As a small gym owner, it can be easy to get caught in the trap of seeking more and more clients all the time. And when you hear about a new marketing company promising to bring you 30 new clients a month, it seems like a no-brainer to hop on board!

And at first, it goes well. You pick up a whopping 30 clients and another 25 the next month but fast forward six months, and all of a sudden, 80 percent of the people who came in through the discounted six-week challenge you offered have quit, and you’re left to start all over again. 


If we had a dollar for how many gym owners have told us this story: The story of a cyclical rat race to bring on new clients and replace the ones that keep leaving.

It comes down to how you onboard new clients.

The good news is there’s an easier way, an approach that can get you off the rollercoaster of having to run large campaigns all the time to replace the clients that are leaving as fast as they’re coming in, and it doesn’t rely on needing as many clients as possible ASAP!

The Solution: Personal Training First

"But I can’t charge more money. My coaches can’t sell personal training. People in my market don’t want personal training."

We have heard these objections time and time again, and yet we have worked with gyms in small towns and big cities all around the world who have learned how to charge $75 to $100 an hour for personal training, “even in my market,” (It comes down to sales training, the ability to convey value and confidence, but that’s the topic of another blog).

We have an entire e-book dedicated to PT-First that you can read here, but here’s a Cole’s Notes of why pt-first will increase your average client value, client retention, and ultimately business profitability.

Essentially, personal training first is just the tip of the Madlab model, but it sets the tone to improve client retention and average client value. 

It goes without saying you can charge considerably more for one-on-one fundamentals than group fundamentals (let alone a free trial class), but how does it increase client retention?

It does this by:

1. developing a trusting, loyal, honest relationship with a coach, one where the coach has an intimate understanding of the client’s wants, goals, habits, abilities, schedule, priorities in life etc.

2. allowing coaches to truly educate clients (as opposed to just showing them movements they need to know for group classes). More educated clients are more competent, more autonomous, make better decisions, are more accountable, and ultimately will see better results.

And it goes without saying clients who are invested in the program, with a coach in their corner to help navigate their ever-changing fitness needs, and who are seeing constant results will stick around. 

PT-First and the Big Picture

In the broader picture, personal training first can be seen as the first step in developing a successful business. 

It’s like the foundation of a house: With a solid client foundation in place, it creates a platform to help your coaches be able to earn a professional wage, and the business is able to earn 20 percent profit year after year.

Read more about how PT-first fits into the larger Madlab model here. 


If you found this article helpful and would like to see exactly how these types of strategies could improve your sales  and dramatically increase your revenue on a consistent basis,

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