When you're just starting your career as a fitness professional, finding your first client(s) can be a real challenge. It's a catch-22: without experience, you may not have the credibility people expect, but without clients, you can’t gain experience. Here are three creative ways to get that first client.

1. Shadow an established professional
If you're starting your career in an established fitness center, there may be a built-in training program that will ramp you up to take on your own clients. If not, you might consider reaching out to a fitness professional whom you respect and ask them if they would let you shadow them for a few (or several) sessions with their clients. Aside from the opportunity to get hands-on work, there may be a longer-term payoff by establishing a relationship with that fitness professional who may then refer you clients he/she can’t take on. 

2. Attend local networking events
The goal of attending local networking events is not to give out as many business cards as possible and call it an instant success, hoping the phone will start ringing. Networking events are meant for -- exactly that -- networking and creating relationships. The people you meet may not be your ideal client, but they may be a connection or a link to your ideal client. Look for opportunities to joint venture with other local businesses who share your niche market: salons and spas, tanning salons, realtors, coaches, physical therapists, chiropractors, doctors, etc. 

3. Offer complimentary training in return for a testimonial -- but to the right people
Many fitness professionals when starting out will make the mistake of training their friends and family (often at no cost) in order to get experience. Unfortunately, given the nature of the close relationship, training a friend or family member doesn't usually mimic the dynamic of what it would be to work with a "real" client. Try approaching a local salon or a real estate office and offer to train a couple of their key employees at a fair rate (not free), for a defined period of time. In return for the "fair rate," ask them for their testimonial so you can then use it in marketing to new clients; and you may even get them to promote you and refer you to their clients. Finding that first client can be a challenge; so you will need to be creative and think outside-of-the-box. Be willing to put in the time to gain the knowledge and experience of real-world practice and with hard work, diligence and perseverance, you have the potential to gain momentum and become a high-demand, sought-after fitness professional!


How much of your time would you estimate you spend growing your business?