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Personal Trainer Business Tips | Picking Up Clients Without Spending Money

Personal Trainer Business Tips | Picking Up Clients Without Spending Money

Unless you have a wealthy family who are happy to give you a chunk of money to set up your personal training business, or you have some savings which you are happy to use – then the likelihood is that most personal trainers start out with very little (if any funds) in their bank account.

This means things like having a website, using Facebook Ads, and Google Adwords, or any of these other ‘pay to play’ platforms are out of the equation – and to be honest you don’t need them, especially to begin with. 

You can build a successful PT business without them and that’s what this article is going to focus on. We’ll look at some key ways to pick up clients without needing to spend a pound (or dollar if you’re American!)…

Talk To People

If you work in a gym, you potentially have hundreds of customers who are willing to invest in you, as long as you reach out to them and be friendly. It’s amazing how many personal trainers don’t engage with members at their gym. 

All you’ve got to do is smile at people, make eye contact, start up conversations…

“Hi mate, how are you?”

“How’s your training going?”

“Do you need a spot?”

“Looking good there, what training have you been doing?”

“Would you like me to save you some energy and pass those dumbbells to you?”

That’s literally how easy it is to start up a conversation with someone! 

If somebody is struggling, go up to them and offer some free help, get them to apply what you teach them and then ask them to check in with you in a couple of weeks time. This is single handedly the best way to pick up clients in the gym. Just be polite and approachable and try and get to know as many people in your gym as possible. 


When I first started LEP Fitness I picked up a couple of clients using Gumtree, all I did was posted on the site, saying I was a PT and wanted to help people get fit and loose weight. I did an offer of 10 sessions for £100 – ok this was a bargain, but it did help me pick up 2 clients and got me £200! 

Local Forums

In Sheffield (where I run LEP Fitness) there’s a forum called ‘Sheffield Forum’ it’s like a mini google but for the city of Sheffield. You can register your business and interact with people who are looking for health and fitness tips.

Going on local forums can be a great way to market your PT services and start reaching out to people in your local community, for example individuals, but also local companies who may be interested in your services. 

Small Business Funding

One thing I did when starting LEP Fitness was apply for small business funding, I did this through my University – I applied and successfully obtained £500 worth of funding. I used this money to get flyers, business cards, and banners. This enabled me to pick up another couple of clients and build some momentum. 

There are lots of local business schemes available which offer free help to businesses i.e. in the form of lessons on marketing, finance, sales, etc – but there’s also funding available too.

I’d recommend checking out what’s available in your area and having a look online. You can then use the money to buy marketing material and look to attract clients to your business. 


In previous blog posts I’ve already mentioned how much GroupOn helped me out, ok it was slave labour and I didn’t earn any money at the time! But I did earn money once GroupOn finished because lots of people signed up to full price packages. You will have to take a financial hit, but if you do a good job it’s an opportunity to gain plenty of valuable experience working with members of the public, and also a chance to profit from these customers at a later date – when the GroupOn deal ends. 

Free Talks

At the beginning of your personal training career it’s really important to get in front of as many different people as possible, not only with your coaching – to gain experience, but also outside of your coaching hours. For example if you can, do some free seminars and talks, and invite people at your gym to come and listen. You could put on a free seminar called “how to lose your first 10lbs” and then do a little 30 minute presentation, where you share 5 tips to help your audience lose weight. Once you finish you could then talk about your services and offer out some free taster sessions.  

Work With A Local PT Business

Working in a commercial gym can be great, and they usually have systems in place to get you clients. That said another option is to consider working with a smaller and local personal training business. When I started LEP Fitness, it was really slow, mainly because I had no clue about business! I reached out to a local PT called ‘Seb’ who had his own business and PT studio, and he gave me 5 sessions per week (basically people he couldn’t take on because he was fully booked up!). This gave me great experience with customers, and experience of what it was like to run a small PT business, and… I also got £20 per session (an extra £100 per week) which helped me get by a little easier each week! 

Write For Your Local Newspaper

I remember writing to my local newspaper ‘Sharrow Today’ and asking if I could write a free health and fitness column each month for them. They agreed, and came to my house and took pictures introducing me to their readers. It wasn’t a massive success, they only handed out 1,000 papers per month, but it did give me writing experience (very valuable for my fitness blog and social media) and again it brought me in a small handful of customers. 

Being Resourceful

When you have no money you have to be resourceful and put yourself out there. You wont earn BIG bucks to begin with, but you will get experience, and if you do a good job and get results, your reputation will grow and you’ll be able to charge more in the future.

Make-sure to collect a bunch of testimonials from your clients for social proof (more on this in future posts) and get lots of ‘before and after pictures” so that you can start building your ‘results portfolio’ which will then help you to attract more clients and increase your prices.  

Thanks for reading,

personal trainer blog | LEP Fitness

Nick 🙂

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If you said YES to any of the above then please check out my e-book The Ultimate Guide To Building Your Personal Training Businessread more here. To date I’ve completed over 10,000 x 1-1 personal training sessions and have been in the PT business for 7 years. I know how to build up a PT business from scratch and I share my method in the book to help other ambitious personal trainers out there who want to make a successful living from personal training.