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Grow Your Personal Training Department with Your Fee-Based Programming

Fee-based programming is quickly taking its place as the number one revenue stream in most facilities, while personal training is struggling in some facilities. However, there is no reason to give up on personal training. You just have to think outside the box. You can implement several strategies to bring this department back from the brink, and you can use your fee-based programming to do it.

What most owners and managers don’t realize is some of their large group fee-based instructors also are personal trainers. When hiring for your personal training department, start with your current staff. Check the credentials of your current fee-based trainers. When your fee-based trainers lead sessions, they stand in front of their target market, which could lead to more clients for personal training.

Teach your personal trainers the skill set to teach fee-based programming. To be successful leading a group, personal trainers must learn how to connect and coach more than one person at a time. If your personal trainers can master these skills, they can then lead the fee-based programming. When personal trainers lead the fee-based programs, they are standing in front of their target market several times a week. It is a built-in referral system.

As the leader, facilitate a camaraderie and team atmosphere among your entire staff. Start with a luncheon or coffee and invite the fee-based trainers and the personal trainers. Allow the two departments an opportunity to get to know one another, what each does and their fitness philosophies. This makes it easier for the fee-based trainers to refer their participants to personal trainers.

Educate fee-based trainers about your referral program. If a participant is requesting additional training, refer them to the personal training department. Typically, 10 percent of your group participants will request individual training. Educate your fee-based trainers on how to recommend, discuss the price structure, etc. Also, remind the staff that the customers’ needs come first. It is not what is best for the trainer; it is what is best for the member.

Traditionally, we know offering anything for free doesn’t work. When there is no financial investment or “skin in the game,” there is little or no adherence to the program. We do find an exception. Suggest your personal trainers train the fee-based instructors for a few free sessions. This allows the fee-based instructors to know and understand the personal trainers so they can effectively refer their participants to a trainer who will be the best fit.


Lori Patterson, owner and CEO of VicteliB LLC, is the creator of successful fee-based programs that include Boot Camp Challenge and Kids Kamp Challenge. She served in the Army and has been in the fitness industry for 27 years. You can reach her at, at 636-734-8594 or through the website at

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