Lead generation and client retention are always pain points for Personal Trainers. We are fitness pro's, not sales pro's - and most of us really don't want to be a sales person either!
Here is a video with a quick idea about partnering with a local cafe - think: what can you offer the cafe owner or staff in return for this favour? And if this isn't an option, think outside the box. What else will cut through the noise of every day living and attract a potential lead? The key is to create a free offering that people want so badly they are willing to give you their email address and/or phone number. Also, make sure you have an easy way for them to contact you, eg a QR code or short web page address for your sign-up page.
When you have found some people wanting to exchange their details for your offer (ie, collected some lead information), you need to keep in contact. Don't neglect this step! What can you send them on a regular basis that will really excite them and make them want to open your email? Think ongoing high value: free training programs on a PDF each fortnight, recipe booklets and anything specific to your niche is always a winner.
Once you have converted your clients, how do you keep them? The crazy thing about sales psychology is that people will assess what you have to offer against the amount they need to pay: this is how they assess your 'value', and if it's a good trade they will come on board. BUT, if you don't achieve 'an equal trade' or EXCEED it from the start they will deem the trade less valuable, experience 'buyers remorse' and eventually leave you. The video below shows a great way to avoid that, and it's a strategy you can actually build into your price structure so that you aren't out of pocket.
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Any trainer who runs a bootcamp or is involved with training a team is always looking for inspiration - it's not easy to come up with new and exciting ideas for every session! So here are 4 more to add to your repertoire.
The first one is great as a warm up - The Diamond Relay Drill. I like this because it's a bit of fun and gets everyone listening and encouraging each other. Building that communication at the start of the session can do wonders for getting the most out of each session, as well as developing relationships between your clients and the community spirit that will keep clients on board long term.
Once everyone is warmed up, you need to pick up the intensity. But one of the biggest problems I see trainers and coaches have is designing a session that is well timed enough so that nobody is waiting around with their heart rate dropping, or able to hide in the background and be lazy while all the other team members sweat up a storm. Here's a session you can easily adapt for beginners right though to advanced teams, where everyone will be put through their paces. I call it Lucky Dip.
Another problem I've seen with trainers is when designing a circuit-based session, one of the stations is the 'time keeper', where everyone keeps working until the person on that station finishes their reps. It's REALLY important that you time this by doing it yourself and adjusting for the experience level of the team you are working with. If you get it right, it's an easy way to manage multiple fitness levels in the one group. Eg, break your team into two (high and low fitness levels), both groups doing the same circuit. For the higher level group, the person on the time-keeper station needs to do more reps or run further than the person on the same station in the lower level group. You can also make it a 'team challenge', and race one group against the other, where the beginners have the handicap but still need to push the fitter group to win against the clock. Here is my trusty ABC Drill below.
Every bootcamp needs a good 'finisher'. Once your clients have finished the session, it's nice to let them regroup a little and then push them beyond the boundaries they thought they could achieve. This of course increases their fitness levels faster, burns more fat, improves strength etc - basically pushes them to reach their goals sooner. If they have put the effort in to turn up, why not belt out 100% effort and make it worthwhile?? My hot tip for finishers is they work better if they involve a drill that encourages team work or competition, because there needs to be some sort of motivation for them to keep pushing when they are already drained! Watch this Square Drill for a good example.
If you got a lot out of these tips, you should check out my online course for Personal Trainers:
Advanced Functional And Small Group Training Course.
It has 3 main subjects, focuses on increasing your exercise vocab and session design, as well as 7 CEC points, and because it's fully online you can start today!
Of all the things that will stop you from being able to perform a movement correctly, joint mobility and inhibited muscular contraction are probably the most significant. I can count on one hand the clients I have had over the years that have not had a ROM restriction or altered muscle patterning that didn't need rectifying before I prescribed a range of exercises for them. And to be honest, I struggle with ROM every day myself; this old man needs some serious warming up before a session!
So in honour of all of you robots out there, here are three hot tips from my series that will help you and your clients achieve better mobility while squatting, rowing and racking.
This first video is to help improve front rack position for barbell lifts. This position can sometimes be awkward as it's not one we naturally get into throughout the day: forward flexion, horizontal flexion and external rotation at the GH joint combined with extreme pronation and extension under load at the wrist. Forearm flexors, triceps and lats can be really locked up, especially if the whole shoulder girdle isn't moving freely against the ribs. This stretch is perfect if your client struggles with mobility in any of those areas.
Watch this second video below, to understand the proper mechanism for a rowing movement. Sure, you can get your clients to pull on a weight or band, but is it actually doing them any good? When you look closely at the mechanics of a row, you have the opportunity to improve the contraction of the lower traps and rhomboids, but in reality most clients will find it VERY difficult to actually do that. Instead, the upper traps kick in as usual, the biceps assist and the trunk starts to rotate to assist with the ROM required.
The only way to fix this and actually improve the overall mechanics of the shoulder is to work SPECIFICALLY on the correct form by breaking down the row and regressing clients where necessary. Once they have achieved this, they actually have a hope of contracting the scapula stabilisers and reducing their risk of chronic injuries such as impingements in the coracoacromial arch, bursitis under the biceps or supraspinatus tendons and even low back and neck pain.
The final video below outlines a Cassock Squat. I give these to my beginner clients as an introduction to leg strength, co-ordination, lumbar rotation, adductor and hamstring flexibility, hip ROM and overall balance. It's also great as a warm up for my clients who come straight from the office and are keen to get into a leg session. Following the ARAS principle (Assess, Release, Activate, Strengthen), I always make sure to give a specific warm up to release the problematic hyperactive muscles the client has THAT DAY, activate the muscles I want them to be strengthening and then smashing out some good solid reps. That way I know I'm not strengthening muscles that will give them long term problems, but the muscles that will give them long term quality of life through quality movement. What's not to love about the Cassock Squat?
If you got a lot out of these tips, you should check out my online course for Personal Trainers: Advanced Corrective Exercise and Prehabilitation.
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I've said a lot over the years about this topic, and I'll continue to do so no doubt until the fitness industry holds its own where personal trainers for the most part have the collective respect of the allied health industry. Unfortunately for now the dropout rate of personal trainers is still extremely high and their general attitude towards 'best practice' is back to front. Yes I understand aesthetics is important to the general public in our ever materialistic world. However I ask, what's wrong with the aesthetics of a gymnast? At least if you train like one you get function as well as looks rather than looks and dysfunction.
The primary job description of a personal trainer is exercise prescription, therefore with that in mind I would argue that a successful personal trainer is one who can cater for any of theirs clients needs and wants associated with better movement and performance.
Am I a purist? Unfortunately yes! The reality however in the fitness industry is that there are many personal trainers who have 'succeeded' in business whose exercise prescription is questionable at best! They ride on the PERSONAL side of their job title. These personal trainers know their clients dogs names, birth dates, husbands favorite sport and what little johnnies favorite cartoon is. And I tell you what their clients love them for it!
So to answer the original question I guess one must first ask themselves, "what do I stand for within the fitness industry and what do I want to be known for? If you want to be known as a personal trainer that has an outstanding reputation for exceeding their clients expectations then chances are my recommendation to you would be, start burying your nose into books and learn as much as possible because I know you're initial PT certification would have been left well short on the knowledge stakes when it comes to having a sound understanding of human movement, performance and nutrition (Uni degrees a side).
If you want to be the personal trainer that is always their for their clients every need and are deeply supportive, well hopefully you already have exceptional inter-personal skills and love to talk. Because at the end of the day all this style of client really wants is to move a little and have a person to talk to about their troubles. So between the gentle endorphin release you give them and the vent session they can walk out of the gym feeling a million bucks.
For me as you guys we know I'm all about quality of movement, I'm there to help coach individuals who want to grow and push themselves as individuals, this is what creates genuine change to peoples lives and creates a greater self worth. Not pamper to our clients insecurities and false pretentious, because at the end of the day this doesn't really serve them and just drives us insane!!!
Tristan Hill, Masters of Sports Coaching, author of Lifting the Bar and mentor to Personal Trainers.