It isn’t just high street shops that struggle during the holiday period.

A lot of businesses see dropping numbers and personal trainers are no different.

I for one went from 18 sessions down to 4 during my first year as a trainer. A combination of bad timing and a real lack of understanding about what it truly takes to deliver effective personal training worked to make it a rather miserable start to that new year.

So, what can you do about dwindling client numbers at this time of year?

Apart from keeping your sessions as fun (maybe even sprinkle some Christmas cheer in the form of some themed finishers?), enjoyable and as high quality as you usually do, here are some suggestions. Use your individual knowledge of each client or your client group to take appropriate action.

1. Run an Accountability Competition

Try setting your clients a simple workout challenge.

Get them all in a Facebook group and tell them to set a target. E.g. 12 workouts for the rest of December. Each person’s target will be relative to their goals and time availability.

Once they have a number, get them to state the dates they’ll do it (to increase accountability) then get them to contribute something like £10-20 each and whoever does all of their workouts get put into a hat to win the prize money. Each time they workout, they check-in on Facebook or in your group.

Early in January, do a prize draw.

2. Discuss Goals, Targets and Plans for Next Year

Show them that you’re being proactive by doing an end of year review + goal setting conversation.

Find out what they are proud of from the past year, what they wish they could’ve done better, where they want to go next year and what they would like to set their eyes on achieving.

Are there any exercises or fitness goals they really want to work towards? Is there anything they would love to see you do that will help them? What big events do they have planned in 2020?

By having a conversation around those things, you build up excitement around 2020 and give them a chance to assess how this year has gone.

3. Use Futuristic Language in Your Coaching

If you have a client who is doing elevated press-ups on a bar or smith machine, make sure you add in language like “our goal for early 2020 will be to get you doing these on the floor!”

You can do the same thing for exercises like a squat – “our next goal is to work up to doing this weight for 10 reps! Once we’ve got that, we’ll increase the weight and aim for a bodyweight back squat”

Above all, aim to draw up excitement for what the client is working towards in their sessions so that they look forward to their progress.

4. Share Their 2019 Progress With Them

Do you know how many workouts your client has completed in 2019? Do you know what weights they were doing at the start of 2019? Do you know how much weight they’ve lost?

If you know any of this data, tell them and celebrate it.

If they’ve attended 2 PT sessions per week for over 50 weeks this year, that should be celebrated.

If they’ve gone from a 60kg hip thrust to doing 90kg, make sure they know it.

Part of your job as a coach is to shine a light on the improvements and progress your clients have made.

5. Talk About What Their December Looks Like

In a recent podcast interview with Jason Leenaarts from Revolutionary U (will be released on the 9th of Dec), Jason mentioned how he was helping one of his clients with their weight loss goals by making plans for how they’ll get around all the food and alcohol at this time of year.

You should be doing the same.

This time of year is stressful for most of us. For your clients, especially the weight loss focussed ones, having conversations about how they’ll manage things like Christmas parties, constant chocolate access, more alcohol intake and the colder, darker nights is well worth doing.

Strategies like time-restricted feedings, lower-calorie days and extra accountability may help.

6. Make Sure You Thank Them

They pay your wages and make your job one of the most enjoyable and rewarding around.

Make sure you take some time to thank them for their business, dedication, consistency and support.

You don’t need to go out and buy expensive gifts, however a nice Christmas card with a handwritten note in it and a bottle of wine goes a long way.

In conclusion, there are lots of other things you can do at this time of year or throughout the year that will positively affect your retention rates, but here are six that take little time and are client-focused.


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