How to Turn Away Prospects to Land More Clients


Jim Labadie is a fitness entrepreneur, publicity expert and speaker. To learn how to pitch to a producer, develop relationships with print reporters, avoid the biggest publicity mistake personal trainers make and much more sign up for his free mini-course on publicity for fitness professionals at

What happens when you tell a child they can’t have something? They want it more, right? And do you believe that adults are more than just children in bigger bodies? I assure you, they’re really not.

Because educated personal trainers are often successful at helping your members achieve the results they seek, the time has come to make working with them a little harder.

While that may seem counterintuitive, I guarantee you by putting your trainers on a pedestal and letting your members know that not everyone qualifies to work with them, you will increase your personal training revenues.

Here’s how to do it and how to keep your members thrilled at the same time.

1. Change the culture of your club. Emphasize to members that the facility they belong to employs only highly educated fitness professionals who are dedicated to their success. Make it a source of pride as opposed to most clubs, which position their trainers as an afterthought or necessary evil.

2. Make it known from the day the member joins your club that the personal training department is ultra-exclusive. If the member wants individual attention, he or she needs to be willing to become a walking, talking billboard for the trainer he or she works with.

In other words, if they aren’t serious about getting results, they won’t be allowed into the program. Now that may seem harsh, but it’s all in how you say it. The proper way is to let them know the club will not allow members to spend thousands of their hard earned dollars with one of their top fitness professionals if they aren’t ready to do the hard work ahead. Tell them you won’t allow them to waste their money, and they’ll love you for it.

3. Truly understand that people want what they can’t have. Your members will literally fight for the right to become a client. In fact, chances are you’ll have a waiting list for personal training before too long.

It’s equally important to understand members who aren’t working with a trainer are probably keeping an eye on the results of personal training clients. In other words, for every client who fails to follow the program laid out by their trainer, your staff’s reputation gets worse and worse. Why would the member ever spend more dollars in your clubs for a service they see as worthless?

Yes, that’s right, every single personal training session that takes place in your club is, in fact, marketing.

4. Promote the success of the personal training clients as much as possible. Post before-and-after pictures throughout the club, sprinkle testimonials into your marketing pieces and distribute T-shirts to personal training clients to wear at the club when they have reached certain weight loss goals.

5. Position your trainers as leading experts. Ask them to write articles and give presentations. Nothing establishes credibility faster than public speaking and writing. The fitness professionals working at your club should be writing simple how-to articles to distribute to members as well as local publications. They can deliver presentations within the club and in the community, too. This establishes the trainer as an expert and helps your members understand that there is credibility behind your personal training department.

6. You should also promote your trainers as experts through the media. Your club should have media contacts. Let them know the fitness professionals on your staff are available for comments and can provide story ideas.

7. Understand this only works if you have fitness professionals who are worth the fees they charge. If they can’t deliver results then do not try to “velvet rope” your personal training department.

Why not do something different? If you can’t compete with the large chains on price, then you’d better deliver something they can’t. So how about exclusivity and results?

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