This is an area of contention and debate for a lot of people, both clients and trainers alike. My stance may change in the future, but currently I do not train friends for free. Here is why.
When I first got into training I was excited about the possibility of helping people. I was excited about having the potential financial gains that were out there and available. I was excited to do something I loved. I wanted to share this with anyone and everyone so I started writing programs for friends. It seemed like the logical choice because a lot of these friends had been and were currently encouraging me to pursue this. They held me up and believed in me when I did not believe in myself. I wanted to give back to them. I was sure they would embrace my offer. I was so sure they would be so fired up to do this I wanted to give this this opportunity to them for free as a thank you.
I sent out emails and I sent out texts as well as a couple of phone calls. Initial interest was high. However there was a common theme that took away some of my momentum and motivation as well as my potential clients’.
“I’d love to start, but now just isn’t the time. Let me get back to you.”
I get it. Things happen, but there are millions of people that have things going on in their personal lives and still are able to maintain their desired level of fitness. There is never a perfect time to start a fitness program. It can be a daunting change, but it can be done.
Other people flat out rejected me. That’s OK. I can respect honesty.
Others had simply avoided me. That’s OK too. My door is always open for when these people are ready.
So now I had seperated those that were interested from those that were not. Time to get to work.
A couple of people just wanted me to send a program to them. I had to politely tell them that what I do is very individualized. I could send them a cookie-cutter routine but that is not what I was about. I wanted it built specifically for them. I begrudgingly sent what I thought could benefit them based on their input form, but this was very difficult. I did not do any assessments nor could I watch how they moved. I wanted to cater to my client’s needs and make them comfortable but looking back that was not doing them any good at all.
So I did a couple of free consultations/evaluations as I have always done, but now I was going to give them free sessions. This was going to give me some serious traffic and experience. This will allow me to grow my business via word of mouth.
It didn’t happen. The interest just wasn’t there. How could that be? I’ve been able to sell paid sessions but now when I want to give it away I get no takers? What gives? Then it hit me.
The client has no vested interest in a free session or sessions, there’s nothing to lose.
If they don’t do it they are out no money. They can always do it later. If they were forced to put up serious money for a session you can bet they would give a super human effort to make each session count.
I tried to look at it from a client’s perspective. After all even as a personal trainer I still see the benefit of having a trainer myself and I do on a very regular basis. Do I train with people that only charge peanuts for their services? Absolutely not. My trainer is $70 per hour.
Free sessions can also be viewed as being of lesser quality. If I see $5 personal training sessions being advertised I immediately question that trainer’s qualifications. I think to myself “something has to be up. Something is off with that offer.”
The other piece of this that I did not realize is that I simply did not give it enough time to grow. A couple days, a couple weeks or even a couple of months is not enough. I realized you need to plant a few seeds in the minds of people about who you are and what you do before your business will grow.
My advice if you are contemplating training friends for free –
- Stay positive. This is a hard industry. Not seeing clients on a regular basis can wear on a person’s confidence. You got this. Keep your chin up.
- Don’t give your services away. Stay the course with your pricing. You can give discounts now and then but do not give it away. Remember, your time is valuable too.
- Keep in touch with your contacts. Remember, these friends have friends of friends and they too might be looking for a healthy change.
Friends will understand that this is a business and will ultimately understand you need to help people but also make a living. Do not feel guilty about that. Take pride in what you do, again do NOT give it away and everything will work out.