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Mistakes Personal Trainers Commonly Make

by Matt Weik

The personal training space is overcrowded, but it’s an industry that can be extremely lucrative if you’re good at what you do. Many trainers have locations where they train out of, but a new trend that has really taken off over the years has been online training. No matter if you work in a gym or online, many trainers make the same mistakes that could be holding them back from success and income. This article will showcase some mistakes personal trainers commonly make so you can learn and not follow in their footsteps.

1. It’s your business, treat it as such

I’m not sure why this is, but many trainers treat their “business” like a side hustle and don’t put forth enough energy and effort to really get it going where it can stand alone on its own. For whatever reason, many trainers act as if they are an employee of the gym and not their own boss. They allow the gym to dictate what they charge clients, when they are allowed to train, items in the gym they are allowed to use, and even who they are allowed to train.

Some trainers are, however, employees of the gym and need to follow the rules and regulations they put in place. But, if you’re not an employee, you better be prepared to find another gym if they are limiting your ability to make money and train your clients the way you feel they need to be trained in order to get results. I’m not saying you need to be a jerk to the gym and leave on poor terms, but don’t settle for a gym that won’t allow you to make money as an independent personal trainer. It should be noted, expect to pay “rent” or “per client” fees to train clients in gyms. Just like you want to make money, they want to make money off of you for using their facility and equipment. You do have the ability to negotiate the rates you pay to the gym for your services rendered.

If you have a bunch of clients, it might be better for you to pay “rent” than it is to give them a portion of your income per client. By paying rent, the more business you bring in, your rent won’t change allowing you to pocket more money. When using the other strategy, the more clients you bring on, the more money you are shelling out per client to the gym.

2. Not marketing your business

If you’re starting out, how will anyone know you are personal training and where? How are they supposed to reach out to you? You need to market your business, and word of mouth simply isn’t going to cut it unless you already work with celebrities or similar.

The best place to start is social media. Not only can you promote your brand for FREE on social media, but buying ads on a platform such as Facebook is fairly inexpensive with all things considered. Test out different marketing techniques and figure out what is giving you the best return. If you are spending $100 on Facebook ads and in return you’re gaining $500 in addition revenue from the ad, then you’ll know that for every $100 you spend, you’ll net $400. Not a bad conversion.

But, if money is tight and you can’t afford to market your business just yet, utilize social media and your ability to bring value to the audience in front of you. Maybe you can give some tips on your platforms to engage people. From there, your audience might share your content and therefore bring more eyeballs to your social platforms. From those new prospects, it’s your job to close them and have them open up their wallet for your services. Engage with your audience when they comment or send messages. That’s your opportunity to close the deal.

3. Not having a referral program in place

Let your clients do the selling for you. When you have a referral program in place, you can structure it however you want to incentivize them to tell their friends and family about your business.

You could structure a referral program to give the referrer $10 off their next session. Or something like for every three people they bring to you who start training they, themselves, will get a free training session. The key here is to get your clients the results they demand, and turning them loose to talk about how you got them in shape to everyone around them. Once the word gets out, people will flock to your business. To thank your client, you offer up discounts or free sessions.

It’s not difficult to implement, you just need to figure out how you want to structure things and how you will track it.

4. Lacking a personal touch

Robots are taking over jobs left and right these days. They are more efficient, cost less, yet have no personality. Don’t be a robot with your business. Give your clients a special personal touch that makes them feel appreciated for their support of your business. Something as little as a hand-written note saying they are doing a great job and that you appreciate their support and to keep up the great work goes a long way.

Remember, you’re selling yourself, not a product. If people don’t like you or you come off as someone they don’t want to work with, your ability to make money goes down the drain. It’s not difficult to be friendly and actually show some appreciation for your paying clients.

5. Charging too much for your service

Price is a major factor in whether or not someone wants to work with you. If you cost way more than another trainer, you might get overlooked simply on price alone. Know who your competitors are and what they are charging and differentiate yourself from them. If your rates are higher, how do you justify that? Do you provide additional services that warrant the higher cost? Or are you charging more simply because you’re greedy and over-estimated what your time is worth?

Find a common ground on price that will appeal to your clientele. For instance, if you live in the middle of nowhere and you’re charging $200 per session, I’m willing to bet no one will work with you. However, if you live in a big city, that $200 might be a steal per training session. Know your market, know your demographic, know your location.

6. Charging too little for your service

On the flipside of the above, charging too little could cause you to be spinning your wheels and not making enough income. Look at your overall expenses to run your personal training business. If your expenses are not covered, let’s face it, you won’t be in business long—that’s just how things work. If you don’t charge enough for your services, you could also make yourself known as the “cheap” trainer and when you go to eventually raise your rates, people will become frustrated and no longer support you because you’re in line with everyone else and you might not have been their first choice of a trainer, but the price was appealing.

Don’t cut yourself short by lowballing the competition thinking it’s a winning strategy. You end up devaluing your brand which is never a good thing and rebranding your business can cost you a lot of money.

7. Lacking training options/packages

Many trainers structure their business that clients pay as they go. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it might be advantageous for them to include not only a pay-as-you-go option, but also numbered packages option. The pay-as-you-go option doesn’t hold onto your clients. While many will feel better that they don’t have a “contract,” it also doesn’t give them any motivation to continue training with you if they lose interest. If they aren’t financially on the hook, they can easily blow off training sessions if they don’t feel like hitting a workout with you.

When you have 6-sessions, 12-session, etc. packages with your business, it ties people in and eases their mind by not using a contract, but rather a certain number of sessions. When people purchase a package, they will expect to get a better price per session than a pay-as-you-go. Adjust your rates accordingly and try to push packages on everyone. Not only will you get the money upfront, but it could potentially be more money than you’d make without the package considering the drop-off rate for many clients these days.

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