Monday, February 27, 2012

Comparing Yourself to Other Trainers

Here is a message I received from a reader:

I'm a new trainer, and am facing a slight dillema with the industry. One of my problems is that I was told that my workouts are "too basic" The basis of my program is progressing in strength and work capacity. Now I was told that these exercises are too basic, and that I need to learn more "creative exercises". I've also been told that as a trainer you need to have a ton of variety in your programs. Most of the other trainers I work with tend to mix up their workouts with their clients. They never seem to do the same thing and their clients look happy with that. My clients seem bored and I am afraid of losing them.  I understand the purpose of variety in creating value with clients, but at what point does it become detrimental to results? Thanks for reading!
Dan from Chicago, IL

My Response: First of all, stop comparing yourself to what others are doing. As long as your clients are seeing results and you are pulling in your numbers, than nothing else should matter. Stick to what works...some clients will benefit from the basics, and some may need the cute exercises...what does it matter? In the end, what matters is that you learn more and more about how people respond to exercise and stress; and how you can apply those to reach maximum benefits. Sometimes, we get too worried about what others do or we are afraid to "mess up". My first year into training, I think I used my first 20-30 clients as guinea pigs in an effort to learn more about which exercises were useful and which were wasteful.

However, variety is a good thing. When working with the general population (non-athletes), you will find that your clients become bored or disconnected very early on in the program if the exercises seem the same session after session. This is the what happens when you work with the general population. As a coach, you try to swing more towards coaching clients to improvement, but find yourself entertaining also at times. We understand that there needs to be a physical adaptation for progress to commence. But you have to remember, the general population doesn't want to view regular exercise "as a job"; because most likely they already have one of those and simply want to lose the fat in a manner that is fun and somewhat challenging. 

I will say this...there will be times when you have to curtail what you know or believe in order to get a person to cooperate...and as long as you understand that the premise of your knowledge is on one level--than it shouldn't hinder your confidence when you have to lower that level. In other words, there is a difference between "ignorance" (actually not knowing that a deadlift may have more carry-over than a BOSU step), and simply "improvising" in order to reach a specific goal. Let's get out of this "accept me into your club" mentality. Show me what you have done with your clients and then be ready to explain to me how and why you did what you did.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

4 Things We Are Doing Wrong in Personal Training

People ask me what gives me the "right" to write such posts? The only explanation I can provide is that after being in the field for 12+ years, I have committed every mistake I cite, and I have grown because of it. The latter doesn't always happen in our growing population of personal trainers and this is where my purpose begins. To enlighten young trainers (and I don't mean young as in age, I mean "green" in the field. My definition of "green" being less than 2 years in the field). From my mistakes, I have been able to see where and at what point I went wrong. From there, I take a few steps back and research how others approach the same situation and compare my perspective with others and hypothesize the outcome. There is always room for improvement in any profession or person. Character building is a life-long journey in my opinion and the events that help shape our perspective are key to our personal and professional growth. 

Here are some things that we are doing wrong as personal trainers:

1.) We are making it about "us". 
I have said this countless times--including here and here--that personal training is a service that we provide. We have the ability to coach others through a  life-transforming journey. But the only way to make it an effective process is to remember that the effort and initiative you put in is FOR the client. In an age where more and more of society is displaying an "entitlement" behavior, we are forgetting that the profession is nothing without the client. Every client is an opportunity to help them become a better version of themselves. Their achievement will lead to your accolades and professional empowerment.

2.) We are listening to strength coaches too much. 
I admire strength coaches. I look up to guys like Eric Cressey and Mike Boyle; as I am sure many of you do. But I got to let you in on a secret. I can probably only apply about 30% of what these guys talk about when it comes to personal training. Strength coaches work with an entirely different monster than what personal trainers work with. In my opinion, personal trainers have a tougher job working with the general population. I talked about this in a post here. We, as personal trainers, have to deal with clients that don't show any signs of body awareness; little movement skills; low performance and functional capacity; and poor health behaviors. Transforming a client begins with educating them on adjusting their lifestyle to include healthy behaviors, and hoping that they will be implemented during your training time together. Similarly as a  jet taking off the run way,  there is alot of turbulence when dealing with the psychological factors that influence a client's outlook. Strength coaches know this stuff and deal with it in a small way with their athletes. However, the pressures of life and sport are different. It is apples and oranges.

Somehow, the fitness industry looks to strength coaches as "more advanced" because, in all likelihood, their clients are more advance [athletes]. It is simply perception. Strength coaches look cooler training giants of athletic precision and prowess. We trainers that train your average sedentary overweight desk work? Well...we look annoying.

3.) We are listening to physical therapists too much.
In the last 5 years, we have seen an influx of physical therapists educating personal trainers. I see this as a good and bad thing. Our unregulated profession allows many different skill sets into the mix. There are trainers that are very affluent in corrective exercise and joint kinematics; while there are those that specialize more in behavior modification (ie: motivation, adherence, etc) and exercise implementation. In simplistic terms, listening to a physical therapist is important, but the audience should be other physical therapists. In order to really absorb and apply the concepts that they bestow onto the personal training field, it should be received by those that have the right tools in place to carry out those concepts. I don't believe ALL personal trainers have the right tools in place to carry out what all physical therapist preach.

Foam rolling has become popular among personal trainers because it is an easy modaility that can be applied. You see modalities like this trickle down over the years. Years ago, massage therapists and physical therapists performed muscular therapy. Then, it was introduced to the fitness industry in the form of foam rolling. Today, foam rolling has become very user-friendly that rollers are now sold in department stores directly to the public. What's the next thing? Shall personal trainers learn how to administer iontephresis or muscle stimulation? Having this information from guys like Gray Cook or Stuart McGill is important if you know where your involvement starts and ends.

4.) We are going into business too early in our careers.
I know its fun to bash commercial gyms and big-box facilities. But truth is, you will not find another outlet to acquire clients faster than a commercial gym. As much as Crossfit and private studios are gaining popularity, they will not kill big-box gyms. Crossfit and Reebok have nothing on places like LA Fitness or Crunch --and that's in revenue. Truth be told, commercial gyms are a fantastic way for new trainers to acquire a plethora of skills that will benefit their career down the road including:

Building a rapport and relationship with customers
Time management
Marketing your skills directly and indirectly
Learning business appropriate demeanor 
Customer service and goal setting
Interacting with fellow professionals

Alot of these skills are acquired provided the management is running smoothly and there is a sense of teamwork. I cannot guarantee that all gyms function well enough to promote growth to their employees, but there is a greater chance of learning more about business from another business model...good or bad. If its good, you learn what to do. If its bad, you learn what not to do. Chalk it up as a opportunity to ride the coat-tails of someone else's investment and learn from it.

Many personal trainers opt to enter the business side of this profession with little "under the bar" experience. Armed with simply a certificate and insurance, the tool box is scarce. The tool box is made up of "copied" exercises or butchered YouTube videos with little to no rationale behind them. Rationale comes from experience (ie: making some mistakes here and there and correcting them the next time the situation arises).

Personally, I didn't open my own business for close to 12 years. I had been a personal trainer, manager, and fitness director before I laid some money down to establish my own place. Why did it take me so long? Partly scared, part procrastination, and partly preparation. I felt confident enough in my ability, business savvy, and relationships to begin my adventure. Those years were jam-packed with mistakes, disappointments, embarrassments, and successes that have allowed me to think critically and passionately about my profession. I hope you will experience the same.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Own Your Profession

Ever wonder why there are so many good professionals and so many bad professionals across the board? I'm not talking simply in the fitness industry, but any industry--the medical community, politicians, law, civil service--you name it. Why are there good doctors and bad doctors? Why are there good lawyers and bad lawyers? Why are there good chefs and bad chefs?

I will give you my opinion on the matter. Recently, I began teaching a course at the local community college. I have been an adjunct instructor since 2002 and I teach for a personal training organization. Over the years,. I have noticed something about the students that make up my classes. These students are very much interested in the personal training profession, but they lack some critical skills in learning. I find myself in a room full of students that don't seem to care about the process of learning. They are eager to learn the "in's and out's" of the profession and "memorize" the exam answers, but there is lack of absorption.  This lack of absorption leads to a lack of investment in the trade.

Most people "coast" through their profession. They get into a routine. They make excuses for themselves and blame it on something that they think is "out of their control". Some professionals don't challenge themselves, or ask why...or learn from those much more knowledgeable or experienced. They become complacent. They become "used to" and comfortable in their situation. And each day they deal with a customer or patient or client or consumer, they recite the same ideas, same dialog, same thoughts...almost robotically. Because for them, it is easier this way. It is easier to punch in and punch out everyday without hassle, without recourse, or without provocation.

What value do you add to your profession? Are you growing as a professional? Are you learning new things or you stuck in that hamster wheel of monotony in that thing you call a career? Do you want to be better at what you do, or do you want to "just be"? When you understand this, you will understand that you not only add value to yourself as a professional and life, but you add value to your abilities and how the world perceives you.

How to accomplish this:

1.) Invest in your profession. This means setting a budget for continuing education. Obtaining credits does not have to be the only motivation to attend seminars and workshops. There should be an initiative to meet other professionals and expand on what you already know.

2.) Network with like-minded people. If there is one thing I know is how to differentiate when I am speaking to someone that is current on fitness trends and research, and one that is still speaking in terms back logged from 2-3 years ago. It is important to surround yourself with people that have the motivation and drive to be better professionals. This can be a friendly competition that will allow you to burst through the seams.

3.) Own your profession. For years, I was embarrassed to tell people I was a personal trainer. Not only did I not look the part, but many people didn't really understand what a personal trainer does all day. It wasn't until I met other personal trainers (that I felt were not putting in the effort and commitment to their clients); that I began to realize it was being infiltrated with a poor workforce. Once I became committed to bettering myself and investing in my future, I began to take my career more seriously and "calling out" people that didn't put the effort in became easier. Owning my profession meant that I take things seriously and personally. 

Once you "own your profession", you will realize that it is investment in your character. Not only does it help pay the bills and identify who you are; but it becomes an extension of you to others. A fireman is always a fireman even when he is not fighting fires. He is a fireman 24 hours a day. A doctor is a doctor 24 hours a day. There is no reason why those notable professions cannot run parallel with the career of a personal trainer. Once you realize that personal trainers are the first defense against illness and disease, you will value your profession and OWN IT!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Last Standing Personal Trainer

With all this talk of personal training dying to make way for group classes and bootcamps, I am dumbfounded at how many people come to my facility aghast at the possibilities that they have to transform. 

Imagine...if you will...being able to sit with your doctor one on one, with his undivided attention for longer than 15 minutes? When I say undivided attention, I mean there isn't anyone else waiting for him, or medical staff requesting his signature, or his beeper going off to tend to a patient on another floor. 

Imagine...if you will...standing over your car hood looking at the engine with your own private mechanic. The two of you talk over the symptoms, hearing the explanations and possible repairs that loom. When I say your "private mechanic"...I mean, he has no other cars to work on sales consultant to haggle with, and there are no distractions. The car will be done on time.

Imagine...if you will...having your own private postal worker? Imagine walking into a post office with your shipment or package and walking right up to the counter? No one buying stamps in front of you...and no annoying cell phone users. That postal worker takes your package and finds the right delivery method and off you go. In and out in under 4 minutes. 

Okay,  that last one is hard to imagine but you get the point. Personal training is still a viable service to be offered in gyms and private facilities. When customers see the outside of my facility and see this: 

They walk in and the jaws drop when they see this:

What I think goes through my potential client's mind when they walk into my facility and speak with me?

"All this stuff is for me!"

"I get to use this place all by myself!"

"I have this guy to help me all to myself!"

"There's no one else here to annoy, distract, or belittle me!"

I can't speak for commercial gym personal training in this post. Because for the client,  the product is the trainer and if the trainer is mediocre or non-engaging,  the experience will be poor. However, speaking for private facility owners, there are four factors that will make personal training continue to be a revenue generator for your business:

Privacy. With the condemnation of fat people, there is a polarization in society. People know they need to get fit and healthy; but they don't want to be in an atmosphere where they will feel judged or intimidated. Selling private training is a powerful tool. Yes, group energy is still a major player when it comes to creating an atmosphere and generating income, but people will pay for private service. Remember, if you can have a solid service and outlet to impact people on an individual basis, they will invest in accountability. Empowerment is a powerful emotion and you have the ability to instill that on clients everyday. If you are sitting in a room with a doctor, mechanic, policeman, or priest with the ability to ask as many questions and receive as much advice as possible is; that is a valuable commodity.  That opportunity exists in private training. If clients can view you as a professional with resources and proven results, this commodity beckons advantage. 

Individual Attention. Customer service begins with attention. Remember how you interacted with your teacher during class and when you were alone she acted differently? During class, a teacher divides her attention among 20-30 students. When you are alone--as in tutoring--her attention is solely on YOUR NEEDS. That is why tutors are valuable assets to the learning process. Private training is equivalent to tutoring. Trainers act as coaches of human movement and help client understand how to move better using exercise and physique alteration. 

Selfishness. There is a component of selfishness that drives people when they invest alot of money. People are willing to invest big money into a service, provided they are felt like number #1. It's a natural devotion that comes with handing over a large investment for a need. If the need is great enough, the more selfish your client becomes. Having the opportunity to sit with a professional for an hour or 30 minutes is what drives this selfishness. This emotion is born from the need. 

There is still a need for private training. 95% of my personal business is private training. Working with clients on an individual basis is the essence of coaching. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

What the Rock Group KISS Can Teach Personal Trainers

Lately, I have been reading alot before bedtime. And although my selection of reading has traditionally been fitness related books, I have steered off that path lately and I have been reading autobiographies of my favorite rock stars and heavy metal bands.

I have been a rabid KISS fan since I was 12. I knew of them when I was younger than that, but I was always deathly afraid of Gene Simmon's make up. His snarl and fire-breathing demeanor seemed to scare the daylights out of me,  that is, it wasn't until I got older I started to really appreciate the music of KISS. 

Now in my upper 30s, I am starting to appreciate the longevity of KISS and the business model that has helped them stick around for so long. I recently finished a biography of KISS and leaned alot about the band. And most of what I read sounds similarly to the advice I tend to hear lately about achieving success and reaching your potential. 

I have discussed in detail my rise in personal and career growth here; and once I began looking back on what KISS did in their early years; I realized that anyone can do the same. If you are a personal trainer, I know how tough it may seem to get your foot in the door...earn the respect of your peers....and get some referrals going your way. But, if you know anything about tenacity and sticking to your guns, you can learn alot from KISS when it comes to making it in the fitness industry. 

1.) KISS was laughed at in the early 1970s because they wore make up. Many record executives didn't even want to sign the band because they looked too feminine and looked ridiculous. But KISS wanted to be different. They wanted to look like no other band before. 

Many of today's personal trainers spit out the SAME terms, SAME sayings, and SAME rhetoric. The problem is there are only a dozen or so people in the fitness industry that many young trainers can look to as role models, but they all seem to say the same thing. There is no variety. Here are some of the typical things you will hear in the fitness industry on any given day:

"We should perform assessments with all your clients to check for any muscle imbalances."

"Crossfit is dangerous and we should banish it from gyms everywhere."

"Everyone should be doing glute bridges with a weighted barbell."

The problem with many of today's trainers is many say the same thing. We rob from other industry "giants" and try to apply their perspectives into our practice. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. If your favorite strength coach works with elite athletes and you work with the senior population, how much of their work can you really apply to yours? Less than 50%...?

You will never learn in this practice if you simply recite everything Mike Boyle says..or Gray Cook, or even me. Your learning  tools are the books that you read and the seminars you attend. The practical tools to carry out those findings are your clients.

The learning process is not finished once you finish the book or leave the seminar. It begins on Monday when you arrive to the gym.

2.) When KISS put out their first record, it was not accepted and popular. The tour didn't produce alot of income and the band lost money. People laughed at them and told them to take the make-up off. Do you know what KISS did? They put another record. And then another. And then another.....

People today tend to give up easily on things. They don't absorb the process anymore. Trainers drop into profession and drop out at alarming rates. Reason? Many tend to find out that they cannot design exercise programs outside the case studies that they learned in the textbooks. Many cannot strike up conversations and build a rapport with clients. And some cannot justify selling sessions for a living. KISS had tenacity and built a reputation on maintaining their "own thing" and pushing forward. When you find yourself being shunned by others for what you specialize in or write about, continue on and prove to them that you have what it takes to share the same career title "fitness professional". 

3.) From 1973-1976, KISS was hardly making a dime on any of their tours. Every dollar that the band made during those first few years, the band put it right back into the stage show. 

KISS was known as a concert band. Their shows were top-notch complete with fireworks, lasers, explosions, and tons of lights. Over time,  they became a marketing machine and the band transformed into business entity. 

How do you get good in your profession? You continue to invest. Be it your business or your knowledge, the learning process is never ending. Many trainers tend to obtain their certification and simply want to get started on their business. Many don't realize that the more they learn,  the better they will become and their business will prosper. Your mind is a business entity. Many trainers tend to forget that their business begins with their  coaching style. Trainers make the mistake of short-coming their business to just the physical building that they train clients in. It takes some money to make a business grow. Your mind is also a business. What you can do for others is a lucrative business and you need to continuously remodel it, update it, and expand on it. 

4.) By 1977-78,  the band wanted to break up. But KISS was at the top of the music industry. Everything was about KISS! The band was marketed well and the tours were producing millions of dollars. Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley (founding members) knew that if the band broke up, they would lose everything that they built. So, the management team decided to allow the band members to create solo albums separately from the band and release them simultaneously. At the time,  this was unprecedented because no band had ever had all their members release solo albums. But this was a smart business move.

Smart business moves sometimes take on different means. Small-business owners, like most personal trainers, need to think outside the box when it comes to making keen business decisions that suit them. Today,  there are plenty of mastermind groups that preach cookie-cutter business schemes, but do they really teach trainers anything about business? Maybe they do. maybe they don't. if you are being told exactly how to do something, I don't consider that leaning. I consider that following instructions where the mind doesn't absorb anything. Nowadays, everyone wants the work done for them. No one wants to put in the hard work, make mistakes, and  do long-hand math. Today, most business start-ups are created with cookie cutter templates with little proof of success. The only time I have seen one model work for a series of businesses, has been fast-food chains. And the only thing common about fast-food chains, is they all offer the same thing. Do you wan to offer the same thing, or do you want to stand out among the competition? KISS made their own business work based on what they stood for. What are you waiting for?

I wouldn't feel right ending this blog without featuring a video of KISS doing their thing. So hopefully, you learned a little something from this post and the band!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Be the Product Your Clients Seek

Here is an email I received earlier this week:

"Hi John, I follow your blog religiously. I opened my own facility last year (just like you) and wanted to ask you for some direction. My facility is great. Me and some partners invested well over 15K into the place and it shows in the ambiance, equipment, and juice bar. We've been doing pretty good--but not good enough. Many of the clients that come in love the atmosphere and the hospitality we provide. We've hired 2 other trainers that are learning our system, but we are struggling with client retention. We have 2 other studios nearby that don't look nothing like ours, but they are succeeding in keeping their current clientele and it seems to me that they are attracting new ones. What do you think we are doing wrong and what can we do to make my facility better?

-Timmy C.
Biloxi, LA

It sounds like you have a very nice facility. And it also sounds like you invested alot of money (forward) to make this facility your dream. My question to you is this: should your facility be your dream or your toolbox?

Let me explain further:

I have had the wonderful opportunity to interview many strength coaches and fitness professionals in the past 3 years including: Mike Robertson, Eric Cressey, and JC Santana (among many others); and one thing seems to be a common thread. All these professionals tend to use the word "teaching" to describe their training methods used in their respected facilities.

You will find that the thing that separates a good fitness professional from a mediocre fitness professional are two very distinct adjectives: show and teach.

If you are a "show-trainer"; you are a fitness professional that "shows" clients how to perform certain exercises based on one simple criteria: the WOW factor! Your intention is to challenge your client without reasoning; other than to overload their body and muscles to simply see them struggle and overcome such a challenge. Not bad, right? Well, it is our intent to challenge a client and expect outcomes, but the truth is, this kind of fitness professional creates a recipe for injury and the client doesn't retain much.

If you like to "teach" your clients, I will assume you are a fitness professional that not only shows HOW to perform an exercise, but knows WHY it is strategically placed within an exercise program. I recently interviewed Mike Robertson for the blog, and he made a note that there are far too many trainers that set clients up for injuries because they have one intent...and it is to fatigue them and load them inappropriately. B

Basically kick their asses.

Coaches or trainers that teach rely on their methods of instruction to make a client smarter, and more and more dependent on oneself. You can always spot a person in the gym that currently works with a trainer or has worked with a trainer. 

You see, your dream is to be successful doing what you love to do. That is the grain of your dream. Sure you want to help people achieve great things in fitness, but your dream is to be happy doing it. Your facility is your toolbox. It will facilitate your journey to achieving your dream. Your facility should not be the end all be all reason people are buying sessions from you. Your coaching, reputation, and customer service are the reasons why they buy. And as I mentioned above, it all depends on the type of trainer you want to become (including your staff): do you want to "show" people new exercises, or do you want to "teach" them things they probably could not learn anywhere else in an effective manner?

When I opened my small facility, I knew that my coaching style, professionalism, and results had to shine. Wanna know why? My facility is hard to find....not visible from the busy street, and has no windows.

Outside of IZZOSTRENGTH in Manchester, CT
It is your typical small warehouse that fits around 6 people comfortably. There are no fake plants, trees, or artwork on the walls. When people visit me, they are impressed with what I have to offer and what I can do for them. They are not sold on the facility. They are sold on what HAPPENS in the facility.

You have to ask yourself: is all the money you invest in your business helping your business in the long-run? Does your facility have all the things you need to help your customers achieve the greatness that you promise them? Or is it filled with alot of extras that make them feel "warm and fuzzy" inside? Follow these 5 simple tips to improve your facility and see your client retention soar:

1.) Under promise, over deliver your goods. 
2.) Be supportive and transparent.
3.) Care about what you do and show it at all times.
4.) Invest your time and energy in your clients. Let them see that.
5.) Put 100% effort in coaching during sessions. Never put yourself on "auto-pilot". 

Make your facility a teaching facility. Your business a business that teaches its clients how to make themselves better by applying your coaching schemes.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Is the Interventionist Inside of You?

When you refer to yourself as a coach, you can't help but think of yourself as a "interventionist". Everyday, personal trainers have the opportunity to impact someone's life and create permanent changes. We intervene in a client's world and shake it up. As I stated in this blog post, trainers can either help clients become stronger both physically and mentally, or they can simply skewer them with negativity and help them simply "workout". There is a psychological factor involved in coaching. The power to intervene can make a positive impact on a client if the trainer can handle that huge responsibility.

All day, every day, my clients sit behind computer monitors punching away at their keyboards feeling absolutely no stimulation. The only heightened brain activity comes from playing a game on their smartphone while they are sitting on the toilet. Sure most people scour the Internet for ideas, and original thought...but most simply come away with a feeling of "on the outside looking in"--having no drive or motivation to capitalize on  the triggers that stimulate them. 

If you think your client chooses to exercise with you simply to "look" better, you are missing the forest for the trees. Clients want to look and feel better because they want more out of their life. It starts with feeling better about themselves. Personal trainers help that cause with exercise. 

Personal trainers have the ability to change a client's outlook on life by injecting inspiration, positive energy, and introspection. We use fitness as a vehicle to do this. As a therapist uses a couch and notepad, personal trainers use squats, dumbbells, deadlifts, and barbells.  The job of transforming their bodies is a tangible service and one that we "study" for. But the real service is transforming their thoughts, their outlook, their attitude, and their self perception. Ask yourself, can you handle those responsibilities?

When I meet a client that feels run down, low energy, and feels like he or she is simply going through the motions of life, I know they need stimulation. They need to uncover something about themselves. People go through self-discovery phases at different times in life depending on where they are in life. If they need a tool to "uncover" something new about themselves, and that tool becomes me (the personal trainer), I will work within my means to get that accomplished.

Self-empowerment is a positive discovery thrust upon people by different means. In personal training, our means is fitness. This can come in many forms: weight-training, yoga, Zumba, or triathlons. In my business, I choose lifting weights to make my clients stronger and and feel better. Most general population clients come into my facility feeling like they are shackled to their desks all day. I make them believe that there is plenty of potential in their lives while minimizing the idea of working 9-5 simply to feel "scarcity" still. Building their strength levels gives them a feeling of empowerment because it provides them the freedom to function without hesitation and apprehension.

The first time my client deadlifted 225 pounds was remarkable. The guy had never even lifted a weighted barbell off the floor in his life. Today, he deadlifted 335 pounds.

What impressed me the most about this new personal record? He knew he could do it before I slapped the plates on the bar. That is empowerment. That is what I am most proud of.

Changing behaviors is not easy. Everyone changes on their own terms. As interventionists, we cannot "force" change. But we can continuously influence in a positive manner. Like regulating gas mileage in your car, we can influence the MPG depending on how we drive the car. Want to make $60 in gas last a while? Drive with a steady foot, watch your start-ups and keep the speed at a moderate level--without flooring it. That's how you affect your MPG.

How do you influence your client? Every trainer has different methods of coaching. Some use motivational tactics, some use smiles. It begins with have self-confidence as a trainer, first. When you believe you can coach anyone...or almost everyone...than you are on your way to making an impact on everyone you come across in your life.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

10 Things That Suck About Personal Training

I typically reside on the positives regarding the personal training profession, but I have to admit, sometimes I like to give my readers a dose of reality. I've been doing it for years...telling it how it is, basically. Even in my book, Secret Skills of Personal Training, I've been accused of "trying to talk people out of entering the fitness field".

Truth is, I'm not trying to talk anyone out of this profession that I love. But I'm a big believer in making sure people know what they are getting themselves into. And my focus when speaking to new trainers or those contemplating becoming trainers, is to cover all the basics. Good and bad. You don't see that all too often nowadays, as everyone across every social network tries to paint a wonderful life. In reality, they find themselves living life compromised at times. 

I put together  a compilation list of 10 things that suck about personal training. Hopefully, those of you that have been in the field for a while will get a  laugh, or possibly a nod of affirmation. But those of you that are contemplating entering the field or have recently entered not be afraid!

1.) Getting up at 5:30am for a client sucks. As much as you love fitness or love to motivate people, you are not going to have a good night's sleep every night; nor be as energetic as you think you are for your 5:30am client. Go to bed early? Sure...just stop thinking about waking up in a few hours and possibly your anxiety will allow you to get some Zzzzz's....

2.) People that try to get free advice suck. It's happened to me countless times. During my commercial gym days, I had so many gym members ask me for some advice--without wanting to pay me. The good man that I am, I gave them "some" advice to satisfy their hunger in hopes that they will pay for more. It never happened on many occasions.

3.) People steal your exercises! During my commercial gym days, I can remember seeing gym members on the floor using or trying a new exercise that I was just demonstrating to a paying client. Granted, no exercise is belongs to one person; but the client is paying for individualized programming. When a gym onlooker is simply copying an exercise because it looks cool, the rationale behind the selection is missing and cheapens the service. 9 times out of 10, the thief is doing it all wrong anyway!

4.) You learn to eat solid food in under 2 minutes or less. Yes, if you are a busy-enough have to eat your '5 to 6 small meals' in between client sessions. I have literally learned how to "inhale" my food and move on to the next client without getting anything stuck in my teeth.

5.) Touching sweaty people sucks! Yes,  there are times when you are coaching clients you have to touch them to direct a certain limb, movement, or direction. At times, they can be very sweaty--almost wet and you have to touch them. Albeit times,  you have to stretch them! Make hand soap and disinfectant your friend!

6.) People challenge you to various physical feats. If I had a dollar for every time someone challenged me to a race, a bigger bench press, a higher jump, a marathon time, a smaller waist, a bigger squat, or the most chin-ups...I would own at least 10 facilities. Truth is, people--including your own clients--assume that if you are a trainer you are always "on". They don't understand that like their bodies, our bodies take a beating day in and day out; need a warm up; need relaxation, and need maintenance--so we are not always capable of  conquering every physical feat under the sun simply because we are fitness professionals. Get us on a day when  we are warmed-up, mentally ready, and wearing chalk and its a different story!

7.) Listening to people make excuses for themselves sucks.  I am amazed at the energy put into   creativity when it comes to making excuses for being late, lazy, not complying with a diet, workout, or missing a workout. Tolerance and patience will become very valuable to your practice.

8.) Knowing a client is a waste of your time, but is money in the bank sucks. Not all trainers work with ELITE athletes. We'd love to all work with people that "get" fitness and performance. But for the most part, 85% of trainers work with normal Joe-Schmoes. When you own your own business or have to make the numbers for the month or the boss will get on you is the reason why we keep them around....and that sucks.

9.) Being pressured to make sales or sell supplements sucks. Don't believe in the latest Techno-STACK-77? Too bad, it costs $69.99 and you have to make quota this month. Managers that sit in their offices crunching numbers all day simply look at your clients as dollar signs. That sucks.

10.) Training clients when they sneezing, coughing, and sick, sucks! I don't like to get sick. It sets me back and robs me of life. But when clients don't understand this and show up to a sessions with a running nose and sore throat--it is annoying. If you want to be sick, fine. But don't make me sick in the process!

Not so bad of a list, right? Every profession has a top 10 list. However, what I want to point out is that the perception that people paint is not always 100% accurate. It is a REAL profession that deals with REAL circumstances. I believe that any job that you love is the "best job in the world". Personal training is not an absolute walk-in-the-park....but it is what you make of it. The better prepared you are for the good and the bad, will help you make it the best job in the world!