15 Unique Personal Trainer Marketing Ideas for 2021

Like everyone else in this ever-evolving year of quarantining, social distancing, and having to make subsequent business-model changes, personal trainers must figure out how to market themselves in a way that is effective for our times. Trainers must take the past/present/future approach: They want to reinvigorate clients who may have stopped training, they want to maintain current clientele, and they always want to target new members. Marketing can be one of the most daunting tasks to running a personal training business–you’d certainly rather be in the gym, teaching your clients how to become stronger human beings, inside and out, than be sitting at a computer or talking on the phone! It doesn’t have to be overwhelming, though, or even particularly time consuming. Just like you teach your clients that small steps add up over time, small marketing steps will, over time, lead to big results.

Personal Trainer Marketing

Let’s look at fifteen quick and easy steps you can take throughout the remainder of 2021 to help grow your personal training business and spring into 2022 anew.

Who and What is a Personal Trainer?

The role of a personal trainer may take many different forms: coach, mentor, friend, and even drill instructor! What all personal trainers have in common, besides being fit, active, and healthy, is that you all have a passion for helping people achieve their fitness goals. But, to help more people reach their fitness goals, you must find new clients. Personal trainers have to use their personal strengths, strategic thinking, and creativity to market their business and find new clients.

15 Unique Personal Trainer Marketing Ideas for 2021

Free is Key:

Offer something free to get potential clients in the front door, which is everything. You will have instantly created a world of opportunity for yourself and the client–the chance to sell them on your services and collect their information, which allows that necessary personal trust to begin to build between personal trainer and client. In 2021, this is something you can now even do virtually. Don’t forget that you’re asking people to trust you with their health.

Allow the public to come in, tour your training space physically or virtually, ask questions, and get to know you. You might offer a free mini-class, or the chance to sit in on a one-on-one session with a current client. You could even offer a “free day,” perhaps once a month, or quarterly. Consumers love the idea of getting something for nothing, and will often wait patiently for such a chance!

Friend and Family Referrals:

Friend and Family Referrals

Word of mouth marketing is often the strongest. We all want a personal trainer we can trust, and who better to ask for referrals than your nearest and dearest? Using data driven by your current clientele, you can target an evolving group of members. Offering current members incentives, like a free month of membership, or a massage (if you have an in-house massage therapist), is a great way to build trust with those valued clients, while honing in on potential new clients.

1-on-2 or Small Group Pricing:

You might market to new members by offering a multi-trainee discount. Your client will want to take advantage of this opportunity by bringing in a friend or family member, and not only will you land a new client, you will likely be able to increase your hourly rate, simply because they’re likely to train at the same time. You are also more likely to retain them as clients, as they will hold each other accountable for attending sessions, as well as serve as cheerleaders back at home while they work towards achieving their fitness goals together.

Professional Referrals:

A bit different than asking current clients for referrals, in this case, you would reach out to local professionals whose own clients might be in need of a personal trainer. This might include doctors, massage therapists, physical therapists, chiropractors, wellness directors, etc., and you could appeal to them by offering incentives like a free session. Building cohesive reciprocal connections goes a long way in establishing credibility and professionalism, and immediately broadens your client base. 

Partner Up:

In looking for the professional referrals mentioned above, discuss pairing possibilities, even temporary ones. You might have a massage therapist come in and offer ten-minute massages while a client waits, or set one up for after their sessions. A wellness expert could ask you to come and speak at one of their seminars, and you would have the chance to discuss your services and approach to an untapped market, and be on-hand to answer their questions. You could organise a pop-up event with a chiropractor where you each offered light services, while taking the opportunity to inform your guests about what kind of treatment plans you would suggest they undergo routinely at your home facility.

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Research Customer Needs:

Look around, and ask around. What kind of classes do customers want? What kind of classes are being offered by personal trainers in other cities? Who are your local competitors? Who is their clientele? What kinds of classes are being offered by your competitors? More importantly, what kinds of classes are not being offered by your competitors? In our pandemic era, we’ve all learned to be innovative–consider new ways to engage your clients. Research the latest trends in personal training, and aim to offer unique, engaging sessions that suit a variety of lifestyle and scheduling needs.


Clients have to be extremely flexible in order to make time for personal training, especially parents of younger children. How can you make life easier for them, so that they can receive the fitness education they need from you while at the same time accommodating their demanding family life? Consider implementing a variety of custom options, even offering to arrange a one-on-one trained babysitter, available for your clients who are parents. Alternatively, construct a class that incorporates both parents and children.

Broaden Your Audience:

Reconsider the group classes you currently offer, and consider revising one or more of them in a way that makes them more accessible to a wider range of clients. Combine two current classes into a weekly all-levels group course. Combine class styles and create hybrid classes. 

Narrow Your Audience:

Consider niche markets. Research your community wants and needs, and take a chance on something new, perhaps a “first-timers” class of four students, or a small class for seniors of 65+. Think about ways to entice potential clients by creating classes that will make them feel safe and comfortable.

Distance Training:

While working one-on-one with your clients is usually preferable, making yourself available to train by distance may be necessary at times, particularly in terms of client retention. Consider offering consultations, or sessions, via an online coaching platform that uses Zoom or Skype. Clients are embracing more flexible work and living options, and would welcome a way to sometimes maintain their fitness regime from home. Use this opportunity to make your own life easier, and as stress-free as possible; you have to be your best to give your best. Offer one day a week of distance training only, and take advantage of the chance to work from your home gym.

Online Presence:

It’s impossible to ignore the many benefits of online marketing–most people immediately turn to the internet via their phone or computer, the minute they seek information. First and foremost, it’s essential to have some sort of singular online brand presence. This may be just a simple website, or even a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram page, but you need to have your basic information one Google search-and-click away. Make sure you provide the essentials like hours, location, phone number, and email address, and make sure that these stay consistent, should you choose to embrace more than one online platform. If you are a complete online novice, consider taking a free community learning course, or better yet, ask your tech-savvy nephew for pointers. 

Email List:

Collect email addresses along the way, with every interaction, everywhere you go. Having one set list of past, present, and future clients you can carefully and respectfully use to market yourself will build into a goldmine, over time. A respected and easy service like Google will help you set up such a list, and divide addresses into sub-groups for different marketing needs. Don’t abuse your privilege by sending too many emails, or lengthy ones. Make sure to capture attention with your subject line. As discussed, “free” is always enticing! Consider offering something free, in your email subject line.

Social Media:

You almost certainly need a social media presence, even if only to present the most basic information like hours, how to contact, location, and services. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the obvious places to start, but look out for other platforms, as well. Make sure to manage these pages by checking them daily, updating with any changes, etc. Having a logo, special font, or even color scheme across all platforms will lend to a sense of professionalism, without a lot of effort. 

Social Media Plus:

If you do want to put in more effort, consider updating these platforms regularly with pictures of your facility–both inside and outside–as well as your own smiling face! You could also update your social media platforms regularly with inspirational quotes, links to reputable news articles about training, and so on. The key word, though, is “regular.” Having just the basic social media presence would be preferable to platforms that show irregular updates–a client might wonder if you were still in operation, if your last post was a year prior! Also, be mindful about crossing any personal and professional social media presences. Look over your personal social media history and make sure it represents how you want to be seen professionally.

Conduct a Self-Assessment to Find Your Unique Advantages:

Embrace your strengths, and not just your physical ones. You chose the career of being a personal trainer because of something more: a desire to improve, to educate, to help. It can be uncomfortable, but do a thorough and honest self-assessment, and consider asking trusted friends and family members to chime in. Ask yourself and them: What do I bring to the table? Why would someone want me to train them? What are my positive attributes that draw people to me and make them believe in me? The point is, get to know yourself better, and don’t be ashamed to market yourself, using these true assessments. Your clients are trusting you with something very precious–their health!–and the more immediately you can show them who you are and that you want to invest in them, the more likely they are to invest in you.

Conclusion: Past, Present, and Future

2021 has taught us that we must be flexible in order to grow and evolve, a continuous process in life and business.  It’s time to reassess and update your business model, and it’s easy to do so–you are probably doing some measure of many of the above steps in some way, shape, or form. Look at your past: What clients have stopped training, particularly because of the social distance policies that made training impossible? Think about the present: Talk to your current clients. Ask about their needs, and work together towards a long term partnership. And plan for the future: There are so many more people in your community who need your personal training skills, and now you can work towards finding those people.

2021 is sure to bring many more surprises, so consider each of these as small steps you can mount, one at a time, as we finish out the year and head into 2022. By that time, you may find that the cumulative effect of all of these small measures has grown your personal training business in ways you never imagined. Don’t forget that you have to keep yourself and your business strong so that you can make your clients strong!

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