The Three Biggest Questions

In my many years of being a fitness business consultant, I’ve heard the same three questions over and over again.

“Jason, how do I get more leads?”

“Jason, how do I sell more personal training?”

“Jason, how do retain more members?”

If a gym can get a steady stream of leads, sell training to a good portion of them and keep 80 percent or more coming back every year, it can make a lot of money and change many lives. This much is obvious.

1. How do I get more leads? This begins and ends with marketing. Do you have a 12-month marketing plan? In my experience, most gyms do not. This is the single most important thing you can do. Most prospects need to see something 20 to 30 times before taking action. How many of you have a gym in a location with good visibility, yet on a regular basis you hear from someone, “Wow, I didn’t even know you were here?”

Having good visibility is important, but with many folks having tunnel vision, pounding your marketing through a combination of print and electronic mediums is key. Newspaper inserts, door hangers, direct mailers and small, guerilla marketing passes are still very effective if used correctly and consistently. Email with “marketing” in the subject line and I will shoot you back a marketing guide.

2.  How do I sell more personal training? This comes down to a few key things. First, you need to have only one person on your team who does the selling. The process works like this: Member joins. Membership salesperson gets them scheduled with a personal training salesperson the next day or day after. This appointment is between an hour and 90 minutes. This time is spent going over the health history, goal setting, a 30-minute strength workout, cardio coaching and price presentation.

You then need to have a few training options. You can’t simply offer one-on-one training. This prices the majority of folks out of the picture. Offer small group training and team training. Small group training is up to four people with one coach. It is intensive coaching using complex movements, but for a fraction of the cost of one on one. Team training is 10 to 15 people, also with a strength component, but less complex movements and is more about the experience.

3.  How do I retain more members? From a contract standpoint, offer a 12-month plan and a month-to-month plan. Price the month-to-month plan 20 to 25 percent higher than the 12 month. Make the 12-month contract end without rolling over to a month-to-month. Yes, I want you to make the member come back in and sign another 12-month contract. Studies show that if a member renews once, he or she is likely to stay a while. If they renew a second time, they will likely stay forever.

Also, get your members to use the club eight times or more per month. The magic number is eight. Studies show that if a member is using eight or more times, they don’t often terminate. So, start and continue a consistent process of reaching out to your members. Engage them often and don’t be afraid to incentivize or de-incentivize them. For example, if they use the club eight times or more, give them a reward. Or take something away if they don’t use it eight times. Either strategy can be effective.

There you go. Put together a consistent marketing plan, get 70 percent of members through a workout and assessment with one trainer who has sales skills and work hard to get your members to use the club eight or more times per month.

Keep changing lives.

Jason Linse is president and founder of The Business of Fitness, a consulting company. He also owns a personality assessment company called People Plus+ Fitness. He can be reached at or at 612-310-1319. Visit

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