I have been qualified as a personal trainer for over a year now and have dutifully joined professional governing bodies that regularly send out magazines, links to web articles etc. in order to help you keep up-to-date with the latest developments and fashions. In particular they provide a lot of information on how to run a successful business. I have to say that the marketing techniques material that they send me makes me cringe. Some of the ideas they suggest are against my philosophy of how I wish to train people and are at times completely opposite to how I believe a successful business should be run.
I have formed my beliefs and perspective as a result of having spent 15 years teaching groups of students in martial arts and having taught at seminars around the world. During this time I have gone through a variety of different approaches whilst running clubs in different cities and countries and one thing that has always become apparent to me is that the best thing is to just be yourself and do the best that you can. In this way people are more likely to recognise you and your efforts.
Here are a few examples of the types of suggestions that I do not agree with:
- Sales – “To make it to the next level you need aggressive sales.” No I don’t. What I need is to provide quality training and great customer service, which will make clients to come back to me. I don’t believe that my clients will be happy if they are forced to buy stuff. Personally, if someone tries to aggressively sell something to me I immediately decline and will avoid this provider in the future.
- Sell only in packages – “Selling individual sessions is a waste of time.” Yes, but only if your aim is to extract as much money from your client as possible. I prefer the approach of aiming to impress my clients at every session so that they want to come back to me and book more sessions. If they specifically inquire about or request a package, then sure we can look at developing one. Again, for me personally, if someone said to me that I could only train with them if I bought a whole package I would walk away. For example I like to train with specialists in particular areas, but I would only train with them say once a month. In this way I can train with a variety of instructors who can each provide input on different areas of my progression.
- Email list – “Your goal is to add new names to your email list.” We are told that our target as personal trainers is to have a massive email list that we can send countless emails to with offers and advice. I personally don’t do that. My clients receive one email from me after a consultation with their tailored training programme, corrective exercises or treatment schedule. As a part of their consultation we will agree a means of contact so that they are happy with how and how frequently I will get in touch with them. I don’t understand this obsession with the number of email addresses. My email is constantly flooded with offers and information from different fitness sources and most of it goes straight in the bin. In my view it is a waste of my client’s time going through a lot of spam messages. I would rather my client be out on a relaxing walk then be sat in front of a computer reading my emails on random fitness fads.
- Workout plan – “Never give your plans and training secrets away.” I am not sure how that would actually work, as every time you train someone (or a group) you have to show then your plan for the session and so they know it. If we do not share our methods then there would not be any progress as everyone would have to rely on their own development rather than being able to gain from sharing best practice. We need to be transparent so that others can learn new methods and we can in turn learn from others. In any case it is not the workout itself that is the most important aspect of personal training but the quality of instruction. You could have the best workout but if you cannot teach it effectively then no one will want to do it.
- Success – “Getting a fitness business over the £…k per month will make you more successful.” Only if this is your vision of success. I believe that if you are a better trainer that you are likely to have more money as you will build a stronger client base, but I do not believe the converse is true. As you help people they are happy to pay you a fair price for your services. For me personally, being successful is about being able to bring smiles and confidence to people, enjoying their achievements and being a part of their story on their road to success. So long as I have enough money to pay the bills I’m happy, but maybe that is just me – I don’t need much to have a contented life.
These are only a few points that make me doubt the intentions of the fitness industry. It seems to be more about making more sales then help people. An example of this is a survey that one of my tutors did on my course. His question was “Why are you here on this course, what is your deepest motivation to become personal trainer?” 29 out of 30 people responded with “to make money”. You are probably wondering what the response was from the other person, well I said that I wanted “to help people”.
I’ll leave it on that. Please take time to think about what your motivation is…