Building Your Personal Training Business: How to Market

A young woman pointing at a sign - how to market

By Joleen Bingham, Certified Two-Brain Fitness Business Mentor

You’ve created your personal training membership options and hired the perfect trainer—so how do you get more clients? 


But that doesn’t mean you have to jump right into paid marketing. Check it out:

An infographic showing the process of sales to current clients, through email lists and with paid marketing.

Affinity Marketing is the most powerful strategy to grow any personal training business: Instead of advertising to “cold leads,” we use referrals to connect with warm and even hot leads who already know, like and trust us to a degree. But instead of waiting for referrals to happen, you use Affinity Marketing to make the process very active.

Below you’ll find some of the strategies we used at 13 Stripes Fitness. They didn’t cost anything but time, and the return was substantial: In 18 months, we went from zero PT clients to the point where over 50 percent of our monthly recurring revenue comes from personal training.

1. Practice Asking

To make the marketing process active instead of passive, we learned to ask for referrals. Our trainers got over their fear by practicing over and over again and creating scripts they could use in different situations.

2. Review Goals

We renewed our focus on Goal Review Sessions. They’ve always been part of our gym, but during COVID closures, we really focused on scheduling Goal Reviews with high-risk clients first. Many clients who are nervous in group settings or have busy schedules that don’t fit with class times made the switch to PT memberships. They’re getting what they need, and the business keeps clients who might have left if we hadn’t talked to them.

3. Find Partners

To extend our reach in the community, we created a partnership with a local physical therapist. Prior to leasing space to an in-house physical therapist, we built trust with other local therapists who began to refer clients to us as they finished treatment. 

4. Connect With Clients’ Friends

A few times a year, our trainers will offer their best clients the opportunity to bring a friend in for a session together. This often leads to two-on-one sessions or additional personal training. For more on this strategy, read “When to Give a Freebie.”

5. Listen, Listen, Listen

You must listen to your clients. If you do, you’ll find many opportunities to help the people in their lives. One of our clients recently told us that her fiancé was having back pain and had stopped working out at the local chain gym because of it. Because the coach was listening to her client, she was able to contact the fiancé and schedule him for a free consultation that week. 

If you’ve ever spent money on advertising, you know it can be tough to get someone in the door. But we had no trouble getting this person to book a No-Sweat Intro because he already had a close connection to us through his partner. That’s why Affinity Marketing is so powerful.

Paid marketing is a great tool to grow your business, and we even teach gym owners how to use it in our RampUp program. But the best way to gain long-term personal training clients is through Affinity Marketing. Some gym owners who use this technique regularly find they never need to spend money on ads!

Other Media in This Series

“Building Your Personal Training Business: The Critical First Step”
“How PT Went From 0 to 50 Percent of Monthly Recurring Revenue”
“The Absolute Best Way to Sell Personal Training”


One more thing!

Did you know gym owners can earn $100,000 a year with no more than 150 clients? We wrote a guide showing you exactly how.