Simple Personal Training Systems for a Better Business in 2021 by Stuart Aitken

Whenever personal trainers list issues with their training business, one of the first to come up is developing solid working systems. Systems help you simplify things. They help you run a business that does things at the right time and means you need to store less to do’s in your head.

If you have a system for lead generation that you know works, you can use this whenever you need to bring in new clients. If you have a system for client retention that you know helps keep your customers in your business over the long term, you can worry less about a consistent income. If you have a system for onboarding new clients, you know when someone signs on the dotted line things will happen that means they will be taken care of.

In this article, I’m going to give you 8 simple systems that’ll give you a better business.


System 1: Client Communication

During my first few years of personal training, my client communication was all over the place. I’d connect with some through email, others through WhatsApp and a client only Facebook group and then a few more through instant messenger. It was messy and became draining. Whenever I opened my phone or logged onto my computer to check email, I had messages coming at me and no way to manage them without it fragmenting my time.

I didn’t end up making a huge change, but what I did do was communicate with my current clients that the best way to contact me moving forward would be email for questions and WhatsApp for quick “I’m going to be late” type things. I also stated that I would only reply to messages Monday to Friday 7 am to 5 pm and that between those times I’d reply within 6 hours so I could start having a better work-life balance.

My recommendation to you would be to have a system set up for any new client that makes it clear that this is how they contact you and this is when you’ll be available. It’ll make your life much easier and mean you can put specific time aside to manage the places you know clients will be contacting you on.

Listen: Andy Morgan talking about client communication on the LTB Podcast


System 2: Lead and Ex Client Follow-Ups

There’s a statistic in sales that says something like 5% of people who become leads will be warm and sign up instantly. The other 95% will range from interested to barely even interested at all. It’s for this reason that you must follow up with people. You just never know when you’re going to catch an old client or a lead at the right time.

Depending on the size of your business, put time aside either weekly or monthly to contact ex-clients and leads. Check-in and send over an article if you find one that might interest them or tell them about a new service you’ve launched. Once you’ve made contact, track what happens in a simple spreadsheet.


System 3: Client Birthday’s and Anniversaries

Whenever a new client signs up, get a hold of their birthdate and put it in your calendar alongside the day they started. If they have kids or partners, try to do the same for them. You don’t have to send cards out for every event that happens (although a birthday card from your personal trainer does shout ‘excellent customer service’) but messaging to say ‘happy birthday’ or ‘thanks for supporting my business for 1 full year’ is something every personal trainer should be aiming for.


System 4: Client Onboarding

I recently had a great conversation with one of our members, Mark Council, who said that when he started with LTB, he didn’t know there was a term for welcoming people into your business. I was the exact same and didn’t know onboarding was a word or how useful its implementation could be.

Onboarding is how you introduce new people into your business. It’s the system the client goes through when they first sign up and it helps them feel welcome and like they know what to do to get going in the right direction.

To get started with improving your onboarding, list your current process step by step for when a new client signs up with you. Then, start to think about the ways you would like to make it better and start implementing some of them each time. Another good way to learn how to improve here is to ask any current client what would have made their onboarding better. Could you have communicated clearer? Could you have sent over more educational information? Could you have checked-in more often?

An example could look like:

  • Day 1: send out client welcome card and email welcome pack
  • Day 1: add to email autoresponder sequence that runs through basics of nutrition, exercise, recovery, hydration etc
  • Day 2: email across a link to Facebook group and put up a welcome to the group post
  • Day 4: check-in text or email to see how they are settling into things
  • Day 8: check-in text or email again to see how they are doing and if they have any questions
  • Day 21: book in a check-in phone call or review conversation
  • Day 30: email across feedback form (if it’s positive, send over referral link)


System 5: Finance/KPI Tracking

There is quite literally nothing worse than getting to your tax due date and having to collect all your income and expenses up. It’s stressful and unnecessary (although admittedly common among personal trainers).

You do not need anything fancy – quite the opposite. Something simple such as having a slot in your calendar that reoccurs once per month to remind you to add up your income and expenses will suffice. If you’re not sure what you should be tracking, our course linked below covers what you need to know or you could contact a local accountant.

Some other numbers that are worth tracking are what are called KPI’s or ‘key performance indicators’. These help you see where your business is sitting. Common KPI’s include: leads generated, consultations booked, sales made and client retention percentage. 

Learn more: Business foundations finance course

System 6: Education Application

The great aim of education is not knowledge but action.” – Herbert Spencer

It’s easier than ever to consume education nowadays. Books, online courses, podcasts, webinars – they are available 24/7 at the tip of your finger. But, it’s much harder to take what you’re learning and turn it into something that benefits you, your clients or your business.

I think it’s important to add that I personally get a lot of joy out of learning. I feel energized after learning new things and I get carried away by just learning things. I have to make sure I put things in place that encourage me to use the information I learn.

For me, this means I highlight anything I like in books and take over the top amounts of notes during online courses. I then take my highlights and notes and turn them into concise bullet points in an Evernote file. Once that’s done, I bold the bullets that stick out and give myself some kind of task or action. For example, I recently read James Clear’s Atomic Habits. After going through my notes, I realized I had enough to create a blog post out of them so I went about creating something from the consumption of that book.

Try to ensure that whenever you take advantage of the learning opportunities you have available to you, you’re turning what you learn into action when it’s possible.

Read: 5 lessons you can apply to yourself and your clients from Atomic Habits


System 7: Testimonials at Quarterly Intervals

Collecting testimonials from your clients is great for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s nice to know you’re doing a good job. Sometimes, we fall into a place of doubting ourselves. Seeing a client say nice things about you helps to reassure you that you are in fact doing a good job. Secondly, if you collect enough testimonials (I think 3 is a great starting point for this), you can create a folder of clients saying nice things about your business to use during sales conversations. Lastly, testimonials can be great for marketing to new clients. You can use them on your website or your social media channels. After all, word of mouth is still the most profitable form of marketing that exists.

Often, personal trainers collect testimonials haphazardly or sometimes not at all. The system I’m going to suggest you use encourages you to ask for one every 3 months from your clients.

Here it is:

  1. Create a client review form that asks questions about how they are finding things. Ask questions around the positives, negatives, areas for improvement and some of their biggest achievements so far.
  2. Give or email this to your clients and ask them to fill it in.
  3. Ask their permission to turn the review into a testimonial.
  4. If it’s the kind of review that grabs you and makes you think “other people need to read this”, turn it into a client spotlight post for social media. You could also turn the review into a video testimonial by interviewing the client.
  5. Repeat every 3 months or as often as you deem appropriate by placing a reminder in your calendar.

Learn More: Business foundations course

System 8: Client Reviews

I know you already check-in often with your clients, but the client review helps to make space to sit down and have a real conversation about what’s going on in their lives, how you can help, what challenges they are having, and whether their original goal is still their current goal. You can’t know all of this stuff from having a 2-minute chat at the start of your sessions.

Try doing a 10-20 minute client review every 6-12 weeks with each client. I do it by telling the client we’re going to do it the day of and then doing it at the start of the session. It could coincide with the sending or giving of the testimonial form.

Here are some questions that you could consider asking during the review:

  • What’s gone well over the last X weeks?
  • What’s not gone as well?
  • What have you learned?
  • What’s got in your way recently?
  • Is there anything I can do to better support you?
  • Is there anything we could change with regards to your training programme that I might be missing?


Implementing some of these simples systems will make a positive difference to your business. You’ll end up with happier customers, more proof of what you do, a better work-life balance and better used education. If you would like to use some of the suggested systems, try to give yourself one or two action points from this article.


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