The Power of Community for a Successful Personal Training Business

Getting Started

Aug 13, 2020

By Tim Saye

No man is an island - and personal trainers are no exception. Whether your personal training business is based in a physical location, or you're solely online, the power of community is massive. Making connections with the right people is a way not just to market your fitness services. It's also a way to form a network of supportive professionals to make the services you can refer your clients to feel that much more impactful. 

What Is Community And Why Is It Important?

A community can include people in your geographic locality or people that share your interests. Your fitness community could be anything from the gym where you work, the town where you run your business or subgroups such as hobby and interest groups.

If your business is entirely online, your online community relates to the people you interact with on social media platforms, who like your content and comment or interact with it regularly, the public forums and message boards you frequent and the subscribers on your email list. 

It's important to be an active participant in your communities so that you become known and recognised as a professional that can help others with their health and fitness goals. It builds the "know, like and trust" for your brand and your personal training services. Counter-intuitively, don't be afraid to give away your best ideas and help for free. Delivering exceptional quality services for free is no bad thing.

When your name is well known for your specific area of expertise, people who are ready to invest in their health within your circles will likely have you on their list as the first choice to help them whether it's a member in your gym or one of your followers online. If you're recognised as someone friendly, approachable, and who provides people with a professional service that gets incredible results - you'll be a top consideration for that potential client.

If your personal training business is online, the community you belong to and serve is defined slightly differently, but it's still an opportunity to build relationships. The best way to create an online following is to specialise in a particular niche, in a way that can be difficult in a face to face gym. Don't be afraid to specialise online; it's the easiest way to stand out in a busy marketplace.

How Should You Use It?

Having a clear idea of who you serve in your fitness business is an excellent way to help you to seek out other people who are in that community and need your help. In other words, identifying your "ideal client" is crucial, but you can widen the scope by focusing on your general fitness interests too.

Once you understand the type of people who makes up your community and you're able to locate those people, either online or in real life, the best way to become part of that community is to give value first.

Inside a gym, this might include giving consultations for free or running workshops on one of the areas of your expertise such as powerlifting or nutrition. Online, this could be participating in discussions, being helpful to people asking questions in groups, or making contributions through question and answer sessions. You can also start your own group and keep inviting people who like and share your content to join you and get access to more of that.

When you give to those communities, give without the expectation of anything in return. People are under no obligation to buy from you because you gave them some tips, and that's OK. Not everyone needs to buy into your services.

What this does is establish you as an authority, it gives genuinely useful help to people that need it, and allows you to build relationships with the people that are part of your community. Not just with the people that you're helping directly, but with anyone else that sees you going out of your way to support others. 

Cultivating A Sense Of Community

Your personal training clients have bought into you as the leader of their fitness journey. Having a clear sense of your business values will make it easier for people to recognise their own values inside your business and will allow people to gravitate towards you. It also will repel people that aren't a good fit for your community. 

For example, these brothers created a sense of community spirit by responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with creating online classes for their members. After the lockdown was lifted, they continued the hybrid model of mixing online and in-person training, offering memberships for a discounted rate with donations made to support local businesses. 

That was their way to show their values of belonging to their local community and supporting local businesses - injecting money back into their local economy and giving all participating companies a much-needed boost.

Every situation is different, and in an ever-changing and improving world, what you can do to cultivate the sense of community in your circles will be different and often involve leadership skills. One thing is clear, if you start with giving first, you can't go wrong.

Practically speaking, you may want to write about your values and share solutions to problems your ideal clients face. You can use social media, your email list or your blog, and you can even record live content on your channels. 

In-person, it could involve wearing clothing that represents your brand and encourage your clients to do so too. This way, they can recognise one another on the gym floor. You can also organise face-to-face gatherings or fitness retreats, where people can get to know each other better.

Everything you do inside your business regarding community will be aimed at creating an "in-group" which you and your clients are part of, and the "out-group" where everyone else is. That creates a sense of belonging. That connection to a bigger whole is a fundamental human principle which has an incredibly strong pull. 

Creating Partnerships

Like the Benvie brothers in the article linked above, considering other business around you, whether online or in your local area is a great way to widen your own community as well as deepen that sense within the people who are already part of your gang.

It's worth considering to form deeper relationships with businesses that have a particular profile. If you think about what other services your own personal training clients need from time to time, you'll be able to identify those other clusters of communities. You can even encourage creating a referral network that includes nutritionists, massage therapists, physiotherapists, or specialist coaches. 

Not only does this help those other businesses, but they will likely send potential clients your way too. Your clients will get a far more comprehensive service at a potentially discounted rate for being part of the network of professional services. It's a win-win for everybody involved.