Should You Offer a Free Trial?

Let’s dive head first into this hornet’s nest and answer another of the most common questions in all of Training Gymdom…

Should you offer a free trial?

Here’s how I suggest thinking about this…

First off, we need to appreciate that unless you have some low barrier way for people to “try before they buy (a big commitment),” you’ll hamstring your growth. This is why “trials” are often referred to as a “low barrier offer.” You need a step between “curious prospect” and “member/ lifer.”

And this makes sense. YOU know you’re great, but even if they’re a “hot” referred lead, it’s only fair to let them date you before getting fitness married.

FUN FACT: Because I can be breathtakingly foolish, for a twoish year period Mark Fisher Fitness had no low barrier offer. Turns out this isn’t a great way to grow your business! *Double facepalm*

The best structure for your trial will depend on your market, your avatar, your capacity, and the Core Offer your trial members will stick around for.

For most training gyms, low barrier offers fall in the following ranges:

  • 7-30 days
  • $0 – $149
  • 3 or more visits per week
  • 100% money back guarantee (if it’s paid)

So how do you decide what you should offer?

1) If you’re not getting enough leads/ trials, you may need to consider lowering your barrier.

Pretty obvious point. It’s easier to sell “totally free” than “discounted.”

You can lower the barrier several ways (including better messaging of your 100% money back guarantee). But free will always bring in more total leads. As soon as you charge even a single dollar and get credit cards involved, you’ve added friction.

NOTE: If you get too many leads (good problem!), you can always change your offer and raise the barrier. Raising the price will usually take care of this “problem.”

2) If you’re doing a class/ large group model, consider 1-2 free weeks.

I realize this is a bit academic for many markets, since not everyone can do large group at the moment. But if you DO have a group model, this makes it easy for people to try you out. Particularly if you have sufficient capacity in classes.

You could also consider going with 1-2 free classes. This is still attractive and will still generate leads, but your leads won’t get as much exposure this way. So you’ll need to make up for that with your sales and follow-up systems. Orange Theory has had a lot of success with this strategy.

3) If you’re doing a higher-priced small group or personal training model, consider 1-2 free sessions.

If you run a model with a relatively higher price point per month that offers higher-touch service, a free 1-2 week offer may not be a fit. Particularly because this model really does start to run into capacity issues since you’re not doing a volume play.

You could still leverage “free,” but your offer will be 1-2 free sessions, not weeks. This way you can still make a free offer without giving away lots of inventory. The downside is that a single experience may not be enough time to experience the real value of this model.

Alternatively, you could make a traditional training gym offer of 28 days or 1 month of membership at a discounted rate (usually $99 or under) with no commitment and strong 100% money back guarantee.

4) Regardless of your Low Barrier Offer, you still need strong marketing.

You can have the best offer in the world, but if no one knows you exist, it won’t bear much fruit. You’ll need an audience, communication channel(s), and a willingness to make a clear ask.

When you think about your marketing, you can think in terms of two buckets: 

  1. Value-building content
  2. Offers

Whether you’re using organic social, paid social, or email marketing, you want to share content that entertains, inspires, and educates. This gives prospects a chance to know, like, and trust you. Then in an ideal world, they hire you. 

As you build your audience, you also need to periodically make offers with clear calls to action to take the next step: like your LBO.

5) Regardless of your Low Barrier Offer, you still need strong fulfilment and sales.

I’m lumping fulfillment and sales together, because for the purposes of the trial, there’s overlap.

Fulfillment means delivering on what you’ve offered; give them effective workouts delivered by friendly people. Develop a personal connection and make them feel seen and cared for.

Related, an effective sales process will uncover their individual goals and obstacles. Once you know them as a human, show how your services accomplish those specific goals and solve those specific obstacles. Then make a strong offer for the best Core Offer for their individual situation.


Ultimately, you’ll have to decide on the best path for your training gym. 

And I’m not saying free offers are always a perfect fit. 

In fact, MFF’s at-home-virtual-class trial is a 14 day challenge for $49. But with a handful of exceptions, we’ve been sold out several weeks in advance since this summer. 

NOTE: We cap the number of trials each week. Because if 30-40 leads start at the same time, we can’t take great care of them. That kind of newbie inflow will also negatively impact our existing members.

But that’s not a realistic concern for most training gyms. Furthemore, nothing lasts forever. And we already have a free week playbook ready to go if paid trial sales slow down.

Many training gym owners worry about tire-kickers and fear “devaluing” their services, all the while booking only a precious handful of leads each month. Believe me, “more leads” is not a cure-all in and of itself. But you certainly can’t grow your biz without them. 

Low lead flow is usually linked to the broader marketing strategy. But having a simple compelling offer to try you out is a core pillar.

And remember, money isn’t the only cost involved. Even if they keep their wallet in their pocket, you still need to persuade them to spend time and energy. And the fear of a crappy experience sucking and/or feeling foolish.

Make it easy for interested parties to date you.

I believe in you!

PS The Unicorn Society is off to a rocking start with our newest batch of super achievers.

Not gonna lie… pretty excited about an opportunity for us to gather in-person in just a few months.

Enrollment is technically closed until 2022, but you can join the waitlist for priority consideration HERE.