From educational tools and events to promotional programs and public policy initiatives, IHRSA brings you success... by association!

Join | Renew
Pledge Your Support


Personal trainers can bring medical wellness community referrals

Frances Michaelson, Ann Gilbert and Anthony Wall give their expert advice for a question that doesn't always have an easy, straight-forward answer. But, if your facility can get the right combination and balance with personal trainers generating referrals from te medical wllness community then that can mean a lot more business.

Q: "What can personal trainers do to generate referrals from the medical wellness community?"


A: This is such a relevant question! There have been some successes in this area– but these successes are small compared to the opportunity for us to really collaborate with the medical wellness community. In fact collaboration is the first thing we need to recognize. If, collectively our goal is to help everyone live their healthiest life, then collaboration has to be central to our relationship with everyone we work with. 

With that in mind trainers need to be proactive on how they approach the medical wellness community. In talking with the medical community we have found that while the concept of referring to a trainer is a viable option people don’t have the time or the means to do this for the most part. It’s often not from a lack of desire. Given all of the different options available I’m going to propose one method that can be very successful.

Start small - if a trainer is working with a client who goes for a medical checkup and comes back with an improvement in their results – i.e. lower blood pressure, cholesterol, a reduction in body fat, etc., then the trainer should ask the permission of that client to contact their doctor and develop a referral through that avenue. That’s a powerful message. Whomever your clients sees – use them to start the network. Whether it be a therapist, doctor, etc., approaching that individual having already been successful with one of their patients gives the trainer a lot of credibility.

As you prepare your introductory e-mail/ letter be prepared to provide the details of your expertise and background. Do you have a demonstrated history of continuing education? Are you an NCCA accredited Person Training or Health Coach. As you build your profile the more expertise you can gain the better. Don’t stop at being just a trainer – continue to grow and develop your area of expertise. As you collaborate with the medical wellness community you’ll be able to demonstrate your level of professionalism through your demonstrated results with more and more clients.

Anthony Wall
Professional Education, ACE



A: There are four factors that will determine the amount of referrals that a personal trainer will be able to generate from the medical and wellness community. The first factor, and probably the most important, will be the trainer’s credentials. More than the basic knowledge of exercise contraindications, the trainer must display expertise in corrective exercise and post rehab programming. Secondly, it is suggested that the trainer has the time and energy to work directly with a rehab facility. Many, having completed a post rehab certification, will volunteer to assist in the facility in return for shadow or internship experience. Trainers, who are successful in generating a steady flow of referral, have established a habit of consistent communication with the client’s medical supervisor. Most send assessment results on a regular basis and always ask for input from the medical pro. Once the professional relationship has been established, it will be easier for the trainer to ask for the referral. Once the medical professional sends the client to the trainer’s facility, there needs to assurance that the facility is equipped with today’s updated functional resistance equipment. Inviting the medical professional to participate in a one on one workout at the facility is a personal trick used by this trainer over the years in the business. 

Ann Gilbert
Executive Director
Shapes Fitness for Women


A: Generating referrals from the wellness medical community is essential, and can do wonders for your personal training business. But it is not always easy! The key to success for any referral program to work is to first establish a relationship. As a licensed Naturopath and personal trainer, I have had the opportunity to view this situation from both sides.

For years, I made the mistake of sending letters to all my clients' medical doctors. This great intention brought little, if any results. I quickly learnt that the personal visit was what was needed to establish credibility and confirm my knowledge and passion for helping people so these doctors could feel comfortable with their referral. I now send updates of my clients' progress to keep the channels of communication open.

As a Naturopath, I must be absolutely sure that a trainer that I am referring a client to is worthy of training and stays current with the latest research and studies. I am more impressed with a trainer that will call me and ask questions about my practice and background so that he or she can get a better idea of who I am before they refer to me.

I know many trainers who simply send off their business cards to practitioners such as physiotherapists, osteopaths, dieticians, massage therapists, hoping for a referral. This rarely works as well. Why should it? Again, we need to establish the relationship. I suggest going for a massage to any therapist that you would like to get referrals from. Show that you mean business and offer a cross referral opportunity. 

To conclude, I think the focus should be on establishing a working relationship with the medical wellness community . For example, if you have an injured client and refer them to a physio, take the time to go to the appointment with your client. This would be a great opportunity for you to ask the therapist to assist you in designing the patient's rehab exercise program. This could be the start of an ongoing positive referral program!

Frances Michaelson
Muscle Up Inc.




Editor’s Note: One of the most frequently consulted sections of IHRSA’s Website,, is “Ask an Industry Leader,” which features answers from industry experts to a wide range of thought-provoking questions. Beginning this month, we’ll highlight some of them in this new CBI column.

Visit to read responses to more than 100 questions such as these or to submit a question of your own to be answered.


Reader Comments (3)

This is a good post. I really enjoyed reading it. And I love to remember this line"Don’t stop at being just a trainer – continue to grow and develop your area of expertise" which is so true.
November 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJenice Warrell
This site is really interesting. You bring up some great points about your article... .. Thanks for the great information .. It is my first time here in this site so so good...
December 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPersonal Trainer London
Thanks guys, great help. For us the biggest source of medical/dr referrals is to do a great job when we get them. Unfortunately most Dr's will assume the worst of Personal Trainers, the plus side is this should make it easy to blow them away with how good you are!
May 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFitness Enhancement

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.