Fitness Business and Marketing

Gym floor marketing

There seems to be a common misconception that they key method for gym based personal trainers to sign up new clients is to walk the floor and basically hard sell free taster sessions.  The hope being that these can be converted into paying clients.  Although walking the floor is very important, gym users are becoming increasingly savvy as to what is behind the extremely kind-hearted offer from a new personal trainer to give them a free taster.  This is making it increasingly hard to gain new clients this way, this leads to personal trainers having to think of increasingly innovative ways of picking up new clients.

Now don’t get me wrong, being on the gym floor is a vital part in your marketing but your focus should not initially be the sale, it should be the client and building your reputation and brand.  If you walk the floor with the intention of having as many positive interactions as possible, this could be helping a member by offering some advice, to spot them or just a bit of general conversation.  This should be with the intention of building image initially not sales, and if you have a strong image within the gym the sales will follow.

There is an old saying, not sure who originally said it but ‘people buy off those they know, like and trust’.  By having as many positive iterations as possible you are starting to become one of the trainers in they gym that the members know, like and trust.

So how do you go about this, remembering that many gym chains insisting on you maintaining their brand standards and working within very tight marketing rules.

So what ways can you help to build reputation and image within the gym?  Below I have listed and discussed some of what I feel are the key elements of gym floor reputation building.

  • Attendance at gym events – many gyms are using a wide variety of events to make the venue more of a social hub.  Common events are based around sports such as tennis, football, etc… Also many gyms hold regular social’s such as curry nights, comedy nights, attendance at these kind of events will help you to build your profile amongst the membership.
  • Competitions – are a great way to meet the membership, either by taking part yourself or by organising a competition.
  • Walking the gym floor – this old school approach is still very valid, and does help to increase your number of gym floor interactions.  However a massive word of warning, clients are getting very savvy to the whole gym floor sales process so going up to clients offering free personal training taster sessions may make some clients run for the hills.  You should come across as least sales orientated as possible and show a genuine desire to help the client.  This is often remembered and if and when a client is ready to look at personal training they will come to you.
  • Inductions – being on hand to induct new members into the gym can again pay off in terms of making that initial connection with a client.  If you have inducted them you are the person that they may actively seek out if they decide to go down the route of personal training.  The induction should be used as a period of time that will allow you to get to know the individual better and in a low-key manner show your skills as a personal trainer.
  • PT open evening/day – this kind of event is an amazing chance for prospective clients to meet and sample what personal training is all about.  I have found that if these are run in an informal drop in style they tend to have the greatest effect.
  • Class tuition – there is no better way to build reputation within a gym than to have a slot on the studio timetable, this allows you to meet clients who may not generally brave it onto the gym floor, and also allows an opportunity for interested clients to try before they buy and see you in action teaching a class.
  • Gym floor classes – by being in front of a group on a regular basis you have the opportunity to get known and prospective clients have the chance to try before they buy.  This also offers you the opportunity to regularly make class attendee offers, such as discounted inital sessions for those who attend your class.
  • Charity events – if there is a charity event, such as a 10k in aid of Oxfam, why not offer your time for free to train the group?  This will allow you to get some great visibility within the gym and possibly in the local press.
  • Newsletter/blog contributions – many gyms have venue newsletters that are generally written by the manager, if you have a good writing style you will normally have your hand bitten off if you offer to take some of the strain and write a regular column.

There is one major problem with gym floor marketing for the average personal trainer.  As more and more trainers move over to rental style agreements there is a strong incentive to be profitable from an early stage within a gym, this leads to a common personal training phenomenon where trainers start to panic sell.  This is the worst thing ever as clients can normally see straight through your desperation and it can be a major turn off for them.

The key is visibility and reputation, if you become the best known and respected personal trainer within the gym the sales will follow!


  • Make  a list of the above approaches that you feel will work for you.
  • Write a plan of how you can implement these, with a calendar of events.
  • Take action and start to improve your gym floor visibility

Let me know how you go with these!



Tom has been involved in the fitness industry for nearly 20 years. He is a specialist in rehabilitation, exercise referral and helping other fitness professionals to improve their business. He is also involved with course development, teaching, assessing and IQA of a range of training courses. He is always willing to meet other professionals so please do contact him via social media with any questions or just to say hello.

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