Daniel  J. Green by Daniel J. Green

Client acquisition can feel like a daunting task, especially if you are new to the health and fitness industry. Many new pros struggle with the process of selling themselves and defining what they have to offer that differentiates them from the competition. After all, you likely didn’t get into this line of work to become a salesperson—you want to hit the ground running and help people start exercising. But, in order to do that, you need people to seek you out and make the decision to pay you for your services. 

Here are four strategies you can use to attract new clients to you or your business. To read more about each of these client acquisition strategies, and several more, check out Top 10 Ways to Attract New Clients. 

  1. Maximize your impact on social media. Spend time learning what social media networks your target audience uses most and then share practical content that will help them pursue their goals while also getting to know you better.  

  1. Connect with local businesses. Offer workshops and “lunch and learn” sessions that will not only provide some income, but also introduce you to a new pool of potential clients. 

  1. Feature testimonials in your marketing. Positive word of mouth is often the best form of advertising—and it’s free! Be sure to obtain written permission before featuring someone’s words or image in an ad or social media post. 

  1. Be visible in your community. Never lose sight of the fact that you are serving the community in which you live and work. So, find ways to be active in the community, and not only in ways that serve your business. Volunteering in community projects or joining the local chamber of commerce are great ways to become more visible to those people you are hoping to serve. 

Of course, attracting new clients is not the end of the story. It will be your ability to retain clients that will determine your long-term success in the health and fitness industry. After all, it can be a lot more difficult (and costly) to find a new client than retain one you already have. The reasons clients quit may include lack of progress, a shortage of chemistry or quality communication between the client and trainer or a lack of understanding of the behavior-change journey.  

To avoid that fate, consider the following client-retention strategies:  

  1. Establish multiple ways to monitor progress. Too many clients (and new pros) focus on a single number—the one on the bathroom scale. In reality, there are countless ways to monitor progress, from circumference measurements and body-fat percentage to how the person feels following a day on the hiking trails or playing pick-up basketball. The key is to work together with your client to choose methods that are meaningful and connect to the person’s values and lifestyle. 

  1. Be collaborative. Collaboration is vital during every stage of the client–personal trainer relationship, from setting SMART goals to program design. Never lose sight of the fact that the client should take the lead every step of the way. You are there to support, not direct. 

  1. Be honest about the fact that progress is rarely linear. The behavior-change journey is complex and often features plenty of stops and starts along the way. Be realistic with clients when setting goals and work with them to anticipate and overcome obstacles. 

  1. Revisit goals early and often. Many pros make the mistake of talking about goals early in the client–personal trainer relationship, but then fail to follow up or use those goals to motivate their clients and inspire long-term adherence. Measuring and celebrating progress can often help a client get the motivation they need to climb off a plateau, set new goals and keep working with you 

  1. Consider all elements of health and wellness. Taking a more holistic approach can introduce topics that clients may not have been considering when they walked through the facility doors and made the decision to work with you. Things like sleep quality, stress management and even overall happiness are elements of wellness that can be positively impacted by physical activity and improved nutrition. You might even want to add these to the list of things you monitor and revisit in later sessions. 

There are countless ways to succeed with client acquisition and retention, and this blog has only scratched the surface. After all, every client and potential client brings with them a unique set of expectations, goals, values and needs. The challenge lies in personalizing your approach in a collaborative and empowering way that delivers results and makes working with you a fun and rewarding experience. Finally, don’t be afraid to get creative when seeking ways to find a new pool of potential customers or inspire and retain the ones you have. There’s no formula for success in this industry, so be yourself and blaze your own path. 


If you’re a health club owner or hiring manager, check out this new product from ACE: Intro to Personal Training: A Career Starter Course. This course will help you onboard new team members with evidence-based personal training knowledge in as little as two weeks. They’ll also have access to two ACE-exclusive career-building resources: ACE Pro Connect and ACE Pro Compass. 


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