How to Win at Walking the Floor

Love it or hate it, walking the floor is the best way to win clients and build the foundations of your reputation as a personal trainer. Love it (or at least learn to love it) and you will succeed!

For newly qualified personal trainers, walking the floor can be a nerve-wracking affair. Starting a conversation with a complete stranger, let alone trying to sell them PT sessions, can strike fear in the most self-assured fitpro, yet it’s an essential skill that every Level 3 PT Diploma graduate and new personal trainer needs to master if they are to build a client base. Here are 12 tips to help you become a winner on the gym floor…

1. It’s all in the approach.

Floor walking is all about relationship building. If you step out onto the gym floor thinking “sell, sell, sell”, then you’re going about it all wrong. “Give, Give, Give” is the advice from Empiric’s Hayley Bergman. “If you go out there with an attitude of “taking” from the client, they will sense your insincerity and run a mile.” Making genuine connections with people, and finding ways to help them, should be your first and foremost aims when you walk the gym floor.

2. Be confident. Be friendly. But above all be yourself.

If you’ve made it through your Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training, then you know your stuff. Your potential clients on the gym floor are on a journey, just like you. You have the skills and passion to help them get to where they want to be. It can be a win-win situation, so believe in the value of what you have to offer and don’t let niggling anxiety hold you back.

3. Learn to spot an open door.

Recognising the signs that someone is open to conversation is a valuable starting point. Someone who is looking around, moving hesitantly from one exercise to the next, or using the equipment incorrectly is going to be easier to approach than someone with their headphones in, cranking out their programme confidently.

4. Work on your opening lines.

If starting the conversation is your biggest hurdle, create a bank of opening lines and conversation starters, and rehearse them. When you step out on the gym floor, you’ll have something to say for every occasion and client, and will be able to open with confidence. Practise handling knock-backs too – you’ll need to become an expert in being rejected if you want to succeed!

5. Don’t only speak to people you know.

Speak to everyone. Don’t be the trainer who only speaks to his favourites. Being cliquey won’t win you new clients. Approachability is key!

6. Offer a free taster session.

Or even better offer a few short ones. Taster sessions are a great way to showcase your PT skills. Doing this over multiple sessions helps you build a rapport with a potential client – much more so than in a single hour.

7. Set a personal target.

Your manager will give you a target based on sales, contacts or inductions, but you should set your own target too. How many people are you going to speak to each hour that you walk the floor? Set a target and from there you’ll work out your success ratio: for example, talk to 12 people in 2 hours = book 6 taster sessions = 1 new PT client. From there, you can work on improving your conversion rate.

8. Experiment with different targeting strategies.

There are lots to choose from – NAPs, Hit & Split, the 10m Rule – your manager may even target you with one. Try them all, if you can, and find out which works best for you. The aim is to make minute on the gym floor count, so whichever approach you use, make contact with everyone early on, and let them know you’re available if they need help or just a chat.

9. Harness the power of names.

Once you know a client’s name, remember it. Use it. People like to be remembered, so welcome clients back like long-standing regulars. Even better, if you’re using the NAPs strategy, remembering their Aim and Progress will win you even more points: “Sarah, great to see you again! You were at 20kg last week weren’t you? How’s that feeling this week?”

10. Watch and learn.

Walking the floor is an art and the top PTs in your gym will make it look effortless. Watch them as they move around the gym: how do they interact? How do they open? What does their body language say? What can you put into practice yourself?

11. Be a focal point.

Once your confidence is up, take a leaf out of Empiric tutor Will Robb’s book, and draw people’s attention to you:

“When I was a new PT, if I had no inductions or some down time, I would run ab blasts on the gym floor, or take random members on a 10 minute beasting session (you can do a lot in 10mins believe me!). Or I would get some tape and mark out a square on the floor: anyone who stepped inside it, would get a 30-minute session with me, as punishment for stepping in my box.” If people see you giving your time and having fun with other gym users, they will want to get involved. Walk the floor after any activity to give people have a chance to talk to you or volunteer to give it a go themselves!

10. Build a brand.

We’re not talking about the brand of gym you work for, but your own personal brand. What do YOU stand for? What are your hallmark qualities or skills? What do you want to become know for or as? Use social media to build your brand and make sure that everything you post or share reflects your essential brand qualities.

11. Be there, even when you’re not there…

Connecting on social media or by collecting email addresses, keeps you in a potential client’s mind. Use these opportunities to add extra value. Post or email useful tips, recipes and gym advice. Then if a potential client wants help in reaching their goal, they will come to you, as you have been in their mind, inbox and news feed for weeks.

12. Appear busy!

When it comes to scheduling that all important taster session, the secret is to look like you’ve already got a full book of clients. No one wants to eat in an empty restaurant, after all! As Empiric’s Managing Director, Cara Standley explains, there are has additional benefits to this approach: “Give clients the choice of two available slots per week, even if you’re free at other times. If a client thinks you’re available all the time, they are more likely to chop and change. If they are serious, they will stick to the agreed time. Run your business like a doctor: you have certain times and dates available, and that’s the choice.”

13. And lastly… be patient.

“You may not convert straight away, so think of each conversation as progress,” advises tutor, Nicky Holland. This might be easier said than done with a manager breathing down your neck and your sales targets looming over you. But take a deep breath, re-read the above tips 1-12, and then get out there like you’ve already got a full book of clients. The sales will come, if you let them.

For more expert tips on building your Personal Training business and winning new clients, watch our Personal Trainer Business video series.