The Fitness Zone

How I turned 20 clients into 100 clients in 12 months

Jun 12, 2020 | by AIF

Jono Petrohilos was recently awarded ‘2020 Fitness Educator of the Year’ by Fitness Australia… although it wasn’t always smooth sailing for him in the fitness industry. At one stage, he was struggling as a Personal Trainer to retain his 20 Bootcamp clients. Then, determined to change his trajectory, he made some simple changes and within 12 months, his 20 clients became 100 stable clients and the Bootcamp was a complete success. 

Jono’s Story

When I first started running Bootcamps… it wasn’t a walk in the park.

I started working at a franchise, which had 75 locations all over Australia and we were ranked based on our retention (#1 had the best retention rate in the franchise, #75 had the worst).

Take a guess at what I was ranked?

#75… Dead last…

I had the worst retention out of all 75 locations!

And it’s not like I had a heap of clients! I only had 20… and I couldn’t even keep them!

At the end of the year, there was a convention that all 75 Bootcamp Operators had to attend. I didn’t want to attend (for obvious reasons) but I thought, “If I don’t attend… I’m going to lose my location… and even though I’m obviously not great at what I do – I really like it! But if I do attend, and I’m engaged, write notes, listen, and absorb everything… maybe I’ll keep my location”.

So I attended… and it was the best thing I’ve ever done in my life!

Straight off the bat, I had to have a meeting with the franchise owners to explain why I was coming 75th.

I gave every excuse in the book (and I made up a few too):

“There’s too much competition in my area”
“There’s all these 24-hour gyms”
“There are free Bootcamps running the park”
“The leads you’re giving me are bad leads”
“No one trains outside during winter”
“It’s the government’s fault”

After I’d finished off rattling off excuses… the franchise owners said something to me that changed my life.

“Jono, we’ve got good news… and we’ve got bad news… The bad news is… when it comes to operating a Bootcamp, you suck! You’re coming 75th! And the good news is, you can actually do something about it. At the moment, the reason you’re unsuccessful is because you’re blaming everyone but yourself!

Maybe it’s not the competition’s fault that you’re failing – maybe it’s your fault that you haven’t done enough to be better than the competition! What upskilling have you done? What extra courses have you done?

Also – you’re saying we’re giving you bad leads? Maybe the leads aren’t bad – maybe it’s your sales skills that are bad. What sales books have you read? What business coaches have you hired? And if our marketing is so bad, why don’t you go out and do some of your own marketing?

Oh and the weather? You can go out and hire something like a school hall for $20 a session… you can solve your biggest problem for $20 but instead, you’re too busy blaming everybody else but yourself.

So how about this – you’ve already identified the reasons why you’re not successful; from now on, instead of blaming someone/something else, take some responsibility and actually do something about it!”

Now considering I was coming 75th out of 75… and I was talking to the two people who owned all 75 locations, I figured I better listen.

So for the next 12 months, I did exactly that – I took 100% responsibility.

The first thing I did was hire out that school hall for $20! That decision alone just about doubled my retention rate during winter. And, it taught me the power of investing – it’s ok to spend a little bit of money if it means you’re going to make more back.

The next thing I worked on was my ‘product’; my Bootcamp sessions. I made it my mission to learn as many different, fun, interactive and unique Bootcamp workouts as possible! I had a look at the Fitness Australia CEC calendar and booked myself into a ‘Bootcamp Course for Personal Trainers’. It cost something like $300-$400 but I thought, if I do this course and that helps me gain/keep one more client – then it has paid for itself!

And just from doing that course, I’m pretty sure I was able to pick up 4-5 new clients. So I thought, if it’s possible to do one of these courses and get 4-5 new clients each time…I better start doing more courses! This realisation pushed me to commit to doing a new CEC course every 3 months (regardless of whether I needed the points or not).

The last thing I worked on was my sales and marketing; I decided I needed to hire a business coach, which cost me $1,000 for 10 weeks and at the time that was the biggest expense I had ever made in my life! But I did the math and realized; all I need is this coach to help me gain 3 new clients and it’s paid for itself!

And to cut a long story short… 12 months later, I went back to that same convention.

Now take a guess what I was ranked?


My retention rate was 104%…

I now had 100 clients and every single one of them signed back up for the following week’s challenge PLUS, 4 of my previous clients who had heard that my service improved came back!

So that’s my story…

From #75 to #1.

From 20 clients to 100 clients.

All in 12 months.

And now I teach other Bootcamp operators how to do the same!

Where you can find Jono:


Facebook Group:

Instagram: @fitnesseducationonline

Want to run successful Bootcamps like Jono’s, but not yet a qualified Personal Trainer? The Master Trainer Program™ at the Australian Institute of Fitness will give you the qualifications and competitive edge you need to kickstart your successful career in fitness.



The Australian Institute of Fitness
The Australian Institute of Fitness (AIF) is the largest and longest established fitness training organisation in Australia, with dynamic training methods and expert course coaches nationwide - spanning fitness, massage and nutrition. The AIF qualifies more fitness professionals than any other provider in Australia, as well as offering a broad range of continuing education courses (CEC), upskilling resources and partnership programs for existing industry.

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