Getting your first (paying) personal training client is a hurdle most new fitness professionals face. Start gaining momentum early by trying these creative ways to get your first client (or even your second client or 200th…).

1. Offer a free lunch-and-learn for local businesses

Taking time to network in your community certainly has its advantages for making connections with local business. Offer complimentary lunch-and-learns for local real estate offices, banks, salons, law firms…any business where there is potential to get in front of people. Offer to speak on topics that resonate with the group. The lunch-and-learn cannot be about you, rather offer quality information, give them a simple takeaway with key points as well as your information and be sure to get their email addresses to add to your email list.

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2. Offer free virtual “office hours”

Set up one day each week with specific times that you offer “office hours” where people can call and ask you questions about their fitness program, weight loss goals, etc. You can promote this on Facebook/social media as well as to your growing email list. You would offer this at no cost, but this gives you an opportunity to establish a relationship and credibility with each person who calls.

3. Host a “How to Eat Out…and Still Eat Healthy” session at a local café or restaurant

Partner with a local café or restaurant where you can offer helpful tips on making healthier choices, even when eating out. Use the restaurant’s menu as a guide that also helps promote the host restaurant. And don’t forget to get the email addresses of your attendees!

4. Find out who is the editor of any local papers or publications

Create a relationship with him/her and offer to write free articles, health and wellness tips or any fresh information you think their readers would value.

5. Contact local 5k race organizers, charity walks or other local events and offer to do their pre-event warm-up

In exchange, ask if you can have a table with your information and email sign-up sheets with a fun giveaway (don’t give away free personal training; instead offer a gift card to a local business or fun fitness gadget like a FitBit).

6. Contact your local American Heart Association prior to National Walking Day (usually the first week of April) and volunteer to lead a local group walk

7. Stay connected with your email list

As you continue to make connections in your local community, whether they are a potential client or not, be sure you are adding their emails to your email database and regularly sending out emails with relevant information, education, tips, recipes, motivational stories and of course be sure to include how to contact you and the services you offer. By emailing regularly (you can even start with just twice/monthly), you will build rapport and trust with your subscribers and they are more likely to buy from you, even if not immediately.

8. Connect with influencers at places where your ideal clients exist who will promote you (i.e. golf courses/clubs, salons, cafes, local stores, etc.)

Develop relationships with local businesses where your ideal clients frequent; connect with the influencers that work there and interact with clients. Make sure you’re promoting them as well – if you send them clients, they’re more likely to feel compelled to remember to refer you.

9. Pound the pavement

This is an underrated practice since so much can take place virtually. Get out from behind the screen, meet people, go to local businesses and introduce yourself, attend community events and fundraisers, connect and create relationships with people.

10. Connect with other local personal trainers

This may feel counter-intuitive, but often times established trainers have limited time in their schedule for new clients but want someone they trust to refer. Connect with local personal trainers and cultivate good relationships.