The largest and most lucrative market demographic in the United States today is the Baby Boom generation—those Americans born between 1946 and 1964. Several factors make this market segment very attractive and a key to virtually all personal trainers’ business growth.

Most Boomers have crossed over mid-life and are heading toward their 50s and 60s with the reality check that they’re not going to live forever. As is nature’s way, their metabolic rates have slowed, and after many years behind a desk, they realize they’ve gotten too soft in the middle. Knees are getting creaky, and aches and pains pop up out of nowhere. They’re coming to grips with the knowledge that if they want to be around to play with their grandbabies, then they’d better get into shape—starting now.

Combine these realities with the fact that most Americans earn their largest sums of money in their 50s and 60s, and we have the earmarks of a very robust client segment! How can we cultivate Boomers and make them a lasting part of our business plans?

Partnering With Equipment Retailers

One excellent way to find a pathway to Boomers is to develop a partnership with a quality fitness equipment retail store. Why? Boomers are entering the empty-nest stage of life. Children have left for college or have been hired at jobs that afford them the ability to purchase or rent their own dwellings. With the kids gone, there are now vacant rooms in the house. An empty room plus higher discretionary income plus the desire to lose some weight and get in shape can equate to the desire to equip a home gym. Boomers need a place to shop for exercise equipment, which makes a solid relationship with a fitness equipment retail store invaluable.

Partnering with such stores requires a very specific, results-oriented approach and ongoing effort. The store management and/or ownership must be approached with maximum professionalism and with win-win-win scenarios. Building value for the equipment store into the relationship is the key. If the store is succeeding in selling more equipment, your success is a natural byproduct.

The Initial Meeting

Once you’ve done some homework and identified a quality store to partner with, place a polite phone call requesting a face-to-face meeting with the owner and/or manager. Arrive for the meeting on time and properly dressed and groomed. Remember, great meetings do not just happen—they are a result of good planning. Going into a meeting well prepared, with a professional attitude and presentation, and proposing mutual value almost guarantee that you’ll produce a new partner relationship.

Business owners are always impressed by preparedness. When you’re well prepared, you not only present a professional demeanor but also demonstrate a respect for the prospect’s time and set his or her mind at ease about working with you in the future. Be sharp! Present a proposal letter with specific initiatives, a binder with sample co-marketing materials and a time line for beginning the implementation process.

Assuming your proposal is considered favorably, here are some specific ways to partner with a store. Remember, the goals are to provide the store with repeat business and get new clients for your business. Such a win-win-win scenario (store–customer–you) is sure to be embraced by any progressively thinking store owner/manager.

In-Home Demonstrations

The “complimentary” in-home demo session is an extremely powerful tool. This is a promotional offer made by the store wherein a customer purchasing a piece of home gym equipment may receive a free session with a certified fitness professional. It’s the ultimate win–win–win. The store wins: Its sales staff can use your complimentary session as a closing tool to help prospects make a purchase decision. Customers win: they get a session with a fitness professional to learn how to use the new equipment they’ve purchased, and they save the $50.00-or-more session fee. You win: you gain a fantastic opportunity to add a new in-home client to your roster.

Set Up an In-Store Studio

Offering in-store workouts is an excellent way to grow a client base, further embed you in the store’s business, and get you a no-cost studio! The in-store studio is a formidable weapon for the store’s sales staff.

Let’s say a customer is waffling on the purchase of a piece of equipment. Rather than let Mr. or Ms. Indecisive walk out the door to “think about it,” the sales rep can use this tactic: “Mr. Indecisive, we have a relationship with the city’s top personal training firm, Achieve Fitness USA. One of the things they do for us is operate our in-store fitness studio. I can have this Parabody machine set up in the studio by tomorrow. Achieve Fitness normally charges $80 per session, but I’ll get you a four-session package for just $150. We’ll have a personal trainer work lead you through a workout on the home gym. That’ll give you a chance to really kick the tires and see how much you like it before committing the $2,500.”

This approach keeps the prospective customer from walking out of the store without having made a purchase; it allows him to demo both the equipment and your services; it has the effect of putting you in the store on a regular basis (which aids in relationship-building); plus it turns the demo sessions into billable hours.

Supply the Store with Fliers and Signage

The store now has in-house fitness professionals available to demonstrate equipment, work with customers, answer fitness-related questions and provide other services. This is a powerful value-add. Take advantage by offering to provide signs and fliers about your services, particularly near cash registers or entrance/exits. Your marketing piece could say something like this: “Buy a piece of equipment and get 10 in-home sessions for 40% off!” Offers like this benefit both the store and your business. Work with the staff to get them into the habit of placing one of your fliers into the sales bag of every customer they ring up.

Miscellaneous Marketing/Promotional Activities

There are dozens of other ways to leverage the fitness retailer relationship. Advertise and hold a body fat/BMI testing day: “Come in on the second Saturday of every month for a FREE body fat analysis and fitness evaluation.” Think outside the box. Demonstrations of fat content or sugar content always attract people’s attention. Set up a table. Have a fast-food hamburger side by side with a container demonstrating the burger’s fat content (use mayonnaise). Or have a can of a sugary “energy drink” and a container demonstrating its sugar equivalent. Novel ideas like these bring people over so you can then engage them.

It’s also possible to piggyback on the store’s marketing efforts (and therefore its marketing budget!). Most stores run ads in local print and broadcast media. Mentioning that they now are affiliated with a personal training company is a plus for them. Even better, it’s free advertising for your business.

You can build a fantastic business by working with equipment retailers. But it takes initiative. The key is getting started. Pull out a phone book, locate some stores and start making calls.