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An Unconventional Path to Hard to Reach Personal Training Leads

personal training

“I’m not sure what my schedule is. Can I let you know?”

“I know what I’m doing.”

There will always be people who fall through the cracks and do not want to meet with the personal training staff when they first join. For some, just joining a gym was intimidating enough and the thought of meeting with a trainer is just too much to handle right off the bat. For others, that lifting routine they had in the 80s was better, so now they feel like they can cut the sleeves off an old inside-out sweatshirt and hop back in without help. Some people, depending on past experiences with gyms and trainers, just feel like they are going to be sold something and won’t receive any benefit from it.

Even if you’re getting 80 or 90% of people to meet with the training staff after joining, that is still a significant amount of people over the course of months and years you aren’t getting a shot at.

Reaching those people will be a long, slow process of building trust and a relationship over time, and throughout, any mention or suggestion of sitting down to meet with a trainer will be dismissed. Trying to find ways to generate a conversation with these leads around training or nutrition can be difficult. And when things are difficult, you have to get creative.

Admittedly, this was not the reason for starting a podcast for our membership base — a weekly show that’s somewhere around 25 to 30 minutes, focusing on topics we feel are beneficial to our members. Truth be told, we started it during quarantine because we were bored and wanted to keep giving our members some useful content while we were shutdown.

Our clients and members aren’t really the type of people who are listening to a ton of fitness podcasts on a weekly basis, so it serves as an opportunity for us to be the expert in that category for them. It has been a slow, steady process of growing it each week to get more people to listen — but it has started to pay off.

Our members-only podcast has been a great way to get some useful tips and information out to those who may not necessarily be comfortable with the pressure of meeting with a trainer privately. If you can get them to try one tip from you, and it works, it starts to change the narrative in their mind to “maybe this person can actually help me and it wouldn’t be so bad.”

We have members who aren’t training clients and don’t generally extend beyond a “Hi, how’s it going,” come up to us and ask follow-up questions about something we talked about, or even just to tell us they listen and it is helpful. In this sense it has been a great way to start a conversation centered on training and nutrition with members who would otherwise avoid it.

If nothing else, it has been another layer to building value with these members. Combined with helpful emails and social media posts, it is another way to provide them with valuable content that will help.

Beyond gently creating conversation with those harder to reach members, doing a podcast has been great for our members and training clients who already actively engage with us. It is another touch point for them and a great way to help retain by constantly providing them value and entertainment.

Lastly, it is just plain fun to do. I’m not actively training as much as I used to, so sitting down once a week with one of our personal training managers and talking about training and nutrition related topics is enjoyable for me. We try to do stuff that makes us laugh and entertains us while recording, and generally speaking, if you are entertaining yourself while you are recording, people will be entertained while listening.

I encourage everyone to give this a shot and let me know what you think. If anyone out there is already doing this, I would love to listen to a few and see what you are doing. Let me know in the comments!

Ryan O'Toole

Ryan O'Toole is the regional manager for Anytime Fitness Cheswick, Leechburg and Kittanning, and the founder of Culture First Fitness. He can be reached at ryan@culturefirstfitness.com.

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1 Comment

  1. Brent August 12, 2020

    Love this Ryan.

    We started a “Workout Podcast” for these very same reasons.

    It’s a follow along 15-min workout to share a piece of our story and share helpful tips along the way.

    Plus a different way to have our community share our message, as it gives a potential client a chance to get a feel for our training style and hear directly from the coaches they’ll be working with.

    Keep up the great work


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