By Laura Quaglio

Can personal training and group exercise classes coexist peacefully? Yes, says Rick Richey, MS, DHSC, host of The NASM-CPT Podcast. In fact, he asserts that making friends with group ex instructors can really help personal trainers to gain and retain their clientele and grow their business.

“I think the big concern is that, if we send clients to classes for free, they’re going to stop paying for personal training. And that is wild insecurity talking,” he says. “The chances are, if you send your clients to classes, they are going to sing your praises to other members, which can result in new business. And [when you tell] clients, ‘Go to Caroline’s class,’ now Caroline is your new best friend, and she will refer people to you, too.”

Richey suggests looking at the gym’s group exercise schedule as a way to round out the one-on-one workouts you supply. For example, Zumba® and yoga classes could provide extra cardio and flexibility, allowing you to focus on things like resistance, power, and speed, agility and quickness training. He also recommends attending “Caroline’s” (and other) classes yourself. “Members like to train with trainers who train,” he says. “I got more clients off the floor when I was working out myself than when I was wearing a black polo shirt with a nametag. When you’re working out, members feel like they can talk to you—and then you can offer them a free session.”

Finally, if you’re giving free sessions and you can tell that the members are not interested in personal training, Richey suggests directing them to classes you think they may enjoy. By not giving these members the brushoff, you are building goodwill—and that, too, may lead to future business from them or their friends.

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