Home Posts tagged "Personal Trainer"

The Success is in the Struggle

Back in my graduate school days, I did some personal training at a gym not far from campus. My days were filled with work in the human performance lab and varsity weight rooms, but I felt like it was really important that I continued to train general fitness clients to become more proficient in that demographic – and help pay the bills.

Like most guys in my early 20s, I thought I had life all figured out. A few months in, my boss informed me that I was due for a performance review. She also mentioned that they were deviating from the “norm” a bit, and that my sit-down meeting would not be with her, but rather, with one of the more experienced trainers, Kris. I didn’t really think anything of it, and the meeting was scheduled for the following week.

Looking back, that meeting was profoundly impactful for me, even if I didn’t fully grasp just how important it was at the time.

Kris first complimented me on what I did well: work ethic, passion, attention to detail, coaching, and book smarts. Looking back, it was a perfect Dale Carnegie approach before I’d ever even read How to Win Friends and Influence People. Eventually, though, the conversation delved into the topic of empathy; she asked me what I thought most of my clients really wanted to get out of their personal training with me.

Here I was, a 22-year-old aspiring powerlifter who thought the world was out to train for a 600lb deadlift and get to 200 pounds at 6% body fat. My most loyal client, though, was a 68-year-old accountant who just didn’t want his neck and shoulder to hurt when he worked out and picked up his grandkids. Another was an elderly woman who was far more concerned about her risk of osteoporosis than her vertical jump.

That day, without telling me I sucked at relating to my clients, Kris taught me a ton about empathy and separating myself from personal biases. She just tactfully challenged me with a simple question. It wasn’t much different than the “guided discovery” approach we use with young athletes when we walk them into a little technique failure so that they can appreciate the wrong pattern.

“Where did you feel that?”

“Can you stop rowing when your elbow hits my hand?”

“See how your nose got to the floor before your chest on that push-up? Can you switch that up?”

Kris saw exactly what I needed to become a better coach, and she delivered the message perfectly. In hindsight, that lesson in empathy and separating myself from personal biases probably made a huge difference in enabling me to be successful in training baseball players even though I wasn’t a baseball player past eighth grade. I had to do a lot more listening and ask a lot more questions. Kris understood this all too well – and modeled it, too: she’d had clients for over a decade!

That was 2003. Now, 14 years later, Kris and I are still good friends. She sent us gifts when our twins were born. I help out with training her son, an up-and-coming pitcher. Of any of my co-workers at that time, she challenged me the most – and she’s the only one with whom I really keep in touch. How is that for impactful? 

I actually reached out to her before posting this blog, and her response included the following:

"I remember this conversation well. I dreaded giving this performance review! I remember thinking that I knew how smart you were (probably smarter than I) and I knew that this trainer job was ultimately not your end point. I wanted to make sure you knew how valuable your knowledge was when applied correctly. How do you tell someone their delivery is not as sensitive as it needs to be??

"I'm so glad that I succeeded in my message and that this lesson has stayed with you. I am honored that you, who I respect immensely, learned something from me. You never really know how much you can impact a person's behavior and thought process."

Now, imagine she’d never spoken up. Or, even worse, if she had – but I wasn’t ready to accept that constructive criticism. I wouldn’t be the coach (or person) I am today. This is why we should be massively grateful to those who not only have constructive criticism to offer, but choose to provide it with the correct approach.

When it really comes down to it, people struggle or fail to improve for one of three reasons.

a) They don’t know what they’re doing incorrectly.

b) They don’t have actionable strategies to address these issues; don’t understand how to employ these strategies; or haven't had enough consistency or success with these strategies.

c) They aren’t willing to change.

In terms of A, it’s important to challenge people tactfully and make them aware of their blind spots. Particularly in the youth sports realm, this is getting to be a very dicey situation. Many kids think they have it all figured out, and more concerning, many parents think coaches “have it in” for their kids, so they block constructive criticism. If we protect kids from understanding their weaknesses, they don’t grow. If we challenge kids, let them know failure isn’t a big deal, and then provide strategies to improve, they thrive. It’s been demonstrated in motor learning research, the educational realm, and social settings. As has often been said, “the success is in the struggle.”

Conversely, some people need help with B. This is the kid who is always late for practice, or always misses breakfast because he oversleeps. He needs time management strategies, and people around him to whom he can be accountable.

Scenario C is far and away the most challenging dynamic. These are situations where you may actually cheer against someone in hopes that they’ll struggle mightily and come to their senses on what needs to change. In an athletic context, it’s usually the kid who is the best player in the history of his town even though he eats fast food at every meal, skips training sessions, and stays up all night. It’s just a matter of time until he runs into genetically gifted competition that is far more prepared and motivated than he is.

Aroldis Chapman throws 105mph – harder than anyone in baseball history – and he has a 4.12 ERA this year. Mike Trout struck out three times in a game earlier this year. Ultimately, no matter who you are, sports and life will humble you in some capacity. Athletes are better off learning these struggles at a young age so that they’ll have strategies for dealing with them for the decades that follow.

What are the take-home messages?

1. Always be open to constructive criticism. In fact, seek it out. You can’t see your blind spots like others can.

2. Don’t protect your kid from constructive criticism, or immediately discredit criticisms of you. Process them before reacting. And remember the person delivering the criticism may actually be really nervous about doing so.

3. If you deliver constructive criticism, be cognizant of matching your approach to the personality of the one who’s receiving it.

4. Always reiterate that failure is part of life and not a big deal. And, if it seems like a big deal – particularly with young athletes – find ways to minimize consequences.

5. If you know why you’re struggling, find and employ strategies to address your weaknesses.

6. Thank you, Kris!
 

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

Brandscaping and the Fitness Industry

When we are changing diapers, my 2-year-old daughters always request the ones with "Big Bird" on them. The images on the diaper don't change how effective it is at doing its job, of course.

And, if the paper towels don't have a picture of Olaf from "Frozen" on them, a temper tantrum might very well occur - even if any regular ol' paper towel would get the job done just as well.

They adore the Mickey Mouse sippy cups my mother bought them even though they aren't any better at delivering the beverage than a generic cup.

All of these are perfect examples of Brandscaping, a concept to which I was introduced by Andrew Davis in his outstanding book by the same name.

In its simplest form, brandscaping is an approach to developing partnerships with other brands who also cater to your target market. Davis spends considerable time discussing how Tony Bennett's resurgence in the past decade has a lot to do with joint ventures with Lady Gaga and the Muppets; they've modernized his classic approach to create a new synergy.

As an more applicable fitness industry example, Cressey Sports Performance (baseball strength and conditioning) and New Balance (baseball training apparel and shoes) are a great synergistic fit - and it even led to a limited edition training sneaker.

Referrals to and from physical therapists are another example, and the list could go on to include pitching instructors, massage therapists, meal preparation services, and a host of other complementary services. If we look at the classic "here's how you can grow your business," brandscaping is likely the single-best way to grow the "same product, new market" component. Your brandscaping partner recognizes your specific expertise/offering and brings new folks to it. You, in turn, do the same for them. Everybody wins.

Unfortunately, though, a lot of fitness professionals get in their own way and "obstruct" opportunities for brandscaping. A big mistake is definitely trying to be everything to everyone. If you're training everyone from cardiac rehab patients, to fitness competitors, to basketball players, to powerlifters, chances are that potential partners are going to struggle to see the specific realm in which you'd be a good partner. When you have a really broad collection of offerings, it's a challenge to market to them. The cardiac rehab patients might hate the internet, the fitness competitors love Instagram, the basketball players are on Twitter, and the powerlifters are on Facebook.

Moreover, some fitness professionals mismanage their web presence, even if they have a specific, marketable niche. As an example, if you train high school athletes, but a huge majority of your social media posts are about beer and partying, that's going to be a huge turnoff to their parents (who pay the bills). And, if you're a rockstar when it comes to training middle aged corporate executives, they're likely going to be turned off if all your social media content is shirtless photos of you from your recreational bodybuilding hobby.

In wrapping up, there are really three huge takeaways for you as you try to grow your business.

First, someone else has your ideal customers. Think about how you can partner with them in a mutually benefical relationship.

Second, your ideal customers or brandscaping partners might not be able to appreciate how good a cross-referral or co-banding relationship with you could be because you keep getting in your way. Think about the image you're creating publicly for your business or brand.

Third, don't let your two-year-old daughters boss you around like mine do to me.

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

10 Years of Cressey Sports Performance

“I never want to open a gym.”

Those are the exact words I spoke in casual conversation over dinner on a first date on April 22, 2007.

82 days later I co-founded a gym. When we first moved in, it looked like this.

And, 727 days after that conversation, I proposed to the woman across the table from me.

That gym turns ten years old this week - and looks like this.

We even opened a second gym 1,500 miles away in Jupiter, FL in 2014. Also along the way, I started my consulting company and my wife opened her optometry practice – so we actually have four businesses.

This October, Anna and I celebrate seven years of marriage. We have two-year-old twin daughters. She even still likes baseball enough to be my "date" at the All-Star Game.

Suffice it to say that – in light of my own personal experiences – I think it’s silly to expect anyone to have a “10-year-plan.” I couldn’t even have a ten month plan. Usually, when my wife asks me what I want for dinner, I stumble all over my words; I often don't even have a ten hour plan.

And, I can tell you that we sure as heck didn’t know much about entrepreneurship. If you need proof, my business partner, Pete, and I wrote our business plan on a napkin at Applebees. The truth is that we kind of got lucky and were smart enough to figure things out as we went. I guess you could say that CSP's success has really been reflective of the old quote, "Luck is where preparation meets opportunity."

This blog could go in a lot of different ways from here.

I could list out a bunch of different business lessons I’ve learned – and I’ve definitely learned a ton.

I could talk about all the things I love about my “job” – and encourage you to go start your own gym.

I could talk about all the things that drive me bonkers at my job – and do my best to talk you out of opening one.

Instead, though, I’ll just end it with a heartfelt thank you. Everyone who reads this blog – whether you’ve actually stepped foot in a Cressey Sports Performance facility, purchased one of my products, or attended a seminar with us – has had an immeasurable impact on us getting to this day. To my family, co-founders, staff, friends, mentors, customers, and suppliers: I appreciate you all tremendously, and the truth is that we are most "lucky" to have so many great people supporting us.

I hope to be writing another one of these posts when we get to Year 20, but I’m afraid I don’t have a great track record with ten-year plans. I guess you’ll have to stay tuned.

In the meantime, though, I'm going to use the next few days to write up some lessons we've learned over the course of decade of fitness business entrepreneurship. I'll roll multiple posts out per day, so be sure to check back regularly.

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

Fitness Professionals: Competency vs. Fit

I have written several times in the past about how whenever the time comes to expand our staff at Cressey Sports Performance, we only hire from our internship program. In hiring, the goal is to get someone who is both competent for the job and a good fit for your culture. We can teach that competency in an internship, but just as importantly, an internship give us 3-5 months to evaluate whether an individual is the right fit from a personality standpoint. We actively involve our current staff in hiring to make sure that they're the ones helping to shape this culture. I can't recall exactly, but I believe I initially heard the competency/fit discussion in a book from Richard Branson and his hiring practices at Virgin.

This is an important lesson for all businesses, but particularly in the fitness industry. Many of your clients aren't intrinsically motivated to exercise; they probably don't get as excited about rolling out of bed and getting to the gym as us fitness nerds do. Rather, they may be more extrinsically motivated by a gym culture that makes exercise more palatable or even fun. If you hire someone who hurts your culture because they aren't a good fit in one way or other, your clients suffer.

What fitness professionals might not realize, however, is that the competency and fit consideration is also something that potential clients are considering in their mind (whether they recognize it or not) before they hire a trainer.

As an example, I am not a good fit if you are a ballerina. I might have all the knowledge that you need for a successful the design training program, but I don't look the part, nor can I speak the language.

Likewise, if I weighed 350 pounds and looked like an NFL offense lineman, I probably wouldn't be a good fit for the baseball players I train. The giant meathead persona actually turns a ton of them off. No matter how confident you are, being a bad fit overshadows that intellectual preparation. 

I also wouldn't be a good fit at Mark Fisher Fitness. My personality isn't theatrical enough, and I'm not the most creative or extroverted guy in the world. My skill set really wouldn't translate, especially since a lot of Broadway performers aren't really interested in throwing a baseball 95mph.

"Fit" was something I had to overcome in my initial work with baseball players. Because I only played up until 8th grade, I had to ask a lot more questions and do a lot more listening. I had to strap on the catcher's gear and catch bullpens. And, I had to work harder to become wildly competent on the actual training side to overcome the fact that I'm technically a baseball outsider. It's worked out well, but I often wonder if success would have come a bit more easily if I'd be a guy who played baseball all the way through college.

I think "fit" is also the area where many fitness professionals really struggle as they work to market themselves. The accomplished bodybuilder who wants to attract general population fat loss clients may have all the knowledge needed to be successful, but if he plasters his website with shirtless pictures of himself, he comes across as a "me guy" who could never understand the needs of a 45-year-old mother of two. And he might not realize this "look" terrifies some of those potential clients - even though this marketing pitch might work if he's trying to add other bodybuilders or fitness competitors as clients.

Likewise, a guy who loses 300 pounds to get to a fit 180 pounds might appeal to this more-easily-intimidated demongraphic, but not be a good fit at all for the competitive bodybuilder. Everyone has different wants, needs, and perceptions.

This quick observation has three key takeaways:

1. Competence is always of paramount importance, but it will be hard to show off your competence if you aren't a good fit.

2. We all have huge blind spots of which we aren't aware. Just as you strive to always work to improve your knowledge base and skill set, you should actively seek out people you trust to give you honest feedback about how they view your marketing message and how you present yourself.

3. This might be the most important thing: you will never, ever, ever, ever, ever be a good fit for everyone. If you try to be everything to everyone, you'll wind up trying to ride a bunch of horses with one saddle. Having a few clearly defined "niches" usually is your best bet, and if you choose to expand into other niches, you're probably better off hiring someone who's a good fit for it. As I've said before, when it comes to long-term business development, look at this chart - and always try to trend down and to the right.

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 4/13/17

I hope you're all having a great week. I'm a few days late with posting this because we were a bit more content heavy earlier in the week, but the good news is that it gave me a few more days to round up some excellent content for you.

Kabuki Strength Chat with Eric Cressey - I joined Chris Duffin and the rest of the Kabuki Strength crew for a podcast last week. We talked baseball strength and conditioning, business development, and fitness industry trends. Check it out!

STEM-Talk with Dr. Stuart McGill - Any podcast with Stu is a must-listen podcast! This one doesn't disappoint - and I particularly enjoyed his commentary on the flawed medical model as it relates to treating lower back pain. 

It Took Me 10 Years to Become an Overnight Success - This was an excellent post from my business partner, Pete Dupuis. He shares some awesome insights on little things that can lead to long-term success - if you're patient.

1491871940765

Top Tweet of the Week

Top Instagram Post of the Week 

 

#Repost @cresseysportsperformance with @repostapp ・・・ More wise words from @ericcressey. #cspfamily #ArmCare

A post shared by Eric Cressey (@ericcressey) on

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

5 Tips for Improved Client Relationships

Today's guest post comes from Brett Velon, who interned at Cressey Sports Performance - Florida this past fall. Brett connected with clients better than any intern I've ever seen; he is one of those people who can talk to anyone, anywhere. With that in mind, I asked him to write up his thoughts on the topic. Enjoy! - EC

unnamed-8

Coaching as a career wasn’t even a thought until after I finished college. Although to many it would seem to be an impediment for me not having a traditional strength and conditioning background, it has actually been a blessing in disguise. Without being able to rely on a degree, my development as a coach has been heavily reliant upon the development of client relationships. Teddy Roosevelt said it best when he said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

What I realized was many coaches in the industry were very technically smart, but lacked the most basic people skills. Instead of addressing this issue, most accumulate more degrees and certifications, thinking a new certification will have clients lining up to train with them. The problem is most clients don’t know what the certifications mean. Once I truly understood that client’s retention was heavily dependent on their relationship with their coach, I became more cognizant of the experience I was providing clients. Despite not really knowing what I was doing, I decided it was best to start with simply enjoying myself. My thought was if I was in a good mood and wanted to be at the gym then maybe the clients might feel the same way. It seems stupid simple, but look around and notice how many coaches suck all the enjoyment out of training.

Understand and believe that cultivating relationships is a skill that can be improved and doesn’t require being the most charismatic person. Effort and the willingness to try are the only requirements. Here are five simple tips I have personally used to improve my ability to create rewarding client relationships.

Tip #1: Be self aware.

If the urge to talk about yourself arises, take a deep breathe and then don’t do it. It’s the simplest but rarely followed piece of advice I can give. Nobody cares about your past athletic career or your 500 pound squat; focus the conversation around the client. People love to talk about themselves, so give them the opportunity and most importantly listen. When asked about something, answer, but don’t confuse this as an open invite for a trip down memory lane, a la Al Bundy style. Despite how awesome you think you are, there will be clients who don’t want to talk. Embrace the awkward silence, it’s usually appreciated, and more times than not they will eventually open up to you.

One of the best methods I like to use is to try and mirror mannerisms and demeanour. If they like to talk, ask more questions. Do they swear like a sailor? If so, don’t feel like you need to talk to them like a boy scout. Personal rule: don’t be the first one to swear as some clients will not appreciate it.

Tip #2: Know your role.

“Know your role and shut your mouth”- The Rock.

Therockaswwfchampion

Determining your role for each client is vital to developing a positive connection. You’re not only a strength coach, but possibly also a motivator, guide, mentor, therapist, and babysitter. Understanding the reason why someone is training will guide you as to what role to take on. While not mutually exclusive, most reasons fall into one of the three categories: money/scholarships, parent/coach, and social/health.

The money and scholarship clients are generally very intrinsically motivated and often just need a guide to program and show them what to do.

The client that is training because of a parent or coach most likely feels forced to train, the last thing they need is another “hardo” coach screaming at them. The mentor/friend role works well with this demographic as the gym becomes an escape for them, and in turn they train harder and start to enjoy their time at the gym.

The social/health group is comprised mostly of general population clients and can be all over the map in terms of needs in the gym. Some might be bored and just want someone to chat with, others have never stepped foot in a gym and need a guide and teacher. Whatever the client’s reason is for training, the quicker you can figure out your role, the better experience both you and the client will have.

Tip #3: Broaden your interests.

If a client is training with you, odds are they think you know what you’re doing. Stop trying to prove how smart you are. Clients want results and really don’t care about the Krebs Cycle or optimal hypertrophy training protocols. If they cared, they would be in the field. Think of it this way, you go to an accountant for your taxes because:

1. You don’t know how to do your taxes
2. You don’t care about how to do your taxes
3. You don’t want to think about how to do your taxes, you just want them done.

Most of all, you don’t want to talk with your accountant three times a week about new tax codes.

Now that we can’t talk about training, we are going to need more material. This is where broadening your interests helps.

[bctt tweet="The more interests you have outside of fitness, the more you'll be able to connect with clients."]

In my experience, it has helped to avoid asking about someone’s work life. Everybody is more than their profession and usually has something that they are passionate about. People tend to perk up when talking about things they are truly passionate about. Hint: Finding a person’s weirdness and vice is an express ticket to good conversation. 

Note from EC: here's Brett finding his weirdness on the day he showed up dressed as Hulk Hogan.

hulk

Tip #4: Be observant.

Think of yourself as a detective that is trying to piece together somebody’s story. Everything is a clue and clues are used to start conversations. Don’t think of it as negative pre-judgment but rather an opportunity to connect at an accelerated rate. If a client comes in wearing a camo hat and a Salt Life t-shirt, an easy conversation starter would be about outdoor type activities. Sure, you might be wrong, but being wrong also gives you the opportunity to learn more about the client, and the more you know the better.

Tip #5: Don’t give up on the introvert.

While extroverts are naturally easier to connect with, introverted clients have the biggest potential for the deepest relationships. There are numerous reasons why a client might be reserved: shyness, fear, anxiety, etc. can all contribute. Remember, be okay with silence. Not pressuring introverts to talk is a great way to help them relax and become comfortable. In most cases, once an introvert becomes comfortable they open up. Seeing an introvert become comfortable and open up is one of the most rewarding coaching experiences you can have.

Closing Thoughts

If you want to start changing lives, it is best to start getting to know the lives that you are trying to change. Relationships with your clients need attention and are something that can be practiced and improved upon. All it takes is some effort, positive mood and an enjoyment for what you do. Next time a client has a gathering or a game, do your best to go, as your support should extend to both in and out of the gym.

About the Author

Brett Velon (@brettvelon) is a former CSP-Florida intern and currently a Chicago area strength and conditioning coach. To contact him, please email brettvelon@gmail.com.
 

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

Random Thoughts on Long-Term Fitness Industry Success – Installment 5

I haven't published a post in this series since September, so this update is long overdue. Here we go...

1. Focus on optimism in training, but pessimism in business.

I'm in the process of reading The Founder's Dilemmas by Noam Wasserman. It's been excellent thus far, and this quote stood out to me, in particular:

"Higher optimism entrepreneurs have 20% lower revenue growth and 25% lower employment growth than lower optimism entrepreneurs who would be less susceptible to the perils of optimism."

Without even knowing it, Wasserman might have explained a big reason why so many fitness professionals struggle when they open their own business (as compared to working for someone else). The best trainers are upbeat, unconditionally positive, and energetic during their training sessions - but that doesn't mean that this approach also works well on the business side of things.

41qyfyCw3hL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

As I think about the most productive meetings I've had with my business partners over the years, they haven't been sit-downs to talk about all the great things we're doing. Rather, they were meetings where we nit-picked and scrutinized everything we were doing to find ways to improve. In a broad sense, they were very pessimistic.

Wasserman elaborates: "Excessive optimism can blind many founders to their start-ups' critical needs. So, they must be particularly vigilant in identifying the gaps in their skills, knowledge, and contacts - and evaluating whether and when those gaps should be filled by a co-founder."

There's your quick, two-part recipe for fitness industry business struggles:

a. Be overly optimistic on the business side of things and miss key opportunities for improvement and growth.

b. Fail to have the knowledge and resources needed to improve a problem even if you do actually identify it.

2. Effective loss leaders shouldn't devalue your service.

A while back, my business partner, Pete Dupuis, wrote up a great article: 3 Reasons We Don't Offer Free Training Consultations. In it, he outlined three primary reasons why offering free training consults at your gym might not be a good idea. One point he didn't make, though, is that you are effectively devaluing your services.

Now, to be clear, I am not at all opposed to loss leaders in the fitness industry - as long as we have a broader definition of "loss leader." Wikipedia defines it as "is a pricing strategy where a product is sold at a price below its market cost to stimulate other sales of more profitable goods or services." In my opinion, you can utilize "value addition leaders" with great impact without devaluing your services (the only "loss" is your time). You're simply finding ways to give potential customers something of value before they take the initial plunge with you.

This might be a free seminar at your facility that they attend, or a expedited referral to a physical therapist or sports orthopedist prior to them starting up with you. You might even go to this appointment with them to learn more about their injury and help make the transition as smooth as possible. It's a way to show you care and deliver value before the first transaction.

With our professional athlete clientele, we have a great opportunity to do this prior to them actually getting to Cressey Sports Performance for an evaluation. Maybe it's a function of helping them to find housing (sometimes even at the Cressey residence!), or passing along the information they need for the smoothest travel experience on the way to CSP. Or, maybe it's lining up a catcher for them to throw a bullpen when they're only in town for a short stint.

thumb_DSC05210_1024

There are countless ways to add value to the client's experience with your training facility, but you do need to be a bit more creative to find ways to differentiate yourself even prior to the first transaction.

3. Lead Generation, Lead Conversion, and Retention are the big three of fitness business success. 

Just as powerlifting has the big three - squat, bench press, deadlift - fitness business success has its own big three:

a. Lead Generation - how many people inquire about your services

b. Lead Conversion - how many of those prospects actually wind up paying for your services

c. Retention - how well you keep those clients

If you're a relatively experienced powerlifter, you can usually identify the quickest way to bring up your total. For me, I was always a strong deadlifter, decent bench, and mediocre squatter - so prioritizing the squat was the fastest way to bring up my overall performance.

Similarly, I think every business owner (even outside the fitness industry) would be wise to look at their businesses with this "largest window of adaptation" perspective. At CSP, lead conversion has never really been an issue for us, so we can devote most of our efforts on the business front to lead generation and retention.

Of course, don't overlook "ancillary" efforts like managing expenses, collecting outstanding payments, servicing equipment, and the like as important. While they are key considerations, they just usually aren't "big rocks" on the profitability front like these other three.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

The Best of 2016: Strength and Conditioning Features

I really enjoying creating features with multiple installments because it really allows me to dig deep into a topic that interests both me and my readers. It’s like writing a short book, with each post being a different chapter. That said, here were a few of my favorite features from 2016 at EricCressey.com: 

1. Random Thoughts on Sports Performance Training

I really enjoyed writing this series, as I can always build on current events. This year, I drew inspiration from everything from off-season baseball preparations, to the Olympics, to new books and DVDs I'd covered. There's an article for every month:    

Installment 15
Installment 16
Installment 17
Installment 18
Installment 19
Installment 20
Installment 21
Installment 22
Installment 23
Installment 24
Installment 25

2. Coaching Cues to Make Your Strength and Conditioning Programs More Effective

This coaching series has appeal for fitness professionals, rehabilitation specialists, and exercise enthusiasts alike.

Installment 14
Bench Press Technique Edition

bencht-spine

3. Random Thoughts on Long-Term Fitness Industry Success 

While most of my writing folks on the training side of things, I do like to delve into the business side of fitness, too. These posts include various pieces of wisdom for those who make their living in the fitness industry.

Installment 1
Installment 2
Installment 3
Installment 4

The Best of 2016 series is almost complete, but stayed tuned for a few more highlights!

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

Random Thoughts on Long-Term Fitness Industry Success: Installment 3

My topic for our 5th Annual Cressey Sports Performance Fall Seminar is "Forecasting Fitness." I'll be talking about where I think the fitness industry is headed in the next few decades. While I've been pulling together my PowerPoint, I've come up with some good odds and ends that I feel warrant reflection here in a blog. Before I get started, though, just a quick, friendly reminder that today is the last day to get the early-bird registration discount on the event. Hope to see you there!

Without further ado...

1. Humility is a must.

Over the past week, I've listened to podcasts interviews with three of my good friends in the industry: Brijesh Patel (head S&C coach at Quinnipiac), Mike Irr (S&C coach and physical therapist for the Golden State Warriors), and Josh Bonhotal (S&C coach at Purdue). I'm a huge believer (both in life and continuing education opportunities) in the importance of finding common ground. [bctt tweet="Focus on the 90% of things successful people have in common, not the 10% upon which they disagree."]

In all three of these interviews, the coach - in one way or another - stressed the importance of humility. Josh, in particular, commented on how he knew absolutely nothing about training divers (or even the sport itself) when he first started training divers with Olympic medals under their belts. And, rather than trying to employ a "fake it 'til you make it" strategy with them, he was very honest with them about his lack of experience, but also committed to learning as much as he could by observing and asking tons of questions. I think athletes and clients appreciate that humility - and certainly prefer it over a "know it all" demeanor.

2. There are four predominant ways to win over a potential customer in the fitness industry.

Last month, an intern asked me what I felt made some fitness writers successful while others struggled to gain a following. It got me to thinking about the qualities of the prominent fitness writers I know, and the more I considered it, the more I realized that these are the same qualities that make for a good in-person trainer or coach. Here are some of the four primary things the best writers (and trainers) do:

Innovate - These are new ideas that you can't find elsewhere. Think of what Nick Tumminello and Ben Bruno do with the introduction of exercises you haven't seen before. It's what we've tried to do with our baseball-specific approach to strength and conditioning. Ron Hruska did this with the Postural Restoration Institute approach to restoring optimal movement, and Dr. Stuart McGill has done it with his research on back pain and spine biomechanics. In the in-person training realm, this is the trainer at the commercial gym who picks up clients because they see him/her always introducing new drills with clients to keep things fresh. Or, it might be the reason baseball players move from across the country to train at Cressey Sports Performance in MA or FL. 

Eric-Cressey-Shoulder_OS___0-300x156

Translate - This is someone taking an innovator's ideas and making them more user-friendly for the masses, and it's often necessary because not all innovators make great teachers.  I think Mike Boyle has done a tremendous job of this over the years because he's very well read and a good teacher. In a presentation in Charlotte earlier this year, Mike joked that he has "no problem being the dumbest person in the room." In other words, he asks questions, and in doing so, learns how to best teach the material he's acquiring. Ultimately, this also leads to innovation, too.

In the in-person training world, this is the trainer who has great knowledge, but can "dumb things down" to create an efficient training program without overwhelming clients (who may not be interested in the science behind the training, anyway).

Entertain - This approach finds ways to make otherwise mundane content more palatable. If you read Tony Gentilcore's content, he does this really well; you hear about his cat and the movies he's seen as you're digesting content on shoulder mobility. These are also people who bring to the forefront entertaining stories that you might not have seen, but also offer social commentary (think of Barstool Sports or The Onion). In-person, these are the trainers who make things so fun that you actually forget you're working out.

Relate - This skill creates a sense of acceptance or unity. It's what Girls Gone Strong has done for females who like to lift weights, and why many powerlifters enjoy following other lifters' training logs that are posted online. The exercises aren't necessarily unique or hard to understand, but it gives a glimpse into someone else's reality that feels like your own. In-person, this is why some clients seek out trainers who are more like themselves. Smaller females usually don't want to train with huge bodybuilders, and guys who want to be huge bodybuilders don't want to train with smaller females. Baseball players don't want to train with guys who look like 300-pound offensive linemen, and 300-pound offensive lineman are usually skeptical of little guys who don't look the part.

Keep in mind that all successful writers and trainers do a combination of a few of these things; they never happen in isolation. If you look at EricCressey.com, I have a whole lot of innovation and translation, but less entertainment and relating. Conversely, you can get those latter two things on my social media offerings (particularly Instagram), as I post pics of my kids and own training, plus loads of self-deprecating humor and comical hashtags. 

 

First high-five! They're ready for you, @nancy_newell! #cspfamily #twinning

A video posted by Eric Cressey (@ericcressey) on


3. Unpolished writing is a "tripwire."

Let me preface this point by saying that you can be a great coach even with poor writing skills. What I will say, however, is that having unimpressive writing skills will make it dramatically harder to a) get a job and b) acquire clients.

For me, writing is a "tripwire." The second I see an email or resume with horrendous punctuation and loads of typos, it flips the "evaluate this under a microscope" switch. In other words, if someone writes (especially in a professional context) carelessly, it makes me wonder how far their lack of attention to detail extends. Will they show up on time? Will they swear in front of clients? Will there be typos in the programs they write?

In a world where 95% of fitness resumes look almost identical, polished writing can actually be a strong distinguishing factor.

4. Switch "ABC" to "ABCD."

This is borrowed from a slide in my 2016 Perform Better talk, but it's so important that I think it warrants reiteration. 

Many business coaches have written about the ABC approach to selling: "Always Be Closing." I happen to think that's the short-term-gain, long-term-pain approach to building a business, especially in the fitness industry. People are constantly getting pitched on something, and it sure gets old.

I favor the ABCD approach: "Always Be Creatively Delivering." As Pat Rigsby has said, you want to find ways to add value, not extract it. Go out of your way to find avenues through which you can add more value to a client's experience and you'll have a much higher likelihood of fitness industry success.

Wrap-up

That'll do it for this month. I'd love to hear your thoughts and questions in the comments section below. And, we'd certainly love to see you at our fall seminar!

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

6 Objectives for Successful Training Sessions

Today's guest post comes from Virginia-based strength and conditioning coach, Todd Bumgardner. I think it's very useful material for all the trainers and strength and conditioning coaches out there. Enjoy! -EC

It’s rare that large successes are accomplished without an idea of what success will look like. Sure, there are the occasional one-off miracles that happen when people swing hard with good intentions, but I don’t believe even those were truly accomplished without at least a loose plan that existed in the action taker’s head. It’s far more advantageous, and consistent, to materialize an actionable plan, with clear objectives, in the real world.

We often think in terms of plans and objectives when examining our businesses, or our financial goals, but a lot of coaches and trainers miss on the powerful outcomes elicited by setting training session objectives. I’m not just talking quantitative outcomes for our clients, but objectives that guide our coaching behaviors. Defining a list of session objectives, for you and your coaches, can dramatically improve your clients’ experience and results.

How We Did It

Chris Merritt and I own and operate Strength Faction together, while also tag teaming the leadership roles at Beyond Strength Performance NOVA—our small slice of semi-private training heaven in Dulles, VA.

The gym’s been running strong for five years now and has a great culture that’s focused on continual progression toward improvement. So we were inherently doing a lot of coaching things right. That set the context for our objectives discussion. We held it at one of our Friday in-services and we opened the floor to all the coaches. Then we simply asked, “What should our objectives be for running a successful training session?”

IMG_2597

We involved the guys in the discussion because they coach just as many sessions as we do; who are we to stand in dictatorship? Besides, the opportunity to give input creates buy-in. When folks feel like they have responsibility, and that they’ve contributed to a cause, they’re more likely to take things seriously and give optimal effort.

The outcome: a lot of what we were already doing correctly ended up on paper and we sprinkled in a few more bits to improve our process.

Here’s what we ended up with.

Personal Interaction with each Client by each Coach

We schedule no more than six clients per time slot, and maintain a coach to client ratio of one to three, so we have innumerable opportunities for personal interaction. We have to capitalize on that.

Each coach must, at least briefly, interact with every client that walks through the door during his shift. Our goal at BSP NOVA is to continually improve our interconnectedness and sense of community, so we prioritize actions that help us accomplish that end. It’s not too much to at least ask how someone’s day has been.

Sure, this might sound like a no-brainer, but any coach that’s worked in a busy semi-private training gym knows how easy it is to lose focus and miss out on connecting with people. So we make it a focus and set the intent on connection at the beginning of every shift.

No Injuries

This speaks to our vigilance. Are we paying attention to what our people are doing? Are we checking positions? Are we updating programs based on the clients’ current readiness and ability?

If we’re answering yes to all of those questions there’s a high likelihood that we’ll avoid injuries during that shift. If we answer no, the chance of injury creeps up. Training injuries should be a rarity; maintaining focus keeps it that way.

Be the Best Part of Someone’s Day

We want our gym, our little slice of semi-private training heaven, to be a place of respite from the outside world, where folks can lay down their burdens, train, and have a good time. We’re ever aware that people don’t have to train with us, that Northern Virginia is rife with fitness options, and that we have to give them a reason to choose us over and over again.

Beyond that, our job as coaches is to lift others up. Every day, we have an opportunity to make the world a better place one interaction at a time. Making someone laugh, showing them that you care, or listening to a story that they really want to tell goes a long way toward improving someone’s day. Do that over and over again, with all of the clients that walk through the door, and we’ll make great strides toward making the world a better place.

IMG_2595

Focus On Getting Better at One Aspect of Your Coaching

Kaizen, baby! We’re getting one percent better every day. This requires continual self-assessment and acknowledgement of our weak points. Each day we set a focus that toggles between what am I good at, and, where do I need to improve?

It begins with being open to constructive criticism from your leaders and peers and comfort with self-honesty. Nail those, make honest self-assessments, and attack improvement at one aspect of coaching every day.

Sweep the Sheds

I’m personally a huge All Blacks fan, and as a staff we love the book Legacy, James Kerr’s book about their culture, so we’ve focused hard on integrating the lessons from their phenomenal organization into our every day actions. We’ve incorporated “sweep the sheds,” The All Blacks humility-promoting mantra, into our everyday mindset.

Here it is:

"Sweeping the sheds. Doing it properly. So no one else has to. Because no one looks after the All Blacks. The All Blacks look after themselves."

Their point is to never be too big to do the small things while taking personal responsibility and acting with self-reliance. We’ve internalized the same point—but we’ve also extended it to mean something personally for us.

For us, sweeping the sheds also means taking as much as you can off of your teammates’ plates. If you can do a job that helps everyone else out, do it; don’t leave it for the next guy—even if it’s not necessarily “your job.”

Put Clients in the Best Positions to be Successful

Mentally and physically, it’s our job to put our clients in the best positions to be successful while they’re under our supervision. This means checking in with their state of mind and training readiness. It also means altering exercise selection if a given movement doesn’t fit for a certain person right now.

IMG_2596

Checking in with clients first thing, and as the session continues, is a must. Without those continual assessments we can’t know whether or not we’re putting people in the best positions to be successful. And we can’t live with not doing that.

Progress in Form and Exercise Proficiency from Set to Set

Our last objective fits nicely with the one that precedes it. If we’re paying attention to our people, and they’re getting better each set, even minutely, we’re doing something right. Not every rep is going to be perfect, and the same is certainly true for every set. But if we’re improving incrementally each time we commence movement, all is right with our tiny, little world.

Set Some Objectives

These six points are by no means the end-all-be-all of training session objectives, but they’re solid examples and they work for us at our gym. Now, sit down with yourself, or your people, and list the objectives that make your training sessions successful.

About the Author

Todd Bumgardner, MS, CSCS is a co-founder of Strength Faction, an online coaching program for strength coaches and personal trainers that helps fitness industry folks transform their bodies and their coaching. He and his partner, Chris Merritt, just released a great, free E-book on how to keep your training on track, even while you’re training all of your clients. You can download it here: Train Yourself…Even While You’re Training Everyone Else.   

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more
Page 1 2 3 4
LEARN HOW TO DEADLIFT
  • Avoid the most common deadlifting mistakes
  • 9 - minute instructional video
  • 3 part follow up series