measurements results, tracking results (preferably with software) and communicating those results with your clients.
  • Become accustomed to communicating on a daily basis with your client whether it be setting up an appointment or providing additional encouragement.

What qualities of personal training software do consumers value the most?

Personal training software has been revolutionizing the personal training industry by saving personal trainers and gym owners hours of time. Software helps personal trainers be more efficient and helps gym owners with selling and retaining clients. But what features of personal training software are the most important to the consumers?

When consumers were asked about personal training software and which capacities were most important, performance tracking lead the pack with 74%. Performance tracking is significantly more important to consumers than any other feature.

PT software capabilities preferred by consumers

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The whole reason people pay for personal training is to see results. If your personal trainers are not measuring and tracking results how is the client going to know whether the money spent was worth it? The short answer is that they won’t know. They also probably won’t continue paying for personal training for the long term.

This is where personal training software comes into play. You want to find personal training software that has a strong focus on measuring and tracking results. Since result tracking is the most important feature for consumers, personal training software is a smart choice for gym owners and personal trainers.

You want to be able to track the basics like weight, body fat percentage, and exercise progression. You also should be able to track certain things like V02 max, postural assessments, cardiovascular system and much more.

Actionable steps for gym owners

  • Make sure that the personal training software to provide is able to track measurements
  • Hold free classes for all your trainers that go over how to do measurements properly
  • Emphasized the importance of providing weekly reports for all measurements

Actionable steps for trainers

  • Practice taking perfect measurements with your friends and family members
  • Learn how to input these measurements into personal training software
  • Practice how you will present these results to your clients to provide “motivational communication”.

Do consumers prefer personal training software or manual methods?

Consumers were asked whether or not they preferred personal training software, had no preference or preferred manual methods. 43% preferred personal training software, 51% had no preference in 6% preferred manual methods.

Consumer Preference for PT software

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It is clear that personal training software is preferred compared to the good old fashion pen and paper method according to consumers. The 51% that had no preference would also probably be pleasantly surprised with the detail and ease of using personal training software. This is especially true when they start to see results and can view their progress charted out right front of their eyes.

Using this data it is highly recommended for personal trainers as well as gym owners to implement personal training software into their programs. This will increase client satisfaction and retention.


Let’s do a quick recap from the mind of the consumer. Most consumers find their personal trainers through the gym that they were to go to. 28% of consumers value communication is the number one trait of a personal trainer. When it comes to personal training software, performance tracking is hands-down the number one feature that consumers are looking for. And lastly, consumers prefer personal training software as opposed to old manual methods.

Whether you are a gym owner or a personal trainer, I hope this article helps you figure out how to increase sales and client retention rates. If you have happy consumers your business will flourish.

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