Proven Personal Trainer Customer Retention Strategies You Can Implement Right Now

Mar 22, 2018 - 6 min read
Personal trainer explaining exercise to client Virtuagym

As a personal trainer, your passion for fitness is unquestionable. You’ve worked hard to earn your qualifications, sculpted your business model and set your eyes on the end goal for this year.  You may have been thinking about implementing a customer retention strategy for a while, or perhaps this is the first time you’ve considered how it may influence your business.

You’re helping your clients change their lives, and they’re putting their trust in you to do just that. So keeping them should be easy. In theory.

In reality, client retention is far too easy to push to the back of your mind. But retention is the key to long-term success in any business model. You can boast the hardest abs in town, but that stands for nothing if you have a poor retention rate.

Wherever you currently find yourself on the retention spectrum, we’ve prepared a concise, high-impact strategy guide to take you from retention relapse to churn-crushing success.

Are customer retention strategies a big deal?

Well, when it comes to sustaining revenue flow, and securing a future for your business, client retention is just about one of the most important aspects of your daily working life. Without clients, you make no money. And if you make no money, well then you have no business!

You may  easily obtain your first 10 clients,  but it’s keeping hold of them that makes a lasting impact on your balance sheet. Boosting client retention by only 5% can skyrocket your profits by up to 95%! This is thanks to long-term clients  costing a lot less to maintain than gaining new ones . Seriously, what’s not to like?

Here are our top tips to retain personal training clients in a few easy steps.

Workout with personal trainer

The key aspects of retaining personal training clients

One of the first steps when it comes to building a foundation for a rock-solid retention strategy is to highlight the end result that each of your clients wants to achieve by working with you.

1: Get to Know Your Clients

Before you even start training with a new client, it’s vital to build up an understanding of who they are as people, and what they want to get out of their time with you.

Conducting a proper needs analysis can help build a bigger picture around the reasons for a client reaching out to your services. You’ll discover more about their personal life and working life, allowing you to  build a working relationship  that runs deeper than helping them push out one last rep.

If you properly understand the background and fitness history of a client, it’ll be far easier to deliver quality results. And if there’s one thing that keeps clients coming back, and them referring your services, it’s results.

2: Promote Professionalism

The old saying goes, ‘practice what you preach’. That’s never been more true than in the personal training profession, particularly when it comes to your own conduct.

Being on time, prepared, and ready for each client’s session sounds like basic advice, but you’d be surprised how many times PT’s are caught out. Adding an extra five minutes onto a lunch break or one client’s session can have a huge impact on the schedule and flow of the rest of your day.

When it comes to appearance, it’s important you look the part. If your target niche is those looking to lose weight, then keeping yourself trim is a given. A quick way for a client to be put off sticking around is being greeted by a personal trainer in worse shape than them.

It sounds superficial, but it’s a reality of the industry and the demands of your clients. They want results, and if you don’t look like you can deliver them, then they’re not going to give you their custom.

Group workout

3: Create a Community

Being alone on a journey is never pleasant, a friendly face can make all the difference. But yours shouldn’t be the only friendly face that clients recognize.

Bringing your clients together is a foolproof way to generate conversation and team spirit amongst people who are all trying to change their lives.  An online community  is an always-on point of access for your clients, providing easy opportunities for them to network and build their own friendships, all within a portal that is tailor-made to drive engagement and retention.

Motivation is another added bonus of nurturing your own online community, by encouraging clients to support and encourage each other to accomplish their shared goals.

Curating challenges makes fitness about more than just calorie burning, and more importantly, is  a proven way to retain clients . A little friendly competition can work wonders on the motivation levels of your clients, and as we know motivation means results, and results mean retention.

A practical method to retain clients

Aside from your scheduled training sessions, it’s important to arrange a couple of check-in meetings with each client to touch base and get their thoughts on their journey so far.

After your initial face-to-face meeting, it’s recommended to meet with your clients every two months (outside of your normal training sessions). It gives you opportunities to see what’s going well, what’s going wrong and what’s not going at all.

In these meetings, you can introduce retention-affirming concepts that we explored earlier. Concepts such as the online community are perfect to promote during meetings, particularly if your clients has had a drop in motivation. Promote the benefits of it, from casual discussions to workout-boosting encouragement.

These meetings are also a chance to take onboard personal feedback. Ask for your client’s opinion, but most importantly: listen. Shape your business according to what your clients say, and be prepared to reap the rewards.

Here’s a small structure for the first two follow-up meetings:

The First Follow-Up Meeting

  • When looking at the goals you both laid out at the start of their journey, what progress has been made?
  • Did they enjoy the workouts you curated? What would they change?
  • Have they heard about your online fitness group?
  • Do they have any friends or family who could be interested in your services?

This last point is crucial. Referrals play a huge role in generating new revenue and growing your business. A word-of-mouth referral is far more valuable than any digital marketing technique.

Offering discounts on your existing client’s fee, or any other added bonus, is another simple way to encourage referrals.

The Second Follow-Up Meeting

  • What has changed since your first meeting?
  • Have you both implemented your feedback from the last meeting?
  • Are they closer to their end goal?

This meeting is a perfect opportunity to build on your client relationship, and evaluate your progress as a team. Plus, if you’ve devised any other incentives for referrals, now is a good time to share them with your client.

Regular meetups with your clients show you care, not just about their money, but about them as human beings. They are perfect chances to inject a little motivation, take onboard feedback, and grow yourself as a personal trainer too.

Workout with personal trainer


If you’ve always struggled with how to retain personal training clients, by now you should have a good idea of what you’re doing wrong (and right). Building on this advice, and implementing these strategies into your own business model can put you on the path to retention success. You, your clients, and your business will all reap the benefits of retention excellence.

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Steven Ecott

Content Marketer here at Virtuagym! I've been a journalist for the past four years, and love football, Yoga and tattoos.