The Myth of Digital: Marketing Your New Personal Training Business

One of the very first things new personal trainers do is setting up a website. “Go digital” seems to be a mantra nowadays, but very few PTs know how to take full advantage of digital marketing. Lack of strategy and understanding of marketing often prevents trainers from finding first customers.

Relying solely on digital, especially in your early PTing days, may not be the best idea. It is possible to make a flying start with offline efforts alone, mainly getting customers from the gym floor and through referrals.

It is not my intention to discourage anyone from dedicating resources into digital marketing. I would be crazy to advise any personal trainer not to take advantage of it, especially since I’ve spent the last 7 years working in digital marketing and witnessing the power of the web.

However, I don’t believe that digital is necessarily the best route to success for personal trainers who are just starting out, especially if you have very little time and money to take full advantage of online marketing. Here’s why.

Having a website will not guarantee you customers

There are two major goals your website needs to be able to fulfil to be considered a successful marketing tool:

  • Drive traffic (visitors to your website)
  • Generate leads (contacts of potential customers interested in your services)

A website without traffic, or a website that doesn’t convert visitors into leads, is hardly a marketing tool. You may argue that such a website still allows you to communicate with existing customers and showcase your expertise to prospects generated through offline channels, but let’s be clear about it: having a website means very little if it doesn’t help you acquire new customers.

Creating a successful website that receives a decent amount of targeted traffic (visitors who may turn into customers) takes time. Lots of time. There are no quick wins here – not in the beginning, at least.

You will need a few months to understand how to effectively drive traffic to your website and how to convert it into paying customers. You will have to master the basics of search engine optimisation as well as build relationships with other website owners. And that takes time.

It’s the same with a blog...

Blogging can bring exceptional results. It is a powerful tool to help you drive traffic from search engines. Yet, new personal trainers may not be able to take advantage of their blogging efforts for months.

Even frequently updated blogs may not bring much traffic. And the traffic it will attract from search engines may not be right for you. If you run a personal training studio in London but the majority of your visitors come from other UK locations, you have little chance of converting them into paying customers. Traffic for the sake of traffic means very little for your business.

I honestly believe that 99% of PTs simply waste their time blogging. to start with, their blog posts lack basic search engine optimisation and keyword research. They are read by hardly anyone. Clearly, this time could be spent on other more effective activities.

Those followers on Instagram won’t make you successful either...

Instagram logo
Social media is great for social proof. Certainly, having a few thousand followers looks better than an account followed only by your family members. It may help to establish your business in the eyes of customers and serve many more purposes, like building a personal brand.

However, as with the other digital channels, it takes time to build any reasonable following. And even that won’t guarantee you success.

Personal trainers who found massive success on social media often monetise it in different ways. Some sell their online courses, others push nutritional supplements or clothing. They don’t rely on one-to-one sessions as their main sources of income.

Should you cease any online marketing efforts then?

Is digital marketing useless for new PTs? Absolutely not. It may bring great results with the right focus. How should you approach it then?

Go local

Since (most of the time) your services focus on a specific area, you may dedicate your efforts to do well in that location.

You should take full advantage of local search engine optimisation (SEO). Most of the time, it is easier to market a local business than it is to market a nationwide one.

Examples of local search phrases (so-called keywords) include “personal trainer Wimbledon,” “kettlebell classes North London” or “boxercise classes London Bridge.” Your website will rank much faster for local terms and you will need to dedicate less results to gain solid results.

Leverage other websites

In your early days, your website probably won’t rank for many keywords with a solid commercial potential. Yet, you may take advantage of other, already established websites that receive loads of traffic.

There are plenty of places where you can list your business for free.

Paid advertising

Driving paid traffic for local keywords doesn’t have to be expensive. A well-converting website may help you gain customers without the need to wait for results from your SEO.


Digital marketing (mainly SEO and social marketing) can help you building your PT business. However, don’t expect any instant results as success in the digital world is not created overnight.

Expect to spend hours on online marketing and even more hours applying that knowledge into your business.

Get your marketing strategy right; make sure you have a plan for the first few, often tricky months. Don’t rely solely on digital.

And don’t get discouraged by the lack of instant results. Online marketing is a marathon, not a sprint!