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Training The Trainer
An in-depth, straight forward column by 22 year veteran Master Personal Trainer
As I sat and thought of the numerous subjects I could delve into and attempt to keep your attention past my bi-line, I decided to address that which I feel, in over 50,000 floor hours and 8000 clients, is a MAJOR problem with “trainers.” A select few will know who I am and that I write with accomplishment, not ego. I routinely train 10-15 clients per day (and have had for many years) from pro-athletes and movie/financial celebrities to us regular people, produce or “gross” monthly training sales productions in the realm of $10k-45k. Single sales for (1) client has been 25k-cash, no post dates, no invoice-CASH!, just in Sept. 2011, have had my own fitness show, broken more records in more clubs than I have had birthdays and blah, blah, blah…like me or not my friends, it’s true.
First off, most of you whom read this editorial are quite accomplished, take your chosen profession seriously, have amassed years of experience, quantifiable results for your clients and most likely, made a buck or two. You are the exception to the following editorial. As with any spoken philosophies or words of wisdom, have no attachment to those words as they are just words and apply only that which, well, applies.
Having been in the Health and Fitness game since 1989 working for the big boxes, small boxes and even a few of my own boxes, I have seen “trainers” change like the weather in Seattle. Aside from the ridiculous compensation plans, hours, no pre-training to launch the new trainer, there is another element always overlooked: Emotional Mindset-What is the motivation of the trainer? Is this just a job? Is it because they were unsuccessful elsewhere and thought they would try being a trainer? They just want to workout all day? Bored? A second job/free membership? Want no accountability with their schedule? Think it’s easy and over compensated? Want to change lives? Looking for the secret to vitality? And so on…
Let’s start here so you do not have to drop some stimulants to stay with me. Here’s a check list for you:
1) Are you paying your bills 2 months ahead or behind?
2) Are you getting paid standard/industry rate or wholesale?
3) Are you paid less, what or more than your “worth?”
4) Do you have too many clients and have a waiting list?
5) Do potential clients pursue you, or you them?
6) Are you booked solid?
7) Are you training to serve yourself or serve your clients?
8) What’s the perception of your training style in the gym/how are you looked at?
9) Are you the definitive resource of health and fitness info for your members/clients or the internet/another trainer?
10) DO YOU “GET” YOU CAN CHANGE SOMEONE’S LIFE FOREVER?!?
Now, let’s go even deeper and more brutal. Let’s figure out what kind of trainer you are. Ready? Are you a: Habitual Trainer; Motivational Trainer; Buddy Buddy Trainer; Emotional Trainer; Workout Partner Trainer; Hobby Trainer; Aesthetic Trainer; Functional Trainer; Theoretical or Practical Trainer; Evolutionary Trainer; Title Trainer; Job/Career/Life Trainer? There are many more versions, but these seem to be the most common place in most of the places we all work/train. If you don’t know, FIGURE IT OUT, it’s restricting your personal and professional progression along with your clients.
Business time. How are your sales? Do you close prospective clients upon first consultation? Now, is that closing based on a thorough, detailed assessment with a PAR-Q, full body composition and what those #’s mean to them specifically(not generalized), fitness/ability baseline establishment, goal and time line clarification, time availability of client multiplied by # of weeks required to achieve said goal(s) multiplied by # of sessions you recommend = you asking for their business? OR, can you just sell really well?!? That’s great, however most who do not follow the above formula, sell well 1, maybe 2 times, but generally have low resigns commonly referred to client attrition.
Here’s my final thoughts: Make this about your client, never yourself! They don’t care( as much as you have convinced yourself they do) about your pictures, credentials, your whatever. They ONLY need to emotionally feel, and cognitively articulate the relationship between purchasing a personal trainer for the first time, or again, versus going to Hawaii, buying a new car, tv, shopping, etc. where results or “sense of accomplishment” is derived instantaneously rather than 6 months of assumed torture where their results are not, and can not be, guaranteed! Not to mention, investing in themselves AGAIN is overwhelming when they have yet to achieve past goals(more than once), telling their spouse, AGAIN, they just dropped $5k on a trainer and so on, and so on…feel me?
Always train and present on a level no one is expecting. No need to give them a physical and be too clinical/statistical with your information more that of be prepared with accurate, gender and client specific information and training protocol. Set yourself aside, not above, fellow trainers and NEVER become complacent in the life changing business!
I have yet one more laundry list for all of you whether veteran or day one to double your sales…
1) Set the standard in your environment as to what it means to be a “Professional Trainer-” Look, Dress, Speak and Act the part!
2) Assume everyone is watching, judging, critiquing and considering whether or not to hire you.
3) Prove your worth by examples not words: before and after pics of past or present clients, program designs you’ve implemented for clients with success in clients with similar goals and of course, good ‘ol fashioned testimonials. (Self explanatory), know what you’re doing-please stop making stuff up!
4) Train every client as if it was the consultation/pre-purchase session versus 6 months into it. Remember the energy you put out when someone is excited and curious!
5) Be “present” with your client! Lose the cell phone, stand up, quit leaning on the equipment! Get involved!
6) Take an active interest in your client’s life outside the gym-be aware of their influences, finances/expenditures/budget, family, work, etc so you are a consideration in their fitness future versus the first to go during budget crunching.
7) Create public awareness by promoting your clients successes, make them a celebrity-not yourself!
8) Client Folders, Client Folders, CLIENT FOLDERS! Make every client a file whether they invest in 2 sessions or 200 sessions! Keep accurate and up to date records, evaluations EVERY 30 days, notes/comments, alter the program consistently per training protocol. Being able to substantiate your abilities via start-to-date results overcome more emotional and financial objections than anything! Not to mention, great tool to increase training sessions when results are slow.
9) Communicate with your members/clients! Emails, phone calls, and yes, even texts(just not during a session!)
10) Create goal specific workouts for each client-if you have multiple clients doing the same workouts-either they all have the same goal, same age and gender, or you’re taking the easy way out.
You’re a Transformation Specialist! Know the career you have chosen creates opportunities for those you work with to live the lives they have always dreamt of-OWN IT!
I’m here if you need me, David