I want to talk to you about a topic that's pretty elusive to most health club operators and trainers: converting members into personal training clients. In fact, most health clubs undervalue the benefits that a personal training program can provide to their bottom line and to their clients.

Health club members who work with a personal trainer typically keep their membership longer than those who simply want to go at it on their own, not to mention the fact that personal training clients will get better results and that personal training can be a huge profit center for health clubs if the process is systemized and marketed right.
So let's talk conversion tactics.

First off, you have got to realize that when someone joins a health club, it's usually because they are experiencing some kind of pain or distress. The pain might be that they went to sit down and they split their jeans open, or maybe they're going through a divorce, or got bad news from their doctor or they simply looked in the mirror, realized they are unhappy with their body, health and fitness level and finally want to make a change.

Whatever the reason, the very first thing you have to understand is that 90% of the people who join a gym do so because they are in pain and want a solution to a problem. And this is where personal training is the answer and not just a health club membership.
Let's say that you want to get from point A to point B. You’d think the solution would be a car, right? But it's not. It's actually directions, driving instructions and a full tank of gas... The car is useless if you can't operate it and don't know where you're going.
So imagine the health club membership base as a giant group of people who want to go from point A to point B. They think that having a car alone is the answer and don't realize that without directions, driving instructions and a full tank, they can't go anywhere.

Done are the days of hard selling a member into personal training. Frankly, I don't think hard selling ever worked. Most people can smell a sales pitch coming from a mile away.
The most successful personal training sales strategies that I’ve seen work in a gym or health club setting are conversion strategies that:

  • Identify who the most likely personal training clients are in the membership base.
  • Identify what their "hot buttons" are or where their biggest sources of pain come from.
  • Create low-barrier offers that speak to the members' pain or hot buttons.
  • Make an irresistible offer to get the member into your personal training funnel and up the ascension ladder from there.

Here’s an actual example of how this four-step process would work: Let's say that your gym or health club has 1,200 active members. 

The first step would be to craft an offer that you know most members would want. It goes without saying that most people who join a gym want to lose fat and get in better shape, so you'd craft a low-barrier offer called "The 14 Day Fat Flush" program that's a limited-time program and is offered for relatively cheap.

The program might consist of working with a personal trainer in a group or boot camp setting for three to four times per week, plus a healthy eating program that they can follow.

You'd spend a week promoting this offer to your members via email, small posters and fliers. Of  course, you'd set a start date for the program, because everyone needs a little urgency in order to take action. The whole idea behind this promotion is to give members the opportunity to sample working with a trainer without having to commit to a big program or large price tag. The top two objections that folks give when they think about working with a personal trainer is that, 1) it's going to cost too much, and 2) they don't want to commit to a lot of time because they don't know if personal training is right for them -- so a short-term, low-cost offer is the perfect introduction into your "funnel."

Now, if you have a membership base of 1200, you're probably going to get 50-100 people to join your 14-day program. And just like that, you ve identified from your member base who the people are that MIGHT be interested in personal training and what their hot button is.
The next 14 days are going to be your opportunity to prove the benefits of working with a fitness trainer rather than on their own.
Here’s where you take the "fat flush" clients up the ascension ladder: Toward the end of the 14-day program, you make each client an irresistible offer to continue working with a personal trainer once the "fat flush" program ends. Your offer might be that if they commit to a personal training program, you'll give them four bonus sessions, or maybe a price break for the first month, or both.to get as many of the 14-day clients to convert into "regular" training clients. About 20-30% will convert if the offer is strong.
Running small, low-cost promotions like these once or twice a month is the easiest and most effective way to convert health club members into training clients. Long-term training clients can really add a lot of new revenue to a health club's bottom line and ultimately get your members the results they're really after.

Each month Bedros Keuilian teaches thousands of fitness trainers systems and strategies to grow their business and get more clients. Learn more on his blog at www.PTPower.com.