Are You Turning Down Work?

The idea of turning down work seems crazy, doesn’t it? Early in our careers, many of us scrambled to make a living. We took every client and every job opportunity we could. That was a mistake then, and it’s a mistake now.

no,thank you.

Taking every client, any time of day, any day of the week, sets us up for creating a schedule that is chopped up, with no real time for ourselves or others in our lives. Imagine a schedule where you have hour-long sessions with clients at 6am, 9am, 10am, 3pm, 5pm, and 7pm. Six client hours per day is not bad, but those hours are going to old really fast. Set the hours that you want to be working first. (I used to set my hours so that I finished for the day when it was time to pick up my kids from school.) Then, work at filling those hours in. When asked to take on a client outside of those hours, explain that you only take clients from ______ to ________ and if they can adjust their schedule to meet between those hours, you would be happy to work with them. If they can’t, refer them to another personal trainer that would be a good match for them. The person inquiring about working with you will appreciate it and may well refer others to you that can train in that time frame.

Being able to say no to work is not just about training clients. It could also be additional jobs (or tasks) that we get offered throughout our careers. Taking every opportunity that comes our way can turn our lives into high pressure, stressful times that don’t leave time for the things that really matter to us. Maybe you were asked to serve on a committee, a board of directors, head a special project, take on an extra part-time job,… whatever. In each case, you need to weigh the benefits with the cost of time and effort. If its benefits, either financially or career-building wise, outweigh the cost, by all means take it, but you need to take the time to scrutinize it.

What got me thinking about this was that I was just offered (and was contemplating) an opportunity to create and teach a video course for a college in Ireland. Sounded like a very cool project. I was flattered that they asked me and it would be rewarding to create something like that. I took a few days to think it over. The money offered wasn’t great and it was going to eat into time that I really do need to put elsewhere (family, our business, and a project that was going to have a greater, long-term financial reward). So, after weighing the benefits and the cost to me, I turned them down.

Time is a precious commodity and we need to make the most of what we have. Learn to say no. Carve out the time to do the things that are most important to you and then only take on work that fits around that schedule.

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Make Your Marketing Reflect Your Target Market

If you have a specific niche market (and you should), your marketing should reflect that market. There are two types of pictures that I see used in personal training, health club, and fitness studio marketing pieces that got me started on this topic.

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  1. Pictures of empty equipment. A picture of just equipment may show what you have for features, but doesn’t show who you serve. (How will people looking for a place to exercise determine that “people like me work out here”?) In fact, a photo of equipment only can be confusing and intimidating to those not familiar with the pieces.
  2. Inappropriate stock photos There’s a great deal of stock photos that, while they may be attractive photos with attractive models, do not reflect your target market.  Always ask yourself, “Are these people someone my target market will relate to?” young women lifting weights in class

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Use your own staff and clients if you can, because, (of course) that would be the most representative. However, if that isn’t possible, be very selective when choosing a stock photo. Make sure it will allow your target market to make a connection with the people in the picture. (Note: all photos are stock from Canva.com)

 

 

Giving the Gift of a Gift

So, you want to give something to your clients for the holidays, and/or you’re thinking about running a holiday special to attract new customers in the new year. One great way to cover both is to give the gift of a gift.

giftcertpicFirst, your best members and clients love you. They are your evangelists. You don’t need to give them gifts to endear them to you.

Second, offering specials, discounts, and sales could be perceived as devaluing your service or membership.

However, if you give your best members the gift of a gift certificate to give to a friend or family member, that changes things. You are giving your member something that they are actually able to give as a present to others. They want to share their passion with their friends anyway and, as for acquiring new members, there’s no better way to get them than referrals. You are also not discounting, you’re giving a gift that has a value of $X. (perception is everything)

Here’s some thoughts on the details:

(gift recipient name) ____________________________________ has received the gift of ________________________ (something of real value, not 10% off or a 1 week free membership. Maybe a personal training starter package or a month of group fitness)

valued at $________  (list the real price, show the value) from (member’s name) ________________________________________________

“Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.” – Buddha (adding a little health quote never hurts)

Give it a try. Give the gift of a gift and have a happy holiday season.

How to Start Your 2019 Marketing Calendar

2019 is right around the corner and while you may be focused on closing 2018, don’t wait to start planning your marketing for next year. Here are a few ways to get a start on it.

Marketing calen

  1. Holiday Marketing: There are more holidays than the average personal realizes and every holiday offers an opportunity to market a little differently. A national calendar of holidays can not only show you the major holidays, it can also some of the lesser holidays. (Did you know that Friday, Mar 1st is Read Across America Day, or that Monday, Aug 26 is Women’s Equality Day.) Choose holidays that are particularly meaningful to your target market and create marketing around those days.
  2. National Health Observances: National health observances are a great way to help you create events and Healthfinder.gov even has marketing ideas and materials to go along with these dates (although they haven’t yet put up the 2019 calendar).
  3. Annual Local Events: If your city or town has annual events like festivals, fairs, or benefits, think about how you might tie in to those to attract your target market.
  4. The Seasons: The change of seasons is another natural time to change your marketing.
  5. Your Own Events: Maybe you do something special on your business’ anniversary or create an event of your own (maybe a charity benefit). Write these down in the calendar at periods that fit with your other marketing efforts.

Potential clients/customers become blind to the same marketing and it’s important to change it up frequently enough so that doesn’t occur.

Once your calendar is populated with the events that will engage your target market, you then need to create a timeline for each marketing event. (i.e. how far out do you need to start getting the word out about it? What arrangements need to be made? What materials need to be created? Who has what responsibilities? etc.)

Creating a marketing calendar for the year keeps you on top of your marketing and allows smooth transitions from one campaign to the next. Take some time and map out your 2019 plan.

If you would like an excel template for 2019, just shoot an email to mark @ jivafitness.com and I’ll get it right out to you.

Content is King: Even If It’s Not Yours

I think we, as a whole, understand that if you want to become a “go-to” resource for accurate, applicable information for your target market, you need to supply them with it on a regular basis. Untitled design (8)There are all kinds of ways that you can do this. You can write articles or blog posts. Creating videos, whether as a vlog (video blog) or simple content snippets, is another great way to share information. Then, there is podcasting. Podcasting is rapidly growing and projected to continue growing for some time. These are all common ways to put out content that is valuable to your target market and build your own value in their eyes. But… what if you’re not confident in your ability to generate that content?

You can still build a reputation as the “go-to” person even if you’re not generating the content yourself. You can become a curator of accurate, useful, information by sharing the articles, blog posts, videos, and podcasts that you have discovered and believe that your audience will appreciate. Share the links online or in emails (be careful not to republish the material itself without direct permission from the author/creator) and preface it with a commentary on what your thoughts are about the piece. (i.e. “One more example of why strength training is so important as we age.” – followed by content link)

Now, I know this is easier said than done. You’re now asking, “Where do I find the content?” Glad you asked. Here are some standbys that I use. If I want to find the “truth about” some current issue, I might look it up on a government site such as the National Institutes of Health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I may also go to various journals to seek out some research. You can also do a Google search including the search as “scholarly articles on _______” Another way is to follow professional organizations on social media (i.e. International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN)) as well as noted researchers or research-based authors. (i.e. if you want to find out the latest on muscle hypertrophy, follow Brad Schoenfeld, PhD on Facebook.)
I also subscribe to e-newsletters and blogs. (everything from Harvard Health to business author, Seth Godin) Finally, you can look for news/information article aggregators (places that collect other information sources), like Reddit and Alltop.

Now, I do believe that we all do have our own voice and that everyone should jump in and learn to create original content, but, until you start to feel comfortable with your work, share others’ and start building your reputation as a trusted resource.

Please let me know if you have any questions and… happy sharing

Doing Well by Doing Good

Marketing your business can come in all kinds of shapes and styles, but one of my favorites is to join forces with non-profit organizations or events. You can do this by either sponsoring or volunteering. Both can be very effective ways of getting your business’ name out there.

Sponsoring an organization or event can be done by donating money toward that charity. However, if you are just getting started and need to keep your expenses as low as possible, you can donate your services.. Many non-profits will put together raffles or auctions and seek prizes or items from local businesses. This is a great way to highlight what you offer and the value of it. i.e. (One month of unlimited group fitness, valued at $115) These can usually be donated with just the cost of your time.

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In less than 36 hours, this beard will be gone!!! If you’re not coming to the event at Pearly Baker’s Alehouse (6-9pm), then go to this link to make a donation. 100% of all proceeds and donations go directly to Cancer Support Community Greater Lehigh Valley https://www.gofundme.com/beards-for-breasts

Volunteering, or working for an organization or event, may be an even better way for people to get to know you, face-to-face, and get a sense of who you are and what you stand for. The newer standard of marketing is about building relationships and to work with others on something meaningful is a great way to get them to know, like, and trust you.

Currently, I am the president of our local business association (non-profit), my wife (and business partner) and I volunteer to work various festivals in town, sponsor our local farmers’ market, donate services to several charities, and I have been growing a beard for the last 6 months just to be able to shave it off for a local charity event. Of these, only sponsoring the farmers’ market actually costs anything more than time and all help to create awareness of our business.

Sponsoring and volunteering should be a serious part of your marketing plan. Not only do these marketing avenues help your business do well, but you are also doing good in your community.

 

Considerations in Pricing Personal Training

I know I’ve posted about pricing in a previous post, but, as it is part of a presentation I will be doing (Fitness Sales: Strategically Price and Sell Your Services) at Club Industry Show in October, I thought I would revisit this important topic. Pricing your service is not simply choosing what you think the going rate is. There are a lot of factors that go into intelligently setting your prices. Here are a few of them.

Target Market: First, let’s start with who your target market is? This may or may not set a limit on what you can charge. If you are out to help low-income families become healthier and more fit, you will be limited by what they are able to afford (unless you are seeking grant money or sponsorship to subsidize). On the other end of the spectrum, if your target market is the rich and famous, you have the ability to charge much more.

Your Competition: You don’t need to charge what your competition does, but what they charge tells you two things. It tells you what your lowest price should be (If you believe yourself to be as good as they are, why would you charge less?). It also let’s you know what the market’s perceived value will be. You can certainly charge more, but you will need to sell your value and why you are worth more.

Your Time: What is your time worth? Now, this is often times a big problem with service providers. They think that because they book sessions by the hour, that they have to fit some expectation of hourly rate. One of my favorite stories (and I can’t remember it verbatim so here’s my paraphrasing of it) is one where Picasso was painting on the sidewalks of Paris. A woman walks up to him and, impressed with his work, asks if he would paint her portrait. He agrees. 10 minutes later, he shows her the finished piece and she is thrilled. “How much do I owe you?” she asked. Picasso replied, “5000 francs.” She was exasperated. “But it only took you 10 minutes.” “No…” said Picasso, “it took my entire life.” The point is that you are giving more than time. You are giving the sum of all of your education, practice and experience.

price.valueYour Operating Expenses: Do you have operating expenses (most of us do)? Maybe it’s travel expenses (this should include travel time), or marketing, or booking software, or whatever else there might be. These expenses need to be paid and you need to make enough to cover them.

Income Needs: Above covering expenses, you also need to think about what you need to make a living. If, after you pay expenses and hold out your payroll fees, you are not making enough money to make the kind of living that you want, you are charging too little.

As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into setting prices and there’s no one answer that fits everyone. It is an art. Take into consideration all of the above, choose a price that you believe in, and then test it out for a set period of time and see the reaction. Then come back to the table and reevaluate it. Does it satisfy your needs and are you able to build your clientele?

Let me know if you have any questions or insights that you’d like to share.

Group Fitness for Personal Trainers

For the longest time, personal trainers have always looked down on group fitness (GF) instructors. Maybe because the certification process (if they even bothered to get certified) was much less rigorous than that of personal training certifications. Or, maybe, the trainers didn’t believe that the “aerobics” classes were as demanding, or as technique driven, or as… personal and therefore less effective. I’m writing this as someone who has been teaching GF as long as I’ve been a personal trainer (38 years) with the hopes that I might change your mind about group fitness and even convince you of becoming a GF instructor.

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Me teaching MOSSA‘s Group Power.

Let’s start with the benefits of GF.

 

  1. Variety – GF classes come in all shapes and sizes. Participants can choose the type that they like the most, which will also keep them coming the longest.
  2. Social – One of the greatest draws to GF is that participants can meet new people and make new friends.
  3. Motivation – Participants will work harder when those around them are working hard.
  4. Accountability – Not only will the instructor keep you accountable for showing up to class and working appropriately hard, so will the other participants.
  5. Misery loves company – Well, not misery exactly, but when working hard, sweating, maybe a little grunting (or a lot), it always seems a little better when there are others, working just as hard, right there beside you.
  6. Correct form demonstration and coaching – GF classes have instructors there to show you how to perform movements, correct your form, and offer regressions and progressions.
  7. More affordable than personal training – This is one reason that some people will choose GF over PT (It’s one of the reasons that small group training draws people too).
  8. Great results – Beyond all of the previously listed benefits, GF can also deliver the results the participants are looking for. This is another reason they will keep coming back.

So, you can see from this partial list of participant benefits that group fitness is an important piece of the health and fitness solution. What about the benefits to a personal trainer who choses to teach GF?

  1. Benefiting others – You get to help impact the health, fitness, and lives of more people when you teach GF.
  2. Better verbal cueing – You learn multiple ways of verbally cueing the same exercise (to accommodate a diverse group ) as well as becoming more verbally descriptive. This can carry over as a benefit to your personal training.
  3. Better public speaking skills – Public speaking is a great way to build your business and GF is a great way to start to hone those skills.
  4. Gain personal training clients from the class – Many times you may notice participants that need extra help and you can suggest adding personal training to their program or, they may decide they need extra help and come to you for personal training on their own.
  5. Referrals – If your people love you, they will refer you. They will refer others to your class and to you for personal training (as long as they know you’re a personal trainer… make sure they know you’re a personal trainer!).

I know that many trainers are adding small group training as one of their services. Small group training is actually more like GF than one on one training and you’ll need those GF skills to succeed with small groups. Also, personal trainers don’t typically hesitate when it comes to teaching a boot camp. Guess what? That’s group fitness!

The point is, group fitness is good for participants, good for personal trainers, and it’s time to jump on the proverbial band wagon and start teaching classes.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Become a “Conference Commando”

I just came back from attending the National Strength and Conditioning Association‘s annual conference. On my return, people ask, “How was the conference?” Hmmn? Let’s talk about what I actually get out of attending a live conference or clinic (Live offers so much more than online).

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Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone, has written about being a “Conference Commando” or, going into a conference with a definite battle plan to get the most out of the conference.

So, what should you get out of a live conference or clinic?

Learn from the sessions. Naturally, the conference sessions are what most people think of when attending an event. This is where a lot of up-to-date information can be found and you should absolutely make sure that the program fits your learning needs.

Choose your presenters. The speakers are another thing to consider. A bad presenter can make it challenging to learn even if the material they are presenting is good. (Attending a session by Tudor Bompa, “the father of sports periodization” comes to mind. I’m sure it was great information, but he put me to sleep and I honestly missed most of what he said.)

Connect with your presenters. Now, beyond those first couple obvious reasons, you should also attend live events to connect with presenters that you liked and that inspired you. Stay after the session to ask further questions or just introduce yourself and thank them for what they just shared. Most presenters really appreciate hearing that and may strike up a conversation with you. Ask if you could email them an additional question or two and if they agree, you now have a new, trusted resource for information. If you nurture that relationship, you may also find yourself with a mentor who can help guide you in your career.

Connect with manufacturers. Most conferences and many clinics will have an exhibit hall or trade show. Here you can see and try new equipment, sample supplements (I often live on trade show protein bars. LOL), and connect with the manufacturers or distributors. Ask them questions about their products. See if they are right for you and/or your business. They will often have conference discounts too, if you’re interested.

Connect with other attendees. I find networking with peers one of my favorite things about attending live events. Discussions between the scheduled sessions about the topics presented, training modalities, business issues, and just getting to know other like-minded people can be so rewarding. Take contact information, connect on social media, stay in touch. Fellow attendees can also turn out to be mentors, general sounding boards, and, as I’ve found to be often the case, lifelong friends.

The key to becoming a “conference commando”, however, is to plan ahead. Go to the conference with a plan. What sessions will you take? What presenters do you want to meet? What products do you want to check out. Finally, plan on where and when you can connect with your peers. Then, execute that plan and come home with far more than just what can be learned online.

Time to Huddle Up

I was a football offensive lineman (tackle in high school and guard in college). Before a play, we would huddle, or get in a tight circle and lean in to hear the quarterback tell us what the next play was. Then we would line up and execute it. Huddle

I just received an email advertising “Huddles”. They explained that these were  intimate gatherings where professionals could discuss the state of the industry (could be any industry) and come up with strategies to build their business and push the industry forward.

I LOVE THIS IDEA!

As I prepare to go to the NSCA National Conference in Indianapolis, IN, one of the things I look forward to most is the networking in small groups (huddles) with other fitness professionals and talking about the issues and challenges that we all face and coming up with possible solutions. No matter how knowledgable we think we are, we can’t think of everything, and discussions with other like-minded individuals can lead to bigger and better ideas.

This email got me thinking. Why not “huddle up” with the fit pros in your area to help create a stronger message to your community about the importance of living a healthy, fit lifestyle? I know many of you will immediately dismiss the idea because you believe that you would be helping your competition (you would, btw). But, here’s the thing. With a more powerful, cohesive message, coming from several sources, you’re more likely to engage your community and more likely to increase business for all of you. So, it may help your competition, but it will help you too. What’s the result? The result is a more healthy community (which, hopefully, is what we’re in this business for).

Reach out to managers or other key people from local gyms, clubs, studios, etc. You can organize a group marketing campaign, fitness event, or help some charity together. There are all kinds of ways to join forces.

Now, call for a huddle, come up with the play, and then execute it!