How to Get Online Fitness Clients (By Jonathan Goodman)

A Simple Strategy Guaranteed to Get 1-5 New Online Training Clients in Just 7 Days 

If you train clients in person, there’s a good chance you’re frustrated by the long hours, canceled sessions, and income ceiling. The more frustrated you become, the more likely you are to consider taking some of your business online, if not all of it. 

So you read a little. Maybe you stick your toe in the water with some haphazard promotions. But each time you think you’re ready to make the jump to online training, you realize how different it is from in-person training, how much there is to learn, and how little you know. You don’t know exactly what to do, and you’re too busy to learn.


And you talk yourself out of it.

I get it. 

It is different, and there is a lot you need to know. You’re right about that. But you’re wrong about how to get started. The best way to figure out online training is to start training clients online

That means taking action before you’re ready. 

Yes, it will be imperfect action, but that’s the beauty of it. You’re going to take advantage of your inexperience by asking potential clients to help you figure it out—clients who give you permission to make mistakes, and who jump at the chance to be your test subjects.


We call it the Founding Client Challenge. Since we launched it in 2019, 84 percent of our students have landed at least one client. More important, 94 percent told us the challenge pushed them out of their comfort zone, in a good way.


The pitch:

  1. You’ve created a new and exciting 60-day program, one that’ll give your clients measurable and perhaps even transformational results. 
  2. You need a select group of founding clients to help you test the program, work out the kinks, and produce some case studies. 
  3. You don’t have everything figured out in terms of the technology or delivery. 
  4. In exchange for helping you work those things out, you’re offering your founding clients a huge discount: They’ll get two months of online training for 60 percent off the full price you’ll eventually charge.


You’ll do it with the following five steps.


Step 1: Create your 5-1-60 hook


You don’t need a name for your program, much less a logo or any other branding. All you need is what I call a 5-1-60 hook:

  • Five people
  • One goal
  • 60 days


Your pitch will go something like this:


“I’m looking for 5 [target clients] who want [goal] in 60 days.”


Here’s are a couple of examples from challenge participants:


  • “I’m looking for 5 busy yet committed women who are ready to stop the diet cycle and lose at least 5 pounds sustainably in the next 60 days.”
  • “I’m looking for 5 busy, successful men who want to get back in shape, lose 10 pounds, and improve their energy in the next 60 days.”


Notice that both hooks are simple and apply to countless people. That’s the point. 


You’re casting a wide net within your existing social network. Eventually you’ll build a network specific to the clients you want to work with online. But for now, you’ll work within the audience you can reach.  


At the same time, they both promise specific, measurable results. A lot of trainers are reluctant to focus on numbers for fat loss or muscle gain, and I respect that. I don’t like it either. But I strongly suggest using them for this challenge. 


In marketing, you have to meet people where they are before you can take them where they need to go. Only after they’ve bought in can you begin to nudge them toward your specific vision of how health and fitness should be achieved and quantified. 


Step 2: Post content three times a day 


For the seven days of the challenge, you’ll engage your audience three times a day on Facebook or Instagram. Choose the platform where you have the most engaged audience if you’re on both. 


Another platform might work, if it has a messaging system and if you get your best engagement there. So LinkedIn should be fine, while YouTube or Pinterest would be much trickier. 


Feel free to use multiple platforms, along with your email list, if you have one.


From Monday through Saturday, you’ll publish two posts and go live once. (I’ll address the Sunday posts in Step 4.) 


The content of your posts will vary, depending on your personal communication style and the audience you’re trying to reach. What matters most is that each post ends with your 5-1-60 hook and a call to action to either comment or message you for more information about your program.


Step 3: Reach out to your leads for an hour a day


I call it the Power Hour. 


It’s when you reach out to people who responded to your calls to action. Start with the ones who sent you a message. If there aren’t enough of those to fill the hour, work your way down to people who showed interest by commenting on or liking multiple posts.


Your goal is to start a conversation in which you qualify potential clients who fit within your target audience, want to achieve the goals of your program, and are likely to be successful with it. You also want to weed out the freebie-seekers by making sure the prospect is willing to pay for the program. 


What you aren’t doing is a hard sell. These are facilitated conversations to build rapport, show they need help that you’re uniquely positioned to provide, and offer them one of the few spots in your program—if they meet your criteria.  


Your Power Hour will get increasingly urgent each day, culminating with your final push on Sunday.


Step 4: Finish big


Many of our Founding Client Challenge students never get to this step. They fill their slots earlier in the week (some do it by the second day), end the promotion, and start the 60-day program with their five new clients. 

But if you still have open slots, you’ll use the seventh and final day of the challenge to make your closing arguments. Your Sunday posts are a direct call to action, telling anyone who’s considering it that the offer of a discounted training program ends tonight. 


There’s nothing like a sense of scarcity (“Just two spots left!”) to get prospects off the fence.


Step 5: Follow up with your remaining leads


You obviously don’t need this step if your roster is full. Even if it’s not, you may decide to stop with the clients you have, and focus on helping them get the best results possible in the next 60 days. 


If you still have openings you want to fill, you should follow up on the final day with three types of prospects:


  • Someone who ghosted you during a previous conversation
  • Someone who told you they have to think about it, or need to consult with a spouse or partner
  • Someone who said no


Your message to prospects in the first two categories should go something like this:


“Hey [name], I wanted you to know today is the last chance to sign up for my program for [discounted rate]. I’ve been holding a spot open for you because, based on what you told me on [day of previous conversation], you’d be a perfect fit. I do have interest from other people who want the spot. So if you’re in, let’s do this. If not, no problem. Either way, please let me know before 8 p.m. [time zone] tonight.”


For those who said no, ask if they’ve changed their mind. Sometimes all it takes is a simple follow-up, especially when there’s a looming deadline.   


Final thoughts


If the five steps of the Founding Client Challenge make sense to you as I just described them, you’re welcome to use them, with my blessing. Please let me know how it works for you.

But if you’d like more help with implementation, my coaches and I are happy to help. We offer mentoring, group support, sample content and scripts, and daily lessons and encouragement.  


The next cohort of the Founding Client Challenge begins soon. I’d love for you to join us.

--> Click here to register for the next Founding Client Challenge


Jonathan Goodman is the founder of the Personal Trainer Development Center and the Online Trainer Academy. He has written nine books. Originally from Toronto, he spends his winters traveling the world with his wife and young son.

This article was last updated on

Have more questions? Submit a request


Please sign in to leave a comment.