Standing out as a fitness professional can feel overwhelming; the fitness industry is a very popular market.
However, having a strong marketing strategy will help you find success as a new personal trainer in a saturated industry.
I’ve compiled a list of tried and true marketing strategies from personal training experts to give you a leg-up promoting your business!
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Video is Key for Personal Trainers.
Many personal trainers share content with videos. The nature of exercise requires guidance and a lot of people are visual learners. While you can create video content for purchase, your marketing strategy as a fitness guru needs to include some free videos as well.
Videos are a way for you to establish trust with your audience. Providing a face behind your brand reveals who you are as a personal trainer and will help customers trust your business. You’re in a trade where people will aspire to have a similar physique to your own, so it’s also important to show off that you know how to effectively work out with your own personal results.
Use video as an opportunity to show off your unique personality — while you may think you need to behave a certain way, there’s not a single personal trainer who is meant for everyone. Some people want a boot camp-style personality in a personal trainer because they thrive when a coach is aggressive and shouts. Others may want a personal trainer who is friendly and encouraging because they don’t respond well to shouting.
If you’re more of a go-with-the-flow personality, you’ll find a lot of people who prefer that in a personal trainer. Don’t overthink this — it’s better to be yourself and attract the clients that are a good match with your training personality.
Local businesses are your best friends.
Though you may be a one-man show, teamwork makes the dream work. Partnering with local businesses to network and create a referral program is a great way to market your business.
For instance, you may consider visiting a local athletic shop to introduce yourself and talk about cross-promotions. You could recommend clients to that store when you make athletic apparel recommendations, and that store could share your business card with clients when they make a purchase.
Another way to get referrals is by visiting local businesses as a customer. You could visit a chiropractor, or if you already have one, tell them about your small business. Mention that you could cross-promote when it seems right and natural.
For instance, if you’re working with someone who has back pain, you could say you know a great chiropractor. And if the chiropractor has a patient who says they want to start exercising, your business would naturally fit in the conversation as a recommendation.
Otherwise, you wouldn’t refer a client to your chiropractor if they don’t need to see a chiropractor. It’s important to remember that referrals shouldn’t be forced on someone. Let the referral occur naturally in conversations!
Free Pop-Up Events Are Fun & GREAT Promotion.
The best way to show potential clients what you can do is to show them for free. Hosting a pop-up exercise class is a great way to show people your skill set as a personal trainer and give them a sample of your workouts.
Find a nice venue, such as a cool brewery or a rooftop bar/restaurant, and invite people for a free workout followed by light snacks and drinks (if offering food and beverages fits in your budget). You could also put together goodie bags with your brand’s logo on merchandise along with your business card.
If you do this, make sure you have the right equipment, inform clients how to dress appropriately and say what they need to bring. For example, if you wanted to lead a 45-minute class in a restaurant, tell clients they need to bring a yoga mat, towel, and water. Also mention that they need to wear loose, comfortable exercise clothes along with running or training sneakers.
Also remember this: People love getting free stuff and to be invited to exclusive events. If you can offer strong incentives and make customers feel special, you’ll likely get their support.
Discounted Package Deals Motivate Customers.
When you’re starting out as a personal trainer, you need to incentivize people to invest in your business. Running a promotional package deal is a great way to do that.
Say you currently offer a 10-class pack for $180; you could offer it for 20% off with new clients. Or you could create a special package for new clients that’s an introductory month of unlimited sessions for a $300 fixed price. Get creative and think about what would make YOU want to sign up with a personal trainer.
Some gyms offer seasonal packages, or if they’re a new facility, they offer a pre-opening special deal. You can do the same thing with your personal training services.
This doesn’t mean that everything needs to be discounted. You don’t want to offer too many discounts, as that will negatively impact your finances. Plus, if you always offer a discount, people may think that they can get a discount at any time and delay purchasing your services.
Make it clear that customers have only a short window of time to take advantage of the discounted offer, with the exception of the deal you create for first-time customers.
Free Quality Content & Sessions Can Get People in Your Door.
You’ve likely seen personal trainers use YouTube to upload free workouts or exercise Q&A’s. By providing free content, such as a video, you help establish trust with your followers and motivate people to spend money on your services.
Video isn’t the only channel for free content that you should use. In addition to video, create a website and blog page. Even if writing isn’t your favorite thing, it’s still important to offer additional free material. It’s an opportunity to show off your knowledge and assure your potential clients that your method is safe, that you’re an expert, and that they can also feel empowered with deeper exercise knowledge.
The “freebies” don’t end there — you should also think about offering one free session to prospective customers. This will help them experience your services and feel more at ease when it comes to buying training sessions from you.
Testimonials validate your business.
Once you have a website or social media page up and running, it’s important to start collecting testimonials from clients. People love to see “before-and-after” photos of someone’s fitness journey, so collecting those from your clients is important. If you haven’t yet acquired any clients, use before-and-after photos of your own personal fitness journey.
You can also ask your clients to write a testimonial to post on your website — the length of it doesn’t really matter, especially if you’re able to post pictures of their progress. Make sure you post testimonials on any web page you direct people to — whether it’s a website, an Instagram page, or a Facebook business page.
”Fitspiration” on social media is a marketing hotspot.
Many “fitspiration” accounts are created on social media every day, and it’s a good way to research clients. Let’s say you research “fitspiration” or “fitness” hashtags (on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook) and come across a woman named Lindsey who is sharing her weight loss journey through her page. She has a strong following of people asking her questions daily or telling her that she is motivating them on their own fitness journeys. You could then follow those people (and Lindsey) so that they see your brand and possibly follow you in return.
When you research hashtags, you’ll come across thousands of users who may fit your target audience. As you build a strong social media following, you’ll get your brand out to more people who may be interested in purchasing your services.
Make sure you’re also researching customers in your local area on social media, as they are more likely to sign up for in-person sessions than someone farther away.
This also ties into learning more about your customer. Knowing your customer is a huge step in marketing. When researching, look for the basic information about your average customer, including:
You can get more specific with your customer research, but the above characteristics will tell you a lot about how you should approach your marketing, as well as the places where you’re more likely to find customers.
Your Outfit Is Part of Your Marketing Strategy.
As a personal trainer, you need to be more than just a fitness guru — you need to stand out as a professional. Though there are moments when you can show off your physique with tight shirts and leggings, more often than not you need to dress up as you would expect an executive in any other field.
This is important when you walk into a gym and are looking to attract new clients. If you’re dressed in athleisure that any other gym member could be wearing, you won’t stand out. Dress like a professional — it’s common to see personal trainers wearing a collared shirt and nice, comfortable pants with clean sneakers.
When you make the extra effort to look good, potential clients will view you as important. Also, make sure you wear a nametag — this helps to identify you as a fitness professional in the gym.
There are other ways to market a new small business, but these strategies are specific to personal training and should give you a strong start. You’ll have to consider other methods of marketing eventually -- especially as your business grows and you consider how to use. Some may include advertising your name at a local gym (or asking to be a personal trainer at a gym once you are more established) and attending fitness conferences. For more guidance on marketing, check out this other article here.
When she’s not writing for SB, Pauline runs an intuitive healing business... and is still writing as she types up psychic readings! As she was raised by entrepreneurs, she knows what it takes to be a small business owner.
Pauline writes on a number of topics such as small business owner resources, marketing, and customer service and retention.
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