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Random Thoughts on Long-Term Fitness Industry Success – Installment 8

I'm long overdue for a new installment on this series, so here are some thoughts that have been rattling around my brain on the business side of fitness.

1. Unique skill sets help you fill in the cracks.

I'm going to let you in on a little secret: most of the strength and conditioning resumes that come across my desk are painfully similar. Seriously, they are 90% the same. Here's an excerpt from a presentation I gave earlier this year when I touched on the topic:

As you can probably infer, experience like this is really abundant - and what is abundant is rarely coveted. I'm not saying any of things are bad to have on a resume; I'm just saying that they're prerequisites, not differentiating factors.

So how does an up-and-coming strength and conditioning professional stand out from the crowd? Here are a few examples:

a. Fluency in another language (Spanish is incredibly useful at CSP, where we train quite a few bilingual baseball players)

b.Technology proficiency beyond the "norms" (I can't tell you how many times long-time CSP employee Chris Howard has helped out with everything from Powerpoint issues to wiring speakers)

c. A demonstrated history of lead generation and conversion (Have you built and grown a business? Have you found value where others missed it?)

d. An internship at an established facility (I'm going to look more fondly on someone who's interned at IFAST, Mike Boyles, EXOS, or something comparable - as opposed to the person who chose a random YMCA on the other side of the country)

e. Playing AND coaching baseball (have you seen it from both sides of the lens?)

The possibilities are endless, but the point is that these unique skill sets are differentiating factors that make it easier for someone to justify hiring you.

2. Your bio is probably more important than you think.

Most of the time, when someone posts their bio on a website, it's to make sure that prospective clients review it and recognize two things:

a. This person is qualified (Allison graduated from XYZ university with ABC degree, and has achieved these certifications)

b. This person is relatable (In his spare time, Doug enjoys walking his two pet schnauzers and eating ice cream with his wife of 27 years, Peggy.)

An experience the other night reminded me that it's important to give equal attention to each.

This guy lost out on a pretty big time client because he focused too much on being relatable; almost his entire bio was targeted toward potential patients, but not other practitioners who might be looking to evaluate his clinical skill set for the purpose of referrals.

When you write your bio, make sure you include components of both - and that might mean you have to trim the fat on some of the non-essentials.

3. Slow and steady still wins the race.

Have you ever heard the story of the small company who gets a big breakthrough to get their product on the shelves of Wal-Mart or Target - and then goes out of business just months later because they didn't have the short-term cash flow to keep up with a huge surge in production demands and inventory needs? Their systems couldn't keep up with their lead generation.

Many trainers would kill to add 20 new clients, but most fail to realize that they don't have the systems in place to take on that many new people and still deliver a high quality product. This is a classic story when a fitness bootcamp runs a Groupon to bring in a surge of new prospects - only to see their long-term members get irritated at crowded classes, watered down programming, and "flightly" training partners who go from one gym to the next each month. The systems weren't ready for the surge in leads.

Last summer, my business partner, Brian Kaplan, co-founded The Collegiate League of the Palm Beaches near our Jupiter, FL Cressey Sports Performance location.

In a matter of weeks, we added over 60 new college baseball players as 3-5 days/week clients for a two-month period. It took months of planning to make sure that we were staffed accordingly, and included loads of email outreach to schedule evaluations. It even meant that there were a few cases when we had to turn away "drop-in" evaluations from college guys who hadn't scheduled in advance. I even flew down from Massachusetts for a week to help out with the initial surge.

As Aaron Ross and Jason Lemkin wrote in From Impossible to Inevitable, "Speeding up growth creates more problems than it solves." It only makes sense that this would be a huge issue in the fitness industry, where we have people who are often skilled technicians, but not very savvy entrepreneurs and managers. So, unless you have your systems fine-tuned, be careful what you wish for when it comes to expanding your offering to new markets or within the existing market.

4. Read this post from my business partner, Pete Dupuis.

This is an excellent lesson that can apply to any endeavor in business and in life.

The Value in Giving More Than You Take

If you're looking for a longer read on this front, I'd highly recommend Adam Grant's Give and Take.

 

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 11/13/17

I hope everyone had a great weekend. Here's a little recommended reading and viewing to check out:

Complete Core - This is Mike Boyle's new core training/programming resource. I'm working my way through it, and so far, so good! It's on sale for 50% off this week.

Is there a correlation between coaches' leadership styles and injury rates in elite football teams? - This was a fascinating study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The Dangers of Aligning Yourself with a Specific Team or Program - Cressey Sports Performance - MA co-founder Pete Dupuis authored up this insightful piece on why you shouldn't leap at every offer of "exclusivity."

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I’m convinced that one of the (many) things that has set Corey apart over the course of his career is that he’s always made the early offseason extremely productive. 👇 While many players take 4-8 weeks of complete rest, he’s usually back in the gym in some capacity within ten days. Train smart, and you can get “easy gains” - improved mobility, rotator cuff strength, scapular control, and body composition - without interfering with the period of restoration. Over the course of a lengthy career, this could add up to more than an extra year of quality training in a sport when there never seems to be enough time to cover everything you want to cover. No matter what time of year it is, there’s always something you can do to get better. #cspfamily #cykluber #indians #mlb #Repost @frankduffyfitness (@get_repost) ・・・ I started @kinstretch work with Cleveland Indians pitcher Corey Kluber this off-season to complement his training program. Alongside his daily CARs routine, we've been working consistently on certain Positional Isometrics, Wall Peel Offs, and 90/90 Isometric Movement Paths (IsoMPs - shown in the video above). It doesn't matter if you're a Cy Young award winner or a 9-5 desk worker. The concepts of #functionalrangeconditioning and #kinstretch can be applied to all living individuals. #cspfamily #controlyourself . @drandreospina @deweynielsen @hunterfitness @danajohnflows @drmchivers @rannyron @koncious_k @ianmarkow @joegambinodpt

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3 Thursday Thoughts on Strength and Conditioning Program Design

Without a doubt, program design is one of the most challenging things for up-and-coming coaches to learn. With that in mind, here are a few thoughts on the topic - and I may even turn this into a regular series.

1. Volume matters.

I just counted them up, and it turns out, I wrote 105 programs in the month of October. I've basically been doing this since 2001, and in these kind of volumes since we opened Cressey Sports Performance in 2007.

When you do anything 3-4 times per day, eventually, it becomes a lot easier. This is why I encourage young coaches to seek out opportunities to program early on in their careers as often as possible. Have a family member who wants to drop 20 pounds? Offer to write something up. Have a buddy who wants a bigger bench press? Write up a specialization program. The best learning experiences will come when they report back on their experiences and you tinker with the program on the fly, but truthfully, even if they don't actually follow through on the program, you'll get better from going through the process. 

Moreover, make sure you have a wide variety of clients early on in your training career. You want to program for everyone from athletes, to general fitness folks, to post-rehab cases.

[bctt tweet="Be a good generalist to build a foundation for becoming a specialist later."]

2. Get some momentum.

Never, ever sit down to write a single program. Rather, always block off some time where you can write several in a row.

Programming is just like any other skill you practice; you need to find your groove. While I write programs every day, the truth is that I feel like the process comes more easily when it's 6-7 in a row on a Sunday night than 1-2 on a Tuesday morning. Like everything in life, "deep work" creates superior results - so try to find blocks of time devoted exclusively to programming.

If you're early in your career and don't have a lot of them to write, use it as an opportunity to write programs for hypothetical clients, or use it as a chance to review old programs you've written - and update them with new things you've learned.

3. Remember that programming is both a science and an art.

If you take two really skilled, experienced strength and conditioning coaches and have them write a program for the exact same athlete, you might get two markedly different programs. Coaches usually agree on the 90% of principles, but may disagree on the means to accomplish objectives. Just because one coach prefers to use block pulls and another likes trap bar deadlifts in month 1 doesn't make either of them incorrect. It's just an opportunity to highlight that there is an artistic component that goes hand-in-hand with the true science behind creating adaptation with training.

That said, there are scenarios where you don't get "poetic license" with your program. As an over the top example, you won't ever be able to convince me that a behind-the-neck barbell press is a good initiative in a 65-year-old man who is six weeks post-op on a rotator cuff repair. Science is so strong in some cases you can't even get to the art discussion; you have to earn the right (with your education) to get to that point.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 11/7/17

I hope you all had a great weekend. I just got back in the wee hours of Monday morning after teaching a shoulder course in Atlanta, so the new content at EricCressey.com will come in a day or two.

In the meantime, here's some recommended reading for the week:

The Power of Moments - If you've followed me for any length of time, you'll know that I'm a fan of Chip and Dan Heath's writing. This book is no exception, and for any of the fitness entrepreneurs (or any entrepreneurs) out there, I'd call it a must-read.

What Really Constitutes Functional Balance Training? - I had a discussion with another coach the other day about how to approach balance training in athletes, and it reminded me of this old blog of mine. 

Skill Acquisition Considerations for Athletes - These are lecture notes from a recent presentation Nick Winkelman delivered, and they're absolutely outstanding. I'd call this a must-read for any coach.

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Exercise of the Week: TRX Deep Squat Prying

We're long overdue for a new installment of my "Exercise of the Week" series, so here's a look at one of my favorite warm-up/cool-down drills. With TRX Deep Squat Prying, you get a great lat inhibition exercise that has the added benefit of training some hip and ankle mobility, plus core stability. In other words, it delivers some fantastic bang for your training buck. Check it out! 

Speaking of TRX, I've teamed up with them and Stack Media for an awesome contest. One winner will be chosen at random to receive:

  • A trip to Florida for two (flight + 2 nights in hotel) for a training session with me at Cressey Sports Performance
  • TRX Training Products (Suspension Trainer, Rip Trainer, Medicine Ball) and TRX Apparel
  • A $100 Amazon Gift Card

Ready? Enter HERE!

Winner must be must be 18+. US residents only. Giveaway ends 11/13. Rules: http://woobox.com/offers/rules/kqgdu6

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 10/30/17

I hope you all had a great weekend and are enjoying these World Series games. You can't beat playoff baseball!

Here are some recommended resources for the week:

10 Daily Habits of Healthy Lifters - I contributed a few paragraphs for this compilation at T-Nation, and the end result included several excellent recommendations.

Bored and Brilliant - I had the long car ride from Massachusetts to Florida last week, and this is one of the audiobooks I covered to pass the time. Manoush Zomorodi took an outstanding look at how technology impacts our lives in negative ways. While it wasn't written from a strength and conditioning perspective, I could totally see how to apply its lessons to the fitness realm.

Should You Squat Tall Athletes? - Mike Robertson did a great job tackling this tall subject. Sorry, bad pun.

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Back in 2005, physical therapist John Pallof (@pallofpt) introduced me to an exercise he called the "belly press." It was an anti-rotation drill done with a cable or band in order to challenge rotary stability. 👍 It quickly became a mainstay in the programming at @cresseysportsperformance, and somehow became known as the "Pallof Press." We incorporated the traditional version (demonstrated here), as well as a host of other variations, including half-kneeling, tall kneeling, wide-stance, and split-stance. 👊 That same year, I signed my first book deal. And, as I wrote "Maximum Strength," including the Pallof Press was a no-brainer, as we used it every day in our programs. 👇 This picture was taken on September 16, 2007 for the exercise demonstration chapter. Look how much hair I had. 😲 The story could end here, but sadly, it doesn't. Not surprisingly, the Pallof Press caught on. In fact, if you Google "Pallof Press" today, you'll get 51,200 search results. 👊 Unfortunately, if you search for "Paloff Press," you'll also get 14,800 hits. 🤔 And "Palloff Press?" 18,100. 😕 And "Palof Press?" 5,310. ☹️ Just look at some of the well-known media outlets included in these hit counts, and you'll be embarrassed for them. 😠 This week, one of our college athletes sent me a copy of his program that included a "Pal Off Press." Thinking that there is no way anybody could possibly be this clueless, I Googled it. Sure enough, 512 hits (and 607 if you hyphenate it to "Pal-Off"). I've had enough. 😡 I learned this great exercise from John. And, if you're using it under that name, you learned it (directly or indirectly) from me. So - both as a favor to me and a measure of respect to him - how about you please spell his last name correctly? 🙏 (Sorry, John; thanks for your decade of patience.) #Pallof #NotPalof #NotPaloff #NotPalloff

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Versatility and Consistency for Strength and Conditioning Success

If you had to ask me what the single most important factor that makes or breaks someone's strength and conditioning success, I'd immediately answer, "Consistency." The ones who show up and put in the work are the most adherent to the programs, and they develop a host of habits conducive to long-term success. Nobody can really argue with that.

If consistency, then, is a huge goal in any training plan, then what are the objectives that underlay it?

A motivating training environment is obviously important. If you've got good people and energy in your culture, people will want to be consistent.

Novelty is something that inspires other people. People get excited when they experience something new, so subtle or not-so-subtle adjustments to the training program or environment can make a big difference for folks who need an extra boost for consistent attendance.

Progress is big as well. We like to do what we're good at doing - so when you're quantitatively aware of the progress you're making, it feeds back into the motivation that drives consistency.

These are all no-brainers, and I'm sure we could go on and list more key factors influencing consistency. However, one factor that is definitely overlooked is versatile programming.

In other words, you have to be able to modify things on the fly when life gets in the way. Maybe it's tinkering with training frequency/scheduling before a family vacation, shortening a training session when a young athlete is exhausted during final exams, or modifying exercise selection to work around a broken toe. The best programs are the versatile ones - and the best coaches are the ones who understand how to tinker on the fly as needed. If your program and coaching philosophy are too rigid to accommodate these necessary adjustments, consistency will definitely suffer.

What happens, however, when you don't have a coach overseeing your training? How do you make these adjustments?

First - and most obviously - you have to be honest with yourself on how you feel. This is certainly easier said than done, but in my experience, making correct choices on the most obvious decisions is the difference maker for most individuals. For instance, if your nose is running, head is throbbing, and every joint in your body aches, it's probably a much better idea to go home and sleep off the flu than it is to try to plow through a heavy deadlift training session. Most situations aren't this black and white, though. Usually, the tougher decisions are when to push for PRs, add/subtract sets, or make exercise modifications on the fly. "Feel" in this regard comes with experience, and it's usually constantly evolving as you get older and more highly trained.

Second, seek out mentors and training partners to help you along and push you to get better each day. I think this Tweet pretty much sums up this point.

Third, you can outsource. Don't know when you should deload? Adopt a program where deloading periods are already incorporated. Don't know how to design a warm-up that covers all your needs? Have someone else structure it for you so that you don't miss anything. Want something flexible enough to accommodate a busy travel schedule? Get a program where training frequency can be rotated from week to week.

These are all problems I worked hard to solve for my audience when I created The High Performance Handbook. This resource has different programming options based on assessment outcomes, and supplemental conditioning approaches that can be individualized to one's goals (fat loss, athletic performance, etc.). Each phase has 2x/week, 3x/week, and 4x/week lifting options to provide options for various time throughout the training calendar, whether it's an in-season/off-season athlete or an accountant that needs something with less frequency during tax season. I include modifications for folks who may have equipment limitations, and also suggestions on how to tinker with the program if you're an overhead athlete, older lifter, or someone looking to add more muscle mass. In short, I worked hard to create what I believe to be the most versatile strength and conditioning resource available on the market today. And, I'm happy to say that it's on sale for $50 off - the largest discount we've ever offered - through this Monday at midnight. For more information, check out www.HighPerformanceHandbook.com.

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The Biggest High Performance Handbook Sale of All Time

I'm psyched to announce that my flagship product, The High Performance Handbook, is now on sale for $50 off the normal price. This is the largest discount I've ever offered on the product, and you can pick it up through the end of the weekend. Check it out HERE.

Don't miss out on this chance to pick up a super versatile training system at a huge discount!

 


 

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 10/16/17

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great weekend. The baseball off-season is in full swing and I have several evaluations today, so we'll be sharing some good content from around the web to keep you entertained until I have a spare moment to pull together some content. Check it out:

Resilient Performance Podcast with Dr. Fergus Connolly - Doug Kechijian interviewed Fergus in light of the release of his new book, Game Changer. There's some excellent discussion of the current state of sports science.

Changing Baseball Culture: A Call to Action - In light of a few recent conversations, I thought it was a good time to reincarnate this guest post from my good friend Eric Schoenberg.

The Older You Are, The Worse You Sleep - I thought this essay from Dr. Matthew Walker for The Wall Street Journal was intriguing. At the very least, it was nice to see a well-researched article on a health topic in a more mainstream publication. 

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 10/9/17

I hope you all had a great weekend. I forgot how awesome the playoff baseball time of year was - in spite of the sleep deprivation! Here are a few good reads from around the 'net to kick off your week:

Unplugged - I'm currently working my way through this book from Dr. Andy Galpin, Brian Mackenzie, and Phil White. It's a fascinating, expansive look at technology in our lives, particularly with respect to how we monitor and train for fitness.

Market Toward One Audience and You'll Enjoy the Perks of Many - My business partner, Pete Dupuis, made some awesome points in this recent blog. Effectively, on the road to becoming an accomplished specialist, you have to first be a good generalist.

Thoughts on MLB Player Development - This was a Facebook post I put up later in the day yesterday that could have been a separate blog post.

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