The “Free Trial” Is Over

In the last week, two separate gym “authorities” have told me – an actual owner of actual gyms – that a “free trial” is the best way to take in new clients.

What do these guys have in common? Two things: they’ve been doing CrossFit for a LONG time; and they’ve never owned a gym.

Ten years ago, a ‘free trial’ was a great entry point. Early adopters to CrossFit, novelty-seekers, and gym-hoppers just wanted to dip their toes into functional fitness. They had already jumped through several hoops:

  • they had decided they needed to exercise,and were probably already exercising;
  • they were bored with their current routine;
  • they were adventurous enough to try something they knew nothing about;
  • they had already done background “research” on CrossFit (they were pretty much sold when they walked in the door).

And all those people DID a free trial. It was enough. Now it’s not.
In 2017, a “free trial class” – or even a “free trial personal training session” – is no longer the best way to build a long-term clientele. Here’s why:

  • We’re now into the third tier of client engagement with a new idea (the “Late Majority”.) They have preconceptions about CrossFit, but probably haven’t done thorough research.
  • They’re less fit than the early adopters will. A ‘free trial’ workout is more likely to discourage them than encourage them.
  • A ‘free trial’ doesn’t show they how you’re going to solve their problem. You’re overweight? Let’s make you throw up!

Think about this: how did you choose your dentist/lawyer/accountant/wedding planner/tshirt printer? Through a “free trial”, or through a consultation?
We’ve been tracking data for hundreds of gyms for years. The best way to meet a new client, help them plan their training, sign them up and keep them is the No-Sweat Intro. We even have data on the name!
Mentoring clients get the full script, and training for themselves and their staff. They have the philosophy of the Prescriptive Model drilled into them until they’re rolling their eyes. It’s a big deal. We’re not just guessing about this. Here’s the rough overview:
Start with this: Invite people in to talk before they do anything else.
Ask for their story – the WHOLE THING. Listen. Write down the stuff that’s important to them.

Measure what THEY want measured (tip: no one, in 21 years, has ever told me, “I want to move better.” Think twice about using a movement screen here.)

Make a recommendation, based on what the client wants — not what you like — and then schedule a followup visit.

Start the client’s path to fitness. This MIGHT include training in a group, but could just as easily be personal training or nutrition coaching or anything else you offer.

Reinforce the client’s journey – heavily at first. Overpraise in person. Call them according to the Bright Spots strategy.

Three months later, review their progress. In person. Don’t run a “goal-setting seminar” – they already have goals.
You’re in the relationship business. Your service products – bootcamps, CrossFit, challenges – will come and go. But your relationship as their coach should supersede ANY of these.
Groups don’t have goals.
Your clients do.
Kill the ‘free trial class’. Stop handing out samples. Start coaching people.
Is this something different from what you’re currently doing? My friend, it’s the tip of the iceberg. RampUp gives you all the tools–including the “No Sweat Intro”–you need to build a 30-year business.


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.