I actually entitled this very slide in my recent Group Fitness Accelerator seminar “How to stop new members hiding behind a tree and p*ssing themselves”.

That very thing happened once when a new member turned up for her first session at the park, only to run off home due to sheer terror about what atrocities she was about to encounter.

Fortunately, because we had the right systems in place, she came to the next session, loved it and proceeded to get great results and become one of our biggest fans!

The reality is that no matter how amazing you are as a trainer, the hardest job is often getting people in front of you.

Until you can do that, your workouts and nutrition plans aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.

I’ve had 60/100 members and 100/150 at our Christmas Parties and taken what seemed like an army to local events!

It wasn’t the amazing workouts that did it (although that’s obviously a crucial part of things!)

It’s tempting and lazy to think that the process starts when they walk in the door.

Actually, it all begins by realising that the VERY SECOND someone becomes aware of your bootcamp/gym/personal training services, is the moment that you have to start overcoming the obstacles they face.

This gets harder and harder as the reach of the internet increases and messages take on a mind of their own!

They will start to create stories in their mind about what you do from the moment their friends tell them about the sessions, through their journey through your email subscriber list, on your website, in their first session and in the first few weeks of their experience with you.

Most of these obstacles are purely psychological and rooted in self-doubt cultivated by society and experiences since they were about 4 years old.

Will I be embarrassed by all the fit people?

(Ironically, these fears are often made worse by all the great results you’ve helped people achieve and keep showing off on Facebook)

Am I too old?

Will I get hurt?

Will they make me do crazy ass diets?

Will I build muscles like the hulk when I wrap my hand around a kettlebell?

Will someone shout at me?

Is it waste of money?

I do a lot of my work now based on psychobiological factors.

I need to know peoples’ personality profiles before I decide how best to help them.

Some people rank as Harm Avoiders on my personality profiling.

These people are LOOKING for a reason not to work with you, even if they want the results.

Their main priority is to not get hurt physically or psychologically.

Others rank as Novelty Seekers.

If you can show them why their experience with you will be exciting and varied, they’ll be 90% sold – your job here is making sure it stays that way.

Finally, others have a dominant profile of Reward Dependent.

These people need social approval for everything they do.

The value of their decision will be based on what other people think – more on this as we move through the article.

The first step in helping to guide people to a place where your ‘stuff’ is part of their lifestyle, is to realise that it doesn’t matter what YOU think about these obstacles.

If they perceive an obstacle, you need to help them past it. 

Here are my favourite ways to make people comfortable working with you.

Educate Members On How to Describe Your Services

There’s a really perverse thing about fitness.

People are scared to do them.

Then they do them.

Then they go and revel in telling people they nearly puked – everything they hated to hear and made them scared.

Then people are scared to do them…

People like to brag that they worked hard in order to get a pat on the back from their friends on social media (especially Reward Dependent people) but this can put off A LOT of potential clients.

Educate your clients on what perceptions you would like to avoid on social media.

This isn’t just for your benefit but theirs as well – the more of the friends that come on the bootcamp, the more their experience will improve.

Tailor Your Marketing to Different Personality Profiles

People fit tend to have a dominant personality profile as mentioned earlier.

Each profile will react better to certain types of messages.

If your fitness camps are pretty intense and very varied they won’t suit the Harm Avoiders of this world who like to keep doing what they know well. Change at any level scares them.

A better long-term strategy for making new members feel comfortable and keeping it that way would be to market to the Novelty Seekers instead of blunting your message to attract anyone and everyone only for them to fail to settle when they get there.

It’s better to attract 50 new clients and keep 45 then attract 80 and keep 30.

However, if you’re fitness camps are based on the same kind of exercises all the time, if you can attract Harm Avoiders and make them comfortable they are likely to stay for a VERY long time for exactly the same reasons.

In this case, your marketing needs to focus on overcoming obstacles rather than excitement as you would with Novelty Seekers who tend to like CrossFit style stuff.

Novelty Seekers like not knowing if they’ll even survive – they love the challenge!

Harm Avoiders HATE that.

Overcome 1-2 Obstacles In EVERY Single Piece of Content You Publish

People are always watching.

Every photo, article, status and email you send out is conveying a message.

Each one of these should overcome an obstacle that your potential clients face in their brain.

Sometimes you have to hold back bragging about how hard your personal workout was if it will put off the people you are trying to attract to your bootcamp.

“But my workouts aren’t the same as the bootcamps!”, I hear you cry.

I know that, but they don’t and will make up stories to avoid danger.

Use what potential clients want to see.

Maybe it’s a testimonial saying what great value the camps are even though they are more expensive than other options.

Maybe it’s a transformation photo of a 65 year old client getting them past fears of age issues.

Maybe it’s an article about the different nutrition plans you have available so they are more at ease about the ‘dieting’ aspects of what you do.

Consultation Calls

Sometimes we just need a human voice to tell us it’s all going to be okay.

Give people 10 minutes on the phone to ask any questions.

Tell them about current members who had the same fears.

This can seem like another cost at first and time you already don’t have.

Invest in it even if you already say the same things on your website.

Pay someone to make the calls if you don’t have time because it will make you more money than you can even imagine (that you would have missed out on otherwise).

Surely a call that gets you a £1000 annual membership is worth the 2 hours per week you have to ‘pay for’ to call new leads?

Introductory Workshops

Take an hour each week or month (whatever works for your model) to show people how to perform the key exercises they need to be proficient at to get the most out of your group fitness sessions.

Show them how to safely perform bracing, squats, lunges, hinges, presses, push ups, rows, carries and anything else you use a lot and let them know that everything else is simply a progression of those.

Do these for free if you like and use them as a low-barrier introduction to your company.

People who attend these rarely decide not to sign up as they obviously WANT to join they just need help getting past fears about what the sessions entail.

Trial Week(s)

An extensi0n of Introductory Workshops, Trial Weeks give you a chance to build social connections as well as overcome fears about what a bootcamp involves.

I use to do 21 day trials.

Some people thought that was too long and I was missing out on signing people up early.


Giving away an extra two weeks (which I’m already conducting) to gain a client who stays for two years or more costs me NOTHING extra.

21 days may be needed to make the sessions a habit and a regular part of the member’s week.

Don’t forget the first week is often the WORST because of the DOMS, uncertainty about exercise technique and adaptation to clean eating and they will need Weeks 2-3 to realise how awesome it will make them feel.

Play the long game.

You wouldn’t expect to marry a hot girl 7 days after you met her…

Camp Buddies

No this is not about having a gay best friend.

I enlisted long-standing members to act as Camp Buddies who would work with new members when they signed up and ask them if they were okay with everything.

This is a great way to build connection, get questions answered and make people feel comfortable, all for the cost of a Camp Buddy t-shirt.

Each session had one or two Camp Buddies.

You should also introduce new people to the whole group so they feel like a valued member and not just another number stuck in the corner.

7 Day Referral 

Many people only want to do what their friends do.

As many people already have limited time available for anything outside family and work, this makes sense!

They can get fit and spend time with friends all at once.

However, there is a more business-y reason for this.

No matter how good you are, people will always have buyer’s remorse – the feeling you get once the excitement of making a change and handing money over dies away.

The sooner someone can get their friends and/or family involved in your fitness camps, the sooner they feel they made a great decision because their valued others in life agreed and did the same.

30 Day Welcome

Re-buy decisions about most things in life happen with the first 30 days.

Load the first thirty days of the customer experience with free gifts, Catch Up Calls, coaching emails and whatever else you think will help new members to be overjoyed with their decision.

Get Busy!

Making new members feel comfortable is a three pronged attack designed to make them feel good, increase new sales and increase retention rates.

However, don’t assume that your job is done after 30 days.

Your business and their life outside will continue to change.

It’s important to be close with your members and to know what else is going on in their world so you can help them navigate through with your services as an indispensable part of their life.

Fail to do this and you risk being the first thing to go when time or money gets tight.

Nobody walks away from the people who support them the most when they’re struggling and give them the ‘warm and fuzzier’ whenever they interact with them!

Get busy creating a tight-knit social scene based on close personal relationships and you will make life more fun for existing members and attract new ones.

Nobody wants to miss out on what so many other people are enjoying!