When it comes to selling personal training services, a common practice is to require payment for a series of sessions at the start of training. According to data from the 2010 IDEA Fitness Programs & Equipment Trends report (IDEA Fitness Manager, July–August 2010), 69% of respondents “ask clients to pay for individual sessions/classes or packages of sessions/classes.” Troy Fontana, CEO of Freedom Fitness Unlimited in Sparks, Nevada, believes this method may soon be history.

“Selling personal training services in a standard ‘session package’ format gives only a short guarantee of payment, since packages typically last a short period of time,” he says. “This forces the trainer to constantly look for new customers and clients, as well as think of how to best re-sign current ones.” Fontana adds that selling packages this way creates an unpredictable system. “The only security you have is the 6, 12, 20 or whatever number of sessions you sold. What happens if clients leave on vacation for 3 weeks? You don’t make any income from them.” To create greater financial stability, Fontana advocates for what he calls “Personal Training Memberships.”

“A membership allows you to sell services in 3-, 6- or even 12-month increments. The client pays weekly, biweekly or monthly. Building a business model like this takes you from an unstable situation to having a strong and projectable cash cow that yields security and comfort for you and your employees.” He adds that training memberships also lead to greater client success, as clients are less likely to cancel sessions for arbitrary reasons.

Read more about personal training memberships in the April 2011 issue of IDEA Trainer Success.