As we have grown in the industry I have had the blessings of meeting wonderful fitness pros from all different arenas of training. The greatest part of having had the impact on the industry that we have been fortunate to achieve is being able to share these great fitness pros with you!
Even about things that really don’t have a lot to do with directly with DVRT. I say directly because our whole goal with DVRT is to help enthusiasts and fitness pros alike experience great success. Let’s face it, if you have a training facility that isn’t being financially successful then it can be difficult to impossible to have the impact on others that drives most of us fitness pros.
That is what made me excited to have NSCA state director and someone who has been one of those driven fitness pros for almost the past 30 years share some really special content about being successful in what is in reality a very tough business in fitness. I am grateful to Douglas Sheppard of J and D Fitness sharing both this great article and interview as we look to make 2020 so great for all of you.
Doug has so much great information we split it up into two parts! Check out the first part of his interview HERE and he gave us some great thoughts of what it is to be fitness pros in this blog post. Hope you all get inspired to keep challenging ourselves to do and reach our best!
It’s a common cliché, but I feel that “the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know”. Growing up literally in the fitness world (I’m 49yrs old and have been a certified personal trainer for 29 of those years), I’ve experienced and have observed the maturation of a trainer. I like to draw an analogy of a trainer to Luke Skywalker of the Star Wars series. I’m a big Star Wars fan, as it was the first movie I ever saw in the big theatre, so bear with me.
Many trainers are exposed to fitness similar to young Luke was exposed to be a fighter pilot on the planet of Tatooine. The passion for strength training and lifting weights is initially personal and for a trainer’s own enjoyment. As Luke grew from a farm-boy to fighter-pilot and then into a Jedi knight, so too does the person who goes from working out on their own to striving to train others and becoming a master coach. I say this with tongue in cheek, but there is an evolution a coach goes through.
The first part is realizing that it’s not what you can do, but rather what you can coach. Greg Popovich and Bill Belichick are both considered two of the best coaches of all time. Neither are known for their physical gifts, but more for what they can get others to achieve. To be consistent, we should establish what is a coach. In this instance, I prefer the Cambridge definition:
“A coach is also an expert who trains someone learning or improving a skill, esp. one related to performing:”
There in lies the first obstacle that many young trainers must address- becoming an expert. In this era of expediting or hacking and internet gurus, the required time of becoming an expert cannot be bypassed. Initially working for someone provides a vital opportunity for an inexperienced trainer to learn. You must master your craft first and that means getting in reps. This is especially difficult for many fitness pros today because the ability to get one’s own facility is MUCH easier than it was when I began in the industry!
Malcolm Gladwell made the term “the 10,000-hour rule” famous from his NY Times best seller, Outliers. In the book, he uses various examples of people we consider masters of their craft (the Beatles in music, Bill Gates in programming and business, Bobby Fischer in chess) and discusses that we shouldn’t be surprised by their achievements based upon the time they put in practicing. “It takes more than imagination and your ability to assert yourself, it takes time”, states Gladwell. His theory is that you will achieve the level of mastery after spending 10,000 hours of practicing a craft. I couldn’t agree more. It’s in this process that the trainer will not only start to grow in understanding of their trade but in value of what they can earn.
This brings us to my next point, that all trainers are initially free-lancers. They provide a service, they get paid. They don’t work, they don’t get paid. The more they know, the more they will be able to command. Unless they have created a system- such as the DVRT system or suspension training as used with the TRX, you’re simply implementing the system others have created to perform a task. This is the difference between a free-lancer and an entrepreneur. The entrepreneur creates, the free-lancer masters the skill. It’s critical that they go through the process of mastering these systems so they can predict an expected outcome. Making judgements or assuming things you have yet to experience only derails true learning.
I know 10,000 hours sounds like a lot, but let’s break that down to a window of time. You spend 20 hours a week working for someone else training people. Along with that you spend 5 hours a week training yourself. At that conservative pace, you would reach 7,500 hours in 6 years. Using the Gladwell rule, still not a master, but well upon your way. Along this journey, you would work with people of different demographics and limitations. Similar to a tech company collecting data before they bring their product to market, you are gathering processes to use. There’s a reason it takes a lot of money and time before a drug is released by a pharmaceutical company. They need to guarantee an outcome.
I shared this process because many coaches want to learn “tricks” of how to get clients and how to create unique Facebooks ads first. The best sales funnel you can implement is to learn how to help someone move better and drop 20 pounds in 3 months, I guarantee you’ll get business. There is still NO replacement for referrals and if you aren’t getting them from your clients you must search why not?!
The business of personal training is predicated on the foundation that you will be able to get someone results. Before you create a sales-funnel, you must master this first. Yes, going to courses is important, but spending time implementing, working, and thinking about the material you learn is even MORE important. Let me provide some real data to validate my reasoning on this.
Along with being a coach, I own and operate a successful boutique studio in Las Vegas (a New York boy in Las Vegas, you can imagine;). We provide both small group and private one-on-one training. We recently celebrated being open 4 years, not only surviving, but actually thriving! Let’s face it, being open and thriving are two different things!
Here’s an exercise you can do once you have reached at least 35-50% capacity. It will let you know where you should focus your efforts and marketing energies for client lead generation. What you’re looking for is a trend. I took 20 of the top revenue generating members of our studio. People who purchase our core product (semi-private training). We have memberships that range from $129 to $409 a month, based upon frequency of training and duration of membership agreement. The criteria to qualify in this analysis was that they had to spend over $379 a month and been a member for over 2 years. That’s $9,000 collected over 2 years. I then categorized how this person learned about our facility (walk-in, Google search, familiar with brand name, referral). Eleven of these members were from referral sources (current members, physicians, and past members). I’ve adopted member referrals as our top key performance indicator (KPI) for lead generators.
How do you go about doing the same? How do you start to really go from being a fitness pro to a business owner? It does take time and a shift in mentality. After all, most of us start off loving the fitness side and view the business side as a “necessary evil”. That is why I wanted to help other fitness pros fast track not the time becoming a great coach, but understanding how to become equally great at running their business.
For those that are interested I will be running a limited space fitness entrepreneur program in Las Vegas at my facility. I wanted to keep it small because I really want to help people and truly teach how to problem solve. That is why I’ve also kept the cost to just $99 because the industry has helped me make a better life for my family I want to do the same for others CHECK IT OUT HERE. If you can’t make it, hope you will take time to listen to our interview and our part two!