PT Client Retention Strategy

Learning how to manage PT client retention rates has proven to be a challenge for both new and experienced trainers.

With this article, we’ll detail how to retain clients for your personal training programmes through 10 unique techniques.

The best way to keep clients coming back is by offering them plenty of services and you can do just this with OriGym’s Level 4 Fitness Courses, starting with our Sports Nutrition Qualification.

Get in touch with our team today to find out how you can expand the services you offer and download OriGym’s course prospectus.

10 Ways to Increase Your PT Client Retention Rates 

#1 – How To Retain Personal Training Clients By Using Monthly Packages

 How To Retain Personal Training Clients By Using Monthly Packages

If you want to improve client retention as a PT, the first thing you need to look at is how your pricing packages are structured. Specifically, you should avoid implementing block payments at all costs! 

Block payments will see clients pay a flat fee for a predetermined amount of training sessions. These packages will often look something like this:

how to retain personal training clients Packages

First and foremost, block payments will give your clients a set end date before their training has even begun. For example, if they pay £576, clients know they only have 3 sessions a week for a total of 8 weeks. 

Once the client’s block of sessions has ended, you’ll then need to resell your programme, which can be incredibly difficult if you don’t know how to sell as a personal trainer

Even if you’ve done a good job throughout your client’s package, you may still be met with the following excuses when trying to resell: 

  • “I’d love to carry on training with you! What’s the best deal you can offer?”
  • “Another trainer I know is doing the same package for less – could you match their price?”
  • “I’m going on holiday soon, but will sign back up once I’m back”
  • “I feel confident training on my own, so for now I’m going to do it alone”
  • “I have an expensive Christmas coming up, so I will sign back up in the new year”

Client retention pt conversation

Essentially, block payments leave room for your clients to make excuses why they no longer want to pay for your services. In addition to negatively impacting on your client retention as a PT, the resale process can also cause:

  • Your workload to double with the process of reselling
  • Your prices to dilute if you try and compete with other PTs
  • Gaps in your payments as clients may not resign straight away
  • The inability to forecast your finances due to fluctuating income

The solution is simple. Instead of relying on block payments, you should instead implement monthly packages and make money as a personal trainer this way. Our insightful video on this exact topic can help to shed some light on why this approach is beneficial!

With the package approach, clients will pay a set fee every month on a recurring direct debit, in exchange for a certain amount of personal training sessions.

An example of this can be found below from Amor Training:

how to retain clients as a personal trainer example of Monthly

Implementing this strategy has proven to benefit PT client retention rates, as the packages don’t come with an immediate end date. This reduces the need to resell, as clients won’t feel forced to complete their goals within the confines of a specific timeframe.

In addition to this, implementing a monthly programme can also benefit your PT client retention rates: 

  • Client Payments Become HabitualClients will be able to treat your fees like any other monthly bill, such as their gas and electricity. This allows them to forecast their finances, ensuring they have enough money for your services.
  • The Process is Simple Through setting up a direct debit, clients won’t become overwhelmed remembering what they owe you, and when they have to pay the fee.
  • Promotes Equality Among ClientsWhen operating on a block payment basis, some trainers offer certain clients cheaper fees in a bid to resell. This can cause disharmony among paying customers, with certain clients feeling cheated, as they are paying more than others for the same service.

Ultimately, when learning how to retain clients as a personal trainer, the way your packages are structured can have a ripple effect throughout your business. 

If you’d like to learn more about this topic, check out OriGym’s in-depth exploration of PT package ideas

#2 – Increase Your Client Retention Through PT Contracts 

 Increase Your Client Retention Through PT Contracts

Once your client has signed up to a specific training package, you should get them to sign a contract. 

Personal training contracts essentially outline the legal agreement between the PT and client, guaranteeing the client will pay for their package for a predetermined amount of time. They should be signed prior the commencement of any training sessions. 

Think of it this way. Rental agreements typically operate every year, meaning that a landlord locks you into a contract to pay a certain fee every month, for a total of 12 months. 

When learning how to retain clients in personal training, you can therefore implement a contract to lock them into their package for a set number of months. 

For example, check out this structure from Motivate PT, where clients must agree to a 3-month contract at a minimum:

how to retain clients in personal training 3 months

Once signed, clients will be legally bound to your service, and will have to pay these fees for the agreed amount of time. When written into a contract, this agreement may look something like this:

The price of your package is £45 per session, equating to £360 per month (2 sessions per week). You will be locked into a 3 month rolling contract, with the instalments being paid on the 1st of each month via direct debit

Sign to Agree: ___________________

Client Retention as a PT with Contracts

Once a client signs this document, you will be able to retain them for a specified amount of time. This provides you with a dependable source of monthly income, but these retention contracts also benefit clients too.

They provide reassurance that you’re agreeing to provide them with the service they’re paying for, as well as offer a tangible way to show your professionalism.

With that being said, if you breach this contract and fail to provide the service agreed upon, your client could seek legal support and leave your service. For example, if you continuously miss sessions, clients could seek a refund. 

In no way should you personally try to write this contract yourself, as the final product won’t hold up in a court of law. Instead, we’d advise using templates from sites such as LawBite, to guarantee that your document is legally binding.

#3 – Earn Additional Qualifications To Improve Client Retention As A PT

Earn Additional Qualifications To Improve Client Retention As A PT

By earning additional qualifications, you will be able to run other services alongside your training programmes. This can help to improve PT client retention rates as it gives your paying customers something else to invest in. 

We’ll look at two highly beneficial qualifications you could pursue, and how these help boost client retention.

Complete An SMT Certification To Supplement Your PT Client Retention Rates

Client retention pt SMT example

Through earning a Level 3 Sports Massage Therapy Qualification, you’ll learn how to apply different types of sports massages, as well as better understand the recuperation process.

When used correctly these techniques can promote recovery in clients who have sustained an injury. 

Through earning an SMT qualification, you can improve client retention rates as a personal trainer, as customers will be able to remain in your service, even if they’re injured.

Usually, if a client injures themselves, they’ll be unable to exercise for a prolonged period. This could hugely impact a PT, who will have just lost a reliable stream of income. 

In contrast, trainers who learn how to become a sports massage therapist can simply transfer an injured client from their pre-existing PT package to an SMT treatment plan.

Complete An SMT Certification To Supplement Your PT Client Retention Rates

Once the client has recovered, they can then return to their regular personal training package. This process will reduce any gaps in your earnings, ensuring that your client keeps paying for your service, and doesn’t have to go elsewhere for recovery.

An example of a similar pricing structure can be found below from LMC Physio & Fitness, who offer both personal training and SMT:

How to retain personal training clients with SMT

If you had a similar pricing structure, you could retain your clients through this method without losing any income. For example, let’s say PT clients paid £45 per hour-long session

If they are transferred to SMT due to injury, they’d still be paying £45 per hour – you’d just be providing sports massage rather than training. Offering both services can make your business feel fully rounded and multifaceted, a fact which is sure to impress your clients.

Offering additional services such as SMT helps to maintain PT client retention rates through adding value to your business. Clients will never have to go to a competitor to receive this service, and can instead continue to pay you.

Offer Nutrition Advice To Boost Your Client Retention 

how to retain personal training clients Nutrition

Earning an Level 4 Certificate in Nutrition can add similar value to the services you provide, and reduce the chances of a client choosing a competitor. 

Throughout the course, you’ll learn how to provide nutritional advice to clients, studying the intricate relationship between food and physical activity. 

Once you’ve obtained this qualification, you can begin to offer meal plans alongside the client’s training programme, which can help to facilitate their fitness goals. 

This will look something like this example from KT Fitness, where the service is offered as part of the overall package: 

Earning a Level 4 Advanced Sports Nutrition Qualification to Improve Client Retention as a PT

In addition to adding value to your business, providing nutritional guidance can also improve your client’s end results. For example, if their goal is to gain muscle mass, an effective training programme may be paired with a high-protein client meal plan.

The best part about offering both personal training and meal plans is that you will be able to adapt them as the clients progress. This will impress clients in the long run as it will stop them from remaining stagnant.

Helping clients achieve and further their goals may prompt them to view your service favourably. As such, they may be more likely to keep paying for your programmes to build upon this progress. 

This is because your business will be viewed as a ‘one-stop-shop’ where they can get both exercise and dietary guidance.

Further guidance on how you can get the most of this qualification can be found in our exploration of ‘How to Make Money as a Nutritionist” 

#4 – How To Retain Personal Training Clients Through Building Rapport

how to retain clients in personal training rapport

Part of learning how to retain clients in personal training is building strong relationships. Essentially, if there’s a strong bond between you and your clients, they’ll be more likely to remain paying for your services. 

This boils down to trust. If clients don’t trust you or the services you provide, then they will simply go to a competitor.

Having the trust of your clients is essential if you’re looking to retain them at a consistent rate. There are many ways in which a personal trainer can build rapport with clients, including:

  • Offering a free personal trainer consultation
  • Maintaining a consistent line of communication – e.g. through social media, texts, or regular phone calls
  • Acknowledging and rewarding a client’s hard work
  • Ask questions about a client’s personal life to start general conversations

You can find our full guide to building rapport as a personal trainer here.

Whilst these are just a few examples, each goes a long way in strengthening the relationship between trainer and client and increases the likelihood of them staying on with their programme.

 client retention as a PT is through testimonials

One way to monitor this aspect of client retention as a PT is through testimonials. These allow your customers to share their honest thoughts about the service you provide. 

By asking your clients to provide personal trainer testimonials, you will be able to assess how clients perceive you.

To highlight this, take a look at this example from the Expert PT website. Here you can see that the client specifically notes that their trainer Andy won their trust with his dedication to clear communication:

how to retain clients as a personal trainer Expert PT

From this, the trainer will understand that his communication skills are a key component in building trust and rapport between his clients and a key part of the reason why this client chose that service.

Ultimately, building rapport is one of the easiest ways to retain clients as a personal trainer. This is because you simply need to be friendly and engaged with the tasks at hand. There is no complex approach to this method – simply be yourself! 

#5 – Retain Your Personal Training Clients By Setting Smaller Fitness Goals

Retain Your Personal Training Clients By Setting Smaller Fitness Goals

One of the biggest mistakes new trainers make is setting overly ambitious goals for their clients. This leads to lower retention rates, as clients can become disheartened if they don’t meet their targets. 

The better approach is to break your client’s main goal into smaller mini-targets that follow the SMART fitness goal approach:

  • Specific 
  • Measurable
  • Attainable 
  • Relevant 
  • Time-bound

For example, if your client’s main goal is to lose 2 stone across 4 months, you should break these down into the smaller target of losing 7 lbs of fat per month.

Retain Your Personal Training Clients SMART Goals

Those wondering how to retain clients as a personal trainer should implement these smaller goals to boost motivation levels.

Your clients will likely feel more motivated once they hit these smaller monthly goals. As a result, they will remain in your service until their larger goal is accomplished.

It also allows you to strengthen your relationship with the clients by acknowledging and celebrating their accomplishments. This will reinforce their behaviour, and ensure that they stay on track to hit their overall goal.

One way to keep tabs on your clients progress is to regularly check in on them. This can be done through a variety of methods, such as:

  • A simple direct message on social media
  • A virtual phone/video call
  • An informal in-person meeting

Take Versed Fitness as an example. From the screenshot below, you can see how there offer a constant stream of communication, from daily check-ins to weekly weight checks:

how to retain personal training clients Gold

Through creating a clear line of communication between you and your client, you can ensure they stay on track to meet these smaller targets. This isn’t to say that every client will want daily communication, but the option should still be available to them. 

As a result, your client will feel more confident when these smaller goals are reached, and view your training in a favourable light. This will prompt them to stay with you until they have obtained their long term targets.

– – – –

If you enjoy learning about how to retain clients in personal training, then these other OriGym articles may also be of interest:

#6 – Creating a Reward Scheme Can Improve Your PT Client Retention Rates

Creating a Reward Scheme Can Improve Your PT Client Retention Rates

Throughout this list, you’ll have developed an understanding of how to retain personal training clients by acknowledging their hard work. 

A rewards scheme provides you with the perfect opportunity to do just that, offering you the chance to celebrate a client hitting their targets.

A reward scheme should be laid out to your client prior to the commencement of their training programme. This way, a client will know exactly what they will receive when they hit their targets.

The reward for hitting a mini-goal doesn’t need to be anything substantial, but should still tie back to fitness in some way. It could be something like a water bottle or resistance band.

You should make a bigger deal when clients hit their major/overall goals. In this instance, you should increase the value of the reward, offering something like additional training sessions free of charge.

Improve PT client retention with rewards

Clients will want to obtain these rewards, which naturally means they’ll feel more motivated to hit long-term goals, and therefore more likely to stay with you as their trainer.

It’s hard to find examples of reward schemes, as personal trainers will often tailor these programmes for specific clients in order to present it as a natural incentive, rather than something they offer to everyone. 

When it comes to learning how to retain clients for your personal training business, offering bespoke reward schemes will be more effective, as the client will feel more incentive to reach their long-term goals. 

For example, if someone successfully gained muscle mass over 2 months, you could reward them with a tub of protein powder, or a free strength and conditioning session.

#7 – Use Progress Photos to Help Retain Clients 

Retain Your Clients With The Help of Progress Photos

Another method you can implement in order to improve client retention as a PT is to take progress photos.

Your first progress photos should be taken when a client first starts using you as their PT, which will act as the ‘before’ shot. This frame will essentially highlight to clients what they looked like before entering your service.

Ideally, you should then take a follow-up photograph after 4 weeks, as this is when they’ll have started to show results. This is what Ultimate Performance do with their clients:

How to Retain Clients as a Personal Trainer With The Help of Progress Photos  1

After this initial 4 week progress picture, they should be taken every 8 weeks. But how exactly can progress photos help a PT with client retention?

When clients see these pictures, they’ll be able to see how they’ve come under your guidance. This will make the client feel motivated to continue paying for your services, as they will now have reassurance that they’re on the right path towards their overall goals.

Displaying these progress photos on your personal training social media, alongside a testimonial, can also help to inspire newer clients to remain in your services. 

Your previous success stories act as a form of social proofing, essentially validating that you can generate positive results. 

#8 – Improve Client Retention as a PT By Acknowledging Their Success 

Improve Client Retention as a PT By Acknowledging Their Success

As we’ve just touched on, those who are questioning ‘how to retain clients in personal training’ can share success stories on public platforms to acknowledge and celebrate hard work.

This helps to build further rapport with clients who have recently achieved a goal, and allows you to validate their hard work. 

Be aware that some clients may not be comfortable with this approach, and you should always receive consent before posting any form of media.

For example, when a client hits their major goal, you could create a social media post dedicated to their achievements. This could look like this example from Daoud Kameh, who’s celebrating his student Kim’s successful body transformation:

how to retain personal training clients Instagram

You must share these posts after the client has accomplished a recent goal. Creating a celebratory post will only increase the client’s positive mood, meaning they’ll associate these good feelings with the services you provide. 

In addition to building rapport, these posts can also act as a form of marketing for your business. Potential clients who stumble across your account will be able to instantly see just how effective your training programmes are.

For more advice on how you can optimise these posts, check out OriGym’s in-depth exploration of how to get personal training clients through Instagram.

Improve Client Retention as a PT By Acknowledging Celeberations

But that’s not to say this process always has to be in the form of social media posts. You could also celebrate a client’s achievements through verbal communication during sessions. This may involve:

  • Noting how much their confidence has grown since they started training
  • Highlighting skills they’ve developed
  • Reminding them of previous achievements to push them towards their next goal

For example, you could say something along the lines of:

You should be so proud of yourself for the work you’ve put into these past 8 weeks. When we first started training, you struggled to run 2k, but now you’re breezing through a 5k run with ease. I can see just how confident you’ve become every session, and I think you’re well on your way to smashing your goal of running a marathon

Celebrating your clients achievements is one of the simplest ways of improving a PT’s client retention rate.

#9 – How To Retain Clients With A Personal Training Community 

PT Client Retention high five group

Another effective way of improving PT client retention is to create a community among your clients. By doing so, your clients will be able to support each other, rather than having to rely solely on you for support.

This process is slightly easier to implement than you may think, as you can begin to establish a community-feel among your client base by hosting group events. 

For example, PT Charlie Hendrie regularly leads group hiking sessions, welcoming all of his paying customers to join.

In the screenshot provided below, Charlie notes that these events are a great way to bond and make new friends, which helps build that sense of community.

PT Client Retention Instagram Group Events

This interaction can help to build rapport and trust among your client base, ensuring they know that they can depend on each other for support too. 

This isn’t to say that these events need to be unrelated to your practice either, as you could also offer the likes of complimentary group personal training sessions, too. 

In this instance, the clients may be more likely to support one another, as they will be interacting within a fitness focused environment.

How To Retain Clients With A Personal Training Facebook

Creating a private Facebook group is an excellent way of maintaining a line of communication between clients at all times. This page can then be used to:

  • Make announcements to all your clients at once
  • Ask and answer each other’s questions
  • Celebrate each other’s achievements 
  • Recommend additional services you may offer

It’s important that you keep this group exclusive to your paying customers. You can easily set a group to Private or Invite Only using Facebook’s settings.

At OriGym, we have a Facebook group that’s exclusive to our students, where they can interact with each other for support throughout their studies and into their career:

PT client retention FB

If you create a strong sense of community among your clients, they’ll be less likely to leave your service for a competitor. This is because they will have well established relationships that they won’t want to compromise.

#10 – Learn From Cancellations To Improve Client Retention As A PT

Learn From Cancellations To Improve Client Retention As A PT

If you want to know how to retain clients as a personal trainer, it may be best to look at why certain clients are cancelling your services to begin with. 

Even the slightest explanation can provide insight that informs how your business operates moving forward.

To understand why clients wish to cancel, you should establish that they can only cancel through a direct phone call or in-person conversation with you

This will provide you with a direct answer, allowing for an open conversation to occur in order to address the root of the client’s wishes.

You might also choose to use a cancellation form that asks for the client to provide a reason for cancelling. Youfit Health Clubs do this really well:

Your Fit Cancellation Form How to retain personal training clients

We would not recommend this, as it reduces a client’s answer to a vague tick in a box. You won’t be able to learn anything from this information, meaning that other clients could leave for a similar reason.

For example, a client could cite ‘insufficient usage’ on the proposed form above, when in reality then they’re not using their PT due to the trainer only being available during hours that they’re at work.

Having face-to-face conversations with clients allows you to understand their reasons for leaving, following which you can offer to implement solutions.

Using our earlier example, after a conversation a trainer could offer to extend their working hours to suit the needs of their client.

PT Client Retention helpful with clients

The importance of making these amendments is stressed by A. M. Gonҫalves in an analysis of customer retention in the fitness industry, stating:

“It is up to companies and their professionals to be constantly on alert in order to anticipate what customers expect from their services, and thus be able to provide a service that meets their expectations and needs hence generating client satisfaction and loyalty.”

Even if your client is still adamant about cancelling following a conversation, you should still log the reasonings behind their decision. This will act as a reminder for you, helping to ensure that this instance does not happen again.

To summarise, the actions you take as a result of cancellations can positively affect client retention for PTs. If you learn from these instances and take preemptive action, other clients won’t experience the same thing, and will remain in your service.

Be aware that some clients’ reasons behind the cancellation may be out of your control, such as moving long distances or financial concerns, and you shouldn’t push them if they have a legitimate reason for leaving.

Before You Go! 

As a PT, client retention should be a top priority, and with this list you should now have a clear understanding of how you can implement a variety of strategies to maintain paying customers.

Every personal trainer wants to keep their clients coming back and the way to do this is with specialist Level 4 Fitness Courses. Get started with our Sports Nutrition Course to help clients get the most out of your sessions.

Enquire today to find out more and download our course prospectus here.

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About the Author: James Bickerstaff

james bickerstaff origym authour
James holds a BA (Hons) in Creative Writing and Film Studies and has recently gained a MA degree in Film, both of which he attained from Liverpool John Moores University. After taking up the couch to 5K challenge on a whim, James found a new passion for running, which he combines with his love for healthy cooking and writing. All of this led him to becoming a copywriter for OriGym.   When he is not writing content for the site, James can be found researching new recipes, writing music reviews, reading and watching latest film releases.  

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