Dear Dr. Bell, I’m just getting back into the gym after a break from Personal Training. I am starting from scratch with no clients. Do you think it would be a good idea to train a few of my friends for free so potential clients at the gym can see what I can do?

Short Answer: ABSOLUTELY! (Insert my best Rocky Balboa imitation).

Invite Family and Friends to train with you, everyone…but your spouse…that usually ends in divorce…just kidding…maybe?

What you want to do is wear your IFPA Certified Personal Trainer Apparel, to make sure you are easily identified as a Personal Trainer. Make sure the friend or family member knows that you are using them to build your personal training business so they act appropriately, positive, appreciate and portray themselves as your personal training client that is having fun.

Make sure the gym owner knows what you are doing, so they don’t confront you, accusing you of training personal training clients without paying the gym the appropriate fees. You may also want to start with the loudest, most outgoing, slightly obnoxious, crazy Uncle you have available (every family gets at least one). They tend to be your biggest advocate and strongest sells person.

I could never take money from close friends and family, however, you can get them to refer their friends to you. Except maybe the crazy Uncle, since there is a relatively high probability, his friends can get you kicked out of your gym and banned for life. Not that I intend to divulge any family secrets, but some of my Uncles made Uncle Fester look like he could have been the Ward Cleaver on “Leave it to Beaver.”

Do your best for your family and friends to treat them as professionally as you would any other personal training client. Remember your goal, which is to market and advertise yourself as a busy, sought-after and very successful personal trainer.

It would also be helpful to be a little bit “friendly loud.” Let the other gym members around you, hear you teaching and motivating your personal training clients. Master the Key Teaching Points, in the IFPA Personal Training Manual so you can flow through each point smoothly and efficiently. You will be surprised at the impression it leaves. I was doing exactly that one day in a gym and I could see the man next to me listening intently, while I taught the KTPs for the Squat. It turned out he was the head of the local University’s Exercise Science and Kinesiology Department. He told me that was the most thorough presentation he has every heard on any exercise and would I come to his class to teach to his students.

People appreciate professionalism and competencies, especially today when competencies seem to be on the decline..I could be wrong, I maybe just reacting to spending 3 days trying to get my Florida Drivers Licenses renewed…I wonder if Henry Ford really knew what he got started?

I would suggest you pick the busiest days in the gym and take your personal training clients through their workouts one after another on those busy days to create the appearance of being in high demand. People want professionals that appear successful, especially successful personal trainers.

Good Luck

Dr. Jim Bell

CEO of the IFPA

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