7 ways for building rapport as a personal trainer

Building rapport as a personal trainer is essential for gaining a strong client base. If you’re new to the fitness industry, this is one of the first things you should work on.

Online marketing and establishing your niche as a PT will certainly help you thrive, but not without cultivating positive relationships with prospective and current clients. Many trainers overlook this when starting out, so mastering this skill could give you an edge over your competition.

Here you’ll find 7 ways to build rapport as a personal trainer, so you can attract new clients on the gym floor and retain those you’re already training.


1. Appear friendly and approachable 

In a recent survey, 62% of consumers were most attracted to companies that exhibit ethical values and authenticity.

This applies to you and your business, especially since you are your own brand when working as a PT. The more you smile and interact positively with clients on the gym floor, the more ‘human’ and relatable you’ll seem.

Instead of immediately approaching clients with a sales pitch, try greeting them and chatting with them each time you see them on the gym floor.

Establishing yourself as a friendly acquaintance first can work wonders for attracting new clients. If you want to learn how to transition into this stage, skip our fourth tip.

Related: 12 roles and responsibilities of a personal trainer


2. Pay attention to your body language

personal trainer building rapport

With at least 70% of communication being non-verbal, mastering your body language when talking to potential clients is essential for building rapport as a personal trainer.

Mirroring is an effective way to create an affinity with others through your body language.

This technique involves matching the body language of the person you’re communicating with to subconsciously signal that you’re connected somehow.

This includes sitting down if they’re sitting or standing up if they’re standing. It can also include talking slower or faster to match their talking speed. When done subtly, it’s a proven method for building rapport with potential personal training clients.

Other tips for positive body language include:

  • smiling
  • standing tall
  • holding your arms in an open position
  • using eye contact when speaking

The key thing to remember when building rapport as a personal trainer is it’s not just about what you’re saying. It’s how you say it.

Avoid body language or speech patterns that could appear abrupt or standoffish, such as crossing your arms or talking too fast, even if this is how your potential client communicates.

Appearing friendly and relaxed could help them warm to you during your initial encounter if they seem introverted or shy.

Related: How to become an online personal trainer 


3. Find common ground 

Once you’ve greeted a potential client a few times and started a conversation, it’s a good idea to try finding common ground early on so you have something to connect with them over.

It’s a great way to get into further conversations with them before you follow the advice in our fourth tip and invite them to a free exercise class, for example.

Common ground could be:

  • shared hobbies away from the gym
  • similar taste in music
  • similar taste in films or TV shows
  • similar taste in books
  • follow the same sports

Bringing the above into conversation can be difficult if you haven’t spoken much before.

To make this stage more natural, try engaging in small talk first, such as discussing the weather or their plans for the weekend.

Remember, the main goal here is to find common ground, which at first could simply involve showing them you’re human too.

This is hugely important when building rapport as a personal trainer, as establishing a connection with potential clients will make them more likely to choose you over a PT they’ve barely spoken to yet.

Related: How much should I charge as a personal trainer?


4. Build rapport by offering a free exercise workshop 

building rapport personal trainer

This is hands down one of the most effective ways of building rapport as a personal trainer.

Once you’ve become acquainted with a potential client, you’ve set up the opportunity to indirectly showcase your services to them.

The process is simple. Create a short workshop focusing on an area of fitness you specialise in or one that aligns with the goals of the potential clients you’ve been talking to.

Then, around 15-20 minutes before you run it, approach the gym members (make sure they aren’t in the middle of a set or cardio session first) and politely invite them along.

Let them know it’s due to start soon and that it’s half an hour long and completely free of charge.

Not only is this more effective than delivering a hard sales pitch, but it also means that if potential clients aren’t interested, your relationship with them isn’t damaged.

They may still love what you’re offering and refer a friend interested in working with a personal trainer.

If they are interested, they’ll be much more likely to sign up with you over another personal trainer, especially since you’ve kindly given them free advice.

At the end of your workshop, give your attendees a strong CTA (call to action) to follow.

Don’t be afraid to let them know you’ve got an offer ending soon, and they’re welcome to sign up for a free consultation to learn more about your services.

Related: How to design personal training packages (step-by-step)


5. Make your consultations personal and memorable 

Your personal training consultations are your time to shine to prospective clients.   

While their structure can vary, they are free sessions that allow you to discuss the client’s goals and show them how working with you will mean they achieve them.

They’re also the perfect opportunity for you to present your personal trainer packages and encourage them to sign up, and the only time you’ll be able to hard sell to potential clients.

If you’ve put effort into building rapport with potential personal training clients beforehand, you’ll find consultations much more effective.

But if you haven’t had a chance, you must put extra effort into making them personal and memorable to stand out against competitors and establish trust.

Follow our previous tips for building rapport with personal training clients and be an excellent active listener when discussing their goals.

Find out any special training requirements they have because of an injury or health issues and use strong examples of relevant clients you’ve worked with to demonstrate your previous successes.

Related: What insurance do personal trainers need?


6. Use examples of client successes 

personal trainer rapport

Another go-to method for building rapport as a personal trainer is to demonstrate the success current or past clients have had by working with you.

The key thing many trainers overlook is using a relevant testimonial for each person they’re selling to.  

For example, if you’re talking to someone looking to gain muscle mass, you wouldn’t show them the progress of someone who lost three stone because their goal was weight loss. 

It’s better to demonstrate the success of someone who started in the same position they are in. That way, they can visibly see the results you can help them achieve if they choose you as their trainer—you’d struggle to find a better way to sell your services.

Related: Using PT testimonials to boost your business


7. Don’t forget about your current clients 

Trust is key when building rapport with personal training clients. The more your client trusts you, the more they can open up and talk to you about their goals and even the barriers they face. 

Be honest with them. If you think that their targets are too high, tell them. Push them if you think they aren’t working hard enough or can go even further. Don’t hide anything from your clients—they’ll thank you for it. 

Going the extra mile for your clients is also vital for client retention. Show them the session doesn’t end when they go home. This will help convey to your client that you are there to help. 

A friendly email asking how they are getting on or a text with a brief reminder of that 5k park run they should be doing this morning helps build a better working relationship with your client.

You could also point them to helpful books or podcasts or buy them a token gift for their birthday. Small, kind gestures can make your clients feel valued, which works wonders for retention. 

Above all else, remember to always be an active listener, so your clients feel heard. 

If they’re having a tough week, adapt their session accordingly. If their goals change, alter their workout plan and set specific goals to facilitate their progress. 


Specialist personal trainer insurance with Insure4Sport 

New to the fitness industry? You may want to consider protecting yourself and your clients with specialist insurance.

With Insure4Sport, specialist personal trainer insurance is designed to cover you if your equipment is lost, damaged, or stolen or if a client makes a claim against you.

If you suffer a serious injury while carrying out your PT sessions, you’ll also be covered for loss of earnings for up to 52 weeks.

Learn more about how we can help here, or click the button below to get an instant online quote.

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