20 Tips For the Rookie Trainer: Part II

In my last post I started you guys off with some tips I picked up through my first year coaching in a commercial gym. There was some big ones in there so if you missed it check it out here; https://bnurn53.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/20-tips-for-the-rookie-trainer-part-1/. Remember, they’re in no particular order. Here are my next 5.

6) Over prepare

If your idea of a good trainer is someone who just shows up, hurls a different tiring “workout” at a client full of fancy variations done at warp speed then changes it up completely for the next workout, you can either keep it up, along with that attrition rate, or decide to be just a bit better and take this to heart. I cannot stress enough how important preparation is. This is where your simplification with systems comes in handy. We all know that for every hour in the gym there is an hour spent outside the gym, programming, traveling, scheduling, setting up, blah, blah. If you have systems in place you can decrease that prep time tenfold, but I digress. There is always, for me at least, a sort of anxiousness that comes about when beginning to train with a new client. While this is normal and healthy, a sort of eustress, I have also caught myself stressing negatively throughout the process. I have found, however, that this stress is entirely hinging on one thing, my preparation. I will admit that in the beginning, and even now on the rare occasion, I find myself going into the first session with a new client or the first session of a new cycle with an old client, with no written plan. Don’t get me wrong, I typically have a plan of attack but actually having a hard and fast outline of a particular session is key especially when you have 8 clients in a day with varying needs. What I resulted to often in the beginning was cramming late at night for a 6 AM client or on my lunch break for an early evening client. Now, you’ll probably laugh at me and say “well I got an A in Anatomy and Phys and I crammed late nights for every test!”. Yea well, imagine your taking 8 tests that you have to cram for every single day . That stress becomes unbearable after a week or so, just ask my loved ones. Since we are all about limiting stress in our daily lives and therefore our business, please be a little proactive. Try to pick one or 2 days, Sundays are great, where you sit for an hour, map out each clients path for the next month, type it up and forget about it until its time to train. I’ve gotten my programming days down to 2-3 per month and it has helped tremendously. This really goes for any venture, honestly. If you have ever presented to a group, you know the feeling. If you over prepare in advance, however, you will be able to coach, present or whatever without stress, enabling you to use every bit of talent available and provide any product.

7) Be genuinely genuine 

This is something that at the very base, just cannot be taught, at least not right away. Selfish individuals make selfish coaches and this is not an industry where selfishness prevails. What we do, at its core, is help people. Even if you are not the most knowledgeable coach in the world, you must at some level care for the individual you are working with. While you can prey on the unsuspecting and get by scamming people into buying packages they don’t need or tricking them into thinking you’re something you are not, most people can sniff out your bullshit. Most people are buying into you as a coach and a person, not just a workout you may or may not provide (or at least they should). I advise that you reinforce your relationship with your client beyond the confines of your facility. Go the extra 10% to separate yourself from other people/things in their lives. My goal is to become, or help their health become, the third most important thing in their life behind family and work. Ideally health would be second but I’ll take what I can get! You can do this with simple actions. Send a thank you email after they commit to you stating how much you appreciate their trust reinforcing that they made the right decision. Remember their birthdays, holidays and send cards. Emails are okay but cards just go the extra mile. All in all appreciate what your client is about to go through, let your true colors shine. If your true color is black, go into sales.

8) Empower your clients

“I don’t give my clients too much information because then they might not need me at some point”. God, can you be anymore of a cynic? This is a sure fire way to lose, or never gain, your clients’ trust. Your job is to help this person that has committed a ton of time, money and energy to you. If you withhold information in the fear that they might leave you, you never had them in the first place. I feel the more I teach them to think critically and solve their own issues in terms of training and nutrition the more inclined they are to stay. If your clients are with you for any appreciably amount of time, they will start thinking like you, acting like you and even critiquing others, including coaches, at all times. I know I have done my job when a client can, and does automatically, look at someone walking through the gym and point out a postural dysfunction and ascertain as to how they got that way. I feel like a proud father when a client sees someone squatting and says “let’s move over there so I can show them how to really squat”. Clients are kind of like children in that you raise them over great amounts of time, help guide them to a better path then you release them to the world better than when they started. If you raised them correctly, they will always come back, just as children do. 

9) Question authority

Another big one. This doesn’t just apply to a commercial gym but to life in general. Growing up, I was always taught to respectfully question those of a “higher authority”. Teachers, coaches, police officers, bosses etc. In terms of a commercial facility, don’t be afraid to dig deeper when something doesn’t seem right. I can say from experience that managers/bosses will always paint a beautiful picture of what it is to work for them, then slowly start to take advantage of you (or all at once as I’ve seen). As you will soon find out, there is much more to your job then just coaching. These extras should be clearly stated upon hiring and you should look to develop a deep understanding of what they expect from you. Anything else, question it. If you are a competent coach, as I assume you are because you are reading this, you are an asset to any facility and you need to treat yourself as such. While you are employed by the gym, you are your own business. For the most part, corporate, and your manager as an extension, couldn’t care less about you or your clients as long as you help them hit their numbers. Understand your responsibilities as a coach, complete them to the best of your abilities and know that your loyalty is first to your clients.

10) Get used to the money 

This is quite possibly the most over looked and underrated part of the whole coaching process. Coming into the coaching world, you should have an idea of what others charge, what other gyms pay their trainers and most of all what you are worth. First off, you should understand where commercial training rates come from. They actually come from independent rates. Meaning, if you, as a quality trainer, were to train independently you would have to charge a certain amount in a given area to support yourself. Gyms see this but hire lower quality trainers and give them a 30-50% cut. A quality coach is worth much more than their “cut” but that is the price of the opportunity to get in front of thousands of people instantly. Regardless, it is what it is and you cannot change the rates but you do have to get used to them. One of the biggest hurdles I had to get over, and I see new coaches struggling with, is asking for money. The amount of money clients drop on training seems to be astronomical to someone who has never made that type of money, or spent that type of money in a single hour. Get over it! Personal training is actually one of the cheapest services in terms of hourly rates. Compare $90 (around the going rate for a single session in my area) to $150 to see a shrink. Not so bad is it? The bottom line is, if you let up even for a second, that your product is not worth what you are asking for, a potential client may not commit. Know that you are worth it, and even if you don’t think you are, fake it until you make it. Do NOT say things like “I know its expensive” or act like you have never gotten anyone else to pay that before. Most people seeking personal training have an understanding of what it costs in their area and won’t be surprised by your rates. Furthermore, most people looking for training are much more secure financially then you can comprehend this early in your career. Even so, you will inevitably come across someone who genuinely cannot afford it in which case you need to figure out a plan that will work best for them (do NOT bully them into something they cannot sustain or it will be a source of contention for as long as you train them). In all honesty, If $90 is too expensive, so is $80. Meaning, if your potential client can comfortably pay $80 a session they should have no problem with the extra $10 if your product is worth the $80. On the other hand people will shop around and compare your rates to others. If Joe Schmo charges $80 but you charge $90 and that is the deciding factor for the choice of Schmo over yourself, you did a terrible job of showcasing and selling your product (more on this in the next installment!). So, help your clients figure out what their health is worth to them (its a lot more than they/you think it is) and get comfortable asking for it.


Stick around for the next 5!


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