by Tyler Valencia, MS, PFT, PES
Being the new trainer at any facility is just like being the new kid at school. You feel out of the inner circle and often like a fish out of water. Depending on your personality, assimilating to the gym environment can be an easy process or take a little time. The important thing is that you do become a part of your gym culture to grow your exposure and increase your chances of signing new clients. Every trainer can attest when it comes to personal training leads, the more leads/opportunities you have to talk with potentials clients, the more chances you have to sell yourself. Often, potential clients purchase YOU, the trainer, and not the credentials listed in your profile.
Follow these tips during your first week on the job and start retaining new clients!
- Meet as many gym employees as possible.
The more employees you know within the gym you work at, the better! I can’t think of one negative aspect of befriending coworkers from the maintenance staff to the Kids Club. Personal training leads can come from any area within the gym. The obvious stops during your first week are the sales department and front desk, but meeting different departments sets the stage for you as a familiar face within the gym.
This tip could also benefit you if you are looking to go into management. Most companies that promote from within want someone that has the respect of everyone on staff, and can effectively communicate with other employees. Trying to get extra revenue from your personal training staff on closeout is much more effective when your team knows that you respect them, and are not just contacting them on the last day of the month.
- Get to know the “regulars”.
Every gym has “regulars” that are members who come at the same time on the same days. These members typically know several other members and can be a useful tool when new members join. When walking around your gym on a “floor shift” or during your workout, take some time to survey the gym and see who is coming at the times you are there. Often these members will ask for an exercise recommendation which can lead to a complimentary session.
One of the best compliments I got as a trainer was when a member who was known as the “grumpy member” thanked me for always saying hello to him. Members notice everything you do on the gym floor, which is why it is important that you are always “on” when working in the gym. If you are always in the corner on your phone or non-responsive to members, they will take notice and not want to approach you.
- Workout in your gym.
This tip was mentioned in a previous blog post about mistakes made by trainers, but it is such an important one. It’s vital that members know that you enjoy fitness and that you are personally active. If you currently workout at another gym, I would highly recommend switching up your schedule to increase your exposure at your new job. For example, if you do Crossfit and are a member of a local box but work at a 24 Hour Fitness or Equinox, maybe 1-2 days a week do a WOD (workout of the day) at the gym you are employed at. This style of exercise is very popular and it is likely that a member will see you doing your workout and ask a question or maybe even want to join. As I mentioned in the previous post, you are always “on” and what you do inside your gym can help increase your sales.
Starting out as a new trainer often includes long “floor shifts” but if members see you walking around in your work attire and then working out, they might feel inclined to approach you for a question. Since they know you work at the gym, the barrier that exists might already be broken down and they might feel comfortable asking for advice.
- Train a friend or coworker.
One of the best forms of advertisement for a trainer is when they are training their clients. When gym members see your style of training or the results your clients are getting, they get intrigued and want to reach out themselves. This tip is very similar to why it is a good idea to get on the group exercise schedule, the overarching idea is to showcase your talents early and to increase your exposure.
If you have a friend that attends your new place of work, ask them if they are available for a free session or ask a fellow coworker once they are off duty. Since you will have a connection with your friend or coworker, the sometimes awkward moments that occur with new leads will be minimal and hopefully gym members will see how much fun your training can be.
- Be Yourself.
This is more of a mindset and might be opposed by some, but it’s always important to be yourself. Every gym has trainers with different personalities and different approaches to training. There are the hardnosed trainers who act like drill sergeants, there are trainers who focus on rehabilitation and special populations and there’s typically the “outside the box” trainer who does kettlebells, mace work and Indian clubs. I know most managers want to hire high energy trainers that can talk with a variety of populations, but it’s important that your message comes across as genuine.
You can still be the kettlebell guy or drill sergeant at your gym and attract a plethora of clients.
The onboarding process for gyms is becoming stronger and more efficient for personal trainers. Education and training helps entry level trainers practice real life scenarios that they will encounter during their prospecting, and additional help from the fitness managers makes the process even easier.
Being a trainer at the gym, leads come from everywhere and at anytime. Although not listed as one of the tips above (because it is typically part of the hiring process), make yourself as available as possible. It’s not atypical to have clients in the early morning and then be back for the post-work crowd typically around 4:00pm. Denying leads because of a time slot can hurt your new business venture, but also hurt your new relationship with the fitness managers. Your fitness manager will try to give you as many chances as possible to succeed, but if you are constantly passing on leads because they are “too early” or “too late”, these leads will soon fade.
With any new job, putting your best foot forward is the simplest advice given. Walk into your gym with a smile because there is always someone watching (not in the creepy way). Stay professional and consistent and your client list will grow and so will your paycheck.
Tyler Valencia is the President of KIPS. While working for a Southern California online education company he started his first business, Time 2 Train Fitness which specialized in bootcamp and personal training. Time 2 Train Fitness went on to receive the distinction of 3X Best Bootcamp and 2X Best Personal Trainer with the Long Beach Press Telegram. Before founding KIPS, Tyler was the Vice President of the National Council for Certified Personal Trainers (NCCPT) & Smart Fitness.