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By Scott Keppel

Whether you’re just starting off in the fitness industry or you’re like me and you’ve been around for decades, we are always striving to build our community and keep our current members. For some of you, this may not be a problem. You may have an influx of clients and business never seems to slow down and your clients continue to stay with you. If you’re like most, as good as your business may or may not be going, you’re always looking to grow your community and you definitely don’t want to see members leave. I am going to share some of the reasons I have been able to grow from a personal trainer in a “big box gym” to my garage and now the owner of a studio that coaches hundreds of clients across the nation and employs eight amazing coaches. Keep in mind you have to find what’s best for you and your community.

Building your community:

Stay focused on your purpose and your people. You have to always keep your mission at the forefront and remember why and who you are looking to help and want in your community.

Be purpose driven and don’t be a salesperson. People can see through the sales and most likely will not trust in you and your vision. Share your purpose and you’ll earn their trust. Earn their trust and you’ll have clients that will not only be with you long term but will tell all their friends.

Challenge your people. Whether it’s your clients or your employees, challenge them to be their best. Know their goals and push them to exceed them.

Encourage everyone to share their stories. People want to be heard and when they are able to share their stories they will feel more a part of the mission and will not only have a financial buy-in but, more importantly, an emotional one.

Be grateful and let them know. I encourage you to continually thank your clients for allowing you to help them with their goals. Realize at times they will be struggling and may feel defeated. They may feel that they can not financially afford to train with you. Reminded them how much having them as a client impacts your life and how much living a healthy lifestyle impacts theirs.

Be in your community and lead by example. It’s nearly impossible to get people to believe if you’re not living the life yourself.

Know how to use social media.

Know your neighbors. Go out to local businesses and neighborhoods that are close to you and get to know the people outside your walls. Getting to know them will eventually get them in your door and a part of your community.

Now that you’ve built your community, how do you keep it going strong? Getting to the top is just a part of it. You need to know how to stay there. These are some of the ways in which we have stayed in business for over 14 years and we at STS have some clients that have been with us just as long.

Maintaining your community:

Keep learning. Clients love to hear about what you’re learning and how you’re bettering yourself (even if it won’t necessarily help with their particular goal). This also gives you something to talk about rather than just what’s going on in Hollywood.

Listen! Ask them what their goal(s) are and then listen. Ask why it’s their goal at least a few times, dig deep. The more you know, the more you can help and the longer they’ll stay.

Train your client in a group setting. Study upon study shows that clients are more apt to achieve their goal and stick around when they are in a group setting. I prefer small group training of 2-6 participants as I feel it allows a more personalized touch rather than a larger group but still gives them the group feeling.

Measure and share. If your clients are coming to you for fat loss, wanting to lose inches, or weight, etc., then make sure you take their measurements on a consistent basis (every other week is what I suggest). If they are coming in for performance goals then make sure you measure them before starting their program with you and then measure accordingly (monthly or after their particular mesocycle) is ideal.

Give back. We have a charity event every quarter. Not only do charity events help whatever cause you may be supporting, they are a great way to show your clients that there’s more to you then just training and it’s also a great way to meet new prospective clients.

Practice what you preach. If you’re looking for your clients to give you their best, you have to give them yours. That means staying fit, being on time, being well groomed, and being present (stay off your phone!).

Know your role and be great at it. While I don’t believe in putting all your eggs in one basket, I do feel it’s important for you to know your niche, or possibly a few of them, and focus on obtaining more clients that fit that category and keeping the ones you have. I, for instance, specialize in pageantry, pre-post natal, post breast cancer and business executives. I focus most of my marketing and my continuing education in these areas. I will still market weight loss, youth-specific, etc., but I’m fortunate to have a great team of coaches and they specialize in a number of the fields I don’t. If you don’t have your own place, no worries. Team up with another coach that specializes in an area you don’t and you can set up a referral system between the two of you. This is a great way to show your clients that you realize you don’t know it all and if they are with you, you’ll be able to take care of them.

I encourage you to read over the above ideas and start implementing at least one ASAP. I also suggest you track where you’re currently at with clients and your community and how implementing your choice improves your business. Please share with the NASM community what is working and not working for you so others can learn. That way we can grow our community and help more people achieve their fitness goal(s).