Personal training is a people-oriented business. Like any business that provides services to consumers, personal training relies on the professional’s ability to recruit and retain clients in order to turn a profit. To effectively accomplish this, fitness professionals must understand what makes consumers invest in a product, good, or service. All fitness professionals can benefit from a general understanding of the science of consumer psychology.

What is Consumer Psychology?

In short, consumer psychology is the study of why consumers invest in the things they do. It’s a behavior science that examines what attracts consumers to products and services. The goal of consumer psychology is to develop a sophisticated understanding of what influences individuals’’ choices and how they respond to marketing tactics.

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Why Consumer Psychology is Valuable to Fitness Professionals

Fitness professionals are not psychologists (nor should they practice in that capacity with their clients unless licensed to do so). However, fitpros cannot deny that a basic understanding of what makes their clients behave in the ways they do helps to inform a selected approach and how they market their business. If a fitness business, gym, or studio is out of touch with what “hooks” their ideal clientele, the business will not flourish.

Let’s look at an example. A fitness professional identifies his/her ideal client to be active older adults. However, images the fitness professional uses on the website and in marketing materials feature young competitive athletes. The visuals send a message of performance and athleticism versus one of health and improved well-being. This fitness professional, unknowingly, is disenfranchising his/her ideal sector of the population and, therefore, is failing to connect with potential clients.

This is a common misstep professionals make. We should not market our businesses or services with images or verbiages that appeal to us. Just as we would not write a workout program for a client using our own likes, dislikes, and goals, we should not market our services from our frame of reference or perspective.

The value of consumer psychology continues to grow – especially in this digital age. While print and radio ads still reach some prospective buyers and clients, a significant portion of marketing is done through social media and digital communications. The variety of marketing channels available provide the would-be client with more frequent messages and cues to invest in any given good or service. This fact also demands that professionals gain consumer insight in order to thoughtfully and intentionally craft their message. If you aren’t sending the right message (visually or verbally), you may be thinning your bottom line and forcing your business to flounder before it even begins.

As you plan your next continuing education credits, consider taking a class or two in consumer psychology. You can learn how to apply these psychological principles in all areas of your business – from client recruitment to retention to participation incentives and membership benefits.

Erin Nitschke

Dr. Erin Nitschke, NFPT-CPT, NSCA-CPT, ACE Health Coach, Fitness Nutrition Specialist, Therapeutic Exercise Specialist, and Pn1 is a health and human performance college professor, fitness blogger, mother, and passionate fitness professional. She has over 15 years of experience in the fitness industry and college instruction. Erin believes in the power of a holistic approach to healthy living. She loves encouraging her clients and students to develop body harmony by teaching focused skill development and lifestyle balance. Erin is also the Director of Educational Partnerships & Programs for the NFPT. Erin is an editorial author for ACE, IDEA, The Sheridan Press, and the Casper Star Tribune. Visit her personal blog at