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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

The Allure of Being a Celebrity Trainer

There are a lot of trainers that set their sights on training celebrities. Why do you think that is? What is it about celebrities that makes them a desirable target market?

Is it that it would be cool to know a celebrity?

Is it because they have more money so you could charge more?

Is it because you want to be famous yourself?

Is it that you want to have someone who works their butt off because it’s their job?

Or, maybe you want to work as a full-time trainer for one person, have them take you on trips or on to their movie sets.

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First, don’t think that celebrity trainers are automatically good trainers (although I know some very talented ones: see Gina Lombardi and Chad Landers ) or what they do is something you should do with your clients. There are plenty of trainers that put their clients through unsafe, ridiculous workouts and prescribe bad diets and un-needed, possibly dangerous, supplements. Yet, most people will get some results when starting any workout or implementing any diet. And, if the trainer happens to acquire a celebrity client and they see results, they will tell their celebrity friends, and next thing you know, they’re a celebrity trainer. (see the unscientific philosophies of Tracy Anderson).

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you want to train celebrities.

  1. Remember, like all personal training, it’s about them, not you. Know your stuff. Give great results no matter who you’re working with.
  2. Training celebrities is a niche. There are some commonalities in celebrity life, that if you know, could give you an advantage over other trainers. (this could be anything from understanding the audition process to knowing that business meetings could make keeping appointments difficult.) You need to understand their life/work challenges. 
  3. Live and work where there are celebrities. When I lived in NYC, I trained a number of actors and performers, from soap operas, to broadway, and even one superstar Diva. They could be found (and therefore trained) in New York City. I now live in Easton, PA. Guess what? I have no famous clients here. Celebrity trainers all typically live in the big cities (as do most celebrities).
  4. Their hours can be chaotic and you need to be able to work around their schedule.
  5. The building of a famous clientele list starts with a single celebrity client, their success story, and word of mouth. You can’t just claim to be a celebrity trainer and get celebrities. Referrals are the lifeblood for building this client base.

So, is being a celebrity trainer realistic? Sure, but it takes a long time to build that niche business and you’re going to need to train a lot of “regular folk” in the meantime. I also can’t stress enough that, just like any other client, it’s about how you can help them that matters. Good luck.

What’s Getting One More Client Worth?

I’ve known many personal trainers through the years who “couldn’t afford” to pay for further education, mentorships, networking groups, and/or services that could help them build their business. It’s interesting that the inability for those trainers to see the value is not so different from how some individuals looking for health and fitness results balk at paying for personal training. It’s about finding the value.

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Now, not all programs or products are worth it and that’s why you want to rate each offering individually for its value.

As personal trainers, one of the basic questions is, “Will this get me more clients, and, if so, how many?” When you look at the value of a new client, you are also not simply looking at one session, or a week’s worth of sessions, but what the lifetime value of gaining this client.

To figure out the lifetime value of a client, look at how much you receive for the average personal training session (your income, not the fee they pay), multiply by the average number of times per week that you meet with clients, times the number of weeks you train clients each year (hint: it’s never 52), and finally multiply that by the average number of years that clients stay with you.

In example:

  • Average income/client session = $35
  • Average sessions/week = 2
  • Typical weeks/year = 46
  • Lifetime of client = 7 years

$35 x 2 = $70, x 46 = $3220, x 7 years = $22,540

Yeah… that’s right. The lifetime value of one new client could easily be $22,540!

So, back to the question. Is spending $500 (or more or less) on a program, conference, or… whatever, worth it? If it will get you one or more clients that you wouldn’t get otherwise, the answer really is easy. Yes. How can you afford not to?

Invest in the future of your business.

Stop Blaming the Competition

I’ve managed personal trainers for almost 40 years. Within that time, I’ve had to frequently battle a belief many trainers held that they don’t have enough clients because there was too much competition (from other trainers and/or from other clubs). THAT is simply not true. There are plenty of potential clients running around and they are not training with us because we are failing to be able to engage them. Here are a couple of interesting facts:untitled design (22)

  • Over 1/3 of the US population is obese. (That’s in the neighborhood of 110 million people. Think about how many of those people need a fitness professional’s help.)
  • According to Livestrong.com, people don’t exercise because they have:
    • No Time
    • No Energy
    • Competing Interests
    • Haven’t Developed the Habit
    • No Motivation
    • Too Overwhelming
    • Poor Diet
    • Current Physical Condition
    • No Access
    • Lack of Results

(Shouldn’t we be able to help them overcome these obstacles?)

  • Of the people who DO go to the gym,
    • Only 12.5 percent of gym goers use personal trainers. (Many people don’t understand what personal trainers do or how they can help. We can do a better job showing our value.)
    • 80 percent who joined a gym in January 2012 quit within five months. (Maybe that’s because they didn’t receive the help and guidance that they needed.)

There is not a shortage of potential clients. There is an inability to communicate and engage. Instead of holding an attitude of competition with other personal trainers or facilities, get together with them, cooperatively come up with better solutions to getting more people to take part in exercise and healthy activities.

Join forces and everyone benefits!

 

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.

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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.

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.

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  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.