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  1. #1
    Registered User Reps4HayZeus's Avatar
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    How do I find clients? Brand new trainer.

    So, I received my certification last year from a collegiate institute, actually went to school for PT.

    I live in NYC, the money I took to keep myself a float is starting to dwindle so I need clients like, NOW. I am a freelance personal trainer. I do not work for a gym. There are places here in NYC that let you rent gym space for $25-35 an hour, which isn't bad considering the average 1 on 1 session for a PT in NY is around 100 bucks.

    Here's where I need advice. HOW does a brand new personal trainer, living in a city where they know no one, no family or friends to "train for free" or give testimonials. You're a nobody... how does someone like that (me) find and retain clients, quickly? How do you advertise? I'm currently building a website, technical issues are making that an aggravating process. I need to be doing 12-15 sessions by he middle of next month or I'm screwed. Wth do I do? All I've been able to do is advertise on craigslist and that's been to no avail. All I really have at my disposal are my own before and after photo's and my approach. Which is more well rounded and personal than what you would get at any commercial gym.


    So... how does one even take that first step? I am certified, I am insured. I am clueless as to where/how to find clients.
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  2. #2
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    Start a YouTube channel or become a snake oil supplements salesman like everyone else
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  3. #3
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    Go work in a big gym. You don't start your own business, and you don't just rent space in a place that expects you to bring your own clients off the street. You go work in a big gym that has thousands of members already and will arrange appointments for you with new members so you can introduce them to the gym. Between the appointments and the people already working out in the gym, you will have no shortage of people to talk to about training and practice your skills on.

    Every day talk to someone new, and every day teach someone a movement of your choice - the same one every day, let's say a plank (it could be a squat, a leg press, a kettlebell swing, whatever, it doesn't matter - just pick one you think is cool and useful). Add in some gym appointments and in two years you will have talked to 500 new people and taught another 500 how to do a plank.

    After each encounter with someone, go away and write things down in a little notebook - "2018 Mar 08 - 0635 - Jim, 50s, found on treadmill, accountant, healthy bodyweight, "bad back", grandkid on way, taught plank." Then when you see that person again you talk to them and refer to what they told you. "Hey Jim how's the numbers game going? Did your grandchild arrive yet? How did those planks work for you, did it help your back?" In this way you make people feel comfortable in the gym and help build a community, and you get to know everyone in the gym. You demonstrate competence, establish trust and build rapport. Doing this, when a new gym member has a question, who are they going to ask, the guy standing around behind the gym desk surfing facebook, or the one who's always out on the gym floor helping people and who seems to know everyone? And some of them will like your company so much they want to pay you for it.

    From this, you will have learned some things, like:
    • whether you want to be a trainer
    • whether you're any good at it
    • what niche you're most interested in - weight loss for guys in their 20s, rehab for older folk, whatever
    • what skills you need to work on - people skills, movement coaching, nutrition, whatever
    • how best to coach a plank, whether it is useful, and if so for whom
    • and from the plank you'll figure out some things about other movements in the gym
    After talking to and coaching the movement of over 1,000 people you may be a good trainer or a bad trainer, but you'll certainly be a better trainer than you are now. And after at least 1,000 people and two years you may have developed enough of a reputation that your current clients tell their friends and family to come train with you, and people you don't know refer people to you. And then you will be able to make your own business somewhere.
    "A fox has many tricks, a porcupine has only one trick - but a very good one."

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  4. #4
    Registered User Reps4HayZeus's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by KyleAaron View Post
    Go work in a big gym. You don't start your own business, and you don't just rent space in a place that expects you to bring your own clients off the street. You go work in a big gym that has thousands of members already and will arrange appointments for you with new members so you can introduce them to the gym. Between the appointments and the people already working out in the gym, you will have no shortage of people to talk to about training and practice your skills on.

    Every day talk to someone new, and every day teach someone a movement of your choice - the same one every day, let's say a plank (it could be a squat, a leg press, a kettlebell swing, whatever, it doesn't matter - just pick one you think is cool and useful). Add in some gym appointments and in two years you will have talked to 500 new people and taught another 500 how to do a plank.

    After each encounter with someone, go away and write things down in a little notebook - "2018 Mar 08 - 0635 - Jim, 50s, found on treadmill, accountant, healthy bodyweight, "bad back", grandkid on way, taught plank." Then when you see that person again you talk to them and refer to what they told you. "Hey Jim how's the numbers game going? Did your grandchild arrive yet? How did those planks work for you, did it help your back?" In this way you make people feel comfortable in the gym and help build a community, and you get to know everyone in the gym. You demonstrate competence, establish trust and build rapport. Doing this, when a new gym member has a question, who are they going to ask, the guy standing around behind the gym desk surfing facebook, or the one who's always out on the gym floor helping people and who seems to know everyone? And some of them will like your company so much they want to pay you for it.

    From this, you will have learned some things, like:
    • whether you want to be a trainer
    • whether you're any good at it
    • what niche you're most interested in - weight loss for guys in their 20s, rehab for older folk, whatever
    • what skills you need to work on - people skills, movement coaching, nutrition, whatever
    • how best to coach a plank, whether it is useful, and if so for whom
    • and from the plank you'll figure out some things about other movements in the gym
    After talking to and coaching the movement of over 1,000 people you may be a good trainer or a bad trainer, but you'll certainly be a better trainer than you are now. And after at least 1,000 people and two years you may have developed enough of a reputation that your current clients tell their friends and family to come train with you, and people you don't know refer people to you. And then you will be able to make your own business somewhere.
    So just a few counterpoints. First thing, I've thought about working for a gym, but there are several caveats that come with that. 1. When I quit my 9-5 in Baltimore and moved to NYC to pursue acting, I mentally walked away from ever being someone's employee again. 2. My time. As someone who is pursuing acting (filming a movie next month) my time and flexibility with it is super important. I have auditions, rehearsals and shoots when I get gigs. I can't be at the mercy of a boss to give me the day off if an audition pops up and they do just pop up with a few hours notice most times. Acting, believe it or not, is the means to an end. The end of having my own business. But I'm getting to the point now where I need to start chipping away at the personal training end of things, while still having the open availability while living in NYC.

    Lastly, before you say "well, dumbass---", what about guys like Alan Thrall, Brian Alsruhe, Elliott Hulse and the mastermind of successful bootcamps, Bedros Keullian? Guys that started training people in parks, in garages, on beaches, in their homes etc... It can be done but the heart of the question I originally posted is, how did they get those people to come to the parks, the garages? There's some kind of crazy formula to it, but it can be done... somehow.
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  5. #5
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    Originally Posted by Reps4HayZeus View Post
    When I quit my 9-5 in Baltimore and moved to NYC to pursue acting, I mentally walked away from ever being someone's employee again.
    Then you have to decide whether you wish to be true to yourself, or be successful as a trainer.

    My time. As someone who is pursuing acting (filming a movie next month) my time and flexibility with it is super important. I have auditions, rehearsals and shoots when I get gigs. I can't be at the mercy of a boss to give me the day off if an audition pops up and they do just pop up with a few hours notice most times. Acting, believe it or not, is the means to an end. The end of having my own business. But I'm getting to the point now where I need to start chipping away at the personal training end of things, while still having the open availability while living in NYC.
    You have to decide whether you want to be an actor or a trainer. If a man chases two rabbits, he goes hungry. The goal is to keep the goal, the goal. If you know who first said that without googling it, then you've been doing good research.

    Lastly, before you say "well, dumbass---", what about guys like Alan Thrall, Brian Alsruhe, Elliott Hulse and the mastermind of successful bootcamps, Bedros Keullian? Guys that started training people in parks, in garages, on beaches, in their homes etc... It can be done but the heart of the question I originally posted is, how did they get those people to come to the parks, the garages? There's some kind of crazy formula to it, but it can be done... somehow.
    Alan Thrall speaks about it in one of his videos, and Alsruhe does, too. As does Zach Even-Esh. If you are going to use them as your example, then study them properly first. You will find each of them took different approaches.

    But consider: if you can name the people who are successful while starting outside a big gym, then there are not that many. It's like the people who say, "well Richard Branson doesn't have a degree." This is true - but there are also millions of people who don't have a degree and who don't have even one-millionth the wealth of Richard Branson, you just never heard of them. This is called "survivorship bias." Most people who try things a different way fail. We remember the very few who succeeded.

    And it may indeed not have been their virtue, just luck. After all, 2% of people who have a cardiac arrest and don't receive treatment, survive. Does this mean that I don't need to bother renewing my CPR this year or call an ambulance? Well, no treatment is 2%, and early CPR + defib + EMS attendance + hospital care is well above 50%. "Yeah but Uncle Joey didn't even have CPR and he's fine." That's survivorship bias. Many people are successful doing all sorts of crazy sht. That doesn't necessarily mean their crazy sht was helpful, maybe they were just lucky.

    Less than 5% of PT graduates find employment, or any clients in self-employment straight out of school. Of those who get employed, 10% leave the industry each year until 40% of the remainder leave in the fifth year. As a result, less than 40% of PTs last 5 years, or less than 2% if you count those who graduated but never trained anyone. When looking for advice, be sure you are not listening to someone in their first year, or someone who has no clients. If they have Instagram or YouTube and only pictures of themselves, they have no clients, ignore what they say.

    There are a thousand different ways to possibly succeed. I suggest trying the way which means you will probably succeed. I'm pointing out the beaten path, if you want to go off that beaten path and into the bush, good luck.
    "A fox has many tricks, a porcupine has only one trick - but a very good one."

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  6. #6
    Registered User Reps4HayZeus's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by KyleAaron View Post
    Then you have to decide whether you wish to be true to yourself, or be successful as a trainer.


    You have to decide whether you want to be an actor or a trainer. If a man chases two rabbits, he goes hungry. The goal is to keep the goal, the goal. If you know who first said that without googling it, then you've been doing good research.


    Alan Thrall speaks about it in one of his videos, and Alsruhe does, too. As does Zach Even-Esh. If you are going to use them as your example, then study them properly first. You will find each of them took different approaches.

    But consider: if you can name the people who are successful while starting outside a big gym, then there are not that many. It's like the people who say, "well Richard Branson doesn't have a degree." This is true - but there are also millions of people who don't have a degree and who don't have even one-millionth the wealth of Richard Branson, you just never heard of them. This is called "survivorship bias." Most people who try things a different way fail. We remember the very few who succeeded.

    And it may indeed not have been their virtue, just luck. After all, 2% of people who have a cardiac arrest and don't receive treatment, survive. Does this mean that I don't need to bother renewing my CPR this year or call an ambulance? Well, no treatment is 2%, and early CPR + defib + EMS attendance + hospital care is well above 50%. "Yeah but Uncle Joey didn't even have CPR and he's fine." That's survivorship bias. Many people are successful doing all sorts of crazy sht. That doesn't necessarily mean their crazy sht was helpful, maybe they were just lucky.

    Less than 5% of PT graduates find employment, or any clients in self-employment straight out of school. Of those who get employed, 10% leave the industry each year until 40% of the remainder leave in the fifth year. As a result, less than 40% of PTs last 5 years, or less than 2% if you count those who graduated but never trained anyone. When looking for advice, be sure you are not listening to someone in their first year, or someone who has no clients. If they have Instagram or YouTube and only pictures of themselves, they have no clients, ignore what they say.

    There are a thousand different ways to possibly succeed. I suggest trying the way which means you will probably succeed. I'm pointing out the beaten path, if you want to go off that beaten path and into the bush, good luck.
    I WANNA' BE BOTH! No, I get it though. I was fighting myself over that this morning, but used tug of war as an analogy. If you try tugging against 2 teams, 1 in each arm, you're gonna' lose. But if you plant your feet and take on the 1 team, you're more likely to win; or at least have a chance. That said, turn around at any corporate gym is so high. Golds, Crunch, Equinox, you name it and a lot for the same reasons. Poor pay, poor management, burnt out for nothing etc. For me, it's more a matter of figuring out how/where to find potential clients as a freelance trainer. People do it, especially in cities like nyc that are so densely populated. In-home training is a big thing here as is remote/facetime training. But how tf do freelance trainers find those clients to begin with? My stress levels also have my judgement clouded. Sometimes I feel like it'd be "easier" to go back to Maryland, just take out a big fat loan and start a gym there.
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  7. #7
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    You don't need to quote the whole post, people can see it already.

    There's not just the big rental gyms, there are also community gyms and YMCAs. These will also not be run well, but at least there'll be less financial pressure and more focus on helping the community. Unfortunately, the issues you mention are endemic. Fitness is like hospitality, it has a low barrier to entry combined with mostly part-time casual work. So you get that mess.

    But think of it this way. Many jobs have an apprentice-master system, like plumber, chef and so on. You go to a technical college and get the theory, then you spend 2-4 years being underpaid and starting with menial work until you start to know what you're doing and can go your own way as a journeyman; in time (no less than ten years) you produce a masterwork to the guild and are considered a master. Really PT should be like that. Unfortunately it's not, so you have to treat your first 2-4 years as an unofficial apprenticeship.

    In an apprenticeship you have a master to guide you. Lacking that, your gym members and clients must be your master, your experience with them. Right now I have a successful garage gym, making more money than I did in the globogym. That's with 15-20 people, depending on the season, plus a bunch of online ones and casual drop-ins, and so on. Those 15-20 people means working at most 100 people in 4 years.

    Let's say you could just open a place now and get 20 people in your first year. Meanwhile your buddy who started at the same time as you in the globogym has worked with 400 people. Assuming you've both been paying attention, who will have learned more? So from the point of view of doing an apprenticeship, working at a globogym quite simply exposes you to more people.

    You earn less, but learn more. That's what happens during an apprenticeship.

    Plumber, chef, lawyer, doctor - in so many professions, people understand that you must spend a few years dead broke and learning, and after that you have to work your arse off while sacrificing any other goals, until finally after about ten years you've got a successful career. But come to personal training, everyone wants to be big yesterday. Well, I guess that's the nonsense the fitness industry sells to clients, why wouldn't it sell it to trainers, too?

    As well, as Alwyn Cosgrove points out (that's another one for you to look up), your violin teacher had a music teacher, your judo teacher had a judo teacher - but most trainers have never had a trainer. Why?

    Do an apprenticeship.
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  8. #8
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    I have a few suggestions
    1. have you tried Craigslist? I have had success with Craigslist. One thing to make it successful is be transparent. use your entire name, provide a website where people can learn about you first and if you have areas of expertise (diabetes, hockey training etc.) list these in your ad. It tells people up front what you know the most about. You should also provide a tasteful picture or something that is relevant to help them understand you better.

    2. Have you tried Instagram? Basically start sharing pictures of you working out etc. These can be ads for your services. Ive met people who have been successful using Instagram this way.
    Keepitnatty also makes a good point about YouTube as well.

    3. Google "massage therapist + your zip code" look at their websites, find one or two who look like they would be a good fit and call them up. See if they'd be interested in you both cross promoting each other.
    I hope some of this helps you
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  9. #9
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    Smile

    Originally Posted by KyleAaron View Post
    Go work in a big gym. You don't start your own business, and you don't just rent space in a place that expects you to bring your own clients off the street. You go work in a big gym that has thousands of members already and will arrange appointments for you with new members so you can introduce them to the gym. Between the appointments and the people already working out in the gym, you will have no shortage of people to talk to about training and practice your skills on.

    Every day talk to someone new, and every day teach someone a movement of your choice - the same one every day, let's say a plank (it could be a squat, a leg press, a kettlebell swing, whatever, it doesn't matter - just pick one you think is cool and useful). Add in some gym appointments and in two years you will have talked to 500 new people and taught another 500 how to do a plank.

    After each encounter with someone, go away and write things down in a little notebook - "2018 Mar 08 - 0635 - Jim, 50s, found on treadmill, accountant, healthy bodyweight, "bad back", grandkid on way, taught plank." Then when you see that person again you talk to them and refer to what they told you. "Hey Jim how's the numbers game going? Did your grandchild arrive yet? How did those planks work for you, did it help your back?" In this way you make people feel comfortable in the gym and help build a community, and you get to know everyone in the gym. You demonstrate competence, establish trust and build rapport. Doing this, when a new gym member has a question, who are they going to ask, the guy standing around behind the gym desk surfing facebook, or the one who's always out on the gym floor helping people and who seems to know everyone? And some of them will like your company so much they want to pay you for it.

    From this, you will have learned some things, like:
    • whether you want to be a trainer
    • whether you're any good at it
    • what niche you're most interested in - weight loss for guys in their 20s, rehab for older folk, whatever
    • what skills you need to work on - people skills, movement coaching, nutrition, whatever
    • how best to coach a plank, whether it is useful, and if so for whom
    • and from the plank you'll figure out some things about other movements in the gym
    After talking to and coaching the movement of over 1,000 people you may be a good trainer or a bad trainer, but you'll certainly be a better trainer than you are now. And after at least 1,000 people and two years you may have developed enough of a reputation that your current clients tell their friends and family to come train with you, and people you don't know refer people to you. And then you will be able to make your own business somewhere.


    This was really helpful, thanks!
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    Go to a gym, go talk to people
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