Two Questions That Will Get You Clients

First, let me say that I was reminded about the question I use from a post on the Precision Nutrition blog: Fitness pros: Free, simple, and easy-to-use coaching tools by Krista Scott-Dixon. While Ms. Scott-Dixon uses a slightly different question, the combination of both will increase your chance of getting clients.

Personal trainer

“So, what’s your plan?” This has always been a question that I’ve used when discussing people’s status. In interactions with potential clients, when they tell me about their goals, I simply ask, “So, what’s your plan?”. Sometimes I get a, “I don’t know.” or “I don’t really have one.” This of course leads to me suggesting that we sit down and come up with a strategy for them to reach their goals (which usually includes personal training).

Other times they will reply with what they are currently doing. Your response to that should be Ms. Scott-Dixon’s question of, “How is that working for you?”. To this, their response might be, “It’s going great!”. To which you would wish them the best and let them know that you are around if they have any questions in the future. They may also answer, “Not well.” or “It could be better.” This also leads to a sit down meeting to figure out how best to help them.

The beauty of these two questions is that both ask the individual about their readiness to succeed on their own. They also does so without you sounding like you’re trying to sell them something.

If you aren’t currently using questions like these in your interactions, give them a shot. You’ll be amazed at the answers and opportunties that come from them.

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What If… Gyms Were Free?

An article was brought to my attention that has been rumbling around in my head.


Sweat More, Pay Less “Fitmob incentivizes people to keep working out by rewarding users with lower class fees the more classes they join. Classes start at $15 each and the price drops with each class participants take during a given week (Two workouts per week are $10 each, three workouts per week are $5 each, and so on.). “

The problem with this, as I see it, is that those who are already committed to exercise (which means they already see the value of it and would probably pay more anyway) pay less. Whereas those that are unsure that exercise is the right path, have a greater barrier to entry by having a higher price.

That being said, I read a book a while back called, Free: the Future of a Radical Price by Chris Anderson. Here’s what it’s got me thinking: What if membership to your gym was free? Now, Of course a company has to make money. So what’s the business plan?

Cut back to the “Why” we do what we do.. to improve people’s lives through physical activity and proper nutrition. Many people that start a fitness program drop out within the first couple of months. A few big reasons for this is they don’t know what to do, they don’t see results, and/or they haven’t come in enough to create the habit of exercising.  What if you had a mandatory 2 months of personal training every year? Make members work with a trainer 2-3x/week for their first 2 months and another 2 months each year thereafter (this assures that they get a new program at least once/year). That could cost them $750-$1000/year (or more depending on your demographics). That may seem like a lot to some people, but hey… the membership is free.

Think about the benefits:

According to IHRSA, only 12% of club members use personal trainers. This would guarentee that 100% of members try personal training.

Members are far more likely to succeed when they have been working with a personal trainer for 2 months, having the right program, creating the right habits, and seeing the resuts.

Having seen the value in working with a trainer, more people will continue utilizing training services.

I think this is a really viable model and could be something special. I’d love to hear what you think.

Please leave comments below.

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Top 6 Keys to Positive First Impressions

Many times your opportunity to gain a new client is won or lost at the first impression. A poor first impression is difficult to overcome. Here are some tips to create the best first impression you can.

1) Be on time. Nothing says “I don’t respect you or your time” faster than being late for an appointment.

2) Your appearence, part 1. Dress the part. Your attire is an indicator of what you think of yourself, your profession, and the person you’re meeting. If you are wearing a uniform, it should be clean, pressed (or at least unwrinkled), and free from stains. If you are wearing street clothes, they should be on the dressy side of casual. Ask yourself if you look like a top professional.

3) Your appearance, part 2. Have a clean, well groomed look. Greasy hair, unshaven face, food in your teeth, and dirty hands doesn’t make people want to sit down and tell you their life story. Again, look the professional. Actual as well as perceived cleanliness is an important part of that first impression. (By the way, you can grow facial hair if you so choose, but keep it trimmed so it looks like you’re trying to grow it vs it taking over your face because you couldn’t be bothered to shave.)

Bad impressions

4) Be warm and inviting. Giving a friendly, geniune smile, making eye contact, and greeting the person by name in a clear, warm voice can immediately set people at ease. With an open body position, go to them as you greet them. Don’t make them come to you. Being stand offish with crossed arms is a status ploy that some use to establish superiority and can make the potential client uncomfortable.

5) Mirror them. Research shows that if we mirror people’s manners, we will put them at ease. Here are a couple things to pay attention to:

When shaking someone’s hand, shake as they shake. If they have a stong handshake, match it. Even if they give you the notorious dead fish handshake, grip no harder than they do.

Mirror their vocal volume. Don’t overpower a soft voice with a booming one. Speak confidently and clearly, but no more than slightly above their volume.

Match their vocabulary. If you’re speaking to a doctor, by all means speak their language. But, if you are talking to someone less educated, use simple clear terms that they can relate to. When someone stops to ponder a word that you said, they are no longer actively listening to you.

6) Create rapport. Ask about and listen to your potential client. After all, it is about them. Show your interest in knowing more about them and their individual situation. Use open ended questions and active listening techniques. Occasionally restate and/or paraphrase what they have said to show that you understand what they are saying. People like talking about themselves and they like people that allow that opportunity.

First impressions take seconds to be made. A positive one can set the stage for a long term relationship. Be aware of what impression you are making and take the steps to make it as positive as you can.

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Get More Clients Today With One Simple Question

I know, it sounds like some sales pitch. But, I’m not selling anything, just passing on an idea of the easiest way to get more clients today. What’s the question? How is your program working for you? Sound too simple? This works best in a club setting, but will also work in casual conversations about fitness. Let me set it up. Trainer and members

There are tons of people working out that are not reaching their goals. If you look across the training floor or in the cardio area, you see them, plugging away with no visable change. Approach them and strike up a conversation. Complement them on their committment, their effort. “It’s great to see you in here working hard.” Here it comes… “How is your program working for you?” In all likelihood they will confess that would like to be getting better results. That’s your chance to get them to sit down with you and discuss their goals, their issues, and what they’re currently doing. The sit down meeting gives you the information you need to make an informed recommendation such as, “From what you’re telling me, you’ve been doing the same program for six months and have hit a plateau. Is that accurate?” “My recommendation is that we get together for ________ number of sessions to create a new program that will take you to the next level. ” “How does that sound to you?” More often than not, they will agree and you will have gained a new client.

If you’re not in a club and someone strikes up a conversation with you about training, you may need the lead up question, “Do you currently have a workout program?” If they don’t, there’s the chance to suggest a meeting to discuss creating one. If they do have a program, we’re back to, “How is your program working for you?”.

So this one simple question can be the key to quickly gaining new clients. You just need to ask it.

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Have I Sold Out? MLM and Me

I have been a personal trainer and health club manager for over 33 years. I have worked hard at building a reputation as someone that can be trusted to provide accurate information to both the layperson and to fitness professionals. I pride myself as a force of progress and innovation, always seeking to make the industry more effective for those needing health and fitness information and to help improve the careers of other personal trainers.

Through the years, I have been approached a billion times (at least) to sell various nutritional products via network or multi level marketing (MLM). The “multi level” aspect of this is that, not only do I sell the product, but I get others to sell for me, and they get others to sell for them, etc. The draw is that you get a little piece of what everyone below you sells/makes. The higher in the network you are, the more money you can make.


My biggest problem with signing up to participate in these programs has been that I haven’t believed that any one of these companies is significantly better than the others. How can I in my right mind choose sides?

I also take issue with many of the people participating in the MLM. They don’t really have a clue as to what they are recommending to customers. One company goes so far as to call the person selling the products (qualified or not) “coaches”.

This brings me to now. I was approached, yet again, to sign on to one of these companies. This time it was by a fitness professional friend that I respect. It was enough to make me give the idea another look.

As Simon Sinek states, “Start With Why”. Why would I consider being part of this? I can help people by doing this. I’ve always said that people don’t need to take supplements if they eat an individually appropriate diet, and I believe that. But, in spite of recommending that approach, most people still have lousy diets, are missing key nutrients, and could benefit from using a supplement(s). They also may believe that supplements are a quick fix and end up buying supplements haphazardly to try to reach their goals. I’ve had clients that have informed me that they have been taking ____________ in spite of our “eating approach” discussions. If I became the source of where they got their supplements I would know what they were taking from the start and that the quality was good. Also, to be completely transparent, I am not beyond looking for another source of income. Who wouldn’t like to make more?

Now, I looked at all of the top MLM supplement companies to remind myself of who else was out there. Herbalife, Usana, Isagenix, AdvoCare, Beachbody, and Visalus to name a few, are all out in the mix. Are the products good quality? As far as I can tell (I’ve tried many of them), yes, barring some serious mislabeling. What about the claims? Well, here’s where I make a distinction. Several make claims about certain products that I can’t substantiate, hmmn?

How will I keep my integrity as I sell various supplements? I’ll provide research (from peer reviewed journals) on the supplement in question, won’t suggest anything that won’t benefit the client, and I’ll make sure that it’s a quality product.

How do I say that this is the brand to use? Here’s why I agreed to become an AdvoCare distributor over others. I don’t know that the quality of the products are better than some of the other companies. This is the brand that my collegue invited me to participate in (That’s my initial reason for giving MLMs another look). Of course that’s not enough. The company has been around since 1993 and is one of the top MLM supplement companies. Also, it doesn’t hide the ingredients under a “proprietary blend” guise (the secret ingredients) like some other companies do. Advocare gives you the ingredients and nutrition labels. i.e. Advocare Muscle Gain Protein Shake. Finally, William J. Kraemer, PhD, FACSM, CSCN, FNSCA is on the Scientific and Medical Advisory Board for AdvoCare. I’ve known Bill for many years through the NSCA and if he puts his stamp of approval on something, I trust that it works.

Writing this has helped me think through my own doubts about this decision. Thanks for hanging in there with me. What about you? What are your thoughts? I would really would like to know. Do you think I’ve sold out?

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The Secret Sauce of a Fitness “Cult”

If you look at what’s happening in fitness industry, you’d be hard pressed not to have noticed the “cult-like” following that surrounds some brands such as CrossFit and Zumba.

CrossFit Games

CrossFit is “Forging Elite Fitness” though constantly varied, high intensity activities that includes everything from Olympic Lifts to kipping pull-ups. Zumba, on the other hand, wants you to “Ditch the Workout and Join the Party” a Latin dance based workout system. Could these two styles of training be further apart? While they are very different (and Crossfitters even make fun of Zumba participants), what they have in common is the blind devotion of their followers. How does that happen?

In The Power of Cult Branding authors Matthew W. Ragas and Bolivar J. Bueno present the Seven Golden Rules of Cult Branding:

1. Consumers want to be part of a group that’s different.

2. Cult brand inventors show daring and determination.

3. Cult brands sell lifestyles.

4. Listen to the choir and create cult brand evangelists.

5. Cult brands always create customer communities.

6. Cult brands are inclusive.

7. Cult brands promote personal freedom and draw power from enemies.


Think about CrossFit and Zumba.

1. They are very different than other modes of exercise.

2. The creators were committed to their way of training.

3. They are absolutely selling a lifestyle through various branded products, and shared experiences. Zumba even has a magazine called Z-Life.

4. The participants feel a part of the organization, feel like they are appreciated and are encouraged to spread the gospel.

5. Crossfitters and Zumba enthusiasts are all about their community. This may include their own language (WODs, poods, and  ”Uncle Pukie” in CrossFit) or outfits, bags, and other apparell as can be found in the Zumba store.

6. Both are inclusive. Everyone is welcome to drink the kool aid, including kids and seniors.

7. Both CrossFit facilities and Zumba classes are as different as the instructors. They are free to structure them as the individual instructors see fit. Differentiation from the competition is often an integral part of the marketing plan. “We are not…”

This type of community can be yours too with whatever type program you offer. Think about how you can utilize these rules to create your own fitness cult.

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The Art of Prospecting for New Clients, Part 2: In Your Community

In The Art of Prospecting for New Clients, Part 1, I discussed the most immediate return for invested time, individuals that are already at your facility trying to change their fitness level.

In this post we’ll address how you go about getting prospective clients into your facility. For the sake of brevity, I’m going keep this about face to face meetings.

If you’re working at a personal training studio, do in-home training, or simply want to reach a greater audience than your club, you need to go to where your target market is. (determining who your target market is, is a topic for another time.)

With Older WomanFind out where they are. In example, if you’re seeking to connect with seniors you may want to go check out the senior center, senior college, local churches, or other groups for the older population. Get involved with these groups. You don’t need to be a senior. Volunteer. This could be your service as a presenter of health and fitness information or simply to help out with their day-to-day needs. The key is to become someone they know and trust. Note: Do not come to the group with your marketing guns a blazin’ or they will reject you. It’s not about you, it’s about them. Work on building relationships. Once people trust you, they will ask you, give you permission, to tell them more about how they might become more fit.

When you are asked, and this is true for any time you are asked (like at a party when someone finds our you are a trainer and they want to know how to lose “this” area.) proceed mindfully. Making recommendations without knowing all the important details is reckless and probably won’t get you the client. Your goal is to get them to come to your office or club so that you can sit down with them to find out all relevant information. This will allow you to make your best recommendation as to how to proceed from there.

1) Listen to what they are saying and acknowledge their concerns.

2) If you believe you can help them, tell them so.

3) Explain that in order to make a valid recommendation, you need to have time to sit down and learn more about them. (medical health history, lifestyle questionnaire, etc.)

4) If you can make an appointment now, do it. Then take their number so you can call and confirm. Give them yours in case they need to change times/days.

5) If you can’t make an appointment now, get an idea of what times and days are good for them. Then take their number so you can schedule the appointment. Give them yours in case they need to change times/days.

Remember to get out and meet your prospective clients where they spend time. Take time and build a relationship with them. Then, when they ask or you see an opportunity to help, invite them to sit and talk. Getting them to come in is the best way to be able to help them by gaining them as a client.

What groups do you connect with to find prospective clients? Please post them in the comments. I’d love to hear about it.

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Thriving, Not Simply Surviving

In my 33+ years as a personal trainer/fitness director, I have seen many trainers settle into a “life is fine” mode. They have some clients. They make enough money to survive. They aren’t stressed or challenged. They keep working from whatever knowledge base they initially learned. Life is fine. And, while I will never understand how that seems to be enough for them, if they’re ok with it, I guess I am too… for them.
For the rest of us, we need more. More knowledge, more stimulus, more challenge, more clients, more success for our clients, a greater sense of achievement for ourselves, and sure, why not, more money.
So how do we keep on growing?
1) Attend clinics/conferences to learn what the latest research is, what the latest techniques are, what new equipment is out there, meet new people and discuss new ideas. (I’m writing this just after returning from Las Vegas for the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s 2013 national conference)
2) Read like crazy. Read books, journals, magazines to expand your knowledge base.
3) Get involved in an industry organization to network, learn, and build new skill sets. Many organizations have local branches. Seek them out and offer your services.
4) Either work for a company that promotes professional and personal growth or create your own. You can’t thrive when the powers that be are stifling you.
This list should get you started, but let me add another layer for you. Don’t just attend, read, and get involved with organizations in the fitness world. Go outside into other industry’s worlds. What other fields could add to your overall ability to excel as a fitness professional? What about psychology? Business? Creativity? Coaching and behavioral change? Medical? Physical therapy? Nutrition? Writing? (One of my favorite conferences that I’ve attended was a social media marketing conference. What a unique and career benefiting event.)

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Price or Value?

Yesterday, I took my family to see Star Trek Into Darkness. The tickets were $15/person and there were 5 of us!?!! Think about that. Isn’t that a bit ridiculous? For a movie??? OK, it was 3D and, yes, it was IMAX. It had great special effects, great acting, writing and directing and … I’d go back to see it again in a heartbeat. So what’s my point?

Why do you think it is that so many companies (health clubs included) are hesitant to give prices over the phone? It’s because if price is the only piece of information you have, price is what you make you decision on. How can people really experience the value of what you offer over the phone? You want people to come into your facility and meet with you. You want that opportunity to build rapport, find out what they’re hopes/dreams are, and explain to them specifically how you will help them reach their goals. This demonstrates the value of you and your service.

If I hadn’t experienced IMAX 3D before, and had not already been a fan of the Star Trek franchise, I might indeed have thought that the price was too high for a movie. But, I already knew it was going to be worth it.

Price is rarely the real deciding factor. Show the value and the price will not be an issue.

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The Art of Prospecting for New Clients, Part 1: In-House

The Art of Prospecting on the Training Floor Prospecting

While the point of sale (when an individual buys a club membership) is one place that personal training can be sold, it is not where the greatest potential for acquiring new clients is. One of the best places to engage these members is on the Training Floor.

There are two main methods of gaining new clients on the Training Floor. Both options should take place within the time that you wish to gain clients (if they’re in the club when you are willing to work, your time schedules will likely mesh).

Walking the Floor in Uniform is a great opportunity to establish your presence as a personal trainer. Make an effort to introduce yourself and meet everyone on the floor.

Approach those performing exercises correctly. Introduce yourself. Complement them on their form and effort. You may ask where they learned the exercise. Then ask what their heath/fitness goals are and if they feel that they are achieving them. If they are, congratulate them and let them know that if they have any questions, that you are more than happy to be of service. If they are not achieving their goals, ask what they think may be holding them back. Listen to their response then let them know that you’d love to help and that you could schedule a half hour to sit down and have a more in depth conversation after which you could offer more personalized suggestions.

Approach those that you believe are performing exercises in poor form. Introduce yourself. Positively note their effort, ask what they are trying to accomplish with that exercise, then, if appropriate* offer a correction to make the exercise more effective or offer a different exercise entirely. (*sometimes, hearing what they are trying to accomplish may justify the form they are using). Then proceed as with those performing exercises correctly, (sorry for the repetition, but this part is important.) ask what their heath/fitness goals are and if they feel that they are achieving them. If they are, congratulate them and let them know that if they have any questions, that you are more than happy to be of service. If they are not achieving their goals, ask what they think may be holding them back. Listen to their response then let them know that you’d love to help and that you could schedule a half hour to sit down and have a more in depth conversation after which you could offer more personalized suggestions.

When helping members on the floor, a trainer should limit his/her time with each member. If the trainer is locked in conversation with one person, he/she can be perceived as inaccessible to other members. You can come back to that member after walking around, putting equipment back in place, and interacting with other members. Keep in mind, having extended, exclusive time with a trainer is why people purchase personal training.

Working out on the Training Floor creates a casual opportunity for members to approach you and you should capitalize on it. While the conversations on the floor may slow your workout down, trainers must weigh that with increasing the chance of gaining new clients. (Never wear headphones while working out. It sends the message that you are unavailable.) The conversations can proceed in the same progression as with Walking the Floor in Uniform. Note: I just picked up a new client this morning by being accessible while I was working out.

The members of your club are your greatest potential for new clients. Don’t let the opportunities slip by you.

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