Why are so many certified personal trainers struggling in a profession, which is dedicated to prolonging lives and helping others feel good about themselves? Now at the age of twenty-five I have built my personal training business to an almost fifty thousand dollar a year business in a small city of about fifty thousand. Fifty thousand a year here is like one hundred thousand a year in a big city. I have seven steps for trainers to take to build their clientele and make a good living even in the smallest of towns.
Step One - (A trainer must know his or her goals.)
I believe a trainer must know what his or her goals are. All fitness trainers need to want to teach others about good health. A certified trainer needs to want to change the lives of people for the better. Building self-confidence in a client is one of the most important aspects of the personal training profession. A trainer needs to have a business goal to succeed. That goal should be to have a strong clientele base, which gives a trainer a stable monthly income.
Step Two - (A trainer needs to know who he or she wants to train.)
Who does a trainer want to help? There are endless types of people out there to help. I have helped people lose a few fat pounds and some lose a lot of fat pounds. I have trained people to build muscle and lose fat at the same time. I have trained "hard gainers". Hard gainers are people who are skinny and just cannot gain muscle the way they want to. I have trained elderly people who just need to start moving again or their bodies will die. College tennis, soccer, softball, football, and various other players have come to me for training. I have worked with professional boxers and bodybuilders. I have trained a lot of high school athletes. Business professionals, doctors, lawyers, stay at home moms, attorneys, and people from all types of professions have come to me for training. I have worked with healthy and fit people who just want to maintain their great bodies. I even had a few clients who paid me just to walk and jog with them so they would get out of the house.
One of my favorite ways to train people is through the college setting. With my Personal Training Certification I am able to be an instructor at the community college level. I am able to get healthy training and nutrition out to large groups of people at once. This is a good way for a trainer to get his or her name out and have some fun at the same time. People at the colleges want to have a fun class that teaches healthy habits. The money is also not bad for the little time involved.
A trainer can help local businesses get their employees healthy through a wellness type program. The local hospital in my area set-up a wellness center and asked me to become their trainer. I would go in for a few hours on certain days to train the employees on how to use the equipment and hold group toning fitness classes. I would charge each employee ten dollars an hour. My groups were sometimes as high as eight people. Eighty dollars an hour was good money! There at the hospital I would be able to help many different types of professional people in an hour.
A trainer can hold toning classes or seminars in fitness facilities that target certain athletes or certain problem areas for people to lose weight. Many clients of a trainer are pretty well-off financially. Many of them go off to snow ski in the winter months. A trainer can hold classes in a fitness facility that teaches skiers how to get their legs in shape for the ski season. The types of classes/seminars a trainer can hold are endless.
Step Three - (A trainer needs to be diverse in the way he or she trains the client.)
How can a trainer help these different types of people? Diversity is key! A trainer can train people at their homes. I have trained a lot of couples in their homes with either their equipment or my own. That can be great money because you get two people to train at once. Gyms and other fitness facilities want Personal Trainers to work there. Trainers bring members and also make the existing members happy. A trainer can train people one-on-one or in groups at these facilitates. I have met clients at local public tracks to workout. We would use a track and the bleachers at the track in our workouts. A trainer can meet a group of friends or family members there to give group training to. Some trainers can use public parks as a place to meet to hold individual or group training.
Trainers can use the Internet to train people. A website can be where training and nutritional information/products are bought. A trainer can write articles and send them to magazines by e-mail. Online fitness newsletters can be sold for a monthly fee to new or existing clients. The use of the phone, fax, and a credit card machine can help a trainer start getting paid for weekly phone consultations. There are always local businesses looking to implement some sort of wellness program for their employees. Most of the work can be done at their own facility or wherever they contract out to.
Step Four - (A trainer needs to advertise according to his or her budget.)
How does a trainer start advertising to the people he or she wants to help, without spending big bucks? I started on a low budget of seventy-five dollars. With that money I had five hundred black and white glossy flyers made. They showed my "before and after" pictures of when I lost one hundred pounds, a catchy slogan, and my contact information. I took those flyers to friends, family, businesses, and anywhere else I could and talked to people about my business. A trainer can use business cards. Many times just dropping a card in a place of business would work. Business cards really work at restaurants when people are full and feeling guilty after a huge meal!
After I started making some okay money I tried the newspaper. I ran small ads, which were expensive for me at the time, in the local paper. That ad in the newspaper usually only paid for itself plus gave me one extra client. I then tried classified advertising. All I received were calls from farmers or others who were looking for great service at a cheap price. Most people in a small city who read the classifieds are not a trainer's kind of clients. One of my favorites was using local entertainment newspapers. These are the ones people pickup when they leave a store or restaurant. These publications are used as a guide to entertainment around the city/town. Most of the people who read them are middle to upper class people, who would often become my client after seeing my advertisement. Television and radio are always available for a trainer to make commercials.
Usually TV and radio are more expensive depending on the coverage area. I really got my name out in the area with 30 second TV ads. Infomercials are probably the cheapest way to advertise on TV. A trainer can get a lot of time with little money using infomercials. Some of the catches are getting into long-term contracts and getting the media company added on to a trainer's insurance.
Any trainer can write a monthly newsletter, and mail it to past and present clients. A newsletter could spark an old client to start training again. The best way a trainer can get his or her name out is through word-of-mouth. This form of advertising implies a client trusts the trainer. Word-of-mouth advertising is usually a sign that a trainer has earned the respect of clients. There is nothing more important to a trainer than a client referring a new client. A trainer can offer incentives to clients to get new clients. I had a high school athlete I was training refer to mom, dad, and me his brother. Since he did, I gave him a bit of a discount on some later training. He then proceeded to bring me other clients because of how his body was getting in shape and how many compliments he was getting from friends and family. My hard work with him really paid off for me in building my business.
Step Five - (A trainer needs to keep track of advertising responses.)
After a trainer does advertising he or she needs to keep track of what works and how well it works. A trainer needs to know which form of advertising they buy gets the most serious responses. Once a trainer gets a call he or she should ask the person where they heard about their service. It would be good for a trainer to keep an advertising log. The log should show the monies spent, what form of ad, how long the ad ran, and a response rating.
Step Six - (A trainer needs to make the sale.)
Once a trainer is contacted he or she needs to be able to make a sale. A trainer needs to be confident on the phone or in person. Before and after pictures need to be on hand or on a trainer's website to refer to. A trainer will sometimes have to be flexible with their schedule to fit a client in. Trainers sometimes need to bend over backwards for new clients just to build their business. When I first started my business I would work from five in the morning to ten at night. I might have only trained five people the whole day, but they knew I was flexible.
Once I had more clients I would fit them in throughout the day in open times. It was hard at first, but it paid off. A trainer needs to always be on time. There is nothing a client hates worse than having to wait on their trainer who is running ten minutes late.
Step Seven - (A trainer needs to keep repeat business.)
A trainer needs to have a repeat clientele. My clients always know I genuinely care. Getting someone in shape is serious business. The fitness training business is almost always based on the client's emotions. With emotions in mind, a trainer needs to do his or her best to constantly provide motivation, hope, and the knowledge to his or her client to make the desired changes. A trainer should feel passionate about changing peoples lives for the better.
Follow-up calls after training sessions are a way to show a client how passionate a trainer is about his or her work. A trainer needs to understand a wide variety of training methods and good nutrition habits. Without variety, a trainer will bore the client physically, mentally, emotionally, and psychologically. The client signs up ready to make changes and is usually on fire to do so. In order for a trainer to have repeat business, he or she needs to keep that fire going inside the client.
I feel these seven steps that I have used personally, can help build a financially solid personal training business for others wanting to get into this profession or others already in. Even a trainer with an existing business can follow these seven steps and improve upon the ways he or she does business. Being a certified personal trainer has been so rewarding. It is a profession that helps me feel good about helping people make positive changes in their lives.