Should You Be Social With Your Clients?

In most personal trainer educational circles and texts, it is often stated that personal trainers should keep their personal information out of any discussions with clients. Meeting a client socially outside of the gym environment would be frowned upon. I would like to say that I think that philosophy is dead wrong. Case in point, I had a client for 12 years who ultimately was my best man at my wedding.

add-as-friendHere’s the thing, and I’ve said this in the past, people hire those that they know, like and trust. If you don’t share some personal information, people won’t get a sense of who you are as a person. Sure, you can come off as a skilled professional, but without the personal relate-ability, why would they choose you above another skilled professional? “Oh, your kids are Boy Scouts, my kids are Boy Scouts!”
I connect with all of my clients and potential clients on social media. That said, you can’t be mindless about your posts. While the posts can share personal information, they should never show things that are not in line with your brand, or what you want to consciously convey to others.

What about going to a social event with clients? Again, with the opportunity to get to know you better, clients will potentially like  and trust you more. Tsocial-gatheringhese events could be activity related, like going for a hike together, or they could be a dinner party. It can bond them to you and your business that much more… as long as you act mindfully. In example, a number of my clients, that I really like as people, have opposing political views from me. I know that and I just avoid talking politics.

Now, not only do social interactions increase the bond between you, your business and your clients, but getting clients to socialize together is another way of increasing those ties. We just held a social/dance for clients and their friends. Germany_WidowsAlong with getting to know each other better, you can hear them talk about what classes they like, what exercises they think are really hard, when they are coming next, etc.

At this point you may think that this sounds really manipulative. Really, it’s no more so than anytime we’re trying to show others the best side of ourselves, and… when it comes down to it, I just really like my clients and enjoy spending more time with them.

Public Speaking 101

why-the-heck-would-i-want-to-speak-in-public

When one of people’s greatest fears is the fear of public speaking, why would you want to? Well, the answer is simple. It is one of the best ways for people to get to know you, what you’re about, your expertise, and your personality. Here are some tips that will help make your speaking engagement as successful (and painless) as possible.

Make some friends before your talk. In the moments before your presentation, introduce yourself to some of your audience. Welcome them. Ask their names and what brings them to your session. This will give you a few friends to connect with later during your talk.

They are not there to judge you. Attendees are there to hear what you have to say and find out how that can help them.

Choose a topic that you are passionate about. If you don’t really care about the topic, neither will your audience. Your passion will make up for any lack of polish.

Make sure you know your topic inside and out. It’s one thing to be passionate, but if you are spouting unsubstantiated “hearsay”, people will see through you and tune you out.

Be authentic. That’s a bit of a jargon way of saying, be yourself. Don’t try to be some slick pitchman when that’s not you. Your honesty and sincerity will make people root for you, even if you struggle.

Know that you don’t need to fill every second. It’s not only ok to pause and say nothing while gathering your thoughts, it’s sometimes desirable to let an idea sink in to the audience’s mind. Give them a moment to think about what you just said.

If you’re using Powerpoint, don’t read your slides. First you should try not to have a great deal of text on your slides. Pictures are always better. If you do have text, it should serve only as a highlight to your talking points and the audience can read them for themselves.

Leave them with a takeaway. Always make sure you give your audience something that they can take with them that they can use right away. “So, with this information in mind, go out and…”

Plan on finishing early. Respect their time. If you have a few moments left over you can answer a question or two, but running long can leave people checking their watches and not listening to you. As they say, “Always leave them wanting more.”

Public speaking is one of the best ways to get your ideas across, demonstrate your expertise, and get known by you target audience. With practice and by following a few simple tips, you can make your presentations a success for both you and your audience.

One of my favorite presenters, Ken Robinson. (See him on TED)

Is Tech Taking Our Clients?

We are in an age where technology is an integral part of our lives. Everyone is attached to a smart phone or other device that can monitor our every move, our steps, our heart rate, even our sleep patterns. There are apps that will map our ride (or run), take us from the couch to 5k, and act as a personal trainer making recommendations for an exercise program that includes showing us how to perform the exercises. Many in the fitness industry are concerned that these devices, apps, as well as online training, streaming and on-demand classes, are taking business away from the clubs, studios and personal trainers. No real surprise here… of course they are.

tech-trainer

The world has changed, as it always does, and we need to be able to adapt to the changes. Let’s look at who the people are that we could lose to technology? In my opinion, it’s very likely to be the same people you would lose if a low-cost club moved in next door. You lose the people that are self-sufficient and exercise savvy because they don’t believe they need your help. You also lose the people that will choose the cheapest option possible, whether it is the best choice for them or not. If that describes your client base, then you may want to reconsider who you are trying to attract.

The people who need our help, the non-exercisers, the unsure, the afraid, (which is the majority of the population), not to mention the broken and diseased, are not going to start a random program online that doesn’t provide the answers to all of their questions and walk them through an individualized program and exercise progressions. If you focus on attracting them, by getting to know them and letting them get to know, like, and trust you, you can offer them an introductory program that promises a safe start to a healthier life. There’s no technology (at least to date) that can offer that kind of caring attentive service that you can personally. I believe that if you choose to help those just starting out, you will always have plenty of clients to keep you busy.

Having said that, we can introduce our clients to the technology that will enhance their ability to succeed. Teach them how to use apps that help track their nutrition and activity that you can review together. Create personal exercise videos that they can take on vacation. Use a video conferencing app to train them if they move away. Show your clients how tech can add a new layer to your relationship and they won’t leave you for it.

Above All Else, Listen

“To understand music, you must listen to it. But so long as you are thinking, “I am listening to this music,” you are not listening.” – Alan Watts

I took a wellness coaching certification from Wellcoaches about 12 or 13 years ago. I had already been in the fitness industry for 25 years and, while I was curious about this newly emerging field, I didn’t actually expect to learn a great deal. To my surprise, one of the first things I learned was to “listen until you don’t exist.”

Woman leaning her face on her hand and listening to her co-worker

In the process of sitting down with a client, going over their medical health history, their goals, their challenges, etc, I would catch myself finishing their sentences. Sometimes this was when they hesitated, seeming to be stuck, and sometimes (more often than not) in my head because I “knew” where they were going with it. I would also find myself planning their program in my mind while they were still talking. Obviously, I was not fully listening. I had my own agenda and, no matter how well-intentioned, I was not giving the client my complete attention.

What’s the harm in “helping” them along with their thought process or getting a jump on planning, you might ask. If they hesitate, they could be looking for the right words or how (or if) to state something very sensitive. They could be telling you things with their eyes, body language, the strength (or lack thereof) of their voice, and if you jump in blurting out your assumption of what they are going to say, you could lose all of that information.

To truly understand a client’s story (or anyone’s story), you need to shut down your own mind, open your ears and eyes, and truly hear what they are saying. You will be amazed at how much you may have missed and how much stronger your connection with them will be.

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

Your Target Market… The Quiet and Shy

One of the personal trainers that worked for me (at a multi-purpose club) was trying to build his business and wasn’t have much luck. I told him that he needed to get on the training floor, strike up conversations, and get to know the members.

Trainers need to find out what people are training for, if their current workout is giving them the results they were hoping for, and, if not, invite the member to sit and discuss what might be missing in their program. This opens up an opportunity to recommend personal training if appropriate.

Later, when I asked how the personal trainer was doing, he said he wasn’t having much luck. When I checked to see what the personal trainer was doing, I realized something important about the task I charged him with. It was too generic. He was talking to members, BUT, the members he was talking to were to the louder, gregarious members that were confident in themselves and their workouts. Sure, they’re easy to talk to, but they are less likely to use personal training services.

ShyThe real market, individuals that need the most support and assistance, are the members that are not engaging with others. They may be shy, introverted, and/or intimidated. They are quietly trying to figure it out themselves and may well be struggling and on the verge of quitting. Get to know them.

We, as personal trainers, need to help individuals feel comfortable, confident, and successful in their workouts. When you’re on the training floor, don’t just talk to people because they’re fun to talk to. Seek out the ones that look timid, unsure, and may be seeking help but are afraid to ask. They are the ones we can help the most.

Pardon Our Appearance

Recently, I had some major difficulties with my old website host of 7 years. So, I’ve finally cut the cord and am in the process of moving my site onto WordPress. I hope you will hang in there with me as it will be a time consuming process. Along with adding new material, I will be reposting content from my previous site. This will actually be a great exercise because it will allow me to make sure that the content is still timely and allow you to revisit the topics. Thank you, as always, for being part of my online family. Great things are coming. Best wishes, Mark. wordpress