Best Communities to Help Personal Trainers Succeed

Being an independent health and fitness professional can feel lonely. You don’t have co-workers, you don’t have any staff – it’s you and your clients.

As fitness-focused groups and communities have grown online (on top of what already exists “offline”), fitness, health and wellness professionals are starting to take advantage of the vast wealth of knowledge and benefits out there. Being a part of a group or community won’t just help you get more clients or help you learn tips/tools from successful peers, but they can also act as your psychiatrist – helping you connect with fellow fitness and health professionals across the world relating to your daily frustrations, questions and concerns.

We’ve spoken to thousands of personal trainers, wellness professionals and yoga instructors to get a sense as to the most powerful communities (online and offline) to help them get the upper hand when it comes to building their own small business.

LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn Groups can help your fitness business in two ways:
(1) Shed light on great educational resources
(2) Connect with peers to help your sanity

LindedIn Groups focus around fitness, health and wellness businesses are hyper-targeted and can add hyper value to your business. Groups that were recommended to us include Fitness Trainers and Coaches (52,815 members), Health & Fitness Industry Professionals (21,507 members), and The Health & Wellness Networking Group (60,790 members).

These groups are best described by a summary from Fitness Trainers and Coaches. “Allowing professionals in this industry to network, gain knowledge and share techniques among other group members so that the common objective of improving the lives of our clients, can be achieved along with the advances in technology.

LinkedIn Groups are great because the members of these communities share training tips. They share useful blogs and they share tech tools that will help their peers succeed. The fantastic thing about these communities is the professionals don’t consider each other competition. Members are open and happy to be helpful to other professionals – it’s not a zero sum game in this community…everybody can succeed together.

LinkedIn is also a great way to connect with peers to help vent any frustration. On top of public communication feed, you can create direct and private relationships with other trainers on the platform. You can share stories, experiences and advice (public or private). Advice based on any working situations or experiences you’ve had with clients. You can decide if you’d like act as social media shrink doling out advice to peers. Act as the patient with a sea of eager fitness, health and wellness entrepreneurs who are willing to help.

Certification Programs

Don’t get me wrong – getting a 3rd party certification as a fitness trainer or health professional is work. Discovering the program that will benefit your business, analyze its benefits, pay money for the certification, and then actually prepare and take an exam to complete certification. The return on this investment can be huge for a variety of reasons.

Popular certification programs include ACE Fitness, IDEA Fit, and NASM. Becoming a part of these certification programs is great because it not only opens you up to a network of other professionals, but allows you to leverage the network for benefits. Things like employment listings, exposure within a client-facing directory, liability insurance discounts, product discounts and more. Here’s a great comparison table detailing the variety of benefits across certification programs.

Communities like these are more active and force you to do work. In return the amount of work you put in can yield tremendous dividends. About 100,000 trainers across the U.S. are part of these certification groups.

Twitter Influencers

There are a lot of these “influencers” on Twitter that dole out useful tips, tricks and advice. Especially relevant within the fitness and health industries that thrive off it. Typically most of these people cater to consumers who are looking for D.I.Y. advice. This is not as relevant to eager entrepreneurs looking to build their own business. Similarly there are many influencers you can follow on Twitter who talk about broad or niche topics that you will find interesting. Therefore, you can then pass on to your clients in the form of consulting advice or enhanced services.

Adam Bornstein (@BornFitness) provides great content and articles around a whole host of educational fitness topics. Meaghan B Murphy (@meaghanbmurphy) is an ACE certified trainer and also provides useful tips focused on training integrated with a healthy lifestyle. Jen Sinkler (@jensinkler) has a hyper focus around female heavy lifting (niche industry for some trainers). Bobby Strom (@BobbyStrom) is known as the “trainer’s trainer” with must-read tips revolving around not just fitness but medical help as well. Bob Harper (@MyTrainerBob) is meal oriented and clearly one who is friendly with food-conscious celebrities. Point being, there are all types of fitness and health personalities you can follow. To further your entrepreneurial career, depending on your business needs.

Twitter communities keep you and your specific industry in-the-know on a variety of topics. Never let any trends, topics or tips slip under the radar – turn this knowledge into power by improving your client relationships and services.

Social Media

Believe it or not, the typical American checks social media 17 times every single day. One rule of thumb when it comes to trying to attract customers: Be where your clients are!

Organically introducing your business into the daily lives of consumers is a great way to build your brand and presence. Social media enables you to build your own brand for free! An effective way to get your Call to action in front of new leads.

What’s the deal with Facebook?

Facebook doesn’t just have to be a place where you simply list your business and build content in the hopes that clients find you (as discussed above). You should first set up your business online on Facebook. Test the waters posting a variety of content to build your brand and get the fundamentals down.

Then you can actually be pro-active with Facebook and seek out potential clients on the platform. Since Facebook collects information on individuals (i.e., what they “like”, what their interests are, where they live, what they engage with on Facebook, etc.), you’d be surprised how much accuracy there can be with respect to finding potential clients using FB advertising. Core campaigns you can test out are the following:

Note that with these campaigns, you’ll pay to drive interested people to your website or your FB page or to take a specific action (i.e., Engage, Like, Click). You want these people to see your page or website, and be impressed and want to call you or email you about booking you. That means, you want to have lots of great content on your FB page to increase the “conversion” of these customer visits – that is, make sure when they do come to your FB page or website, they take action!

That’s why it’s crucial to build up those FB reviews, post interesting photos, make community announcements, share articles or write blogs yourself about you and your industry. You can pay FB to drive people to your business page, but to get the most out of Facebook advertising, the key is to make that page worth going to

An added benefit to FB is the ability to re-market. What that means is, you can have people “like” your posts or page, and you’ll be able to know exactly who they are. So these are leads…leads are interested people who could become clients, but (for whatever reason) they simply aren’t ready to book you.

So you can reach out to these leads directly, and you can (more efficiently) post more pieces of content on FB which will show up in their FB feed. If you have a personal FB account (as opposed to a business account), then you know what your “feed” is – that’s the main HOME page on Facebook where you see all the various posts and ads flowing (from friends and businesses).

How do I set it up Facebook?

Before you try to set up any advertising campaigns on Facebook, visit the Facebook for Business page. From this page, you can watch simple and helpful videos about which campaigns to run and test out, such as:

·         Pay per Post Engagement

·         Per Page Like

·         Every Website Click

These videos will do a better job in describing how each ad product will work. This will give you a sense of what might work for you based on your goals.

Once you’re ready to get started, go to your Facebook Ads Manager to start a campaign. Then get underway!

You’re going to have to stay on top of these ads and iterate. Do not overwhelm yourself with tests when you get started. Play around with the audience, the copy, and the graphics on your ads. Get comfortable with how it all works before you go crazy and start spending hundreds of $’s.

What are the risks of Facebook?

I just alluded to it in the paragraph above, but these Facebook ad campaigns can be time consuming to get set up and monitor. There’s a bit of a learning curve as there are a lot of variables to pick and choose from in terms of ad copy, graphics, audience demographic, interests, “cost per” pricing model, budget, etc. Then when the campaign goes live, you need to monitor the campaign to make sure it’s performing OK.

There have also been questions around what a “LIKE” is worth. Probably one of Facebook’s most well-known engagement actions is liking something – as in like a business page. Go ahead and enter into Google search “What is a like worth on Facebook” – search results here.

With a lot of debate as to the return on investment of getting a like. One of the main reasons is because Facebook has now reduced the frequency of business page posts appearing in the news feed of those people who have indeed liked your page. FB’s argument is that they want the consumer’s feed to be more relevant to them (more info on their rationale) and less commercial. So a simple “like” won’t make your business – you need more engagement from your audience than just that.

What’s the deal with Twitter?

Twitter is a lot more fast-paced than Facebook. Typically the behavior of a lot of consumers is opening Twitter up multiple times throughout the day to read or post quick pieces of information or updates or news. As shown in the chart below, people spend ~60% less time on Twitter each day than Facebook:

Twitter provides a different scope of content with its limited 140 character rule on tweets. To be perfectly honest, consumers don’t go on Twitter to help discover someone to hire, although Twitter would probably disagree (since they are biased of course).

What you can use Twitter for is to help build your brand. Maybe post updates on jobs completed, or happy customers, or photos of the service you performed, or any interesting links about news in your industry.

A lot of white collar professionals are also on Twitter because it’s a great place to get breaking news quickly. These white collar professionals should be your clients! They know Twitter well and will respect any service professional who leverages the platform and talks about interesting industry or business information.

Use the hashtag tool! When you do tweet something, at the end of your tweet add “#” and your industry name. (Read why hashtags are important for more info.) This will organize all your tweets and content onto a public thread about that very industry topic. It simply helps organize your tweets and increases your chances of being discovered by consumers of your vertical interests.

Twitter also supports advertising products where you can pro-actively promote yourself to a target audience of Twitter users based on their demographics, profiles, and types of tweets they engage with. Call-to-actions can be clicks on your website, email address collection (for re-marketing), or simply more followers:

How do I set up Twitter?

Just head to Twitter.com and set up an account. In about 2 mins you can start tweeting anything you like. If you know anyone (friends, peers, current customers) who is on Twitter, follow them and they most likely will follow you back. This is where you start your network.

To set up advertising campaigns just go directly to Twitter Ads here. They will walk you through how you can set up different Ad campaigns based on your goals. 

What are the risks of Twitter?

I would be weary of focusing a lot of your efforts on Twitter to grow. Twitter is so fast-paced that it does not accommodate for potential clients to spending time evaluating you and your tweets. In addition, your profile on Twitter doesn’t leave a lot as it relates to client reviews and engaging content. You typically use Twitter to link back to the important stuff.

I would create a Twitter account and be somewhat active mainly as a way for prospective clients to “check the box” when evaluating you as someone to hire. Having a Twitter account will show that you are indeed social, are thoughtful, have something to say, and just improves your brand standing in the consumer’s eyes. 

As you can probably imagine, I would also advise you not spend money on Twitter. Most companies that do spend money are large companies that want to pay for impressions re brand building, or mobile apps that have easy call-to-actions (like “Download Now”) when in a tap of a button they can get a user or customer. There are plenty of other platforms that are better designed for your service based business to help you grow more efficiently.

What’s the deal with Instagram?

Instagram is a photo sharing app. People can join Instagram, post photos, follow friends, and attract followers.

It’s almost like Twitter but more photo/visual-focused. To cut to the chase, use Instagram if you run a business where photos are fun and important. A beautician, a pet professional, a photographer, etc. – these are all service based businesses that would be fun to follow on Instagram (and I’m talking about that personally!).

Instagram is used as a brand building tool (to show off your work), and when you get enough followers then you can go viral. As shown below, you can also include a bio and even a link – a link back to your website or even any bookings tool you have one set up.

How do I set it up Instagram?

You can download Instagram from either the iTunes App Store or the Google Play Store. Note that this is primarily a mobile tool (less so desktop).

The strategy here is similar to Twitter – follow people, get them to follow you back, build a presence and post interesting stuff.

You can even pay to advertise on Instagram. Since FB owns Instagram, advertising on this photo platform is simple after you set up FB campaigns (as discussed on the above).

What are the risks of Instagram?

I would steer clear of paying for Instagram advertising. What you see are brands like Coca Cola, Uber, McDonalds, etc. – more consumer brands – advertising on Instagram as a fresh way to build brand. You’re out priced when it comes to spending on ads.

Also, you’ve got to invest the time to post continually, and – hate to say it – posts need to look good if you’re going to get any traction of interested followers. So you need to be dedicated. The risk to spending too much time is the return – when post on Twitter and Facebook, for example, that content can show up on Google search which is much more easily accessible by your clients to see. Instagram is relatively isolated to unless a client is actively search for your name or business, getting “discovered” is quite tough.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram aren’t the only social media platforms out there.

Check out others including LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr and more. I would prioritize LinkedIn first – not really from an advertising perspective. More so to create a profile on you the business owner. Lots of times clients Google the business owner before booking a service. LinkedIn has phenomenal SEO to the point where your profile will show up in search. It’s just a nice trustworthy source for clients to make sure you are a real person with experience.

Social Media shows your face where your clients are looking. In part also builds a personality and brand. You can make announcements, post content, engage with followers / likers. Even pay to pro-actively engage with others. Don’t let them fool you that you must spend to go viral. You won’t grow your following if you don’t have good content. Just keep on sharing what’s going on with your business and with you, and you’ll slowly but surely build up an audience who will start talking you up.