When you’re selling your services in the fitness industry, connecting and communicating with people is extremely important, especially during the initial consultation. Many factors go into establishing a rapport in that early meeting—including body language, verbiage, energy level and, maybe, even age or looks.

A huge mistake trainers make in initial consultations is they don’t take time to recognize prospects’ personality types and then use what they learn to communicate their services effectively.

An effective tool for identifying personality types is Bulls, Owls, Lambs, and Tigers®: Personality Selling™ or, simply, the BOLT System, developed by author and consultant Charles J. Clarke III. The BOLT System can help you tailor your first conversations to appeal to people as individuals—and then convert prospects into clients more successfully.

Personality Classifications

In the BOLT System,

  • “B” stands for Bull. People who are bulls are impulsive and quick to make decisions, and they think they already have everything figured out.
  • “O” stands for Owl. These are people who are watchful and take in information. They are analytical and numbers-driven.
  • “L” stands for Lamb. Lambs are timid; they keep to themselves and they don’t want to disappoint others.
  • “T” stands for Tiger. Tigers are outgoing, fun-loving and passionate.

It’s possible for someone to be a mixture of these personality types. Usually, however, you can categorize people as being one type or another based on which traits are dominant.

In this article, you’ll learn how to recognize the different personality types and how to “sell” your services to each of them.


When communicating with bulls, it is important that you be professional, match their energy and make them feel empowered. Bulls will come into a consultation with certain expectations. They will have specific things they’ve been working on, as well as specific questions.

Bull: “I’ve been working out 3 days per week, doing a 5×5 routine. I feel pretty good and I’ve gained some strength, but I’m really trying to get some definition. I know that’s probably going to mean going for more of the 12-rep range, right?”

The goal is to surpass their expectations, as well as open their eyes to what fitness can be. Bulls do not usually ask questions that they don’t already know at least half the answer to. It’s important to listen fully and find where you can help them the most. Once they’ve asked their questions, it’s best to respond with a compliment and follow up with a question that plants a new idea in their heads.

You: “The 5×5 routine you’ve been on is pretty good. I’ve done things like that in the past. And yes, higher rep ranges would be the direction you want to go. Did you plan on moving into more of a stability/strength phase?”

Bull: “What do you mean?”

Now you’ve created an opportunity to become the professional and educate on the importance of stability, your assessments and your program. However, do not waste time on things that they did not ask about, or on things that don’t affect them directly. Bulls are usually a bit selfish in nature, and they do not like to waste time or be bored.

Finally, the bull has to ask the questions, and it must be the bull’s idea to buy. In order to close the deal with bulls, you need to relay enough value that they ask you what your rates are.


When you’re relating to owls, facts and “hows” matter. Owls will be sold on the process that gets them from point A to point B. When owls meet with you, usually they already have specific goals, a process and a schedule in mind. They are interested in learning, and they want to know exactly what they need to do to get results.

Owls will be sold primarily on your ability to educate them on how to achieve their goals. It is a good idea to explain, write down and demonstrate your services so that owls can hear, see and feel your services. They’ve probably already done a lot of research. However, this can be an opportunity for you: The fitness industry offers a great deal of information, and you can help your clients recognize what is valid and useful specifically to them.

Owl: “My goal is to lose about 30 pounds or fit into a size 10. I’m planning to go to the gym 5 days per week, and I think I need to eat around 1,400 calories per day. As far as the gym, I need a good routine to follow.”

Note: If you simply take owls through some exercises, they will think that those are the secret to their success. Explain early on that the body adapts, and that it will take some time for them to learn all they need to reach success.

You: “Sounds great! A lot of factors go into building the right program. I would like to spend today doing some assessments for posture, movement and performance. Then we’ll be able to figure out which phase to start with, as well as what exercises would be appropriate. To get to a size 10, you’ll need to be able to move and function correctly to avoid injury, and you’ll need to learn how to change up your exercises, sets and rep ranges. I know you’re dedicated to 5 days per week. How many days per week can you commit to working with me?”

Again, you are planting the idea that you can work with the person to figure out what is going to be best. The close should be smooth, and usually you will recommend an optimal number of sessions per week.


Lambs become easily overwhelmed when they’re asked to make decisions. They are outside of their comfort zones in a gym setting, and they will shut down or give up easily. Your job when working with lambs is to instill a sense of confidence, and guide them to make the best decisions. Lambs are careful about opening up to others. However, they usually are very loyal to the people they feel close to.

Lamb: “I guess I just want to feel better, lose some weight and tone up. I’ve never really been healthy, and I don’t want to end up like my parents, who have a lot of health issues. I don’t really know what to do in the gym.”

Note: A huge key to relating to lambs is to understand everything they are not saying. Pay attention to body language and energy. When consulting with lambs, meet in a comfortable setting, preferably in a private area.

You: “That’s a great goal! You are not alone in just wanting to feel better. I really look forward to working with you and teaching you the ins and outs of exercise. I’ll be real with you, though: it’s going to take some time. Today we will get into a few of the basics, but for long-term success I’m going to need to get you on my schedule 2–3 days per week.”

Especially in the beginning of the consultation, you want to listen as much as possible and ask questions that bring out lambs’ concerns about their health problems. You also need to emphasize the importance of starting right away.


Tigers are outgoing, have a good sense of fashion and are concerned with their social status. In fitness, they are usually all in or all out, and they need variety and challenge. The key to connecting with tigers is to become their friend and make training with you the “cool” thing to do.

Tiger: “I’ve got a vacation coming up in August, and I am nowhere near beach-ready! I’ve got to get these arms and abs together quick! I’m ready to do whatever it takes to get there.”

You: “I’m ready for you! We are going to have a lot of fun together. Today we’ll try a few exercises that I think you will love. To get you where you want to be by August, I’m going to need you to be fully committed to the program. I would recommend training with me 3 or 4 days a week. Which one of these programs can you commit to?”

Usually, tigers will respond to your recommendations with something like this: “What do most people do?” You’ll be able to take it from there.

Applying the BOLT System is just the beginning of truly understanding interpersonal communication. However, it can be extremely helpful in maximizing the first minutes or the first day you spend with a new prospect. By understanding people’s needs based on their personality types, you can communicate your value more effectively and you will more likely able to make a sale.


Greg Vaughn

Greg Vaughn, CES is a Multi Unit Manager for Stay Fit 24. He made his start in the industry in 2009 with a passion for using fitness as a tool to change his communities health. He now leads a team of personal trainers all on a mission to bring a positive and lasting change to the fitness industry. You can contact Greg at [email protected] Or check out more about Stay Fit 24 at www.stayfit24.com

Leave a Comment

When you buy something using the retail links in our content, we may earn a small commission. IDEA Health and Fitness Association does not accept money for editorial reviews. Read more about our Terms & Conditions and our Privacy Policy.