Should Personal Trainers Offer Free Sessions?

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Offering free sessions lets you qualify new clients before working with them. They also give new clients a chance to qualify you.

They’re a great way to ensure you, the trainer, are working with clients you’ll have success with.

In this piece we’ll cover the pros and cons of offering free sessions. For both in-person and online coaches.

The Case for Offering Free Sessions

Working with new clients is exciting.

But it’s important you take on the right clients for your business. Otherwise, you’ll have higher churn and overspend on acquisition.

Free sessions let you see if you can actually help someone. They’re a valuable step in the onboarding process.

If you can’t help a client, don’t bother convincing yourself that you can. It won’t lead to a good outcome. It’s better to refer them to someone else.

Offering a free service also lets you prove your expertise.

Even if a new client ends up not working with you, they might think of you when their friend(s) need a trainer.

Referrals can come from anywhere. Even from clients you don’t work with anymore. Or clients you never had!

Free sessions also let you figure out whether you’re excited about a person.

Being excited about clients is important. You don’t want to show up for work and be dreading work. You should want to want to work with someone.

Check out this thread for more info on free sessions.

Obviously, free sessions don’t make sense if you have people that are willing to pay you.

But for new trainers, working for free is a great way to get your first couple of clients. Whether you’re online or in-person. Or some mix thereof.

The Downside of Offering Free Sessions

Believe it or not, there are downsides to offering your services for free.

To some clients, it might seem like you’re undervaluing your business by not charging them. This depends on the type of client you work with.

Trainers who work with high-net-worth clients generally don’t need to offer free sessions. Those clients expect to pay them.

Photo by Crosby Hinze on Unsplash

Another downside of free sessions is that they don’t guarantee you customers.

Not all free sessions lead to revenue for your business. Which can be frustrating. It might feel like you wasted an hour of your time (even though you didn’t).

That’s where an application form can help. In Superset, coaches use application forms to qualify clients ahead of meeting them. Both from a budget and services standpoint.

When you mark someone “unqualified,” you can refer them to another coach. That way you’re building a referral network too 🙂

If you want to check out Superset’s coach tools, click here to sign up.

Best Practices for Offering Free Sessions

Depending on what type of coach you are (in-person or online), the “how” might differ.

But generally, these are our recommendations for free sessions (if you decide to do it):

  • Set clear objectives upfront – make sure the client knows what they’re signing up for.

  • Limit the number of free sessions you offer – make it seem exclusive.

  • Set up a way for clients to pay you immediately after the free session.

  • If they don’t pay right away, ensure you have a good follow-up system – emails, texts, or phone calls. Doesn’t have to be fancy. It just has to work.

It’s crucial to have an easy way to get paid. It will help you capitalize on interest when it’s present, and give clients no excuse not to pay you.

Wrapping Up

Whether offering free sessions makes sense for you depends on the client you serve. And the goals, size, and offerings of your business.

But it can be an effective strategy for new trainers to get new clients. And to ensure you’re onboarding clients that you’ll have success with.

If you enjoyed this piece, we have one ask: share it with a coach friend who might benefit.

Simplify your business on Superset today.

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