Determine The Venue
If you work for a commercial health club, this decision is already made for you - you'll meet your prospective client in a room or area designated for this purpose. Ideally, this should be a clean, neat, quiet room, free from noise and distractions.
If you work independently, you should set up an area where you'll meet your new client. I have a 2-car garage completely renovated into a gym, complete with all the equipment I need to properly train my clients. I normally will meet prospects there, so that they can see that mine is a solid and reputable operation. The walls of my gym are replete with framed certifications, college degrees, and autographed photos of several well-known athletes I've worked with.
Consider Your Appearance
The way you dress and groom yourself is absolutely critical, and few people know how to do it properly. While there is room for a diverse array of personal styles, you should look like someone who teaches exercise, not a fashion model, pimp, or homeless person.
Regarding proper attire, a colleague of mine once summed up the situation nicely: the less skin you show, the better. Basically, it boils down to a pair of nylon/cotton pants or shorts, with either a polo or higher-grade "T" shirt, and clean shoes. If you convey even the slightest sense of "sloppiness," your prospective client begins to doubt your worth, usually on a subconscious level, but it does set up the wrong tone.
On the other hand, excessive attention to appearance marks you as someone who pays more attention to self than to the client. Avoid strong perfumes or colognes, minimize piercings, and cover tattoos when possible. Lest you think I am terribly "un-hip," all I can say is no one will object to the absence of a tattoo, but some will object to a tattoo.
Once your client has gotten to know you, it won't be as much of an issue.
Know Your Objective
Before the initial meeting is over, one thing must happen in order to progress to a second meeting: they must commit to a period of training (I suggest a minimum of one month). This won't happen unless your prospect is convinced that you are knowledgeable and effective, and that you are worth the price you charge.
When I interview a new prospect, my goal is to find out what they want (through careful listening), determine if I can provide it, and if so, quickly impress upon that person that I have the fastest and safest route to their goal.
When I feel that my prospect is maximally convinced, I explain my fees, the minimum time frame they must commit to, and then I shut up and wait for their reaction.
While the overcoming of objections is a science unto itself, the goal is to sign your prospect up. If you can't make this happen, the prospect should leave the meeting with something to take home - your card or brochure, for example. The more the better. A common strategy in martial arts schools is to give a free Gi (uniform) when someone signs up for, let's say, a month of lessons. This way, if the student quits after two weeks, they have that uniform staring at them in their closet every day, and it reminds them of the martial arts lessons. With a bit of imagination, you can apply this strategy to your business.
Neat Tip of the Week
Before I close, let me share a unique marketing idea I recently came across: Omega Pacific offers a program where they laser-engrave your logo, phone number, etc. (you provide them with the image to be scanned), onto a custom colored aluminum carabiner (those clips that mountain climbers use that have become en vogue to use as keychains).
These carabiners can then be used in place of a business card, and as mentioned can be used as a keychain, etc. These are a bit expensive, running several dollars each, so I only use them in situations where the prospect might be very important to me. But let me assure you, when you hand one of these to someone in place of a card, it makes an impact.
Those interested in the custom carabiners can visit www.omegapac.com for more information.