Home Posts tagged "The Evolution of Personal Training" (Page 2)

Cueing: Just One Piece of Semi-Private Training Success – Part 1

With the boom of semi-private training in recent years, there has also been a boom of questions from fitness professionals on how on Earth it is logistically possible to train several people when they may all come from different backgrounds and have different needs. Back in 2006, I was one of those people – so I can certainly speak from perspective. I did almost all one-on-one personal training for about a year from the summer of ’05 to the summer of ’06, when I moved to Boston and went out on my own as an independent contractor. When I arrived in Boston, all these questions on how to make it work in the semi-private model were rattling around my head. Admittedly, I entered this model cautiously, doing 50/50 private and semi-private training as I got my feet wet with it. By July of 2007, when I opened my own facility, every client was involved in the semi-private model and loving it for the affordability, camaraderie, and increased training frequency it afforded. It took time, but I’d learned the ropes. Now, three years in, I’ve taught it to an entire staff, plus the 22 interns we’ve had since we opened our doors. Looking back, I had been an idiot. I’d spent the overwhelming majority of 2003-2005 in college strength and conditioning settings – watching 18-22 year-old athletes thrive in a semi-private model (in the weight rooms, on the field/court, in the athletic training room, and in their courses and study halls). During my undergraduate years, I’d done an internship in cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation, where I watched people rehabilitate from near-death experiences – in a semi-private model. Physical therapy? Semi-private model. And, as Alwyn Cosgrove reminded me, his cancer treatments were done in a semi-private format – and he’d beaten Stage 4 cancer twice. There must be something to that. What was I missing, then? Very simply, I thought that “cueing” and “coaching” were synonymous. Basically, “cueing” amounts to knowing what to say, when to say it, and to whom to say it in order to elicit a desired change from a client. Ask anyone who has been successful in this industry, and they’ll tell you that your cues get better as you become more experienced as a coach. It’s why my staff and I can teach a new exercise to a client much faster than an intern can; we’ve built our “cueing thesaurus” to know what to say – and what to say as a modification if the first cue doesn’t get the job done. No doubt, having a good “cue” arsenal is huge. It’s essential for us in the first 8-12 weeks when we’re intensively teaching new clients technique and getting them ingrained in our system. If done correctly from the get-go, good cueing sets a client up for tremendous future success. If they know what “chest up” means on a deadlift, they’ll get it on a lunge, split-stance cable lift, or medicine ball drill. And, for me, this speaks volumes for why client retention of those who have been with us for 2-3 months or more is so imperative; they become “students of the game” and are actually easier to coach because they have more experience and a bigger exercise pool from which to draw because a) they’ve learned compound exercises (or derivatives of those exercises) and b) we’ve ironed out a lot of their imbalances. As a cool little story, since the summer of 2007, I’ve been training a kid who is has just finished his freshman year on a scholarship to pitch for a PAC-10 powerhouse. I know his college strength coach now – and he told me that this pitcher is like having an additional strength coach in the weight room. You want clients like that – because it means that you just have to write good programs, crank up the music, and continue to develop the friendships you’ve built with them. In reality, though, it isn’t always that easy. Cueing is just one piece of the coaching puzzle – and those other factors will be my focus in Part 2. - Eric Cressey
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How Do You Find Time for Everything?

It's a question I get asked quite a bit.  In fact, I was asked this very question three times this past weekend at the Perform Better Summit in Chicago.  As a little background, here's a glimpse into the different things my work entails: 1. Cressey Performance responsibilities - Generally, this is 5-8 hours of coaching per day (six days a week), plus another hour of programming.  There is also a lot of time on the phone and answering emails in there, as I am the president.  The days would be a lot shorter and simpler if I was just coaching and programming.


2. Online Consulting - I have a small group of online consulting clients on completely individualized programs all around the world. 3. Writing - This might include blogs, newsletters, or new projects (and some website work, although I outsource more of this). 4. Tech Support for Products - I don't have to worry about much of this, but it's an email or two a day.


5. Seminars - I travel 1-2 weekends per month to give seminars.  Between creating the content, traveling to the seminar location, and actually delivering the talk, they are a big time investment. 6. Continuing Education - While this is listed as the sixth role, it's actually something that belongs at the top of the priorities list.  I spend a lot of time reading, watching DVDs/webinars, and just talking to coaches, therapists, and doctors to get better at what I do. For most fitness professionals, life is really as simple at #1 and #6.  Things change if you decide that you want to be someone whose goal is to be an industry leader and add to the body of knowledge, and develop additional revenue streams. What is noticeably absent from this list, but a new challenge I face, is the fact that I become a homeowner this spring.  With everything that needs to be done when you buy a house, it would have been very easy to get sidetracked mowing lawns, painting walls/ceilings, etc. - but I didn't miss a beat.  Why not? First, we bought a house that was built in 2009 - so there wasn't a whole lot of fixing-up that needed to be done.  Still, though, it was still pretty "bare bones."


Second, and more importantly, I outsourced as much as I possibly could.  I was joking with my dad last weekend that he taught me everything I need to know about tools: "Hand them to someone else."  I don't have a carpenter's mindset, a green thumb, or whatever else one needs to have a pristine lawn and flawless house. We hired a landscaper.  We hired an irrigation company to set up automatic sprinklers.  We hired painters for several rooms on the interior.  And, we hired a window treatments company to get our blinds up.  Honestly, the primary thing that my fiancee and I did was the furniture shopping - and we only did that in person because we thought it would be something fun we could do together.  We've also been planning a wedding, so home-owner issues are definitely the first to get outsourced! The point is that I outsourced the stuff that was not in line with my expertise so that I could use that time to leverage my strengths.  At one of my old apartments, I remember trying to put up vertical blinds.  It took me four hours to do one window, it came out uneven, and I wound up damaging the wall so badly that it knocked a few hundred bucks off my security deposit when I moved out a year later.  How's that for a productive use of time? This time around, we paid a small fortune to have it done professionally, and the two guys installed blinds in eleven rooms in all in under 90 minutes this morning.  They came out looking great - and the best part was that I wrote two programs and a blog and answered several emails during that time period. So, my new answer to the "How do you find time for everything?" question is going to be: "I only find time for things at which I'm good. Someone else does the other stuff." Think Bill Gates mows his own lawn? Will Lebron James use TurboTax next April 15? Does Donald Trump mop the floors at any of the 500 or so buildings he owns? While I only borrowed bits and pieces from The 4-Hour Workweek, this was the most valuable takeaway for me: leveraging your strengths is a lot more important than bringing up your weaknesses.  And, as I look back at my most productive periods in this industry, they have all come when I had no distractions and was just in "tunnel vision" mode on something that allowed me to leverage my strengths.


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Alwyn Cosgrove on “The Evolution of Personal Training”

Alwyn Cosgrove has been a great friend and mentor to me for almost five years now.  I can directly attribute a lot of the success I've had to the fantastic advice he's given me on the business side of things.  Since Alwyn just released a DVD (of a seminar I had the privilege of attending), I thought it'd be the perfect time to chat with him about the new product and some other thoughts he has on the state of the fitness industry.  If you make a living training clients, this is must-view material.


EC: In your experience, what are the biggest mistakes aspiring fitness professionals make? AC: Here are my top four: 1) They don't understand that they are running a business!!!! Most fitness professionals are running a hobby and trying to make money at it. That will never work long-term. Being a great trainer is imperative in today's market. You aren't going to succeed unless your skill-set is of a high enough level. However, it's not just training skills - that's only part of the big picture - the "client fulfillment "portion. It's also business skills. Michael Gerber - the author of The E-myth - calls this the seven essential skills: Leadership, Marketing, Money, Management, Lead Generation, Lead Conversion and Client Fulfillment.


You have to understand how to lead and motivate your team: leadership. You have to understand marketing, which results in lead generation. You have to have good sales skills - which converts leads to customers. And you have to be able to understand cash flow and operating expenses before you can create a profit. You need to have mindset AND skill-set before you can be successful. But skill-set consists of seven areas. Make sure you are studying each area (not just training) equally. 2) They don't understand the client mindset. Ask yourself these questions if you're a trainer: Do you think a good fitness professional is a valuable investment? Do you think a good fitness professional can get someone to their goals faster than they can get there on their own? Are you personally in the greatest physical condition of your life right now? Are you ecstatic with your own strength levels and conditioning? I bet that 80-90% of those who answered will say - yes, yes, no, no. So - extrapolating from that - what is YOUR trainers name? Why did you hire him or her? I bet most trainers don't even have training partners - never mind a coach to help them with programming and getting to the next level. In other words - if you tell me right now that you DON'T have a trainer - despite not being in the best shape of your life, not being ecstatic at your own fitness, and believing that a good trainer can get you there faster than you can alone, and is valuable --- then deep down - you don't believe that a trainer IS valuable. What I'm getting at - is WHY, despite all the knowledge and beliefs and goals, most trainers haven't hired (or used) another trainer to help them? It's the same reason prospects aren't hiring you -- they aren't in great shape, and maybe don't know (as we do) how much a trainer can help? Lawyers hire other lawyers. Barbers hire other barbers. Doctors see other doctors. So list the reasons why you didn't hire a trainer personally. That's why people don't hire you.  And that's the WHY we need to figure out for your next career move: the client mindset. "If you can see John Smith through John Smith's eyes, you can sell John Smith what John Smith buys." 3) They Don't Create TOMA. Have you ever had a client tell you that "I'm definitely going to hire you as my trainer, but I am going to lose ten pounds first!" I'm sure you have. But while we think it's crazy, it's a sign that you don't have weight loss TOMA in your area. TOMA is Top Of Mind Awareness. Are you the first person or business that jumps into a client's mind when they think "weight loss?" Or "sports conditioning?" Quick, name a soft drink company. I bet it was either Coca-Cola or Pepsi. What is the number one sneaker brand? I bet you came up with one of three names: Nike, Adidas, or Reebok.


Your goal with all of your marketing is to position yourself, in your area, for your target market as the "top of mind awareness" obvious choice for that particular topic. A lot of fitness businesses get hurt here by dividing their efforts and marketing to different demographics - and that's ok - but two demographics should mean two different campaigns - not two "half" campaigns. What do you want to be known for? This is something that you've actually done very well, Eric (probably before you actually had your business systems in place). Think baseball conditioning in Boston and Cressey Performance springs to mind. 4. They don't find mentors and coaches for the business side, and they don't mastermind with like-minded successful individuals. Okay, this is really two for one! Mentoring: "All successful individuals have coaches" - James Malinchak. Think about this: boxing and MMA are probably the ultimate "one-on-one" sports. Two guys, with no equipment (or even shirts!) face one another. But when you look back to the corner - there are usually three or more guys helping him. They include a coach (known as the "chief second") and several other teammates. To me, a mentor is nothing more than someone who is climbing or has climbed the mountain before you, and has reached back and is helping you up, way faster and easier than you can climb yourself. One of the fastest ways to success in any field is to find a mentor who will help you, and a "mastermind" group of likeminded people with whom to network. The key phrase there is "likeminded;" we've all had the situation of asking a family member or friend for feedback on a project and being shut down when they don't realize or understand the big picture. You need to be around people who are thinking the same way as you. Your mind is like a garden. Be careful what you plant in there. EC: That's fantastic stuff - and #4 certainly hits home for me, as you've been my primary mentor in getting my facility off the ground.  To that end, while all my education came via email exchanges between the two of us, you've now made it easier for folks to learn what's made you successful by introducing some products. Most recently, there is "The Evolution of Personal Training" DVD, and just a few months ago, you released "55 Fitness Business Tips for Success" book.  I've checked out each of them, and in my eyes, people should buy both!  However, can you go into a bit of detail on the difference between the two?


AC: The DVD is a live shoot of a presentation I did for Perform Better this year where I really go into detail about how to evolve your business in today's economy. The old methods of one-on-one training, weight-training-only workouts, and charging people for a "ten-pack" of sessions are just inadequate or outdated practices. I cover a few things in more detail - like transitioning into a semi-private model, repositioning yourself as a consultant as opposed to a "rep counter," and understanding the client or prospect mindset. If you don't understand that, you're dead in the water as a business owner. The book "55 Fitness Business Tips for Success" should have been titled "55 things that we did wrong when we opened our facility and somehow managed to survive, but make sure you don't repeat these!" It's kind of like a "pocket guide" to basic business tips for fitness professionals. And when I say "basic," I mean stuff everyone NEEDS to know and practice but usually don't! I tell my business coaching group to keep that book in their office and read a couple of pages every day to make sure you don't ignore anything crucial. EC: Thanks for the time, Alwyn. I'd strongly encourage those readers of mine in the fitness industry to check out these resources, as Alwyn's stuff is fantastic.  You can find out more and order at Alwyn's site.
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