Personal trainers, are you ready to expand your reach, make more sales, and grow your business?
If you’re not already on social media, you need to get there fast. Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and other platforms can be a great way to reach your audience, but no social media strategy is complete without marketing your fitness business on Instagram.
Instagram has roughly two billion active users worldwide and is the 6th most visited website in the world. Additionally, 59% of U.S. adults use Instagram daily and the average adult user spends around 30 minutes a day on the app.
This all means that no matter the demographic of your ideal client, more than likely, they are on Instagram. And Instagram has some pretty cool features to engage and communicate with ideal clients from creative videos, to series of photos, to in the moment snaps of daily life, and much more.
If you want to find, connect, and convert your ideal clients anywhere in the world, there’s no denying that Instagram is one of the best mediums. Many personal trainers have already built profitable businesses on the app, and you could be next!
But with so many features and ways to use Instagram as a business, there’s a lot to unpack. That’s why we created this ultimate guide to Instagram marketing for personal trainers, that can help you make the most of this powerful tool.
We’ll cover everything from setting up to your account, to creating content, to generating actual sales. So if you’re looking to start using Instagram to market your fitness business, you’re in the right place.
- Chapter 1: Nail down your most profitable niche.
- Chapter 2: Optimize your account.
- Chapter 3: Create a content strategy.
- Chapter 4: Take advantage of all the Instagram features.
- Chapter 5: Write captions that generate likes, shares, and sales.
- Chapter 6: Design a great looking feed that shows off your brand.
- Chapter 7: Build a community of ideal clients.
Nail down your most profitable niche.
All marketing efforts, Instagram included, take time and money. The best way to make sure that you are making the most of these precious resources is to only market to people that will give you the highest ROI on your marketing efforts, AKA your niche. Nail down your personal training niche and tailor all of your marketing content to that target audience.
If you aren’t clear on your niche for your personal training business, here are some tips to help:
1. Think about who your happiest clients are; these are the people that understand the value of your service, have worked with you the longest, and are eager to share their positive experience. Are they busy women looking to lose weight? Or are they seniors looking to gain more strength and mobility? Which client have you been able to bring the best results?
2. Make sure your niche is the right size. So when thinking about your happiest clients (and not-so-happy clients), you may have a few segments come to mind. The important next step is making sure that those segments are the right size. For example, targeting “people that want to get in shape” might be a bit too broad. Whereas, “people with rotator cuff injuries” might be a little too narrow.
You’ve got to find the sweet spot, where the market is large enough to meet your revenue goals, but not so big that you aren’t able to tailor your marketing efforts accordingly.
3. Pick a niche that matches your passion and your skills. Lastly, an incredibly important part of niching down is making sure you are qualified to work within your niche and that you actually enjoy doing so. This part is especially vital because it determines how you will excel in your business and build your reputation. The passion for what you do will come in handy when things get tough, and your expertise/experience in a certain area makes you more qualified than others to serve your particular niche.
Optimize your account
Whether you’re starting from scratch or already have a fitness account on Instagram, there’s a few steps you need to take to ensure that your profile looks professional and will reach your ideal clients.
To get the most out of marketing on Instagram, make sure your account is set up as a professional profile. This will allow you to take advantage of the Instagram business tools like analytics and ads. You can choose this option when creating your account, or switch an existing personal account to a business account.
Fill out every part of your account completely. Make sure you select your business category and include your business address and contact information.
You’ll also want to choose a standout profile photo. When people are scrolling through the search results for a personal trainer on Instagram, your photo is the only thing that will differentiate you from all the others. This doesn’t have to be a professional headshot (though it definitely can be); it just needs to be a great photo with good lighting and composition that clearly shows your face.
While setting up your personal training profile, you’ll want to optimize for keywords that will help people find you.
You may be inclined to put a unique and creative name in the “name field” of your Instagram bio, but instead, you should think about what people are actually searching for on social media.
Here are a few great examples:
- Kate · Personal Trainer NYC
- Online Personal Trainer · Jamie
- Online Health Coach
Imagine if you only used your name – you’ll miss out on all that possible traffic! No one is going to search just by name, after all, unless they already know (or have heard of) you.
If your business has a physical location, like a gym or fitness studio, you’ll also want to set up a location tag on your account. This will help you show up in location search results and make it easier for guests to tag you and “check in” to your location on their own accounts. This is something you can easily do in account settings.
The keyword optimization doesn’t stop with your name. Include relevant keywords in your bio as well. Be as clear as possible about who you serve and how in these 150 characters, and use keywords that will pull you up in search results.
You need to do this in the shortest, simplest, clearest way possible. Here are some examples:
- I help new moms get fit and STAY fit!
- I train newbies who want to run their 1st marathon
- Former contortionist => I know how to help you get flexible
Next to establishing your niche, but sure to allot some of your character count limit to mentioning any credentials you have. Here are examples:
- 3x marathon winner
- Owner of [X] Studio
- Former full-time dancer
- MS in physiotherapy
It’s great for readers to know who you help and what you do, but credentials and experience are that extra step to helping them feel confident that you can back up what you say.
Lastly, you have to include a call to action (CTA).
Now that you’ve gone through the effort of getting visitors excited about who you are and how you can help them, it’s time to tell them how to take action. A great example of a CTA is to tell clients how to contact you.
For example, your CTA might be “Schedule a free consultation” or “Visit my website”. Under your CTA, you will use the website field to include a link to where you want your clients to go. This link may go directly to your booking page or to your contact page on your website.
Instagram only allows one link to be included in the bio section, but if you want to have more than easy access links on your profile, you can create a “link in bio” page. This is a unique webpage where you can put multiple link buttons in one place. Linkr and Linktree are popular tools for this. Additionally, if you’re web savvy, you can create your own link page through whatever site builder you use for your website, like Squarespace.
When it comes to perfecting your bio, don’t be afraid to experiment. We also recommend breaking up your sections of text with emojis that showcase your brand. Remember that your bio isn’t stuck to its first iteration – take advantage of tweaking and editing it from time to time to keep things fresh and get the most optimal results.
Create a content strategy
Clearly, one of the most important but also the most time consuming parts of marketing your business on Instagram is churning out content week after week. As a personal trainer, you want content that’s engaging and entertaining and that ultimately converts followers to paying clients.
If you’re constantly coming up with post ideas on the fly or relying on the same, stale ideas that other fitness businesses are using, you’re not going to see the results you want on Instagram.
It’s important to follow a content framework that helps you consistently generate post ideas, stand out from the competition, attract your ideal customers, and make real sales. Here’s an overview of the content framework that we recommend for all personal trainers.
Of course, a good bit of your content on Instagram will be related to fitness, but it’s also important to share other pieces of your personality that aren’t necessarily fitness based. This helps you to connect with your ideal clients in a deeper way and build that “like” factor.
@katiecrewe sharing her love for her daughter
We all have multiple identities and pieces of our personality that we attach to. You may identify with being a mom, a dog lover, a traveler, etc. We are drawn to people that have similar identities. Think about what parts of your personality you might share with your ideal clients and share 1-2 of those traits with your followers online — in addition to your fitness content.
Some examples of this kind of content:
- A picture of your family on vacation
- A video of walking your dog
- A Story sharing the new song you can’t stop listening to
If you’re in the market for a new pair of headphones, more than likely, you will spend a good amount of time reading reviews online before deciding which pair to buy. This is because other people’s opinions matter to us when making purchasing decisions.
Your Instagram is a great opportunity to convert followers to paying clients and generate real sales, if you can win their trust and prove your results. This is where social proof comes in. Share with your followers the results and progress you have already helped others achieve.
The first thing that comes to mind may be epic “before & after” transformations, which can be really powerful, but aren’t always readily available. You can also share some of your client’s smaller wins like simply having fun being active, achieving a new PR, or completing a workout goal.
@ryanreadthrive sharing his client’s success story
Social proof is something we kept in mind when developing TrainerFu. Our app tracks everything and alerts you when a client achieves a milestone, big or small. This gives you ongoing social proof that you can share on your social media channels including Instagram.
You know that there’s something special about your fitness business. You know you have that unique factor that makes what you’re offering better than your competitors. It’s time to share that with your Instagram followers to help you stand out.
When creating this kind of content, you can think about the advantages of your approach and compare them to the disadvantages of your competitor’s approach. For example, let’s say you focus on fat loss without a restrictive diet. You’ll want to share that repeatedly in your content, reminding your followers what makes you different and saying it a few different ways, like:
- Why a restrictive diet won’t help you achieve long term results
- You don’t have to starve yourself to reach your fat loss goal
- Your restrictive diet is keeping you stuck
@msjeanettejenkins sharing her unique approach to weight loss
If you have a new way of doing something, special training, or a unique approach, make sure that you are making it a prominent feature in your Instagram content. This can help you stand out and be more memorable in an oversaturated market.
One of the most important parts of marketing your business on Instagram is sharing educational content that informs your client and makes them feel like they can trust you. You’ll want to get really intentional about the kind of content you are going to share and how you can use your expertise as a personal trainer to educate your audience.
@noraminnord sharing her quick and healthy recipe
It can be helpful to decide four main “content pillars’‘ that you use to take your ideal client from point A to point B. Here’s an example of four pillars you might see on a fitness page:
Once you have your pillars, you’ll break them down even further to generate your actual content ideas. Here’s what one of the pillars from above might look like broken down:
- Foam rolling
- Form cues
Doing this for each pillar will give you 25-30 subtopics to talk about on Instagram. That’s a lot of content! These educational topics can help you build your authority online so that followers see you as a go-to source for all things fitness, making them much more likely to work with you when they’re ready to hire a personal trainer.
Your followers and potential clients will have countless objections, doubts, and limiting beliefs that will stop them from buying from you. It’s your job to tackle these doubts head on and dispel them before asking for a sale.
@biceps.after.babies handling common limiting beliefs
Here’s some examples of some misconceptions your followers might have that would stop them from working with you:
- Cardio is all I need to lose weight.
- All personal trainers are drill sergeants.
- I can use the workout from YouTube to reach my goals.
- Lifting weights is not for girls.
Now, you know these things aren’t true, so don’t be afraid to call that out in your content. List these objections and provide explanations that help change the mind of your followers. Remember, people have short memories and it’s ok to repeat yourself, especially when it comes to tackling your ideal client’s doubts.
You’re so familiar with the ins and outs of your business, that it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that everyone knows what you’re offering — this is not always the case. Your Instagram followers are bombarded with a lot of information every day, so if you want to generate sales, sometimes your posts need to be up front about it.
@biceps.after.babies asking followers to join her program
Whether you like it or not you need to ask for a sale. Remind your followers how to work with you, inform people what’s included in your packages, regularly ask on your feed that you are looking for participants — these are the kinds of things that can help you generate actual sales on social media.
Using this framework can help you consistently come up with good content ideas. Decide which days you are going to post different types of content and map it out on your calendar or a scheduling tool like Later or Planonly.
Take advantage of all the Instagram features
Instagram is unique because of its many different features — all of which personal trainers should take advantage of when marketing their business. We’ve already gone over some ideas for content, now let’s talk about some of the different ways you might share that content on Instagram.
Long time Instagramers will remember the days when simple image posts were the only type of content on the app. Traditionally, this type of posts involves picking a picture from your camera roll, cropping it to the proper size, editing it and adding a filter, and writing a caption underneath it.
Since Instagram’s inception, the capabilities of the app have changed a lot, but the simple image post still has a place in your content strategy.
To make the most of sharing an image (or images with Instagram’s carousel functionality), be sure to share unique, eye-catching media. Think about imagery that is enough to stop someone’s scroll and get that double tap.
Hiring a photographer to take professional photos of you in the gym can be a great way to build a content bank of high quality photos. However, most phones do a good job of capturing striking images as well. Take advantage of natural light and don’t be afraid to experiment with placement and composition. Make sure photo posts are consistent with your brand and don’t go overboard on editing.
Instagram launched Reels in 2020 as a way for users to record, edit, and share quick videos. If you spend any time on the app, you’ve probably noticed that Reels have exploded in popularity, and many of your favorite accounts are most likely making use of this feature.
It can be intimidating to get in front of the camera, but if you’re a business owner not taking advantage of Reels, you could be missing out on expanding your reach and growing your brand quickly!
Reels are promoted in the algorithm, meaning they can help you reach more accounts than ever before. They’re a great branding tool and allow for a lot of creativity that can help you get your content out there in new, fun ways.
Some of our most recommended types of Reels?
Talking head: This involves speaking directly to your audience. The easiest way to approach this type of Reel is to write a short script (100 -150 words), download a teleprompter app that scrolls the script in front of you, wear something nice and record!
Voiceover: For these Reels, video is recorded separately and audio is added later. You might record yourself speaking or find a popular voice or song clip. Instagram makes it easy to position the audio voiceover where you want it in the prerecorded video.
Time lapse: This fun type of Reel involves speeding up a video. This makes what would be a long clip (like a workout or a cooking demo) watchable in seconds. Most phones have time lapse settings, or you can download an app to create this type of video and then upload it to Instagram.
Text based: Still feeling a little camera shy? No worries. You text based Reels to get your point across without having to actually say anything. Add a text bubble to a video to convey information to followers; just be sure to keep your blocks of text short and easy to read.
One final tip for Reels is to include trending music for even greater reach. Instagram allows you to see what music/voiceovers are trending on the explore page and makes it easy to create your own Reel with it.
Instagram Live involves live streaming directly to your audience. For example, you might host a Q&A, teach a short fitness class, or present a new product or service. Going live one to two times a month can help you connect to your audience and grow your community.
You can also go live with other similar accounts. To do this, connect with others in the industry (that you don’t consider competition) and pitch an idea for a IG live. This is beneficial for both of your businesses as everyone on their follower list and yours will get a notification when you go live, helping you both reach new accounts.
Remember, Instagram Live is, well, live! So you’ll want to prepare what you are going to say beforehand and make sure that you have a good, quiet place to stream.
Stories are different from other types of post because they only exist on your page for twenty-four hours. Stories can be short, one-off shares or you can use them to create more of a narrative that has a beginning, middle, and end. You can use Stories as stand alone images and video, or you can share feed posts and Reels.
Stories are also cool because they allow for a lot of engagement with your followers. Story badges like polls, questions, quizzes, and more allow you to interact with your audience in new ways.
@ryanreadthrive using highlights effectively
You may have noticed that you can highlight Stories to show up at the top of your profile. These featured Stories are a great place to make the important aspects of your business more prominent on your page. Consider creating a Story highlight for testimonials or one where you share client results. You may also include relevant business information like FAQs, how to work with you, or gym hours to make this info easily accessible.
Write captions that generate likes, shares, and sales
Of course, the media you share on Instagram is incredibly important, but don’t underestimate the value of a good caption. The goal of the image or video is to stop the scroll, and the goal of your caption is to make your followers take action — both are equally important.
Writing an engaging caption can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! Here’s a basic three part template for a well-written caption.
The hook is the most important part of the caption, as this is where you will grab your reader’s attention. Anything more than 125 characters will get cut off here, so you want to make sure you say something that entices followers to keep reading.
Use the first part of your caption to spark as much curiosity as possible. You can do this by hinting at the value you’ll share in the rest of the caption. Polarizing or shocking statements can also be great as they encourage interested readers to find out more. Here are some hook examples that use these principles to ignite curiosity:
- 3 healthy meal ideas in under 5 mins
- Cardio is keeping you stuck.
- You’ve been doing [X workout move] wrong!
- 5 things every personal trainer wants you to know
You’ve hooked your audience, now it’s time to provide value. Write like you would talk to clients and keep your caption genuine.
Keep each block of text small and break your body down into lists or bullets when you can. Use emojis to break up text even further and make your caption more fun to read. Your goal with the body is to get followers to keep reading all the way to your CTA.
3. Call to action
Arguably the most important part of any caption. Every caption you write should include a CTA at the end that tells your followers what to do next. Your CTA can and should vary with every post.
For some, you may simply ask for more engagement: “Share with a friend.” or “Comment below.” Other CTAs may push followers further down your funnel: “Join my email list.” “Schedule your initial consultation.” “DM me to join.”
Follow this template to create great captions every time. We recommend writing your caption outside of the app (like in the notes section of your phone) to make formatting and editing easier.
Design a great looking feed that shows off your brand
The most professional looking fitness accounts have a cohesive and branded feed. This requires some intention when creating your Instagram content, but you don’t have to be a graphic designer to get it right.
A lot of personal trainers make the mistake of buying loads of predesigned templates, that: 1. Take too much time to modify and 2. Aren’t on brand.
There’s a better way!
You and your content should be the center focus. All the designs you use should enhance your personal brand and not put you in the back seat. Here is an example of this done well.
You can see that they are the center of their brand and don’t rely on fancy, overly designed templates.
Here are some tips to achieve a similar, cohesive look:
- Use Canva to create your own simple graphics like quote posts or carousels.
- Stick with one or two fonts and use bolding for variation.
- Do you have a few brand colors? Stick with those in all your posts. Alternatively, you can pick one main color and use different shades of it to create a monochromatic scheme.
- If using predesigned templates, change the fonts and colors to meet your brand. (Don’t forget to keep it simple!)
- When posting photo-only posts, always use the same filter or preset.
Build a community of ideal clients
When building your brand on Instagram, it’s hard not to compare yourself to other business accounts with thousands (sometimes millions) of followers. One important thing to keep in mind that it’s less about follower count, and more about the online community you are building.
Follower quality is more important than quantity. Think about it: 50 of your ideal clients following you and interacting with your posts is way more effective than 1,000 followers that have no interest in fitness or personal training.
So how do you build that community of ideal clients?
The above steps, like setting your account up properly and sticking with a content strategy, will help! Here are a few more tips.
Always keep your ideal client in mind and speak directly to them in all your content. Let’s say your ideal client is a busy mom looking to incorporate healthier routines into her tightly packed schedule.
Now imagine if she lands on your page and scrolls through your post after post and doesn’t relate to any of your content. She’s got no reason to follow you or join your online community.
When she gets to your page, she wants to see content that sees and acknowledges her lifestyle. She wants to be told that it’s possible to workout for just thirty minutes a day and that you can workout with no equipment at home. She wants healthy recipes that are quick and easy to make and to see clients that are just like her on your page.
It may be tempting to post generic content, but in reality, you need to get pretty specific and speak directly to the person you want to work with. Use language that they relate to and share content that is tailored to solving their problems. Providing them this unique value will make them thrilled to follow your account and make it easier for you to convert your followers to clients.
To increase discoverability and attract more ideal clients to your page, make the most of Instagram’s thirty hashtag limit. The right hashtags can help you appear in search results and bring more eyes to your page.
Think about the kinds of things your ideal clients are searching for on Instagram. Include a mix of low, medium, and high volume hashtags on each post, with low and medium volume hashtags making up the majority. High volume hashtags are hashtags with a lot of impressions, like #fitness which brings up 1.2 million results. Lower volume hashtags are typically more specific or community oriented, something like #coloradoweightlifting which only has around 1,700 impressions.
Hashtag strategy is often debated, so this is a great place to experiment a little and see what works best for you.
Instagram rewards accounts that are more active on the app by promoting their pages over less active accounts. This means that the more you show up online, the more likely your posts are to show up on people’s feeds and in the Explore page.
As a thinly spread business owner, it can be difficult to devote too much time on social media, but it can make a big difference in how fast you are able to grow your fitness account. If possible, schedule out 15-30 min a day to spend on the app (you can spread this out to once, twice, or a few times a day).
A good rule of thumb is to spend a little bit of time engaging with other accounts before and after sharing a new post to your page. This means responding to messages and comments, commenting and liking other people’s posts, interacting with stories, etc.
Consider this one-on-one time with your community and enjoy the opportunity to connect on a personal level with potential clients!
One of the easiest ways to build your Instagram community is simply asking existing followers to share your account with their friends.
Having valuable content encourages people to share your posts with their friends, but you can also outright ask for engagement as well by including a CTA in captions, Reels, or Stories.
Additionally, you can launch a giveaway or promotion to encourage users to share your content. Consider giving away a personal training session or some workout gear to one lucky follower that likes and shares your posts with their friends. This can be a great way to bring a lot of new eyes to your account quickly.
Bringing more followers to your Instagram account can and should be done through your other platforms as well. Step outside of the app, and cross promote yourself. All of your content online should work together to build your business and visibility online.
If you are creating YouTube videos, consider adding links to your socials there. Your website should also have easily clickable icons that bring people to your Instagram account as should your emails if you’re sending out to an email list frequently.
In person, consider adding your Instagram account to your business cards or flyers. You may even ask clients to make sure they are following you on Instagram for helpful content and to keep up with your business.
As a business account, you also have the option of paying to advertise on Instagram, by sponsoring some of your posts to show up on the feeds of accounts in your target demographic. As with other types of paid advertising, when going this route, it’s important to have a goal in mind and to monitor analytics to keep track of the ROI. How much you invest in advertising should be tied to your goal.
Sponsoring some posts can be a good way to reach accounts that aren’t currently following you. However, it’s not necessary to spend money on Instagram to make it work for your business.
Instagram has established itself as a leader in social media and there’s no denying its impact and reach. Personal trainers that know how to make the most of this platform can grow their accounts exponentially and create memorable and successful brands.
Your ideal clients are using Instagram and they want engaging content that speaks to them, teaches them something new, and makes them feel like they are a part of a community of like-minded people.
By delivering this kind of content with the various features of Instagram and thoughtfully following a strategy that helps you stand out, you can build a following of ideal customers and turn that following into paying clients with ease.
Instagram is a powerful tool, and learning how to use it can be fun! Refer to this Ultimate Guide to start marketing your business and be sure to check out our additional Instagram resources that go into more detail on different Instagram topics.
- Engaging Instagram Story Ideas for Your Fitness Business
- Great Fitness Reel Ideas to Boost Your Brand on Instagram
- How to find your niche?
- How to find your unique value proposition?
- How to build your ideal client profile?