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!!!
If we personal trainer’s were to ask ourselves what we do in our downtime the answer is generally pretty simple, sleep, eat, train or write programs. All of which are critical elements in the life of a personal trainer, however it has to be said that over the past 20 odd years I’ve been working with and around personal trainers it’s fair to say they I’ve seen some pretty exceptional procrastinators. If there was ever a world championships for time wasting my money would be on personal trainers to win! I’ve seen it all, lounging on foam rollers, talking at length about nothing to the reception staff, scrolling through social media feeds until their thumbs start to ache and the list goes on.
Personal trainers have a lot of downtime period. In fact it’s one of the key headaches that drive many personal trainers back to a nine to five, they struggle to find clients to fill the dead times during off peak periods and if they aren’t lateral thinkers or entrepreneurial in nature then they realise their financial capacity is limited.
Well all that is about to change; let me introduce you to Flive. Flive is a social media platform designed to let personal trainers charge their social media followers for a workout that is live streamed around the world. It gives personal trainers the opportunity to add an additional income stream during off-peak times. Gone will be the days of needing to become an Isagenix supplier, or online programmer just to add an additional revenue stream.
Once the personal trainer has created an account with Flive they have the ability to schedule a session at whatever time suits them. Sessions can be anywhere between 15min and 60min long and charge rates are set at either $0.99US, $1.99US or $5.99US per viewer. This allows the viewer to participate in the live session. The session is then recorded and held on the app for 30 days so it doesn’t matter if the follower missed the live stream and the followers will have access to multiple sessions at the one time.
Trainers can take anywhere between 35%-50% of total profits home with the pulling power of unlimited attendees being the major drawcard.
Imagine being in the gym at 10.30am which is dead and you go live with 100 followers around the world participating in your session at $1.99US and taking home a cool $80-$100US for a 45min session. Not bad for what would have otherwise been dead time!
Live streaming is still in its infancy, however early statistics don’t lie; Facebook has already reported that people are watching live videos 3x longer than videos that are not. While in 2016 the streaming industry was worth $30.2 billion and by 2021 the worth is estimated to be at $70.1 billion. It’s fair to say this technology is not only here to stay, but with the ever growing need for instant access to information it will ensure that this technology will thrive.
Flive is a classic example of an opportunity I wish was around when I was a whipper snapper personal trainer; I certainly would have spent less time lounging on a foam roller that’s for sure!
As an ambassador for Flive I believe it will change the way workouts are presented, especially given the continued growth rates of social media. Keep at eye out as I will soon be utilising this app in time to continue my own crusade in getting personal trainers the education that many desperately need in order to make genuine change with their clients and bettering society as a whole!
The question is if you’re a personal trainer what is your passion and what service do you want to live stream straight in to the houses of your 1000’s of your social media followers?
Check the link below for more details!
This week I've been filming a heap of additional speed, agility and quickness drills for the students in my Personal Trainer Accelerator Program. I just wanted to share a couple with you that you might like to use with your clients who participate in social sports.
You can use SAQ training for anyone who does a racket sport (like tennis, squash), a ball sport (think basketball, handball, netball) or plays in a football code (soccer, rugby union, touch, gridiron, etc). Even runners can benefit, particularly those who run off-road and have to dodge potholes (like this guy, who ran up Mt Everest in 26 hours).
SAQ training is really important for social sports clients because not only does it improve their performance (so they can brag about their efforts in crushing their opponent on the score board), but it also reduces their risk of acute injuries such as joint sprains and muscle strains.
I think of it as training the body to work with the brain: when your head registers that there is a defender coming at you, your body needs to keep up with your head's request to GET OUT OF THE WAY and keep moving towards the goal. If the body is too slow, you end up with either a sprained ankle or your tackled to the ground in a cloud of dust. Ouch.
There is one main thing to remember with SAQ work: you need to move as fast as you can. If you don't, you may as well not bother doing the training and go for a run instead. The focus is not on the muscles, it's on the neural system, which will only improve in speed if each individual movement is made with purpose and performed as fast as you can.
But SAQ training is a 3 step process:
Check out these three videos, all of which focus on the reaction component of SAQ.
Did you know we have a Sports Conditioning Professional course? Fully online, start as soon as you want, and covers these subjects:
Show me the Sports Conditioning Pro Course!!
Tumble weeds. Crickets. Pins dropping. Deathly quiet.
Whatever you call it, SILENCE is rarely associated with positive, energetic things. For example, in my house if you can’t hear any of the four kids you need to find them asap because guaranteed they are getting into something they shouldn’t be. But I must admit I do enjoy the silence when they are asleep: we all love some peace and quiet to relax.
But relaxation isn’t what you are going for in a small group PT session – you need energy building, stimulating, upbeat, motivational noise. And that’s just for the warm up. In my experience, the number one killer of small group PT sessions is when the trainer stands in one spot and doesn’t say anything, or makes their way around the group and prompts the participants quietly one by one.
But you are not in a library. Nor are you calmly taking a guided meditation. You are pushing your clients to their best effort, encouraging them to make their lungs heave, their muscles burn, and to step outside their own comfort zone to the only place where their desired results can be achieved. How can you possibly do that in SILENCE?
I often speak to PT’s about this. And they come back to me with lots of excuses as to why they can’t talk more during a session. Are you guilty of thinking any of these?
Let me tell you, the first two are crap. NEVER have I EVER had a group work hard enough without encouragement, or get their form right 100% of the time. Even if they are getting their form right it means they probably aren’t working hard enough, and if they are working hard their form fails. Either way they need your help.
If you think there isn’t enough time between starting a round and counting down, you are also mistaken. It takes literally one second to say ‘Come on, push!’ And two seconds to say ‘Mary, lift your knees!’ What about ‘Rotate from the hips first Stewart, before you pull through. That’s better’. All of four seconds? You definitely have time to cue your clients.
And while I’m on the topic, you shouldn’t be wasting your breath on counting the group down to stop, they only use it as a way to get out of the last one or two reps in each round. Skip the countdown and add some motivational cues instead: one more repetition never hurt anyone, and in my humble opinion it actually helps them achieve their goals faster. What a surprise.
As for those PT’s who feel a bit awkward about continually talking throughout a circuit? I find that having a bit of a script helps to get over the nerves, just like the first few times you do a sales presentation. So here’s a formula that you can use to pump up the volume on your small group PT sessions and get your clients super excited about what they can achieve.
In every 45 second round of a circuit, you need to make 7 cues. Yes, SEVEN cues. That’s one every 6-7 seconds. Try these ideas.
Once you have practiced them a bit, it will flow more naturally. But even if you feel like you are being totally over the top, enough is never enough – pump up the energy another notch! Your clients will appreciate it and will be back for more, I guarantee it.
For another 15 hot tips on HOW TO RUN KILLER SMALL GROUP PT SESSIONS AND MAKE MASSIVE PROFIT, join our webinar of the same name! Choose a session in the box below, enter your details and get ready to smash your business goals.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a battle rope in your tool kit then chances are you have the option of setting up a game of tug of war. Tug of War was actually an Olympic event in 1920 however dates back to 500BC as an ancient Olympics event.
For us of course it dates back to our childhood and this is virtually the entire reason behind bringing it back into our bootcamp sessions. The sessions that our clients love the most are the ones that draw out the ‘child’s play’ within us while still physically challenging us.
“So what options do we have?” Can I hear you say?
Well outside of standing there and everyone pulling on a rope of course here are 3 of my favourites:
It’s fair to say a large portion of what we do as fitness professionals revolves around the strength world, and for good reason too. An improvement in our client’s strength levels has a profoundly positive effect on our client’s physiological and psychological wellbeing. How we decide to obtain that strength with our clients however varies hugely from professional to professional and when we put aesthetics aside it’s very easy to see that not every training methodology is equal, in fact in this article I’m going to argue that some are even detrimental to your clients wellbeing.
If we look back on the recent history of strength training within the context of fitness centres it’s fair to say body building put strength training on the world stage and turned people’s perception of it on its head. The wider community’s perception went from “these guys are a freak show” to “wow that’s incredible sign me up!” and with this change of perception the fitness industry we work in was born. A large amount of thanks needs to go to the body building community for the opportunity we have today as exercise professionals.
What has transpired in western society (not limited to however) over the past 40 plus years though is a skyrocketing obesity rate, increase in sedentary lifestyle and then of course a host of medical issues that we all know too well which relate back to these two key issues in our society. This of course is no reflection of the fitness industry but more of a society that has become increasingly lazy, with less people willing to take responsibility of a nutritional system that is failing them in a society that’s becoming increasingly more high tech which is only promoting longer periods of inactivity.
As personal trainers I believe a key responsibility we have is to teach people how to fall back in love with movement. Somewhere between childhood and the stresses of adulthood many people fall out of love with movement or at least don’t see it as a high importance in their ever busy lifestyles. The problem is movement plays a critical role long term in dealing with so many psychological and physiological issues that currently ravages our society. Now in relation to human movement, the problem the fitness industry has begun to acknowledge since around the early 2000’s is that the traditional isolation training models that the fitness industry was built on by the body building movement doesn’t have ‘improvements in human movement’ as a central focus. It is as we know focused on creating aesthetically beautiful bodies.
Hence the birth of ‘functional training’ as we know it today, Kettlebell Swings, Squat Presses, Box Jumps, Power Cleans, Suspension Trainer exercises, Gymnastics Rings, Bosu Balls, Swiss Balls the list goes on.
Now these training methodologies are nothing new in fact some have been around for hundreds of years, the new found importance of combating the sedentary lifestyle has brought these training styles into vogue if you like. These types of movements have a proven track record as effective tools for improving human movement.
Now don’t get me wrong I love the concept of functional training and I buy into it whole-heartedly, for the reasons stated above, not to mention they are just plain fun! There’s a missing link however, a skills gap if you like, that hurts the reputation of us as exercise professionals like no other.
This is the fact that many fitness professionals don’t assess or prepare our clients well enough before prescribing these types of movements which can only be considered advanced and complex.
Let me deep dive into this a little to explain, a large portion of the typical ‘functional training’ exercises we see and use in a gym in this day in age requires high degrees of co-ordination, kinaesthetic awareness and most importantly joint stability because of the higher level of instability found with many of the movements. All of which a fair portion of our clients don’t have due to the fact they are de-conditioned, have poor body awareness and in some cases haven’t moved in decades. Fitness professionals have all the good intentions in the world for their clients and apply ‘functional training’ to get them moving how the body was designed while forgetting one very critical rule in the strength world which is:
‘Strength levels should never be increased around a joint when stability isn’t first present’
This rule as a strength training concept I call Strength through Stability. The problem with performing complex exercises when stability isn’t present is that the body then sets up compensations to deal with the instability. An Upper Trapezius will dominate a movement when our Rhomboids and Lower Trapezius is weak, creating shoulder dysfunction. Our Quadriceps and hip flexors like to dominate a movement when our Transverse Abdominis, Hamstrings and Gluteals are weak creating lumbo-pelvic dysfunction.
When these compensations are not corrected it creates poor neuromuscular patterning, which is the long term problem with not abiding by this rule as a fitness professional.
Think of a golfer that has played a hundred rounds of golf before finally going to see a golf pro to correct their swing. It’s extremely hard for the pro to make large and effective changes to their swing because the neuromuscular pattern has been engrained by 100’s of poor swings. Weightlifting is no different. So when we prescribe an exercise that the client performs incorrectly because there’s no stability around the joint, it becomes very difficult to correct the muscle imbalance present because the primary movers have become so strong and hungry to work that the stabilisers have no chance in activating and doing their fair share of the work.
Over time this means excessive wear and tear on joints as bony structures don’t track correctly and ultimately leads to a more rapid degeneration of the muscular-skeletal system. All this just because we either weren’t prepared or educated enough on how to correct the poor neuromuscular patterning present in our clients .
We effectively then are doing our clients a disservice and I’ll go as far as saying this whole topic is the major reason why fitness professionals have such a poor reputation generally speaking within the allied health profession. This is because it’s the physiotherapist, osteopath or other allied health professional that picks up the pieces when the client starts complaining of knee or shoulder pain for example.
What do I do then?
Understanding ‘Strength through stability’ is just a case of understanding 'cause and effect', a very simplistic example is knowing that when the knees bow in medially during a squat that chances are the clients Gluteals are weak while their hip flexors are overactive for example. Now I appreciate this deeper level of understanding doesn’t happen overnight and certainly doesn’t come with a Cert IV in Fitness, however you don’t need a degree in anatomy & physiology either, some sound dedication to learning the basics around which muscles are associated with dysfunctional movement is all that is required along with the corresponding activation and release exercises that go with the issue.
Having this level of detail in your personal training service is the difference between being labelled a ‘thrash & bash’ fitness professional verses one that is fully conscious of the causes and effects that exercise results on the human body which sets you apart from 95% of the pack and skyrockets your clients results.
So remember never underestimate the importance of having a sound technique while perform an exercise. If it doesn’t look right then chances are it’s not, if you’re unsure of what’s going on then consult a senior fitness professional, research information and up skill so the next time you come across the dysfunction you know how to take your clients experience from an average one to an amazing one and ensure that like us, they too fall in love with movement.
If you appreciated this article this my book is a must! I talk in depth about this subject and give you some handy tools. Click the red button.
The five P’s of Highly Successful Personal Trainers
In 2014 over 14,000 people earned a Certificate IV in Fitness in Australia! This number is set to only increase in the coming years. The dropout rate for personal trainers is huge, and although I don’t know exact figures, my last 16 years in the industry will tell you it’s high!
As the years have rolled by I have started to take more notice of the defining characteristics of what makes a good personal trainer. There are similar skills and traits that many of them have which differentiates a personal trainer who... doesn’t know what they want to do with their life so they think they might just give PT a go, to a highly successful PT.
Passion is the obvious one, like anything in life if you just really aren’t that ‘into it’ then it will shine right through.
An adaptable personality it the next, we work in a space were we work closely with a wide variety of personality types. If you can’t mould your style of communication, energy level and body language to suit theirs then you’re always going to struggle to form connections, this of course is critical in forming any relationship.
Lastly of course is a PT’s skill set. From business skills, right through to being able to cater for a wide range of clientele, I’ve seen it time and time again where many PT’s have had all the personality and passion in the world but just lacked the critical skills to offer a great service. As a result their retention rates have been poor and when you couple that with their inability to generate leads consistently and then convert them has got the better of them as they throw personal training into the too hard basket.
Between seeing these short comings in PT’s and knowing exactly what the RTO’s DON’T cover in a cert 4 that has motivated me hugely to publish my book and program. A resource that I KNOW will make a massive difference to their reality, give them the direction, knowledge and ultimately the confidence they have been desperately craving.
Both products are based around my 5 P’s of Highly Successful Personal Trainers which are:
This represents the successful business habits personal trainers make to ensure a steady flow of leads continues to come their way. How they address sales and the ‘personal’ aspect of Personal Training which keeps clients loyal for as long as you’re around.
I’ve always abided by the motto ‘if you don’t know what’s happening with your client’s movement how are you supposed to program effectively’. This book presents the critical tests which should be learnt so you can glean the most out of your pre-screening process. A good Pre-screening process creates clarity around what needs to be addressed to your clients programs so you can lay a strong foundation and give your client every chance of success.
Prehabilitation represents the ambulance on top of the cliff preventing an accident from occurring. 90% of clients come from a sedentary lifestyle. This lifestyle creates untold neuromuscular imbalances and dysfunctions amongst many other health issues. This book introduces you to the key areas a PT needs to look out for so you can make effect change and prevent the client from becoming a ticking time bomb and skyrocket their performance.
Performance is the area which PT’s generally live for. It represents the nuts and bolts and hardcore training, whether that is for size, strength, speed, endurance or other. Lifting the Bar introduces the training methodologies that are poorly lacking in the strength world amongst Personal Trainers. It teaches you how to bridge the gap between traditional lifts and functional training so you don’t have to live at the polar end of these training systems and watch your training sessions become stale and lack impact. Instead you get a large range of training concepts that will drive your client’s performance through the roof and ensure your client retention rate is of the highest order.
Programming is the glue that binds all the training pieces together. Without it we just a bunch of exercises that are slapped together to look like a workout. This book will give you an easy to use Periodisation system that is purpose built for Personal Trainers. Giving you an effective tool to program professionally for every client no matter what level and in the process boost your client’s results.
Whether you’re still finding your feet as a PT or looking to push on with your career my book and program has what you need. It will provide you with the direction you have been looking for so you can cement your career as a personal trainer and become a highly successful one.
If you enjoyed this read then my book is a must, I go over my 5 P's in a heap of detail so you have a clear direction of where you need to go.
Tristan Hill, Masters of Sports Coaching, author of Lifting the Bar and mentor to Personal Trainers.