One of the most challenging aspects of the personal training business is maintaining a solid roster of clients. Unfortunately, high client turnover rates can lead to financial struggles and potentially even career burnout. Vito La Fata, owner of Fitness Evolution in Laguna Hills, California, believes that an important key to client retention is fostering a sense of community among facility members. “If your clients are just coming in for a workout and are not connecting with others and a deeper sense of your mission, they will walk away from you,” says La Fata. Here are his top tips for keeping clients and members coming back for more:

  • Offer retention programs. People get bored with training, no matter how much you shake things up. Keep them engaged with new programs that make your business stand out. Fitness Evolution runs small 2-, 3-, 4- and 6-week programs as add-ons to clients’ base programs. Examples include “Three-Week Train to Run, 21-Day Rapid Weight Loss Challenge” and “10-Day Outdoor Action Adventure Boot Camps.”
  • Be a coach, not a trainer. Clients will quit a workout, but they will stick with a coach and mentor. Provide time management coaching, priority scheduling, nutrition, motivation and inspiration with accountability.
  • Ditch the package model. It isn’t effective to sell a client 12 sessions that expire in a year. That’s like trying to fix a person’s diet by offering 12 meals he can use two times per week. At Fitness Evolution, sessions and programs all expire at month’s end, forcing clients to stay accountable to the game plan or risk losing their sessions.
  • Showcase your clients. Celebrating your clients encourages them. Highlight their stories in your facility, in your newsletter or on a board that everyone can see.
  • Get your clients into a group. Going to the gym alone is not motivating. Even working one-on-one with a trainer can get boring. Put people together so they can laugh, have fun, tap into a little competitive spirit and—most important—develop new relationships that create bonds with other members.