From your description, I picture a small general membership gym which has personal trainers as independent contractors and NOT a personal training studio that only has trainers.
Getting the first paying client is always difficult, and you may need to do some gratuitous training (or very low charge) so that people can actually see you train somebody. It is no chink in your armour to tell people that you are just certified and want to start on somebody to have a reference for future clients. This itself will give you confidence. If you choose to do it, treat the relationship with utmost professionalism. Trust me, other people will be watching you.
An additional way is to strike up a good working relationship with the owner of the gym. Since it allows you to train as an independent trainer, I assume that the owners are present. Can you train their wife, son, daughter?
Whenever you are at the gym, always wear your uniform that identifies you as a trainer. Have business cards on you wherever you go.
The first year is not easy. You will have more downtime than you want. Use it to study, study, study. If I were to observe a trainer with her nose in an anatomy book, I’d take notice.
I saw that LaRue and Joanne hve already answered another question of yours. Please consider my comments as an add-on.
I wish you good luck. You are about to embark on a wonderful journey even though the first few steps may be a little difficult.
Hi again Tracy,
I recently got picked up as an independent contractor at a local gym, so we’re in the same boat! I don’t have any clients at the gym yet, and I can’t pick up anyone else in my county, but my other clients are “grandfathered in.” I can tell you that the first client I got, I did exactly what Karin has suggested. I offered free sessions so that I could get some experience. I spoiled my first client because my “trainer mentors” at the university have always told me, “your first client will be your biggest marketeer!” I can say that they weren’t wrong!
There is another independent contractor at this gym, and he has 9 clients. He has been there since August of last year. I think the biggest challenge for people like us is going to be “PATIENCE!” I would think it’s a lot easier when you are able to have other clients outside of the gym you work at because that takes some of the pressure off of “performing” for the staff at the gym.
I’m a type A personality. I’m the kind of guy that’s a “go-getter.” I’ve also had some HUGE lessons in patience over the last year or so. I’ve been working out in my gym for a long time. I’ve made a point to keep in touch most of the staff, but I haven’t been TOO in touch. I ask the trainers for advice every so often. All that communcation has paid off for me. So I’m expecting this to be slow-going, and I’m prepared for it. I’m giving myself plenty of breathing room to get used to new policies, become even more familiar with the equipment, know the services offered by my gym, and I’m giving myself enough opportunity in the gym to just sit back and watch people for a while before I start soliciting clients. I figure the best approach is to just be friendly and see where it takes you!
Karin, thanks so much for offering your view on all this. Your answer has opened my mind up to some different things that will be helpful on my way to securing my first client in a gym setting. I’m good friends with my gym owners’ son. Maybe I can get him in there and offer him some trial sessions! Great IDEAs! =)
Do complimentary sessions. As a new trainer I did lots of comp sessions over the years and gained many clients from this interaction. Most clubs, as part of new member package, offer 1 to 3 complimentary sessions. Call the new members and schedule these sessions for them. Familarize them with the components of fitness, while you show then how to use the equipment. This starts building rapport. Call them by their name, and be genuinely concerned about their goals and interests. Be a partner in their quest. If this is not an option at your gym discuss the possibility with the club owner.
If floor time is an option, do that as well. This gives you a “raison etre” and opens you up to member connection.
Try setting up a desk during high traffic time and offering free bodyfat testing, or any other fitness component testing, such as sit and reach. All easy, all creating recognition, passion and connection. Give something of value.
Have a contest and the winner gets ___ free sessions with you.
Be creative and make it fun.
All the Best
Talk to people. Talk to the gym members. Get to know the gym members as friends.
Tell everyone you know/meet that you’re a personal trainer and where you train.
Also, don’t worry about sounding like a salesperson. Personal training is sales. Confidence is the key. Just talk to people about yourself, why you train, the benefits of, and how you want to help them.
The best way to build relationships directly off the gym floor is to correct people, mid-exercise, on how to better perform a movement. The lat pull-down and leg press seem to be the most commonly abused exercises. Speak to how they can make the exercise more efficient while reducing the possibility for injury. Where the conversation goes from there is all up to you. You can ask them outright if they have ever worked for a trainer, how was it or why not, speak to how much more you can show/teach them, get to know their fitness goals, etc.