The biggest mistakes personal trainers make! And no, it’s not dressing like Richard Simmons or forgetting to talk about protein every twenty minutes. Let’s back up a bit though, why did you become a personal trainer?
Maybe personal training seemed like a natural career move since you’ve always been good at working out. Perhaps you have an impressive transformation story. Naturally you can’t wait to show the world how they too can change their lives through fitness. Or maybe you were just drawn to the glorious “make your own schedule and be super ripped all the time” lifestyle that personal trainers seem to have. At least, the ones on the internet.
Whatever your reasons for becoming a personal trainer are, in this post we’re going to go over the biggest mistakes personal trainers make. The ones that keep them from standing out, growing their business, and actually providing value to their clients.
You Think Clients Will Come to You
LOL. Don’t get me wrong, it does happen. But definitely not frequently enough for you to do nothing but lean up on the supplement display rack at the gym and expect your clientele to grow. You won’t make a living doing that, no matter how good you look or how much you know.
Pro tip: If you want more clients, don’t just come in to the gym for your specific training hours. Hang out. Be seen. Offer value. Work out at the gym you work at. Answer questions when asked.
Full disclosure, most clients are scared to approach personal trainers. This is for a variety of reasons: they don’t like feeling sold, even if they know they need help. They’re scared of how much it will cost and getting locked into a contract. They think all personal trainers are like drill instructors or Jillian Michaels on crack and who wouldn’t be scared of either of those scenarios?
My favorite reason why people don’t approach personal trainers is that “they want to get in a little better shape before hiring a trainer”. This is an objection that you will hear a lot when trying to close a client. Literally, that’s like trying to stop coughing as much before going to the doctor to treat your pneumonia, but, whatever. That’s another reason why you need to be good at closing.
You Don’t Like Selling
Guess what? Freaking bummer- you’re in sales now, whether you like it or not. So stop telling yourself you hate it, and embrace it. I guarantee that the only reasons you “don’t like” selling is because other people tell you it sucks. In reality though, they just have no idea what they’re doing, and neither do you. That makes rejection sting extra because you don’t know what you did wrong. This is the biggest mistake personal trainers make.
So when someone tells you that they have to “ask their spouse” or they “can’t afford it” or they’ll “think about it”, you freeze and let it go. IF you even make it far enough to ask them to train in the first place. Sales is not rocket science, but it is science, and numbers, and a skill and it. Takes. Practice.
If you want a booming business and to make 5+ figures a month, you need a pipeline full of potential clients. You want to be picky about who you train? You need the tools to sell the people you want. If you want a prayer of hitting bonuses, not just quotas, you have to be able to close deals!
Even after the deal is closed, you’re still selling! You have to convince your clients to keep buying more sessions, and to stay committed to the program. (Because no matter what your gym manager tells you, the client can always back out and you lose your commission and sessions).
You Don’t Go Above and Beyond
If all you’re offering your client is one hour of cable kickbacks and chest flyes, you’re losing out on massive opportunities. Remember, you’re still selling them on resigning with you later on down the road. You don’t get to check out because they bought once. Repeat business is big business- that’s how you get momentum.
If you know your stuff, you have TONS of additional value to give you client that literally costs you nothing extra. Teach them how to set up MyFitnessPal, or where to get the hookups on gear. Text them links to recipes that you’ve tried. Shout them out on social media (if they’re cool with that- always check first). Give them mad tips on how to order healthier options at their favorite restaurants, whatever.
These are the things that make you invaluable as a trainer. You can drop them in to common conversation, or with a quick text afterwards. BUT, if you say you’re going to do something for them on your own time, FOLLOW THROUGH. Yeah, it’s above and beyond, but be reliable. Keep your word.
You Don’t Market Additional Resources
Tying in to the above: if you’re worth your salt, you have TONS of additional value to give. Vale that is easy to turn into additional resources and market online. I’m not going to get into the weeds on these topics in this post, but here are a few stupid-easy ideas to make extra side cash. Ideas that, once you create them, will make you money in your sleep. Here are a few:
- Downloadable training programs or meal plans
- Downloadable freebies to grow your email list
- Create a Facebook Support group to grow your audience
- Start a blog and monetize it
- Launch a YouTube Channel
- Offer an online training platform
Be sure to check out these 10 ways that you can make serious money with fitness. As far as taking your training platform online, I will do an in-depth review of the service that I have been using for the past year, but in summary, I do 10/10 recommend Trainerize as a very user-friendly software platform for training clients around the globe.
Again, I’ll go over all of these in detail in different blog posts, so stay tuned. It is very rare that a personal trainer makes enough to live on inside of the gym alone, especially in the convenience and information driven society that we live in. And, ultimately, you probably want to stop trading all of your time for money. Or you will, as soon as you realize that getting to make your own schedule and come and go as you please is also totally a myth.
You Give Way Too Much for Free
So this can be a fine line- you want to give as much value as you possibly can, but you also must know the value of your time. If you give away sessions for free to try to incentivize someone to buy, you’re basically telling them that you have too much time on your hands because you don’t have enough clients- which is detrimental to your credibility.
Now- you can offer to throw in a free session if they buy a package of training sessions, or I always liked to throw in one or two freebies for people who re-signed, out of appreciation, because ultimately I am still making the same amount of money.
Or, you can offer one of the value resources you created above: a downloadable meal plan (that you sell to other people online, but offer to your in-person clients for free), or free macro coaching, whatever.
Another idea that worked well for me (I trained at a high-end sports club where lots of the members were business men/women and traveled a lot, so did not see the point in personal training if they were always losing progress while they were gone) was to offer free access to my online training platform. That way, I could throw workouts onto their account that they could access via an app on the go, and be ready to keep training with me when they got back, using the sessions that they had bought.
Where to Start
First of all, and most important, you need to learn to sell. When I transitioned out of the Marine Corps and got my first job as a personal trainer, I would literally listen to books on sales and closing in the car, back and forth during my twenty minute drive, every, single, day.
I closed ten thousand dollars my first month on the job, won the top three sales associate of the year before I was even allowed to sell the full priced products, and achieved a promotion that doubled my session rate (and take home pay) within my first year as a trainer. I also started my own training and nutrition company (what you know as Victoriam Performance) and grew it to six figures within the first year of business.
So yeah, you need to learn to sell. These are the resources I recommend:
Why I recommend Grant Cardone? Because he built a half a billion dollar empire from nothing using these sales tactics, and then ironically from selling these sales tactics. When I see someone with something I want, I tend to try to do what they did.
Get Around Winners
You also need to start getting your brain wrapped around the concepts of success, what that looks like and what it takes to get there. If you don’t get around other people, you’re just going to be in your head, and you’re about 1000x more likely to give up when it gets hard.
I recommend joining a mastermind group or creating your own. (You can join mine here.) Also definitely check out the Ed Mylett Show podcast, as well as the MFCEO Project podcast for the literal keys to the kingdom on all things business.
Finally, here are a couple more books that I 10/10 recommend, because the more you’re able to relate to others and find solution through other’s stories, the faster you will grow, and these are truly amazing. And I do recommend getting the physical copies, so that you can underline and return to them later. I have read each of these 2-3 times and still refer back to them frequently.
That’s All Folks
That’s all for this post, but be sure to check out the linked posts above if you don’t know where to get started with marketing yourself online. If you decide to step into that world, I guarantee that you will have a TON of specific questions, so I can not recommend enough that you embed yourself into a mastermind group of other grown minded individuals as quickly as possible, because someone else has already done what you are trying to do.