Keep Learning to Grow

I’m often amazed at how many individuals sit back on whatever knowledge base they have and don’t actively seek opportunities for growth. Maybe they feel that they are doing fine and are perfectly happy just cruising along.

As for me, I can’t imagine not knowing more, not improving my ability to help others, or even change the world (Hey, you never know. It could happen.). While that is true, I also just love to learn.

Untitled design (48)

OK, not this kind of growing… You know what I mean.

Every industry has live conferences and workshops that you can attend. These are great opportunities to learn from session content and from other attendees. I present at 3-5 conferences per year and, if truth be told, I like doing it so I can get to see other presenters and learn from them. These days there are any number of conferences and courses that can be attended online. They are perfect for people that can’t take the time to go to a live one. Often times they can be viewed at your leisure.

Of course, there’s reading.  So far, I’ve read 26 books this year (a combination of audio books and hard copy). 8 of those were novels (because who doesn’t need a little escapism?), but the remaining 18 were non-fiction topics to increase my knowledge in business, build skills to enhance my ability to help my clients, and learn about creativity (just because it fascinates me). You can also check out industry journals and magazines for educational or inspirational material.

Lifetime learning is so important for being able to grow in your business and your life. Don’t sit back and miss out on something that can be so transformative.

Learn and Grow.

Advertisements

Stacking Habits

Having the right habits in place is important to our businesses and our lives. When it comes to breaking old habits or creating new ones, one thing that can help is to use existing habits as cornerstones to change. The idea of stacking habits is when you add a new habit directly after something you already do habitually. “When I do “X”, I will then do “Y”.

To use this you first have to acknowledge those things that you do automatically throughout your day. Say your alarm goes off in the morning, what do you do first? Second? Third? In example, I know I 1) get up, 2) go to the bathroom, 3) make myself a cup of coffee, 4) sit down and read emails, then 5) go through social media, yada, yada… Once you have created a list of your habits, you can start to tack on an additional task in the appropriate place.

Untitled design (20)

Say, you want to start writing a blog. Your evening routine is to eat dinner, clean up the dinner dishes, watch tv until 11pm, brush your teeth, and go to bed. You could stack writing into that schedule. “When I finish cleaning up the dinner dishes, I will sit down and write for 30 minutes before I turn the tv on…” You’ll have to keep reminding yourself for awhile, but this will soon become habit.

That’s to add a new behavior. You can also stack habits to help break or change bad habits. Maybe you come home from work and, before you even change out of your work clothes, immediately snack on chips or some other junk food. You could insert a behavior to help break that one. “As soon as I get home, I will go to the kitchen, take 5 minutes and eat an apple, then change my clothes, and then, if I still want chips, I can have them. The fact is that once you’ve cut your hunger by having an apple, and stalled the routine further by changing your clothes, you will find yourself in more control and be less likely to want the junk food.

By linking a new behavior to something you are already doing (stacking habits), you create an anchor for the new behavior and are much more likely to stick with it then if you just tell yourself to do the new behavior at some random point.

Try it out. I’d love to hear how this works for you.

 

We Specialize In…

I cannot stress enough how important it is to specialize, to find a niche. Yet, this made me laugh. This list is from a personal training studio website. Their specialty is…. well, I don’t know. Did they leave anything off their list? They even specialize in “all sports”.

We specialize in...

For the record, if you “specialize” in everything, you are not a specialist. You are a generalist. The idea of specializing is that you become really good at one or two things and, having achieved this specialty, you market your services to the specific demographic that needs those particular services. Think about this, imagine you are a professional athlete and you find yourself needing shoulder surgery. Are you going to go to an orthopedic surgeon that does shoulders, knees, hips, back, feet, hands, and a little bit of elbow work, or… are you going to go to the doc that only does shoulders and has perfected treating that area? (FYI: I had my shoulder replaced by the top doc in the northeast US. I wasn’t taking any chances.) So, if you were looking at the exhaustive list above to choose a niche from, a great specialty might be golf conditioning. You could even go deeper and say women’s golf conditioning… or deeper still, golf conditioning for women over 50. You may think that that is too limiting, but think about the shoulder specialist. If you are a woman over 50 who wants to train for golf, who are you going to choose, someone that also does golf training, or, someone who only does golf training for women over 50?

Choose your niche and become the best at it. Then, market yourself to the population that needs your unique skills. You will become the go-to trainer for that specialty, not some other trainer that does “everything”.

Time to Switch to Real Estate?

I just saw that another personal trainer that I know has now become a real estate agent. I’ve noticed this happening a lot. Maybe they simply love real estate more than personal training, but, I would bet that they were seeking a way to make more money than they were as a trainer. While some continue to do both, I’ve seen many trainers simply change careers, often times, to become a real estate agent. Maybe it’s the ease of getting into it or the dream of big commissions, but ultimately I find it truly disheartening.

Untitled design (47)

Personal training can be one the most rewarding careers and we have never been more needed than we are right now. “Why are trainers leaving?”, you may ask. I have a few thoughts on that.

  1. New trainers are not taught and don’t understand the business side of personal training and without the business knowledge, including marketing and sales, it is very difficult to make a living.
  2. They don’t realize that it takes time to build a clientele. This means that, even if they had the business knowledge, they are unlikely have a full schedule for quite a while. I knew one trainer that showed great promise, who, after only a few months into their position at a health club, started feeling financial pressures and is now a salesperson at a lumber store.
  3. I also think that we are in a time, with boutique fitness studios and CrossFit-like boxes opening right and left, when it seems that being your own boss is the new expectation. This can be a huge mistake. So much can be learned from working for others, particularly in a larger club. This not a sell-out, it’s a smart move. I spent most of my career working in other people’s clubs and, at every new club, I acquired new skill sets.

So, before you go off and start selling real estate (or lumber), know that it takes time and knowledge to build your career. Get the training that you need to be a successful personal trainer and enjoy a lifetime of helping others change their lives. I’ve been at it almost 40 years and can’t imagine doing anything else.

P.S.  If you feel stuck and don’t know what to do, feel free to shoot me a message.

For Greater Brand Awareness, Help a Charity

One of the first steps of building your business is to get known and one of the traditional ways of doing that is placing ads in newspapers, magazines, on the radio and even tv. While this does work in creating greater brand awareness, it can be costly and doesn’t go much deeper than awareness. Potential clients/members don’t really get a sense of what you and your business are all about.

Untitled design (59)

Another way to get known is to get out into your community and work with local charities. There are opportunities all around, from homeless shelters to educational organizations, that can give people a sense of who you are and what you are all about.

Start by looking for not-for-profit organizations that align with your beliefs. Next, look to see how you can support them. Of course, most will certainly take financial donations, but, for many new businesses, finances might be tight. These charities will often also need:

  • Volunteers to help on a daily basis (people in the community get to know you and like that you are helping out with this charity)
  • Volunteers to help with specific charitable events (like the previous, people will get to know you and, if you have less time, these events don’t require a daily commitment)
  • Donations for various raffles, auctions, etc. (this is a perfect way to showcase what you offer. i.e. donate a starter package of personal training sessions that is “valued at $X” or a week of unlimited group fitness “valued at $X”)
  • Locations to hold a charitable event (here’s a chance to get people into your space that you might not get there otherwise)
  • Local businesses to hold their own charitable event with the not-for-profit as the beneficiary (here’s a combo value, get people into your space, showcase what you do, and show support for the not-for-profit. i.e. hold a bootcamp where all of the proceeds go to the charity)

Now, some will say that if you are doing this for your benefit, it’s not really charitable. Of course the same can be said for charging for personal training. If you are personal training to help people, why are you charging? The answer? We do what we believe is good. Our “why” is to help. At the same time, we also know that we must make a living which includes charging for personal training and gaining a little social currency for ourselves and our business. This does not diminish the good that you do. It is a win/win for everyone.

So get out there and lend a hand. As the saying goes, you can “do well, by doing good”.

 

Newsjacking: Riding News’ Coattails

At the writing of this article, these things are in the news:

  • the US is experiencing an unprecedented heat wave
  • the ‘Avengers: Endgame’ passes ‘Avatar’ to become biggest movie ever
  • it’s 50 years since Apollo 11 landed on the moon
  • it’s National Ice Cream Day
  • Marvel announces at San Diego Comic-Con, its Phase 4 projects including the vampire hunter, Blade, to be played by two-time Oscar winner, Mahershala Ali.

“Newsjacking…”, in the words of David Meerman Scott (who wrote a book with the same name) “… is the art and science of injecting your ideas into a breaking news story so you and your ideas get noticed.”

It's National Ice Cream Day! (1)

We’re having a heat wave and it’s National Ice Cream Day! What’s a person to do? Enjoy! It’s nothing a little Group Power won’t work off tomorrow morning. 😉 #heatwave #grouppower #nationalicecreamday #icecream #iscream#onlyineaston #jivafitness

So, what this means is, that by using trending, searchable terms (now easier with hashtags) such as #nationalicecreamday, or #heatwave, more people are likely to see your marketing and take notice of your business.

ice cream

Example of Newsjacking and how it can give more attention to your marketing efforts: Instagram search for #nationalicecreamday

Another benefit of utilizing newsjacking techniques is that it can be a timely way of creating a little fun with your marketing.

Note: I would recommend staying away from polarizing topics such as politics and religion.

For a little more on newsjacking, check out The Art of Newsjacking (And Its SEO Benefits) by Ramona Sukhraj

The Most Rewarding Clients

Let me start by saying that this is my opinion about what is most rewarding to me. You may get jazzed up by a completely different demographic. That’s cool. We’re all different and so are our clients. For me, though, the most rewarding clients are the ones that are coming back from injuries, illness, or simply years of disuse, and have become tentative about starting an exercise program. Let me tell you why that is.

Untitled design (48)

Helping clients become better athletes or better at life, choose the population that is most rewarding to you.

Many trainers like working with athletes or high ambition/high motivation clients. It’s easy (so to speak) because they expect to accomplish their goals and are willing to work for it. Those with injuries, illness, or limited through disuse can be more challenging. There tends to be a lot more individual problem solving, from the psychological end as well coming up with unique adaptations to deal with their physical limitations. That challenges my mind and creativity and I love discovering new ways to do things.

The other part that I love about working with this population, is that they are usually unaware of how much they can change their physical lives. Most often they are amazed at the things they are capable of doing after training for a time. They come in thinking that they’d be happy if they could just go up and down stairs more easily and, with consistent work and progression, they’re out paddle boarding or hiking mountains. That kind of life change and their excitement about it, is what has kept me passionate about personal training for almost 40 years.

My point in talking about this is simply to let other personal trainers in on the benefits, the joys, of working with a physically challenged population. So, if you get the chance, take on some clients that fall into this category and see for yourself how rewarding it can be.

Posting Your Body Shots or Workout

The Instagram fitness “gurus” get their clout from how hot or tough they look in the billions of body selfies and workout clips that they post. After all, they must know what they’re talking about, look at their bodies. Of course, you can also find this on Facebook and other social media venues. Now, I know that most fitness professionals know that just because someone may have a great body or does a hard workout, doesn’t mean that they know anything about how to train others. Since we understand that, why is it that so many personal trainers fall into the trap of posting body shots and videos their own workouts as a means of marketing? I suspect it all boils down to one thing…. keeping up with the Joneses. 

“The Instagram “gurus” have tons of followers and if I want to get more followers, I need to follow their marketing example.” This, of course, is just falling into the same trap as the IG followers. “They must know what they’re doing if…” Untitled design (41)Here’s a secret about the majority of the IG fitness folks, their bodies and their self-assuredness (perhaps even their self-delusion), it’s is all they have. We can do better. In fact, it’s our duty to do better. We need to break consumers of the illusion that because somebody looks good, they know what they’re doing. Or, perhaps even more important, that just because a personal trainer isn’t ripped and beautiful, doesn’t mean they aren’t a great personal trainer.

I’ll let you in on another secret, showing off your body (in pics or workout vids) can be very intimidating and potentially demotivating to many prospective clients. They may think that the workouts would be too hard, that they don’t want to be that muscular anyway, or that they could never look that good, so why bother.

Let’s look at what they do want. People want to do business with those that they know, like, and trust. What you should be posting are things that lead to creating conversations with them. Let them into your world. Show them who you are and what you believe in. Help them to get to know and like you (and you, them) and share helpful, evidence-based information to build that trust.

If we want to get the consumer to look beyond how a personal trainer or an instructor looks and pay attention to what they know and can teach, we need to stop marketing like its all about being a sex symbol.

I could go on. It’s a big pet peeve of mine, but I think you get my point. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below.

 

Creating a Lifestyle Brand

At a recent conference, I heard a presenter predict that a trend of the future in the fitness industry is lifestyle branding. What does lifestyle branding mean, anyway? A lifestyle brand is when a business transcends being a commodity (just something you buy) and becomes more a part of your life. This means that you (your brand) needs to embrace and represent the things that are important to the lives of your clients.

Harley-Owners-Group-Ride-

Harley Davidson is not just a bike, it’s a lifestyle.

Of course, you need to dig into your clients’ life to discover what it is that they love to do, how they like to think of themselves, and what else is meaningful to them. In example, Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) offers apparel and riding gear, organizes rallies of owners, have a Mileage Recognition Program where members add up the miles they ride on their bikes (because “The miles you ride show your dedication to freedom and the open road.”), share members’ stories, and more. It is how owners like to identify themselves.

max-small

Mark Fisher Fitness is not afraid to make a statement about who they are.

One fitness brand that speaks to its tribe is Mark Fisher Fitness (MFF). It says it all on the home page of its website, “Serious fitness for ridiculous humans.” and “Yep. We don’t love gyms either. That’s why we created an Enchanted Ninja Clubhouse of Glory and Dreams. Why be a gym member, when you can be a Ninja?” MFF’s fun, light-hearted approach has created a following that includes the outrageous and unicorn wannabes with the permission to be as free as they want. Now, maybe you don’t relate to MFF, but that’s the point. They aren’t trying to be for everyone. They only want individuals that really connect to what they are all about.

How are you crossing over into your members’/clients’ lives? Are you taking a stand on the ideals important to them? Are you creating opportunities to connect with them and to connect them with other members of your community? Take a leap and be more than a product. Show them who you are and what you’re all about. They want to know that you’re one of them, a kindred spirit, and that they have found a home with you.