Hard Gym Truth: If You Can’t Sell Them, You Can’t Save Them

An artist's illustration of a shopping cart with an orange life ring inside it.

The first real coaching tip you ever give someone is “sign up.”

If they don’t register for your coaching program or buy your membership, you can’t help them.

For the first several years of gym ownership, I didn’t understand this.

I thought salespeople were slimy tricksters out to make a quick buck. I hated the smoke-and-mirrors approach of most people in the fitness industry. I thought asking someone in plain language to sign up for my gym meant I was no better than the “membership coordinator” at the globo gym who locked people into memberships they’d never use.

In fact, my sales pitch used to be this:

“Well, I’m not a salesperson. You can trust me.”

And then I’d pretend to be indifferent about whether the person signed up or not. I’d often encourage people to take their time, think it over and call me if they were interested.

That’s because I viewed “sales” as a necessary evil instead of my first act of service to a new client.

Here’s the truth: If they’ve carved time out of their day, driven across town, given themselves a pep talk to get out of the car, walked in your front door and introduced themselves, they want to sign up.

Your job is to make that signup as easy and painless as possible.

That means you don’t need to give them a tour. They’re not making a decision based on what equipment you have—because they don’t know what they need.

You don’t have to give them your schedule—because they’re not making a purchase based on their schedule. They’re buying the solution to their problem.

You don’t have to tell them every pricing option—because they don’t know what they need. They’ll default to the cheapest option if they don’t understand your value.

You don’t have to tell them your life story—because that won’t solve their problem.

You don’t even have to let them “try a workout”—because they have no idea if that workout will solve their problem. In fact, if they don’t have a strong exercise history, the workout is more likely to turn them off.

Getting a person to sign up is your first act of service.

It’s your first act of coaching.

If you can’t sell them, you can’t save them.

You’re not a good coach until you can get people to sign up.

When Great Coaches Can’t Sell

This is the reason most coaches leave the industry: They focus on reading scientific studies and acquiring credentials but never work on their sales process. Most people never discover how amazing they really are because they don’t sign up.

This was a hard lesson for me—a person who literally used to advertise “no sales pitch! I promise!” in every blog post and email. I actually did this in my paid ads, too. Even while I was broke and absolutely desperate for people to sign up, I didn’t want to commit “the sin of selling them.”

What cured me? A client who later became the first GM of Catalyst. Her name was Melanie.

She came in after spending a year overseas, finding CrossFit and loving it.

I said, “Well, I’m not a salesperson, but … .”

She said, “Well, I’m going to join, so this is going to be a short conversation. Tell me how to give you money.”

I put away my binder of graphs and my 30-minute speech about constantly varied functional movement and said, “Uh, voided check or Visa card?”

“Visa,” she said. “I don’t have checks yet.”

Then I told her about on-ramp.

“Sounds good. My coach over in Dubai told me I need to improve my squatting,” she said.

She paid, we booked her first on-ramp session, and she joined the gym.

The Simple Way to Serve Clients and Sell

Here’s the six-step process to selling the right way:

1. Book people into intro appointments (in Two-Brain we call them No Sweat Intros or NSIs, but you can use “free consultations” or anything you like. Just don’t jump straight into a tour or trial workout).

2. At the NSI, ask some basic questions (we go through these in detail with mentorship clients).

3. Make the best prescription for them. Show them the price.

4. If it doesn’t fit their budget or schedule, downshift your prescription to match—but know that they will probably ascend to your original prescription within a few months. (Remember: Your general programming, group-class option is your discount option. That was hard for me to grasp.)

5. Book their first Goal Review Session to occur within the first 90 days.

6. At that session, upgrade their prescription to ensure they’re getting optimal results.

This process is simple—but your clients want simple. It’s also fast—but your clients want speed, too. And it works because your leads want to sign up. They’re not yours to close; they’re yours to lose.

Coach them to the right decision, then start coaching them to change their lives.


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.