Personal Training Consultation Guide For 2021
[Step By Step Instructions To Close More Sales]
By: Zack Mathews
It’s time for your personal training consultation.
I want you to close for two reasons. First, you'll get to help change someones life. And two, you are going to get paid!
You’ve done your marketing and advertising, someone has reached out, you’ve chatted briefly back and forth, and now they are ready to come in and meet with you.
It’s a bit of a scary feeling.
I remember my first few consultations and how nervous I was while waiting for them in my gym office. But like anything in life, the more you do it, the easier it is and less nervous you become.
And now you’re going to be even less nervous after gaining the knowledge from this article!
Whether you are a new trainer, or been in the game for years, your consultations are still one of the most important parts of your business. For many of these potential clients, it might be the first time they have seen you in person. For others, you may have chatted briefly on the gym floor, but now it’s time to really shine and show them who you are.
If you have already booked a consultation, you need to remember that this potential client already likes you and has shown interest.
Whether it was your reviews, testimonials, social media posts, they have seen something in you that you like and are willing to invest an hour of their time to meet with you. This point alone should put you at ease knowing that it’s not a complete cold sale you are working with. They are going to come in with some expectation of who you are and it’s YOUR job to show them that and exceed it.
This article will show you what you need to do to run a consultation seamlessly and show these potential clients the value you bring and paint them a picture of what it would be like to train with you. Before you know it, you will be a successful personal training with a great salary!
Today we will cover:
When you first meet your potential client, it’s imperative that you set the tone with how you want the consultation to go. Who do you want to come across as?
The cold trainer that is stone faced and shows no emotion?
Or the trainer with a big smile on their face eager to meet with this person?
Think about it from the clients prospective.
They are nervous coming into your gym, since it is already an intimidating setting for most people. If they see someone that doesn’t seem happy that they are there, do you think they are going to want to train with them? Probably not.
Make sure to following these pointers when first meeting with a potential client:
- Go straight up to them when you see them enter your gym with a big smile on your face.
- Shake their hand and thank them for coming in to see you.
- Create small talk before you go sit down. Simple, easy to answer questions are best, such as “Did you find the gym ok?”, “How are you doing today?”, etc.
- Tell them you are excited to chat and then walk them over to where you will be conducting the consultation.
That first bullet was a big one for me. It drives me CRAZY when I see trainers not making the first effort to introduce themselves. They hide in the office, keep their head down, or just ignore the person walking in because they are not sure if it’s them. Then that person has to uncomfortably ask someone else if so and so is there, and THEN the person pops their head up or comes out of the office. Please don’t be that trainer.
You don’t always know what he person is, but you can usually tell if someone is new to the facility with the way they are looking around.
One of my favorite things to do is to open the door for potential clients when I see them coming in. I’m setting the stage right away with a huge smile and a hello. You can’t help but feel comfortable if someone opens the door for you with a big smile and says “John?! Hey! What’s up! I’m Zack, it’s great to meet you!”
When you sit down with them, you don’t want to turn it into an interrogation by bombarding them with a ton of questions. “Why do you want to lose weight!?” “What’s your diet like?!” “Can you squat, deadlifts, OHP?!” Whooaaaa…let’s lay on the brakes a little.
Spend the first 5 - 15 minutes of your personal training consultation getting to know the person.
You are setting the tone that you are genuinely interested in them and they will see you more as a friend. Ask questions about their life to get them to open up about themselves and be actively listening for things that you can connect on. Easy questions include:
- What do you do for work?
- Where in town do you live? Did you grow up here?
- Do you have any kids?
- Where do you go to school?
I’m going to repeat what I said in the previous paragraph because it’s important for building a connection with them.
Actively listen to their responses so you can find similar ground and connect on.
If they say they grew up on the East Coast before they moved here, and you did to, talk about that! If you both have kids, talk about ages, schools, funny things they do, or how they drive you crazy.
Between your first interaction of making them feel like you are excited they are there, and getting to know them and showing genuine interest in who they are, you are well on your way to closing them as a client.
And better yet, before you start asking questions, ASK if you can take notes.
I’ve had multiple consultations where I'm sitting with someone and when I ask if it’s ok if I take notes, they are taken aback from it.
Taking notes shows you are truly interested in what they are saying and it gives them the perception that you really want to help them.
As for yourself, do you really think you can remember the answers to all the fitness, nutrition, and lifestyle questions you ask? There’s no way! Taking notes is an awesome way to be able to reference back to something they said and to be able to build them a great program with all the information you learned.
Pretty good quote there right? I wish I could take credit for saying that. Here is where that quote is from.
Now you get into the heart of your discussion and start learning about this potential client's past experiences with trainers and the gym, current diet and lifestyle, stress and work/life balance, etc.
And how do you learn these things?
You ask questions and LISTEN.
The other person should be doing the majority of the talking and you should be listening attentively and taking notes. This is NOT the time to start talking about yourself, your certifications, all the people you helped, and how you are going to get them to where they want to go.
This is the time for you to dig deep and get them to open up. You want to learn how they got to where they are at now. Learning about their struggles and obstacles, what worked for them, and what they do and do not like is all data that you should be processing. The more data you get, the more value you will be able to present when you offer your services.
I remember seeing a trainer spend 2 hours in a consultation with 2 woman and he talked practically the whole time. There were TWO of them, two different backgrounds, two different experiences to uncover and learn about. But all he did was talk about this services and why he is the best trainer around.
Needless to say, I did not see those woman ever enter the gym again.
Pay attention to how much you are talking. If you feel like they haven’t been talking in awhile, make a transition back to them to get the ball rolling again.
There’s a lot to learn about an individual, and you want to extract as much information as you can within your hour together.
Everyone’s personal training consultation will run differently based on what type of training they do and what type of clients they attract, but a good overview of the following material will paint you a good picture of this person’s life.
- Fitness - Current activity, past activity, gym memberships, trainer experience.
- Nutrition - current and past diets they have followed, food sensitivities, meal timing.
- Current occupation - will help dictate movement.
- Liquid calories - water, caffeine, sugary drinks.
- Movement during non workouts.
- Family life
Don’t feel like you have to follow this precisely or even in the same order. Let the conversation flow. If they are talking about nutrition and say “I have to have my morning cup of coffee”, that is an easy transition over to liquid calories where you can ask them what they like to put in their coffee, what do they drink other than that on a daily basis, etc.
You don’t want to come off as robotic when you are asking the questions. The more experience you get the easier it will become, so use these key points as a guide during the consultation.
When someone comes to see a personal trainer and says that they “want to lose weight” as their goal, there is a deeper "why" to uncover.
Lots of people want to lose weight. Lots of people want to transform their body. It’s up to you to figure out why.
There is a reason why they are looking for a trainer and are willing to invest money in someone. That’s what you are trying to discover.
One of my favorite go to’s when discussing clients goals is to ask them “why now?” Lots of people have the goal to lose weight for a long time so asking why now usually gets them to start opening up.
It could be a specific event coming up, they are fed up with how they look, they got results from a doctor, etc. These are the things you are trying to get them to talk to you about.
When they start opening up and saying these things, it’s going to set you apart from the trainer that says “No problem, I can help you lose weight” after they say that as their goal.
Every consultation is different, and some people will open up right away to you, while others it will seem like you are pulling teeth.
The important thing to remember is to not push too hard. There are some people that just don’t want to open up yet, and that is totally fine. Do your best to ask the questions to give the opportunity, and if they don’t accept it, carry on the with the rest of the consultation.
Use these questions/guidelines to help guide your client to open up.
- Why now?
- Have you struggled to lose weight (or any goal) in the past?
- What negative side effects have you noticed because you have not been able to lose weight (or any goal)?
- Does anything scare you if you stay the same and don’t reach your goal?
- How do you think you would feel if you start seeing changes in your body?
Once you’ve completed your questions and have been chatting for 20 - 30 minutes, it’s time to get them up and moving for a short workout for them and an assessment for you to see how they move.
Quick side note: when setting up a consultation, always explain that you would like to do a short workout with them so they come prepared with the proper attire.
Giving a short 15 - 20 minute workout during my personal training consultation is one of my go to's for 3 reasons:
1.It allows them to get a free workout with you, which builds your value and show them that you are willing to spend an hour of your busy day with them.
The point of this workout is not to kill them. I used to try and get as many exercises I could in a short amount of time to show it’s going to be great workouts, but I think that is an awful strategy now.
Instead, focus on a few basic mobility and resistance training movements. I like to do:
- 3 Mobility drills - Hip, ankle, shoulder.
- 1 rounds of 6 different exercises - Squat, hip hinge, overhead press, row, pushups, plank.
- 1 round of an exercise that is unique and they probably haven't done before.
You need to have some sort of wow factor for them, which is why most people will just crush a client during a sample workout to try and impress them. Instead, do one movement that they maybe haven’t done that is fun and different.
For quite a while now, I have been doing a banded Palloff press where I hold the band and give the resistance to the client. They always seem to enjoy that I am engaged in the exercise and are shocked at how much they feel it in their core. Go ahead and use it if you want!
2. Use this workout as their assessment so if they decide to train with you, you don’t need to spend another hour of not getting paid going through a basic assessment.
Everyone does their assessments different, so you can alter the exercises how you best see fit.
You should have been taking notes with the above movements and now you can see how they move and what needs improvements and what looks good.
Similar to the note taking during your earlier talk, the client will see value in the fact that you are watching attentively and taking notes on how their form looks.
3. Use this time during the workout to get to know the potential client better. I love doing the workouts/assessments because I try to get away from the coach/client feel and just be on a friend talking to a friend level.
Start asking the easy questions and engage in conversation on such topics as:
- What do you like to do in you free time?
- Do you have any pets?
- Do you like sports/ movies/ music/ etc?
- Talk about their clothing and the brands they like
- Relationships and family
- Places they like to go to in the city
I can’t tell you how many times I have asked about animals and we end up pausing the assessment for 2-3 minutes while they show me their animal pictures on their phone and I show them my cats.
On top of seeing their movements and figuring out how you can help them, this time is crucial for them to see what it would be like to spend 1-4 hours a week with you!
The last part of your personal training consultation will be to discuss pricing. The first half of the consultation was getting to know them and their past, and the second half was doing your workout and getting on a friend level with them.
When you go sit down to wrap up the consultation ask,
“Before I go over pricing options, do you have any questions about me?” This will the time for you to talk about yourself, if they have any questions. Some might ask about what sessions will look like, some about your history training, and others won’t have any questions.
From there, show them your pricing and also what will come with your packages. If you offer nutrition coaching and 24/7 access to you, it’s time to show them everything they get. Also, this is the time to bring back their goals and how they moved during the assessment to personalize the offer to them.
What sounds better?
“Ok Mrs. Smith, my rate is $80/hour and I would recommend 3x/week”
“Ok, Mrs. Smith, thanks for sticking with me up to this point! My rate is $80/session and will include your workouts, nutrition, and access to me. I know you said you wanted to lose 50 pounds and are frustrated with how you look and are stressed about the amount of work it will take to get it off. I think you would do awesome with my 2-3x/week plan. We would do strength training to give you that strong, toned (it’s not the best word, but clients know it so use it), lean curve that you are after. Also, I noticed you head pushes forward a lot during your shoulder exercises, which is common for people like you that sit at your desk for work, so we would add mobility drills in there to improve your posture and neck pain you have.
That is value my friend. You’ve been building a case this whole consultation with facts of how you can help them and now it’s time to show them what you have to offer.
If you do it with confidence, they will see it and want to sign up with you.
To finish up, they will either buy or tell you they need to think about it and will get back to you.
Whichever option they choose, don’t let your mood change one bit.
When the client wants to sign up, use the same energy you had for the consultation and get started with the paperwork.
If they need to think about it, tell them you understand and you can’t wait to hear back from them. If your mood suddenly changes because you didn’t close the sale, they will catch on to it and feel like you are just trying to get their money.
You won’t close every consultation, but if you use the methods outlines above, you will greatly increase you chances!