PT on the Net Research

Key to Managing a Thriving Fitness Business: Stellar Marketing

Marketing Strategy

After reading this article, you will:

  1. Understand the 5 key pieces of information you need to acquire and understand in order to achieve marketing success  
  2. Be able to list who your ideal client is and what motivates them to hire you 
  3. Identify what you are most passionate about
  4. Answer the six questions that help you clarify what makes you unique.

You have started your personal training business and you’re sure it’s just a matter of time before your phone is ringing off the line, because you have all the necessary education and certification to impress even the most cautious potential client! But then things aren’t exactly as you anticipated, and you're now searching everywhere for THE answer to a thriving business, because you’re sure someone has the secret answer that you haven’t figured out, yet.

Well, yes, there are some things that are essential when creating a thriving business, no matter what type of business you’re in. However, the success of your business has more to do with you than "How." The "You" is what this article is all about.

Successful marketing is essential to a thriving fitness business.

In order to achieve marketing success, you must first acquire and understand the basic information needed in order to attract your ideal clients. These "basics" include determining;

  1. Who your ideal clientele is,
  2. What their primary problems are,
  3. What solutions they want, and why,
  4. What you are passionate about, and
  5. What makes you unique.

Much of this you have probably already heard already, but unless your business is exactly as you envisioned it to be, chances are there’s still room for growth. So, let’s take a look at each of these "basics" you should know and discuss how you can transform your marketing into stellar marketing, which will attract clients in numbers you only dream about.

Who is your ideal client?

This is the area I receive the greatest resistance from many people I work with because they feel that if they choose one ideal client, then they won’t have any clients! Actually, this is just the opposite. You should envision the ideal client sitting across from you, and be able to describe them as if you were describing a character in a play. When you have your ideal client clarified, you can then determine the language you will use to attract them. This way, you’ll be speaking to someone in your marketing materials, instead of trying to speak to “Generic Joe,” who may not relate to you or your message. Thus, if your ideal client that you market to is a 20-something year old male who wants to compete in marathons, and a 40 year old female contacts you because your marketing spoke to her, you CAN work with her. However, if you try to speak to everyone, at every age, and both sexes, no one will hear your message. Therefore, no one will call you!

Grab a pen and a notepad, sit back and answer a few simple questions:

There are other aspects to consider when identifying your ideal client, which Francisco Sanz addresses (How to identify your Ideal Client and optimize your website, n.d.). For an eye-opener, be sure to use the calculations under "Who is an Ideal Client?" in Sanz's article to determine how much you are NOT making when you're not working with your ideal clients.

What are your ideal clients’ primary problems?

If you fail to demonstrate to your ideal client that you understand what their problem is, they will keep looking until they find someone who understands them. Believe it or not, it’s such a simple issue to remedy. You have to know your ideal client before you can talk about his/her problem. In order to create effective marketing language, you have to first determine what their problems are, and then look at the solutions. Once you have these two pieces, you can use what you come up with over and over again on your website, in conversations with potential clients, and in marketing materials.

Answer this question (gather your pen and notepad):

If you were to follow this person around from the moment he/she gets up in the morning, until he/she goes to bed at night, what problems would they be thinking/dealing with? Make this list a full page long. When you run out of problems, go back and ask yourself if you imagined you were a shadow behind them the full day. I’ve never worked with someone who could not come up with a full page of problems.

Why is this important? As I said above, a potential client needs to know you understand what their problems are, and that you can solve them. If they don’t believe that, they will find someone whose message clearly identifies that they ‘get’ what they struggle with (DeSena, n.d.).

What solutions do your clients want, and why?

After you have the full list of problems your client struggles with, you then want to mirror that with the solutions they want to experience INSTEAD. You should continue to think as if you are in his/her head, and when I say "mirror," I literally mean mirror. In other words, if your client struggles with figuring out how to fit a workout into his day, the solution he’d like instead is to KNOW what he wants to do to work out each day.

This may seem like an unnecessary step, but it helps you again come up with marketing language that will show the potential client that you know what they want, instead of what they struggle with.

The "why" is a huge step! When you think of the initial assessments with new clients, and the things they tell you, what do they NOT tell you until you’ve been working with them for a while? THAT will be the big "why." Examples would be that a 40-something year old woman may not tell you in the initial assessment that the big "why" she wants to lose weight is so she feels sexy again. Or the 45 year old male wants to build up a strong-looking upper body because he wants to turn heads at the beach (especially in front of his wife).

Your clients' problems and the solutions are critical for your marketing, but even more important, this information shortens the amount of time you spend on marketing because your message becomes very clear, focused and targeted. I don’t know about you, but I want the amount of time I dedicate to marketing to just be a small percentage of what I do during my work week.

What are you passionate about?

You’ve likely learned that a key to success is clarifying your niche. What exactly IS a niche? It’s a combination of the people you serve, the specific problems you help them solve, and what makes you unique. Before you can determine what makes you unique, you need to identify what you are passionate about. I would imagine that, as a fitness professional, it’s not a big stretch to say that what you’re passionate about is fitness! But what is it about fitness that incites your passion? What is it you love about working with your ideal client? What can you talk about forever and never get bored with?

When we provide the work we’re passionate about, our energy shows. When our energy shows, it become infectious, which results in more clients. (Girard, n.d.).

Some people have it backwards: They think that first they need to determine what people want, then offer it. The problem with this is, you may discover what they want seems as boring as watching paint dry - to you, anyways. You will be unable to exude your passion for this, I can tell you that! Corbett Barr has it right when he says that first we have to be clear what we are passionate about, then success will follow beyond your dreams. I couldn’t agree more (The 3 Essential Steps to Finding Your Passion and Building a Career Around It, 2012).

What makes you unique?

Unfortunately, it’s not enough to just be passionate. You can attend any fitness meeting and meet hundreds of people just as passionate as you are about fitness. We know that today potential clients have multiple choices when they are looking for a personal trainer in their area. So, why would they choose you over anyone else?

In today’s environment, where competition is extremely fierce, it’s critical for you to not only understand what makes you unique, but to also embrace your uniqueness.

You can’t please everyone, all the time. Why would you even want to? Whew! That just sounds exhausting. You can totally be who you are, and be ok with it!

Back in 1996, when I started my first business, MEG Fitness, providing in-home personal fitness training to previously unfit adults, in-home training was quite unique. That was how I offered my services in a different way, and I was extremely lucky that when I started my business, no one else in the area was offering services this way, or to my target audience at my target location.

Again, gather your pen and notepad to answer these six questions (Geiser, 2008) to help you determine YOUR "unique essence":

#1. What are 7-10 things that are always true about you?

Start each sentence with “I always…” and list things that are always true for you in your life, no matter what. Be sure to look at the positives. If you can list more than 10, that’s great. Once you have your list, read each one out loud and see how they feel. You’ll know which ones ring true.

#2. Who you do specialize in helping?

What are your areas of specialization? Make a list. Don’t be afraid to speak up about what you do well. Is there another talent you have that perhaps isn’t related to fitness? How can you use that to your advantage? As someone who specializes, you can become known as an expert in that area.

Think about the experts in the fitness field. I’m sure some names come up instantly. Their names come to mind not because they specialize in everything, but most likely they specialize in specific areas. That’s how people develop a brand name for themselves and a reputation that precedes them.

#3. What are you known for?

Write down at least four characteristics you are known for. Dig into yourself and really determine what it is about you that draw people to you. Ask friends, family, colleagues, and even past and current clients. We tend to have blinders on when it comes to this area. I still remember when I first asked people this question. I was just starting my coach training and was struggling with improving my listening skills. Yet, when I heard back from everyone I asked this question of, they all said I was a great listener!

#4. What are the two or three key emotions your clients experience?

These are the emotions clients want to experience through their work with you. This is a hard one for most people, because they quickly start getting practical. So, if it’s not an emotion, cross it out! It has to be an emotion. If you are unaware of the emotions your clients experience, then ask them. Just as we addressed problems and solutions above, key emotions are key to your success. If you can’t identify those key emotions that clients want to experience, they will find someone else who can.

#5. What main problems do you solve?

Write down no less than five problems in each of these two categories: practical problems and emotional problems tied to those practical problems. Some of these problems might be the same as what you come up with in question #4. Remember, you’re looking at this from the clients’ point of view.

#6. What is the one thing you do best?

This is the practical aspect of what you do. It might be something that others have told you you’re really good at, or something you care enough about to strive to be the very best at. As an example, people tell me that I’m very good at helping them develop clarity in what they want to do and who they are, then develop focus so they can create their plans for how they will accomplish what they want to do.


Until we understand it, we think marketing is this secret thing that we’re missing. But really, all marketing is understanding who our ideal client is, what they struggle with, who we uniquely are, and how we can help these people in our own unique way. Once we have figured that out, then marketing no longer is a thing to dread, but something FUN! Yes, I said fun. Fun because then you’ll start to easily attract clients and see your dream business become a thriving business.


  1. Sanz, F. (n.d.) How to identify your Ideal Client and optimize your website. Retrieved March 31, 2013 from
  2. DeSena, J. AS. (n.d.) Solving Your Customers' Problems. Retrieved March 31, 2013 from
  3. Gerard, L. (n.d.) Five Creativity Exercises to Find Your Passion. Retrieved March 31, 2013 from
  4. Barr, C. (2012). The 3 Essential Steps to Finding Your Passion and Building a Career Around It. Retrieved March 31, 2013 from
  5. Geiser, M. (2008). Just Jump: The No-Fear Business Start-up Guide for Health and Fitness Professionals. Running Springs, CA: California Based Publishing.