11 Steps to Securing Your First Personal Training Clients

You’ve aced your Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training. You’ve registered with UAE REPs. You’ve found a PT job or set yourself up as a PT freelancer. You’re fitter and healthier than ever before. You’re ready to smash your clients’ fitness and life goals… but you’ve got no clients to work with!

Whether you’re working as a freelance PT or in a gym, securing your first personal training clients can be a big hurdle. But don’t be disheartened if they don’t come quickly: personal training is ALL about the relationships, and these don’t grow overnight. Here are Empiric’s top tips on making the right connections to win those all-important first clients…

1. Get out there

The more people you meet, the more likely you are to find someone who’s looking for a trainer, so get out there! Cara Standley, Empiric’s MD, recalls, “when I went freelance, I used to go to the opening of an envelope. I appeared everywhere in the local area: I would offer free talks at slimming clubs, mum’s groups, prenatal gatherings – you name it, I went. It was a great way to meet people that I wouldn’t normally come into contact with.”

2. Cast a wide net

Fiona Brown, Empiric tutor and Health & Wellness Director for Aikaro Consultancy, took a different but equally effective tactic: “The main way which I gained personal training clients was through teaching group classes. You get great exposure to big groups of people this way. Members get to know you, become comfortable with you and then want to work with you for personal training.”

3. Be at home on the gym floor

In our article on Walking the Floor, we discovered that there is no quicker way to win clients. One hour of floor walking will give you more exposure to potential clients than an induction of the same time, so make every minute count when you’re walking the floor. If you haven’t already read our feature, it’s a good place to start.

4. Socialise your life

Building a successful personal training business doesn’t have to be all work and no play, as our tutor, Nicky Holland, explains: “Many of my clients have some through referrals, for example, meeting someone at a dinner party who then goes on to refer to me to a friend. Having a good social life is important for business! Team sports are another great way to win clients. Playing for a football team here in Dubai has led to me personal training other members of the team, and their wives and girlfriends.”

5. Work on Brand “You”

To be successful in the UAE’s competitive fitness market, you need to stand out. Whether you know it or not, you are your own brand, so work on making it a strong one. It’s not about having a cool name, catchy slogan or funky logo – a brand starts with values: what do you want to be known for? Fun? Intensity? Inclusivity? Being a skilled all-rounder? Or an expert in a couple of areas? Be sure to put your brand values into action every time you work with a client.

6. Find a USP

Make your personal training stand out by offering something different – a unique selling point (or USP). For some trainers it’s simply their personality, for others it’s an unusual training approach (like Empiric tutor Will’s unique beasting sessions), while for others it’s an outstanding track record. But as a newly qualified personal trainer, developing additional skill can be a great way to mark yourself out as different. Look for fun or unusual skills-based courses, like kettlebells training, foam rolling or suspension training, which complement your training style and get certified in this area so that you can market your skills legitimately and train new clients with confidence.

7. Maintain yourself inside

“To make it in fitness, you have to manage your time. Plan and prepare your days in advance, and don’t forget to make time for yourself.” Wise words from seasoned PT and Empiric Assessor, Rick Johnson, because if you’re not running at your best, it’s going to show in your results.

8. …and out!

Whatever fitness services you’re offering, you are the main advert for them. So be the best advert you can be. Make time for your own wellbeing, and make time for your own training. Choose whether to maximise your client availability and train yourself during downtimes between clients, or train alongside potential clients in the gym during peak times. As you train alongside others, interact with them, help them, build a rapport with them. Even if they are not looking for a personal trainer themself, they might know someone who is.

9. Build a captive audience

Social media, particularly Instagram, can a great way to tell large numbers of people about your personal training skills. A great social media profile can be a huge asset to your personal training business, as it keeps you in the minds of clients and potential clients. But make sure your posts reflect your brand and adds value to people’s lives: “Use your posts to teach something or share useful information — don’t just post topless selfies of you hitting PBs” is the advice from Charlotte Stebbing, Empiric tutor, author and Founder of Kaizen Life Spark.

10. Don’t be afraid of “no”

Rejection is part of the deal when you’re asking for business, and it can be be hard to cope with when you’re just starting out. But it’s part and parcel of being a gym trainer, so don’t take it to heart. As you become more experienced, you’ll work out your ratio of nos to yeses, and will come to see that it’s all part of the process. And just because someone says “no” now, they may turn into a “yes” one day.

11. Give yourself time

Success in the fitness industry doesn’t come overnight, so don’t be hard on yourself and give it time. With a clear vision of your brand, focus on what you want to achieve and commitment to putting in the time and effort to get there, you’ll win your first five clients and have laid the groundwork for many many more.

Find out how to become a gym trainer, watch our Personal Trainer Business video series.