T Nation

New to Personal Training

just wondering if anyone has experience with personal training.
i have a lot of knowledge in terms of being able to train individuals, but i really suck at actually getting clients to begin with. does anyone have suggestions on how to approach potential clients in a gym? this is typically how i would go about obtaining my clients for this job (despite my boss saying they will hook me up with clients as they come). its been several weeks and nothing yet, so i figure i need to step up my marketing game

Approach potential clients in the gym … especially those whose technique sucks … something like someone doing a bench press (vast majority of people are absolutely terrible at it) if your any good you should be able to help them ramp up their poundage in a single session just through proper technique … if they’re serious about training they’ll higher you. From there it’s positive word of mouth.

Also try and target young athletes, under performers are often better clients than kids who’re already on the team as if they’re driven they’ll work hard for you. Helping a kid like that improve their athletic capabilities can only help your reputation.
Building up a stable client base takes time, don’t expect to be a success overnight.

What kind of gym do you work at that you haven’t had a client for several weeks…and I know a tatic at my gym some of the PT do is give them a free session to get a grasp of it but alot of it is just working at the right gyms…

thanks for the response so far…

I’m working at a community run gym. The training packages they offer are fairly cheap (40-50 per session depending on number of sessions) which i only get about half of per session. My biggest worry about approaching ppl in the gym with bad technique is that they’ll take offense and reject what I have to say all together or that ill create a bad rep for myself as the guy that bothers everyone’s training. Trust me, I see all kinds of horrible technique, but I never approach because of that.

I’ve done retail jobs in the past, so approaching ppl because of shyness isnt the problem. its more a concern of how to show that I’m giving helpful and useful advice without coming off as stuck-up or as a pushy salesman.

One of the gyms near where I live offers one free PT session to every new client. You can suggest that to your boss. It’s decent marketing of the gym’s facilities and helps with obtaining new memberships (club A doesn’t offer any free PT, but club B offers 1 free session). If people like the results, they’ll come back for more, providing it’s reasonably priced.

I wouldn’t like it if someone came up to me during one of my workouts, as I’m usually in the zone. Unless it’s a guy three times my size with a decent track record. Having someone with no muscle development walk up to me and tell me I shouldn’t deadlift as it’s bad for my back is gonna get a growl outta me.

Approach the guys with bad technique, but don’t do it in a scary way. If the guys look like rank beginners, just say you can help them out. If the guys look like they’re “serious” into lifting, but never were schooled in proper technique, say to them, “I bet you I can get you 10-20lbs on your max TODAY,” clean up their technique, and see what happens.

not too sure if the free session thing would be cool with my boss, but i think it may be worth a try to suggest it. thanks for that tip…

lol at the deadlift thing. i’ve seen guys 3x my size do it with the whole hunched back thing and i feel like going all “coach hines” on them. hahaha

now what about the women and children that are stuck on using machines (cable and selecterize equipment)? should the same idea in terms of approaching apply?

You gotta start the women and children off on at least some machines. They don’t have the balance/stability to do all free weight exercises. I know some people will say that it isn’t as beneficial and that trainers who make people stand on stability balls suck but the truth is that people get bored with doing “normal stuff” (squats, deadilfts, presses, etc) and if they get bored you have no clients. That’s a big reason why you have so many trainers who teach that stuff. I myself wouldn’t ever do a squat on a bosu ball but I’ll teach a client to if it will keep her working out.

I only throw in a couple of those wacko exercises and keep the rest to stuff that actually works.

that of course makes sense. any beginner (not just women and children) should be starting off on machines, as this is the best way for them to get a good idea of the technique required for an exercise. but im wondering how you’d go about approaching some using a machine and still using bad technique (the set up is incorrect, etc). the instructions are usually right there in their face. i can definitely see someone being offended by an approach, but i could be wrong

Women/children aren’t as competitive as men are, so it takes a different approach. I suggest with women, you try to talk to them pretty casually, like you’re just making conversation. Ask them what their goals are, how long they’ve been working on it, what they’ve been doing. Give a few helpful tips and leave it at that. Do this a few times over a longer period of time so that there’s some sense of “trust” with you, mention things that will entice them toward stuff they CAN’T do on their own… “Well, squatting with a barbell allows for better metabolic changes over time and can help you reach your goals a lot faster, but a good alternative for right now is the machine you’re on now” etc. etc. Put into their head that there are ways to reach their goals quickly, safely, and efficiently… that YOU know what those ways are… and that YOU can get them there… but that what they’re doing right now is okay, too.

After a few days of this, just bring up, “Hey, remember what I said about free weight training? Why don’t you let me design a program for you? I’ll coach you through the techniques, give it like… (6 weeks, two months, however long you think you need to convince them)… If you don’t see a lot of improvements in that time, then fine, you can keep doing what you’ve been doing… But I really think I can help you get to your goals.”

As a side note… I really don’t think that “starting off on machines” is the best idea. I might start a woman off with bodyweight or really light dumbbells, but I’m the most useless trainer in the world if I take her to machines.

I went to school with a guy who use to do personal training at a gym. He told me he would walk around and find people who had bad technique and offer them help or tips to perform the exercise quickly. He said most people were pleased with his help and he got many personal training session out of it.

I think as long as you are nice about it people will want your advice.

strungout… i lol’d at your dp

thanks for the advice everyone. im gonna to try it out as soon as I get the chance.

EDIT: and just to add, it worked. i just corrected someones tech and they’re interested in sessions. thanks very much guys…