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HFE instructor guides student through a deadlift.
HFE instructor guides student through a deadlift.

Attracting and retaining more personal training clients

6 minute read

Mastering the art of attracting and retaining more clients in your personal training business.

If you’ve decided to become a personal trainer, then it’s only natural that you start to wonder – how and where you will find your future clients? This is a common question we’re asked by people thinking about taking one of our personal training courses, which is why we’ve decided to feature this in an article.

Most PT qualifications have some content on business and marketing, although very often, this is quite formal and focuses on things like business plans, cash flow statements and swot analyses. In reality, none of these things are likely to get you more PT clients, let alone help you retain them.

In this brief article, we’ll address two core objectives; how to attract more clients, and how to keep them!

Qualified personal trainer instructing client with a tablet device

Attracting personal training clients?

First and foremost, you’ll note from the title that we’re talking about ‘attracting’ new clients and not ‘getting’ them. This is a really important distinction to grasp if you want to become a successful PT because you are your business – there’s no product – just you!

So, if clients aren’t naturally drawn to you and they don’t feel that instant spark and connection, it doesn’t matter how good your business plan is or how strong you can deliver a sales pitch, you’ll have to work so much harder to find them. As a result, your people skills are absolutely imperative as a personal trainer.

To attract more clients, you have to become an attractive person. Obviously, we’re not talking about physical attraction here – we’re talking about professional, social and emotional attraction.

Clients and potential clients will need to feel that you are truly are genuinely interested in helping them if there’s any chance of them wanting to work with you – they need to want it, even if they don’t know why! So, you’ll need to be warm, welcoming and non-judgemental all the time, not just when you’re on duty.

As a personal trainer on the gym floor, you’re like a goldfish in a bowl – everyone can see you, even if you can’t see them! Those minor lapses in professionalism, no matter how small and minor you think they are, can without a doubt cost you your future client base.

Whether it’s sending a sneaky text while training a client, complaining to colleague about your boss, or advertising the fact that you’re tired and overworked, these things will put people off wanting to work with you because you’ll lose their trust. As a personal trainer, trust and credibility are everything.

qualified personal trainer holding a kettlebell

What we mean by credibility

Credibility is about having your clients believe that you have the technical expertise and knowledge to help them achieve their goals and ambitions. To be credible, you need a level of skill and proficiency that positions you as an expert, because clients won’t want a second-rate trainer any more than they’d want a second-rate doctor if they were sick.

Clients need certainty that their trainer knows what will deliver results for them and what won’t. This is why you can’t afford to compromise when it comes to your personal training education, because becoming a successful personal trainer is so much more than just getting a certificate and feeling like a rep counter!

Two simple steps to success

It would be easy for us to provide a list of A, B, C techniques that you can follow to get more clients. In reality however, these manipulation strategies don’t generally work in the long term – you’ll go through clients like there’s no tomorrow, until eventually, there’s nobody left in the gym to train.

All success comes from passion. I'm passionate about sharing my knowledge of the industry, sport, exercise and nutrition with all my clients which is why I've been successful. As a trainer, it's vital that you are passionate, and that you use that passion to drive yourself and your clients forward to achieve great things. Matt RobertsCelebrity Personal Trainer

Matt Roberts is a renowned celebrity personal trainer and content creator for HFE


If you really want to succeed as a PT, then you should aim to become so attractive to potential clients that they are queuing up to work with you. The best way to achieve this is as follows:

1. Develop a rich and comprehensive knowledge

Develop your understanding of anatomy, physiology, diet, nutrition, exercise programming techniques. Commit to an hour of ongoing study and development per day so that you become a subject specialist and expert in your field. When people hear you speaking about exercise and fitness training, they’ll instantly start to take note of you.

2. Hold yourself to a high professional standard

Don’t compromise these standards for anyone. Be warm, welcoming and curious about everyone in the gym, not just your own clients. Be willing to help people, whether they are paying you or not. Instead of hanging out with your colleagues on the gym desk, walk the floor and look for opportunities to help others, without trying to sell your PT services or expectation of a referral or reward.

Marketing is ultimately about positive influence. Your future clients will be positively influenced when they see with their own eyes that you are a technical expert and subject specialist that is genuine, friendly and passionate about helping others. People will trust what they see with their own eyes far more than anything they read on a leaflet, social media page or website.

Personal trainer assisting client with barbell

Keeping your personal training clients

They say in business that ‘it’s much easier and cheaper to retain customers than it is to find new ones’ – we believe this is a philosophy personal trainers should subscribe to when starting a personal training business.

In a gym or health club environment, your target audience is usually limited by the membership base of the club. So, if your focus is only on attracting new clients, then it’s logical that at some point in the future, you’re going to start to run out of potential clients. As a result, keeping hold of those you already have can be crucial to success.

It might interest you to know that the same success formula applies to keeping clients as it does to attracting them:

1. Meet your client’s needs

First and foremost, you still need to be able to meet their needs with regards to your technical knowledge and skills. After all, if you can’t create engaging training programmes that work, it doesn’t matter how nice you are – you’ll likely find that your clients will move on!

2. The Law of Familiarity

Your clients still need to feel valued and important, so you need to be aware of the Law of Familiarity. This Law states that ‘when you are around something enough, you start to take it just a little bit for granted’.

You could be late for a session or two, or you might start to share your personal problems with your client. Maybe you just stop going the extra mile for your clients, because you start to think that they are your friend rather than a client paying for a service. This happens all too often to PTs, and sure enough, they start to lose their client base.

If you can master the art of attracting clients rather than trying to chase them, you’ll never have to go and find another new client again, because you’ll have a waiting list as long your arm. It’s essential that you stay grounded, stay curious about your clients, and above all, stay focused on serving their needs. If you can do this, then a rich and rewarding career in personal training awaits you.

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