48 Questions Asked By Almost Every Trainer
Below you’ll find the valuable answers to 48 questions that are asked by almost every trainer at some point in his or her career.
We’ve covered just about everything, so odds are good that we’ve addressed your burning question or problem somewhere here.
This resource is split into the following four categories for easy reference:
Within the table of contents below you will see the categories and all questions listed within. Additionally, a polished version of this resource, called the Personal Trainer Pocketbook, has been published in paperback and Kindle format available on Amazon if you wish.
So go ahead, give it a try.
What’s your one burning question?
All Career FAQs
- 1What must you know about certifications?
- 2What type of insurance should you have-and where do you get it?
- 3How Do You Market Yourself as a Brand-New Trainer?
- 4How Much Should You Read?
- 5What Are the Best Books for Personal Trainers?
- 6Do You Actually Want More Clients?
- 7How Do You Get Clients From The Floor?
- 8How Do You Convert Clients After a Free Session?
- 9How Do You Get More Clients With Facebook?
- 10How Do You Get More Clients With Mavens?
- 11How Do You Ask For Referrals From Current Clients?
- 12How Do You Reward Referrals?
- 13How Do You Get Clients To Keep Training?
- 14How Do You Sell Personal Training?
- 15How Do You Respond To, “What Does it Cost?”
- 16How Do You Overcome The “No-Time” Objection
- 17How Do You Overcome The “I-Have-To-Think-About-It” Objection?
- 18How Do You Overcome The “Too-Expensive” Objection?
- 19How Do You Overcome The “I-Have-To-Ask-My-Spouse/Partner” Objection?
- 20How Do You Overcome The “Previous Injury” Objection?
- 21How Do You Overcome The “Bad-Experience-With-a-Trainer” Objection?
- 22How Do You Overcome a “Know-It-All” Attitude?
- 23How Do You Avoid Chasing After Clients After They Take a Break in Training?
- 24How Do You Gather Testimonials?
- 25What Should You Keep in Your Desk?
- 26How Do You Build An Efficient Schedule?
- 27How Do You Advise Clients on Nutrition?
- 28How Do You Get Clients to Follow Nutrition Advice?
- 29What Kind of Assessment Should You Be Doing?
- 30What Do You Do When Clients Keep Cancelling?
- 31How Do You Email A Former Client You Want Back?
- 32How Do You Appear Like an Expert?
- 33How Do You Help Your Client Set Goals?
- 34Should You Periodize Your Workouts?
- 35How Do You Teach Clients Gym Etiquette?
- 36How Do You Establish Rapport?
- 37How Do You Avoid Giving “Just A Workout”?
- 38How Do You Progress/Regress an Exercise?
- 39Should You Train Family/Friends For Free (Or a Discount)?
- 40How Do You Find My Niche?
- 41How Do You Raise Your Rates?
- 42What Are Your Options For Multiple Income Streams?
- 43Why Should You Consider Online Training?
- 44How Do You Train Clients Online?
- 45Why Should You Start a Blog?
- 46How Do You Develop An Online Fitness Product?
- 47What “Secrets” Should You Know?
On Starting Your Career Off Right
On Marketing, Getting, and Keeping Clients
- 1Do You Actually Want More Clients?
- 2How Do You Get Clients From The Floor?
- 3How Do You Convert Clients After a Free Session?
- 4How Do You Get More Clients With Facebook?
- 5How Do You Get More Clients With Mavens?
- 6How Do You Ask For Referrals From Current Clients?
- 7How Do You Reward Referrals?
- 8How Do You Get Clients To Keep Training?
- 9How Do You Sell Personal Training?
- 10How Do You Respond To, “What Does it Cost?”
- 11How Do You Overcome The “No-Time” Objection
- 12How Do You Overcome The “I-Have-To-Think-About-It” Objection?
- 13How Do You Overcome The “Too-Expensive” Objection?
- 14How Do You Overcome The “I-Have-To-Ask-My-Spouse/Partner” Objection?
- 15How Do You Overcome The “Previous Injury” Objection?
- 16How Do You Overcome The “Bad-Experience-With-a-Trainer” Objection?
- 17How Do You Overcome a “Know-It-All” Attitude?
- 18How Do You Avoid Chasing After Clients After They Take a Break in Training?
- 19How Do You Gather Testimonials?
On Day-To-Day Success
- 1What Should You Keep in Your Desk?
- 2How Do You Build An Efficient Schedule?
- 3How Do You Advise Clients on Nutrition?
- 4How Do You Get Clients to Follow Nutrition Advice?
- 5What Kind of Assessment Should You Be Doing?
- 6What Do You Do When Clients Keep Cancelling?
- 7How Do You Email A Former Client You Want Back?
- 8How Do You Appear Like an Expert?
- 9How Do You Help Your Client Set Goals?
- 10Should You Periodize Your Workouts?
- 11How Do You Teach Clients Gym Etiquette?
- 12How Do You Establish Rapport?
- 13How Do You Avoid Giving “Just A Workout”?
- 14How Do You Progress/Regress an Exercise?
- 15Should You Train Family/Friends For Free (Or a Discount)?
On Turning The Job Into a Career
What Must You Know About Certifications?
Before getting into the personal trainer certificate comparison to help you decide what is the best personal trainer certification, I want to first, discuss what a certification is really good for. The answer may surprise you.
Personal training is an unregulated industry. This means that your 90-year-old grandmother can say she’s a personal trainer. The guy beside you on the bus killing pigs with birds can say he’s a personal trainer.
The reason why there are so many certification options in most countries is due to a lack of governmental regulation. So consider a certification’s true value before you spend your valuable education dollars, both on your path to becoming a trainer, and as you grow within the industry.
And note: I have no affiliation with any certification. Everything that I’m about to say is the unbiased truth.
Your clients don’t care about your certification.
Sure, they might nod their heads when you tell them that you have the best personal trainer certification, but they’ve got nothing to gauge their opinion on. Clients care about the results that you can get them. No matter how good you are at sales and personal trainer marketing, your success, or failure, is solely dependent on the results that you can help your clients achieve.
The best personal trainers are those who have the combined knowledge and passion to provide a high-quality service. A piece of paper doesn’t give you either of these.
However, getting a top personal trainer certification can be a means to get your foot in the door. Most gyms won’t hire you without one. If you’re independent, many insurance companies won’t cover you without one. Occasionally gyms ask their trainers to obtain a particular cert. If there’s somewhere specific that you want to work, ask if the gym has a preference.
Certification ≠ Qualification
A certification will not prepare you for training clients. To do a great job, you’ve got to have tons of practical and varied experience. This is no different from any other profession. An accountant isn’t ready to take on a wide variety of cases right away. Upon graduating and getting a job, he or she ideally goes to work at a firm under the supervision of a mentor or manager.
Perhaps more important than choosing the best personal training certification is finding a place to work that has the best opportunity for growth. This means two things:
- There’s a manager or mentor who supports you and allows you to ask questions.
- You get the opportunity to get your hands dirty and work with a ton of different clients.
Always remember that it’s OK to say that you don’t know as long as you follow it up with, “But I’m sure as hell going to find out.”
Organized Knowledge = Another Potential Certification Benefit
Information overload is a serious issue these days. Disjointed, discombobulated information is abundant and it’s often hard to figure out what to do with what we learn.
When you register for a certification, no matter how specialized, an expert has taken the time to consider the methodology, gather all appropriate research, and combine it all into a system for learning. In essence, attaining a certification can save you time, which, after all, is your most valuable asset.
What is the best certification for personal trainers?
Here’s where I give you the answer that you’re looking for. Unfortunately, I’m going to give you a poor answer: There is no “best” certification.
I’ve yet to come across any cert that truly stands out. Having spent $10,000-$15,000 on my education each year when I actively trained clients, my best recommendation is to view certs as stepping stones for future knowledge acquisition.
For many, the best choice is to get a cert, get your foot in the door, gain experience, and let your passion dictate your qualifications moving forward.
The two links below contain comparison charts that we researched and compiled comparing different certs:
What Type of Insurance Should You Have—and Where Do You Get it?
While you can shop around for insurance (basically any insurance company will offer it), all major certification companies offer it. Call or email first and ask who its partner insurance company is. Usually its partner will have a discount and is used to dealing with trainers.
There are two types of insurance available to you. The first is liability insurance. General liability insurance will cover you if your client gets hurt by an accident, like if she slips and falls in the gym. It will not cover you if you’re negligent and/or overstep your boundaries, and this is where you need to be careful. As there’s no official “scope of practice” for trainers, you could be liable with general coverage even if you do what you would consider to be within your job description.
For example, you could be in trouble for suggesting a radical nutrition plan to a client who has an adverse reaction to it or a client gets injured doing a back squat while fatigued. Make sure you know what your general liability insurance covers.
For most trainer’s malpractice or professional liability coverage is advised. It will provide better coverage for anything that might happen over the course of your career. Be sure to ask your insurance advisor on the differences.
The other type of insurance that you might consider is disability coverage. Since your livelihood depends on you being able-bodied, an injury could be detrimental. These plans differ widely in both cost and coverage, so I can’t give specific advice but will tell you that I decided against disability insurance in my career. I found the coverage to be poor (it didn’t cover me until I was off work for 6 months or more, for example) and I didn’t have dependents at the time. You may make a different choice.
How Do You Market Yourself as a Brand-New Trainer?
There’s a separate section on this page teaching you how to get more personal training clients. For now I want to discuss the importance of looking busy. Perception quickly becomes reality. If you carry yourself confidently and create the perception that you are in demand, you soon will be.
There are a couple of tricks to look busy even when you aren’t.
The first is to fill your schedule at least partially with fictitious appointments. Have an iPad with a Google calendar or whatever schedule that you use (on your phone works fine) with you at all times. Put a number of fictitious sessions in each day. This way when you speak to a new client, you can make an effort to show them your phone/schedule at some point in the conversation, and he’ll see that you’ve got a lot booked. It’s a touch dishonest but it works. You don’t even have to say that these are related to your personal training business; simply blocking off time with a colour will work.
To follow on the previous point, when scheduling an appointment with a prospective client, always offer two times. Never ask for a “time that works for you.” First, this puts the onus on the client to find a time. Second, it communicates that you’ve got nothing to do—and if you’re not in demand, why would anybody want to train with you?
Another trick that worked wonders for me was that I figured out a way to always be on the floor working with somebody. While wearing my trainer uniform, I’d make sure that I was with a member, friend, or client every second that I was in the gym. I called up friends and asked them to work out free of charge, or I’d walk around with a textbook asking members if they would want a free stretch because I’m studying some material. Busy begets busy. Never let people see you bored looking for something to do.
Finally, and perhaps unrelated to the above points, decide on a need in your area and develop a program surrounding it. Let’s say that it’s February and your neighborhood has a lot of young professionals. Maybe develop a “3 months to T-shirt time” program. Hire a designer on eLance or fiverr to mock up some flyers and go to a local print shop. Promote your new program by putting flyers up in the neighborhood. The program is a specific way to get potential clients in the door. When they come in, convert them into new clients and either take them through a template program that you’ve developed or train them like other clients. The program gives them a reason to choose you over somebody else.
How Much Should You Read?
This is a tricky question. You shouldn’t be asking how much to read so much as what books for personal trainers to read and how to identify the difference between reading/studying for your personal interest versus professional development. One of the things that helped catapult my career was a rule I made early on to read for an hour a day, every day, Monday to Friday, for professional development. That was the minimum. For many years I ended up reading 7-10hrs/week on average.
While I thought that I was reading for professional development, I look back and now recognize that much of the personal trainer reading that I was doing was done out of interest. Most clients’ programming requires pretty basic knowledge of exercise, biomechanics, and physiology. Their success is dependent on your ability to get them to want to comply with your guidelines. This means that you need to learn how to be a great coach, which requires knowledge of psychology and self-efficacy –– something that I discuss in detail in my book, Ignite the Fire: The Secrets to Building a Successful Personal Training Career.
I still believe that reading a minimum of an hour a day is a good guideline but only if that reading is material that will benefit your client. Learning about something as obscure and narrow-focused like the specifics of how branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) affect the P13K-mTor rapamyacin signaling system isn’t going to benefit your client much. It might be interesting to you, which is awesome, but it’s not going to help you in your career and increase your personal trainer salary.
It’s also important to note that knowledge is only power if acted upon. It’s more important to spend time applying the lessons from your many books than it is to read more. A solution might be to create a study group of local trainers that meet up once every two weeks to discuss and practice the lessons from the material that you all read.
According to PTDC coach Mark Young, there are 3 things to consider every time that you encounter something to read for professional development:
1. Is the content relevant to my personal training business or my day-to-day activities with my clients?
If the content is not relevant to them or your business then you don’t need to waste your time reading it. Of course, being that anything exercise-or nutrition-related CAN be related to your clients you could pretty much stretch your definition of what fits so you can continue to read nearly everything.
But if your clients aren’t doing pause-rest Bulgarian lunges with a somersault to a half twist, don’t read it. If it is something of personal interest to you, then bookmark it for later and read it at a time that isn’t supposed to be set aside for professional development.
2. Is the content valid?
At this point you’ll need to do some investigation on the points made in each piece of writing to determine whether these are generally scientifically accepted or merely the musings of an Internet fitness guru. You’ll need to consult research and reason, while discounting logical fallacies, to come to a conclusion about whether the points are legit. Learning how to analyze fitness research is a must.
Once you start to recognize people whose facts are continually off-base, you’ll know that they aren’t reliable sources. And you’ll come to know those who are reliable and perhaps begin to be a little more lenient with fact-checking when reading their material.
3. How does this fit in my model or system?
Say you read an article on a single-leg training variation that you haven’t seen before. You’ve determined that this variation would probably be a good fit for your clients and you’ve validated the claims that it burns more fat per workout than a crate of ephedrine. You now need to determine where this fits in the scheme of your client’s programming.
Does the move go before or after step-ups? Is it a progression for something or a regression from something else? Do you use it only in fat-burning programs or in hypertrophy programs too? What rep ranges would be appropriate for this exercise?
Plug it in where it belongs and actually use it.
What Are the Best Books for Personal Trainers?
Trainers should split their reading time 50/50 between fitness and business books.
I decided on sharing my top 10 recommendations for upping your fitness knowledge and business acumen. Every one of these books has had a significant impact on me, my business, and the people around me. Some will offer you strategies, others will get you to think differently, and the rest will get you to see the world around you in a different light.
Do You Actually Want More Clients?
This section is written by business coach Brett Jarman
Personal trainers often struggle to build their own businesses, even if they do a great job with their clients.
This results in personal pain and frustration, money worries, and confidence issues. It can even affect your ability to stay in business.
You might get anxious when taking on a new client or when a current client is up for a renewal. You might compromise on booking times and cancellation policies or bend over too much to accommodate the customer—at your own expense.
You may discount or take on clients you know aren’t a fit because you “really need the money.” The end result is a fragmented workweek, irregular cash flow, and clients you’d rather not have.
Click the link below to figure out how to decide whether or not you actually want more clients:
How To Get Clients From the Floor
This section is written by influence expert Sharí Alexander.
Your client roster is looking a little bit thinner than you’d like. It’s that time again. Time to sell.
PTDC has some great resources on sales techniques for when you sit down with your prospect and get them to answer the intake questionnaire. I want to offer a few tips for what you can do before then; those moments and conversations that will get them into your office for the intake.
If you need a prospecting pool, you need look no further than the gym floor.
Okay, I can already feel the tension coming from you. Approaching people on the floor is scarier than cold emails or cold calling. It means you’d have to, like, talk to strangers and stuff. Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you to suck it up and just approach people. That’s a shotgun approach. I want to help you be a sniper.
Learn the entire system via the link below:
How do You Convert Clients After a Free Session?
Think of a free session as a way to show off your talents. At the end of it, you’ll present options for the client to sign up and train with you. But before doing that, pay attention to the session structure.
First, offer them a bottle of water and a towel. Initiating the meeting with a gift starts an unconscious reciprocity relationship. Even if your gym doesn’t supply these things, go the extra 10 percent and bring them in yourself.
Next, take 10-20 minutes going over the person’s medical history and goals. Ideally he will have filled out all documentation in advance. During this time, pay special attention to any emotional reasons for him being there. Why does he really want to improve his fitness?
You don’t have to amaze him with a thorough and well-thought-out plan during the actual workout. Put yourself in your client’s shoes. He wants to get a good workout in and feel comfortable with you. Tell him that you’re going to go through a workout with him for the next 30 minutes. To judge exertion, I advise using the Rating of Perceived Exertion (“RPE”) scale. Ask your client throughout the workout how he feels on a scale of 20 how challenged he’s feeling so you can quickly adapt the workout.
The workout itself will change depending on your client’s goals but try to keep him moving. Even with a hypertrophy client, have him do stretches or pre-hab (exercises and mobility work that helps protect clients against problem that they may be susceptible to), between sets. When explaining the exercises, always relate them back to the client’s emotional goals.
After the workout is done, bring him to an office, close the door, and ask him to sit down. Instead of asking open-ended questions, ask questions that he’s likely to say “yes” to. For instance, don’t ask, “how was the workout?” Instead ask, “Did you enjoy the workout?”
After one or two “yes” responses, pivot to your sales proposition. A simple line like “I’d love to help you achieve your goal [be specific] and understand that [list limitations]. In my professional opinion, there are two great options where I can help you achieve the results that you’re looking for.”
Take out a professional sales sheet with your packages and list out options A or B and say, “Which one can I get you started on today?”
Giving the client a decision between two options shifts the decision from a “yes/no” response to an “A/B” response. At this point, the client will either accept an option or object. Address the objection [you’ll find sections on how to address specific objections later on this page], and continue on with the sales proposition. If he accepts, take the payment, organize the paperwork, and book the first 2 sessions.
How Do You Get More Clients With Facebook?
In a few minutes a day, you can get personal training clients from Facebook. You can do it for free and without being “spammy” by taking advantage of connections that you currently have. If you’re looking to brand a business, a professional page might be a good idea but for most individual trainers a personal account is all that you need. Here’s how:
1. Gather as many friends on Facebook as you can.
Do this with your existing account or set up a new personal account to keep it separate from your “real” friends. There are 3 approaches to gathering more loose connections:
- Friend everybody that you meet.
- Search Facebook for people based on your years of high school and college and ask people you knew back then.
- Search through the friends of your existing friends and add anybody who you’ve met.
2. Post a fitness “tip of the day.”
This is a short tip every day about something health-or fitness-related. Start it with “fitness tip of the day” and post something every day around the same time. At the bottom of the tip include a “call to action” for people to message you if they have any questions relating to health or fitness. In addition to the daily tips, share interesting articles by others a few times a week.
Your goal is to stay at the top of your Friends’ minds as a fitness expert. It’s not to influence or educate friends. Consistency is more important than anything else.
3. Celebrate your clients achievements (optional).
If you can publicly celebrate a current client achievement, do it 1-3 times per week. Congratulate him for weight loss or her for a big deadlift. Ideally you’ll include pictures (make sure to get permission from your client first).
If you do these things consistently, you’ll have people reaching out to you with questions. Always aim to get them on the phone within 24 hours of them reaching out to you. Respond to any question with, “Great question but, like so many things having to do with health and fitness, ‘it depends.’ How about we jump on a 15-minute call so I can figure out a bit more about you and give you a great answer. How does [LIST TWO TIMES] work for you?”
How Do You Get More Clients With Mavens?
A maven is a person in a position of power in your neighborhood. Mavens are influential in that they maintain a significant number of connections, and their recommendations are trusted. Establishing and maintaining a consistent relationship with some select “hidden” mavens in your neighborhood is a great way to become the “go-to” trainer in your area and have a continual stream of referrals coming in.
A relationship is a two-way street so it’s pertinent to have something to offer the maven in return.
Read the article below to learn how to approach the secret mavens and know how to approach them.
How Do You Ask For Referrals From Current Clients?
The first step is to do a great job. Assuming that you already do, getting more personal training referrals is both an art and a science.
The first step is to ask. Don’t be worried about hurting your existing relationship with your clients—they love and want to support you. It’s uncommon for your clients to know how the business works. So tell them. If they know that your success is dependent on referrals, they will be more open to sending you others. Yet I know that a lot of trainers feel awkward asking, so I’ll provide you with a script.
At the end of a session, either during a stretch or when the client is sitting in your office about to leave, say,
“Thanks again for your great work today! You really smashed those deadlifts. There’s something I’d love to have a quick chat with you about if that’s all right.” [Make the compliment specific and ask if it’s all right to keep him a moment longer.]
“I’ve noticed that I’m going to have some gaps in my personal training schedule coming up due to some personal issues with a couple other clients. I’m asking my clients first if they know anybody who might be interested in training. I want to make sure I keep the spots open to look after my clients’ friends and family first before marketing my personal training services to the outside world. Do you know of anybody who might be interested in training?”
(At this point your client will hopefully mention someone. If he doesn’t, no problem. Thank him for his time and say goodbye. If the client has suggested someone, ask if the person has any specific fitness goals or issues. If he says something like, “Well, he hurt his shoulder recently, you can say something like,
“Great! I have a lot of experience working with shoulder injuries and am happy to get in touch with her physio to get all of the details. Do you mind asking her for permission for me to call her?”
The client will say yes.
Ideally you’ll provide a takeaway as a complimentary week membership and business card or something like it for the client to pass along with some incentive—however, this isn’t necessary to obtain referrals.
Now, here’s what you’re not expecting: most of the time you will never hear about this lead again.
Your clients are busy and they forget to pass along your info. Don’t make it awkward by asking them repeatedly. Instead, follow my “referral ensure” system.
Without telling them you’re going to send it, find a great article on whatever condition was mentioned and how to rehab it. You get double points if you wrote it yourself. Send it to your client, asking him to pass it along to his friend later that night or the next day.
The material adds value to your services and provides a non-intrusive nudge to your client to pass along the info. Once your client does pass on the info, he will surely preface it with, “My trainer asked me to pass this on to you,” or better yet, “my awesome trainer asked me to pass this on to you.” In the email, ask the client if his friend will give you permission to call (because the person probably won’t call you). When you get the okay, make the call and arrange a time to meet to get more personal training clients.
How Do You Reward Referrals?
Once a client sends you a referral, you’ll want to reward it both as a thank-you to your client, and as a way to make your client want to send you more clients.
It’s become common practice to reward a referral with a simple free session or something similar. This is a terrible referral incentive. It’s not memorable, personal, or special in any way. Your client has already accepted paying for session. Instead, I recommend offering as a referral incentive a “gift worth up to $X” (the amount being whatever you want to give). When clients sends you a new member or client, take the opportunity to show them that you care about them on a personal level. Use it to strengthen the relationship. If she loves the opera, get her tickets. If he is a huge football fan, get him a jersey of his favourite player.
How Do You Get Clients to Keep Training?
Attrition is natural and clients will leave. However, if you want to make it as a personal trainer, your job is to decrease this rate of attrition as much as possible.
The most important take-home in this section is that a client’s decision to purchase a new package with you is almost entirely dependent on the relationship that you’ve been able to build with him or her. Results are important, and if you’re not getting them, then there’s not much that you can do. But there are a lot of trainers who can get adequate results with most clients. What will set you apart is the relationship that you’re able to build.
These 3 systems will take 20 minutes to start and maintenance takes only minutes a day. They don’t cost anything.
Read about the 3 systems by clicking the link below:
How Do You Sell Personal Training?
Selling personal training comes down to one fundamental point—you are the product. If you can communicate confidently and succinctly and make your skill set meaningful to your prospective client, he won’t say no. Beyond that, remember that he came in to discuss personal training. The decision isn’t whether or not he wants it, but whether it’s important enough to him to invest in and whether you’re right for him.
Click the link below for a simple 5-step system for selling training:
How Do You Respond to, “What Does it Cost?”
In any sales meeting you want to avoid making a sales proposition until you’ve had a chance to build rapport with the person, communicate the specific value to her, and deal with any objections. But I get it. Clients will ask you how much training costs before you’ve had a chance to do all of the aforementioned things.
First, I suggest publishing all personal training prices on your website. This way they can check in advance if they want. I know that when I go shopping I avoid stores that don’t list prices. There’s a comfort level in knowing how much something costs before going in. In not publishing prices on your website you’re potential missing out on countless leads that you never knew existed.
Still, in a meeting, try to avoid the cost question. First, try to deflect it. If at any point she asks what your training costs, ask her something about her or her goals right away.
If she still presses you for price, there’s not much that you can do other than present the options. Have a professional rate sheet printed and put it on the table so that you can both see it. Tell her that there are 3 different options and you don’t know what’s best until you ask her a few more things—but she’s welcome to hold onto it for the time being. Then continue your conversation.
Rule #1 is to make the client feel comfortable. Rule #2 is to give yourself an opportunity to get all of the information that you need and say what you need to say before making a sales proposition. In giving your client the rate sheet to “hold on to” you make her feel more comfortable and can continue the conversation as planned. The next few sections will discuss how to deal with some other objections.
How Do you Overcome The “No-Time?” Objection?
If a client says she doesn’t have time to train, discuss different types of workout routines suited to her goals that will work within her timeline. For example, if you have a client who wants to lose fat, discuss metabolic workouts and how much more “bang for your buck” these workouts will get her as opposed to steady-state cardio.
There are a lot of ways to alter a workout to hit a specific goal. If there’s any way for you to break up the programming in a way that fits her schedule while still keeping the goal in mind, do it. This could include telling your client that home workouts will be required, for example. If there’s really no way for you to change the programming to meet her time constraints, tell your client that and be honest. Usually if you’re up front and say that her goals require more time and you’re not willing to train her under any other circumstances, she’ll make the time.
How Do You Overcome The “I-Have-to-Think-About-it” Objection?
This isn’t an objection. What does the client need to think about? Ask her and be quiet. There’s always a tangible reason behind this objection. Ask her what she needs to think about and don’t be satisfied until she gives you a tangible answer.
How Do You Overcome The “Too-Expensive” Objection?
If you’ve demonstrated your value to a potential client, cost should not even be an obstacle!
Yes, some people can’t afford a trainer, but the fact that you’re a little cheaper or more expensive than another trainer shouldn’t matter. If $80/hour is too expensive, so is $70. But if a client understands your value, she won’t balk at $80/hour versus $70/hour.
If cost comes up as an objection, first revisit all of the other objections and ensure that they’re all properly dealt with (cost often acts as the fallback if something else is an issue). If the client still objects based off of price, stay quiet for 5 seconds or so. Often she will talk herself into the sale. If that’s not happening, either present a more cost-effective option or wish her well and stay in touch.
How Do You Overcome The “I-Have-to-Ask-My-Spouse/Partner” Objection?
I’ve yet to come across a single effective method to deal with this objection. Because of that, I suggest proactively dealing with it. When setting up the sales meeting, ask the client if she has “anybody else who might be involved in the decision-making process.” This way he or she will hopefully bring his or her partner to the sales meeting and, as a result, the objection won’t come up.
How Do You Overcome The “Previous Injury” Objection?
Make sure you understand the injury. I suggest keeping a database on the most common injuries you come across. (When you come across a new injury, make sure to add it to the database.) Contained within that database should be papers varying in complexity describing the injury and rehabilitation protocols.
If you’re familiar with the injury, proceed to pummel the client with knowledge, so to speak. If you’re not familiar with the injury, use the line, “I can help you with that.” Proceed to take notes on the injury and do further research after the client’s left to determine whether you can deal with it or who to refer out to.
Either way, your goal is to have information in your file to print out to give to the client as a takeaway (with your business card stapled to it of course.)
How Do You Overcome The “Bad-Experience-With-a-Trainer” Objection?
Don’t bad-mouth anybody. Always give a former trainer the benefit of the doubt, but educate the client as to how you would treat the situation differently. Say the client didn’t feel the previous trainer listened to her. I would tell her I was sorry about that but that as a client, she can call me during the day or email me any time. Ideally in my testimonial binder, I’d have a personal training client testimonial stating how much I listened to show her.
Whatever the bad experience was, show that you’re going to deal with it differently. Be specific and don’t move on until you have shown her that you won’t repeat the same mistake her previous trainer made.
How Do You Overcome the “Know-It-All” Attitude?
While technically not an objection, I felt this bears mention because it will happen.
A fair number of clients believe they don’t need a trainer because they “know what they’re doing” and they simply ask for a workout. When I hear something like this, I get a thorough understanding of a client’s previous and current workouts and goals.
I love the “shit sandwich” approach (“SSA”) in this situation. I first learned this approach from a boss I had as a camp counselor. I was having trouble with a camper and the kid wouldn’t listen to me. Instead of focusing on the bad, my mentor suggested that I sandwich the bad with two good attributes.
After hearing the client’s program, congratulate her on something she did well, then follow with a suggestion on something she can improve, and finish with another piece of her self-directed program she did well.
While this person may not hire you immediately, the SSA doesn’t hurt their ego and allows you to show your value. Clients with a know-it-all attitude are often “type-A” personalities and need a softer approach.
I’ve been amazed at the volume of these clients who have approached me in the weeks or months that follow for training.
How Do You Avoid Chasing After Clients After They Take a Break in Training?
Over the course of a year, your clients will have scheduled breaks in their training. They may take a week or 2 off for Christmas or vacation or work or major family events like weddings.
Obviously I’m not going to tell you to tell your clients not to take a break over the holidays, but what’s important is that they start right back up when they’re back. Too often a trainer will do a poor job with his or her personal trainer schedule and the first week of January is spent chasing after clients trying to get people booked back in.
Whenever your client is going to leave for a week or more, ensure that you have their first 2 sessions booked back in for when they return. This is especially important when a lot of your clients are away at the same time, but it applies to individual clients as well.
If a client gives you resistance booking in two sessions after his break (for example, “But I’m not sure of my schedule”), simply tell him that you need to ensure that you reserve the time for him. Tell him he can cancel or change his sessions at any point.
The reason for scheduling in 2 sessions is that the first week back after a holiday is often a busy time for your clients. A hectic schedule means that they won’t respond promptly to your emails and might forget to show up or have to cancel the first session. If you’ve got a second session scheduled in, chances are that they won’t miss both.
Click the link below for further tips for managing client adherence and improving retention over breaks and holidays:
How Do You Gather Testimonials?
Every trainer should have a binder of testimonials from past and current clients. Keep these in an organized file ready to show potential clients at time. Better yet, display the binder prominently on your desk or in your gym’s waiting area for people to flip through when they’re waiting for appointments. You should have at least one testimonial showing how you dealt with every common objection you encounter.
Collecting testimonials from clients who have had a good experience with you usually doesn’t require more than you asking for them. However, to get the most from testimonials, make sure that they include certain things.
Below is a link to an article with everything you need to consider in addition to a template for you to download and give to your clients when asking for testimonials:
What Should You Keep in Your Desk?
Be prepared for anything that a crazy day in the life of a personal trainer might throw at you. Here are the 13 things that you need to keep on you, or in your desk, at all times.
How Do You Build An Efficient Schedule?
When you start training it’s a good idea to keep your schedule as open as possible in order to get busy quicker. This likely means that you’ll need to be available from early in the morning until late at night. Obviously this isn’t a long-term solution and, depending on your situation now, this might not even be possible.
In the link below I’ll teach you how to organize your schedule into blocks based off of 3 categories of clients: consistent, wishy-washy, and program design.
How Do You Advise Clients on Nutrition?
In a word—carefully.
Personal training is unregulated almost everywhere in the world. This means that you don’t have a “scope of practice”. Certain certifications may say that you have a scope, but without any governmental regulation, it has no actual backing.
So, yes, you can give nutritional advice but you’re still liable if anything goes wrong if you give advice that exceeds your government’s approved guidelines (i.e., the Canada Healthy Food Guide or My Plate in the USA). If you do work with high- performance clients or special populations that require more specific advice, it’s best to refer out.
How Do You Get Clients to Follow Nutrition Advice?
Your success hinges on your clients’ successes. Most clients will get great results by adhering to a basic, healthy diet. If you’re qualified to, you can give more specific guidelines, but my point here is that if they don’t follow solid nutrition plans, they won’t get results—and you’ll be looking for new clients. As a coach, your job is to help improve their adherence to healthy eating.
To help, I’ve laid out 3 strategies that you can read via the link below:
What Kind of Assessment Should You Do?
The push towards assessment and corrective exercise is rampant in the training industry but for the most part, 2 things are happening:
Most trainers performing assessments are improperly diagnosing issues.
Most trainers prescribing corrective exercises don’t know enough about what they are correcting to know what exercise to prescribe.
Instead of telling you which assessment you should do, I want to tell you why you do an assessment, what you should get out of it, and, most of all, how to avoid being irresponsible with your assessment.
A weekend or even week-long course is not enough for you to know whether your client is dysfunctional. A trainer’s role is similar to that of a general physician. You need to know when the client is okay to train—and how to identify a problem and who to refer your client to.
Perform the assessment that you feel is adequate for your client’s goals. Remember that the assessment is only a tool to help clients meet their goals. Your job is to focus on performance, aesthetics, or improving quality of life. Ninety-nine percent of the time, clients want to look better naked, and/or be pain-free. If a client can do all the major movements without pain, then your job is to get them to perform better, lose weight, and/or gain muscle.
Besides helping clients meet their goals, another benefit of many popular assessments is that it gives you a common language that you can speak with a physiotherapist or other practitioner that you might refer clients to. The best trainers are able to work with other practitioners. Just because a client is getting physiotherapy, for example, doesn’t prevent your client from training with you concurrently.
Learn more about what you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to assessments in the article linked below (collaboration with Mike Reinold)
What Do You Do When Clients Keep Cancelling?
Here’s the thing—you don’t ever want clients to cancel. A 24-hour cancellation policy does offer you some protection for your time, but consider the bigger picture. If a client is continually cancelling, it’s because:
Something is going on in his or her life;
your client doesn’t understand how your business works;
Like so many other things with personal training, it’s important to be proactive and anticipate any problems that may arise before they do. When a client first signs up, explain that you do have a 24-hour cancellation policy because you only get paid if they show up. There is no salary. Educate your clients about how the business works, and they’ll respect you.
Too many times I’ve consulted with trainers who complained of cancellations. When I asked them if their clients knew that they weren’t getting paid if the client cancelled, I received blank stares. Almost all of your clients are good people. They don’t want to be disrespectful. They just simply don’t know, so tell them how the business works.
If they still cancel repeatedly, then there’s likely an underlying cause. Have a private conversation either in person or by phone. Ask if there’s a reason that he keeps missing sessions. Either your client’s life is busy, or he isn’t enjoying training. If it’s the latter, figure out a way to remedy the situation, or cut ties with the client. If something is happening in his private life that is interfering with training, figure out whether it’s best to change gears with your training.
I had a client of mine who kept cancelling and, when I asked him what was going on, he told me about he was involved in a nasty legal battle with his partner over their business. He wasn’t sleeping or eating well, and stress levels were high. We decided to stop training together for a while. I gave him a few different 20- to 30-minute workouts he could do alone, and that he could call me for a session if he felt like seeing me. It took 2 months for that tough period in his life to end but when it did, he came back and became a great client again.
There’s always a reason — get to the bottom of it and deal with it. Don’t get frustrated.
How Do You Email a Former Client You Want Back?
Having a former client return to you is a lot easier than finding a new one. Often all that it takes is a series of well-intentioned emails. However, you must avoid sending out solicitous emails that make it awkward to continue to follow up if the client isn’t ready right away.
The goal of each email is to get the client to respond. As such, you don’t pitch anything. Instead, use email to start rebuilding the relationship.
What it comes down to is this: your former clients know you’re a personal trainer. They probably understand that you’ve got a hidden objective; you don’t need to throw it in their faces.
The point is to start a conversation. If they respond without asking how you are, reply with another elicitation question [see “How to Get Personal Training Clients From the Floor” for more on elicitation questions]. Keep doing this until they stop responding—or ask how you are. (Ask enough questions of someone, and her unconscious response will be to ask how you are doing or what you’re up to.) You may also find that she alludes to thinking of coming back to the gym, or that you have great timing.
At that point, mention that you’re loving training clients and are happy that you get to help so many people, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Ideally give an example, without naming names, of a client similar to her who just reached a goal or has had tons of success. Write with excitement and passion.
There are 5 effective ways to email former clients to get them back. From best to worst, they are:
- You remember something personal about them: an event, a birthday, an anniversary—anything. Send an email checking in and asking how Little Billy’s graduation was.
- You remember something health- or fitness-wise that they suffered from. Find a great piece of information to send because you came across it and thought of them.
- You can make a connection through somebody else. Send an email that says, “I was just talking to ‘x’ and your name came up, so I thought I would say ‘hi.’ If you get a chance, let me know what you’re up to. I’d love to catch up.”
- You make a connection through something or some moment that you shared. “I was doing squats today and thought of you. Remember that time when…?” Follow that by asking how they are.
- A random “hello,” which is not the worst thing to do either. Send them a message just saying that they crossed your mind and you wanted to see how them and their family was doing. Being thought of feels good.
How Do You Appear Like an Expert?
If you already do a great job, then you’ve accomplished 1 half of my 2 rules to success. Now you’ve got to make sure that everybody knows that you’re an expert. According to Robert B. Cialdini, author of Influence, there are 3 ways to show that you’re an expert: title, clothing, and trappings.
Here’s how you can adapt this theory for your benefit:
Title. Anybody can be a personal trainer. Call yourself a “coach,” or you could be even more creative. My good friend Roger (“RogLaw”) Lawson calls himself the “Chief Sexification Officer.” I’d train with him.
Clothing. People will judge you based on what you wear. Be professional and let your clothing show that you’re serious about your job and not “just another trainer.” If you want to appear as a knowledgeable trainer and everybody else in your gym is wearing dri-fit clothing, show up in athletic shorts and a collared shirt. Immediately you will be viewed as smarter than your colleagues. Take care of yourself. You work in an industry where it’s acceptable to wear sweatpants. Want to set yourself apart? Don’t wear sweatpants.
Trappings. Your surroundings, or trappings, play a huge part in how you are perceived. So surround yourself with clients doing great work. You should choose your clients just as much as they choose you. If a client looks bored or doesn’t have a good attitude on the floor, other members will notice and will be less prone to train with you. Even if you’re not currently training somebody, find a member on the floor and hang out with him or her. People buy trainers, not training. Become the most popular person in the gym. Always be surrounded by people. Always be smiling, Always be laughing. And always be approachable.
How Do You Help Your Client Set Goals?
The most common acronym that you’ll see for goal-setting is SMART (Specific Measurable Attainable Relevance Timely). Yet most conventional goal-setting that happens in gyms is missing a crucial element: Relevance.
In personal training, relevant goals are pertinent to your success. You must choose goals that matter. A 5-pound weight loss by July 1st doesn’t matter unless you know why that goal is relevant.
Click the link below to learn how to best set goals for your clients.
Should You Periodize Your Workouts?
Theory and practice rarely intersect. Unless you train high-performance individuals whose jobs are in fitness or athletics, your clients are real people who have real lives and real stresses.
Conventional periodization training techniques rarely work with regular training clients. Click the link below to learn about real life periodization.
How Do You Teach Clients Gym Etiquette?
I recommend teaching your clients proper gym etiquette right at the beginning of their training for 2 reasons.
It will make them feel more comfortable in the gym. Having them know the unwritten rules of a foreign space will do a lot to improve their initial commitment.
The better everybody in your club adheres to good etiquette, the more everyone will benefit and this improves the atmosphere of the club as a whole. People mimic others. Good habits beget good habits.
Write a short document that’s included in every new client (and member) package. In addition, hang the document in a visible place in the gym, like above the water fountain. The document should list the notable rules for everybody to follow.
Click the link below to learn what you need to know about teaching your clients gym etiquette.
How Do You Establish Rapport?
People buy trainers, not training. You’re in the relationship-building business. Of course you need to help get your clients results, but unless you can build rapport with them, you’re likely to fail in your career.
Rapport; noun: “A close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well.”
To learn the top 6 ways to establish rapport with your clients both today and in the future, click the link below:
How Do You Avoid Giving “Just a Workout”?
The reason most of your clients aren’t getting results is a combination of poor form, lack of consistency, bad nutrition, and lack of focus on the mind/muscle connection.
The reason for the lack of results is rarely the program. That’s why you should never give a new client a workout, even if he asks for it.
Most clients who say that they “just want a workout” are alpha-types. While I believe that part of a personal trainer’s job is to provide a program, the majority of our clients need a strong baseline established before advanced programming is considered.
Whenever somebody approaches you and asks you for a workout, I suggest telling him one of 2 things:
“Save your money and purchase a magazine.” You can add, “If you just want a program, the workouts in there are just as good as anything I could write blindly.”
“Train with me a minimum of twice a week for at least a month.” Add, “At that point, if you like, I’ll provide you with a program with occasional check-ins.
For beginner clients, I’ll usually tell them that they must train with me at least 3 times a week for the first month before I’ll give them workouts to do on their own. However, this is dependent on the skill level of the client.
Managing expectations is important in this job. The odds that somebody who “just wants a program” will comply with it are not good.
The job of a trainer is to get to know an individual’s body and that takes time. The reality is that unless you spend a good amount of time with a client, the program you can build is probably no better than one they can find in a magazine.
So be honest. If a client just wants a program, tell him why you don’t think it’s a good idea.
Justifying the above to a client can be difficult. You’ve got a few options.
The first, and one that I love, is to compare a fitness program to a stone wheel. Here’s what I might say:
“It takes a lot of momentum to get it rolling but very little to maintain. At the beginning, it’s going to take a lot of support and tweaking of the program but once you’re rolling, I’m confident you’ll have all the tools to keep at it.”
Often a client will want a program and to check in once a week or every 2 weeks on an ongoing basis because he thinks it’s going to cost less money.
In response, I suggest asking how long he was planning on working with you on an ongoing basis. It’s usually at least 10 sessions’ worth. Tell him that it’s better for him to train with you 2 to 3 times a week (depending on his needs, but you decide this), for the first month. It’s the same number of sessions and expense and he’ll have a program, and all the tools to move forward on his own.
You can learn more via the link below:
How Do You Progress/Regress an Exercise?
The human body is pretty simple when you break it down. Each muscle has a set number of functions and movements. Common thinking is that the only way to progress an exercise is to increase the weight, but there are a host of other ways to vary an exercise. Click the link below to learn about the 13 different ways you can vary any exercise:
Should You Train Family/Friends For Free (Or For a Discount)?
I don’t believe that you should ever discount your training. Your price is the price for a reason, and in an industry lacking proper precedents for price, it’s important to maintain a particular valuation. The minute that you start discounting yourself, it becomes hard to justify your full price.
A tip here and there for a friend or family member is okay. Don’t get frustrated when your loved one doesn’t take action on your advice though. That’s normal. People don’t value free advice and it’s rare that they’ll take action. For this reason I don’t advise training close friends and family members. If they’re serious, refer them to a trainer that you trust.
If you do want to train a close friend or family member, I still suggest charging them. Ask them to give you a fee. The amount doesn’t matter much; it could be $20 or $200. What’s important is that there is a physical exchange of money. This money acts as a token as opposed to a financial transaction. You don’t have to keep the money. When I did this I simply donated the money to charity. You can also agree to return the money once they’ve taken action on your advice.
The above advice is only for close friends and family members. If the person approaching you for advice is a loose connection or friend of a friend, treat him like a regular client. Don’t think just because you went to summer camp with him 10 years ago that he deserves a discount.
Or to put it a different way, there are two types of people in this world. There are people who will be happy to pay you what you deserve and there are those who will expect a discount just because they think that they can get it. The latter will be less successful in all areas of their lives. It’s a very easy way for you to figure out who to ignore and who to invest your time in.
How Do You Find Your Niche?
According to personal trainer Elsbeth Vaino your niche will depend on 2 things: the quality of it and how well you fit with it. She continues by saying that your ideal niche will:
Be ignored or under-served by the competition.
Have niche members with time and disposable income.
Have niche members who feel a need for your service.
The above 4 points are ideal, and you’ll probably never find a niche that hits on all of them. But if you can find a niche that meets several of these points, you’re likely to have success.
Vaino recommends considering the following questions when figuring out how to market to your niche:
How will you reach them?
Where are they?
Who influences them?
What is their pain?
What is your message?
What is your goal?
Does your approach reflect your goal?
Perhaps what’s most interesting is that a niche is a great way to set yourself apart in a noisy industry. But once you do set yourself apart, you’ll find that people will start viewing you as an expert on many things beyond the niche that you initially built your reputation with. This isn’t bad, but it’s something that I want you to expect.
Once you become an expert in one area, you also become perceived as an expert in the subjects that contain your original niche. At that point, you can promote yourself as an overall expert, or continue to focus on your niche and refer clients to other experts in related niches (this was the route I took).
Click the link below to learn more about how to find your niche:
How Do You Raise Your Rates?
The awkward truth is that it’s normal for businesses to increase their prices periodically. I say “awkward,” because that’s how many feel about raising their personal trainer prices. So let’s talk about how to raise your rates—without feeling awkward.
Learn more about how and when to raise your rates by clicking the link below:
What Are Your Options For Multiple Income Streams?
If you want to make more money, you can increase the number of customers you have, increase the income per-customer, or increase the number of transactions per customer. Too much emphasis is often put on getting more customers when it should be placed on serving existing customers better. Before deciding that you need more personal training clients, consider different ways to serve your existing clients better by providing them more things that they need, either directly or through a commission-based referral.
Besides serving your clients better, consider adding other income streams to your business. But before discussing some different options for adding income streams, it’s important for me to speak of integrity and reputation.
Your reputation is your #1 priority. No amount of money is worth risking it.
There are a host of multi-level marketing companies that exist and friends of yours will try to get you involved. Think long and hard before following this path. I’m not telling you not to do it, but be very careful who you work for and what you promote.
Here’s a few different options for developing multiple income streams:
Supplement Reselling. The most basic agreement is that you act as a wholesaler for a supplement company. You recommend supplements to your clients and buy them direct from the company. The client buys from you at a higher cost, and you keep the difference.
This works for some trainers on a small scale. You can choose to deal with a company that produces products you either use yourself or can vouch for. It can be a nice way to make some extra pocket change, but it won’t make you rich. Keep these 4 caveats in mind:
- You have a responsibility for disclosing the income that you earn to your clients.
- You have a responsibility to educate your clients about other options as well.
- Depending on where you live, you may have issues with importing supplements.
- You must be responsible and only recommend what clients need. You could be liable if clients have complications or health issues from the supplements.
Multi-Level Marketing. The basic setup is that you act as a reseller for supplements (this is the most common) or fitness programs. You make money when others buy the product through your custom store similar to the reseller agreement discussed above. Where it gets interesting, potentially profitable, and often irresponsible is that you attempt to build a “down line” of people who do the same thing as you. When you do, you also get a commission on their sales.
The idea is attractive but very few are actually successful. You’re often forced to purchase the product yourself and it can be costly. Most people don’t have the requisite hustle, network, or marketing acumen to make a legitimate go of it. Not only that, the supplements are almost always poor-quality. Read the ingredients carefully and look for independent third-party studies. Even if the supplement is of good quality, I’ve found that multi-level marketing companies sell supplements that are overpriced. It makes sense, and in fact providing such an attractive commission structure requires it. Finally, you’ll feel pressure to involve your close family and friends and this is not a position that I’d want my worst enemy to be in.
Offline Affiliate Sales. Commission structures are present with almost every fitness equipment company and store these days. You just may have to ask. If your client wants to buy a treadmill and asks for your advice on where to buy, you may as well take a commission for the referral—as long as where you’re sending them is the best place to buy it. Again, you have a responsibility to disclose any potential hidden interests and educate clients on other options as well.
Online Affiliate Sales. Online commissions are generally much higher than offline. Digital materials such as e-books and online courses often boast commissions of 50 to 75 percent. These can be anything from courses on detoxing to workout programs to recipe books. Online product affiliate sales are not a bad idea for a trainer who may want to recommend a particular nutrition book, course or program. You don’t even need a website. It’s as simple as going to a website called Clickbank, setting up a free account, searching their marketplace for a program that looks appealing, getting your custom link, and emailing it to your client. Always buy the product or program first to vet it before you promote it. Full disclosure is also very important. Always tell your client that you get a commission if they purchase through your link.
Small Group Training. Training 3 to 5 clients at once still allow a personal touch but you can charge less per-client and still make more per-hour. I used to be against small group training but I now see it as a fantastic option for most trainers and trainees alike.
Online Training/Program Management. I’m a huge proponent of building an online training business. So much so that I’ve developed an entire course on how to build an efficient and scalable online training business (www.1kextra.com).
Program management is another way to offer a type of online training. Your current clients, past clients, and others likely ask you a lot of questions about their workouts. Why not offer a service where, for $49/month (or another fee), you offer “office hours.” This means that everybody in the program gets access to you for the same 2 hours (or another time) on Skype each week to ask questions.
This kind of program management serves 4 purposes:
- It eliminates tons of back-and-forth emails during the week.
- It allows you to offer one-on-one support to multiple people at once.
- It helps you be more efficient with your time.
- It creates a reliable and consistent income stream.
Program management acts as a nice upsell to the $20 e-book that I discuss in detail a little later on in this book.
E-books. The cost of producing digital intellectual material is so low that I think every trainer should do it. All it takes is a bit of proactive thinking. There’s a separate section in this book that walks you through creating your first e-book and selling it—for less than $20.
Swag. Things like T-shirts, water bottles, posters, and everything in between can be designed, developed, and sold relatively cheap these days. Still, it’s tough to make any significant income from swag. I recommend it more for brand-building. Services like Spreadshirt and CafePress offer print-on-demand merchandise. It’s easy and free to upload a design and create a store. Once somebody buys you get paid and the company gets paid. There’s no initial cost (unless you hire a designer), no inventory, and no administrative headaches.
Leading workshops. Educating other trainers or the general public through specific and intimate workshops can be quite profitable. If you like to present, develop a half- or full-day workshop around a central theme. It’s reasonable to charge a few hundred dollars a head, so if you get 5 people at $200 it makes for a nice Sunday paycheque. As with many things, the work is upfront. Develop a killer workshop once, and keep presenting the same one to different audiences. You can ever go so far as to have the workshop professionally filmed and turned into DVDs. Send the master DVD files and some designs to a service called Vervante and you can have a DVD set of your workshop for sale as an asset as well. Like the swag, Vervante is a print-on-demand drop-shipping service, which means that you only pay Vervante when somebody buys and you keep the difference. You never touch the product or hold inventory. I use Vervante to produce all of the PTDC courses.
Saving. It’s not quite a multiple income stream, but a simple call once a year to all of the services that you do repeat business with and you can save a lot of money. Call your phone, Internet, and TV provider along with any professional services like your credit card processor. You’ll be amazed at how much you can save with a simple phone call.
Why Should You Consider Online Training?
I love personal training but understand that it is expensive, location-dependent, a scheduling nightmare, and often obtrusive for the client.
Spending an hour one-on-one with somebody multiple times a week is an intimidating and uncomfortable experience for many; that alone might stop or delay somebody from starting an exercise program.
I think that personal training works for some people but like everything else, it has its limitations. One size doesn’t fit all and blindly hiring a trainer in a neighborhood gym is not necessarily the best way to get fit for a variety of reasons ranging from cost, lack of accountability systems in place, and extreme variability in qualifications.
I want to offer a different solution. It’s not better or worse than training in person, just different. Learn more about being a personal trainer online via the link below:
How Do You Train Clients Online?
As you can see from the previous section, I’m a fan of online training. So much so that I created an entire video course for those that want to build an efficient and scalable online training business. You can learn more at www.1kextra.com. That said, I’m going to share the steps to efficiently taking on clients online below. As you’ll see, it’s relatively simple in theory but there are some pretty important things to deal with proactively so that they don’t become a major issue later on.
- Decide on your software. A misconception is that you need to be proficient with technology. You can run a business as simply as sending workout templates over email. But if you ultimately want to scale your business, software is essential.
I’ve done months of due diligence, had 15+ meetings, and been through trials of 10+ different types of software for managing clients. By far the best one I’ve come across is Trainerize. I liked it so much that I jointed the company on as a consultant and negotiated a referral fee for recommending the service. If you go to www.theptdc.com/trainerize, you can register for a free 30-day trial.
- Decide on your client type. Pick no more than 3 types of clients you want to include in your online personal training program. The only way to truly scale your program is to create template workouts, which means you need people with similar goals and issues. For example, 25- 30-year-old males looking to put on muscle; 40- to 50-year-old post-pregnant females; or 18- to 25-year-old male college students.
- Write 3 to 4 phases of programming for each client type. Trainerize allows you to save templates, or you can write each program from scratch using Microsoft Excel or something similar. Each client in the same category will receive a similar template with a couple of individual tweaks specifically for them based on their questionnaire answers. For example, a client with shoulder pain might do an incline neutral grip DB press instead of a bench press. They would still perform 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps at a 4010 tempo in phase 1, though. (You individualize aspects of the program to suit each client.)
- Film a video of all exercises you include (optional). Take a day and film a 20-second video of each exercise you include in your 3 to 4 phases above. Upload them all to a YouTube channel. If you decide to include a new exercise later on, simply add it. You can also create a video exercise library using other people’s YouTube videos but it’s more impressive if you perform the exercises yourself.
- Create a website (optional). Trainerize (www.theptdc.com/trainerize) has a simple, free website builder where you can develop a website within minutes and host it for free on its server as part of your membership. If you already have an existing website, you can integrate its service seamlessly.
- Decide on the best payment processing service. PayPal is easy and it works great. It’s easy to implement, its fees are reasonable, and you can deposit money directly to your bank account for free. If you want to use another service to accept credit cards online, you can. There are a lot of options.
- Promote your services. The simple answer of how to get personal training clients is to make sure everybody knows that you’re a personal trainer. All of the methods in this book for getting clients work for getting online clients, too. Online training is a more cost-effective and convenient solution for your clients, so make sure that when you’re spreading word via email or Facebook that you mention those points.
If you want more details about each step, I’ve written a Kindle book called the Online Personal Trainer Blueprint. You can get a free copy over atwww.1kextra.com.
Why Should You Start a Blog?
First of all, fitness blogs create fitness experts.
An expert wields the power of his or her audience. Anything experts recommend, people buy—and their classes and programs are always full.
Working harder is not the key to success; working smarter is.
It doesn’t matter whether you want to sell Internet products, get more clients, or help build your brick-and-mortar business. A well-built blog will help you make more money and work less. With it, you can charge more for your services, pay less for advertising, help more people, and develop tons of passive income streams.
The opportunities are endless for the expert.
Click the link below to learn how to start a fitness blog, grow it, and develop multiple streams of income from it.
How Do You Develop An Online Fitness Product?
Developing something that’s going to make you millions of dollars on the Internet is far beyond the scope of this note. Although the process of developing the product is similar to process that I describe below, the promotion and marketing is much different and, while simple, incredibly time-consuming.
What I am going to lay out in this short section is how to take a workout that you’ve already written for a client and turn it into an e-book for less than $20. It’s important to develop assets like this for your business. Even if you work as a trainer in a gym and have no aspirations in developing an online business, you should still develop 2 to 3 of these e-books.
I’m sure you’ve already realized that people don’t take action on free advice. So your friends or family members who ask you for workout tips don’t do them, and that’s frustrating. In addition, I’m sure that there are people who have approached you for advice who either can’t afford your in-person rate or don’t live close enough for you to train them. With an e-book, you have something suited to them that you can offer it for $20. Everybody can afford $20. If you’re offering it to a close friend or family member, simply tell him that it’s important that he invest some money to ensure that his commitment. You can always donate the funds to a charity of his choice, or return the money after he’s completed with the workouts.
Steps to Creating the Book
- Identify the top 3 requests that you get from friends and family (i.e., fat loss, bulking, cutting). These should be pretty general.
- Choose the most popular request.
- Pick the best program that you have already written for a client that suits that goal. Put each exercise on a template, noting the important exercise variables (sets, reps, tempo, rest, etc.)
- List 1 to 2 progressions and regressions for each exercise.
- Take a picture or film a video for each exercise. If you don’t want to create your own, find a YouTube link to a video from somebody else and put it beside your exercise.
- Write a 2- to 4-line description of each exercise. (You can Google these for almost every exercise.)
- Write a short intro for the program that describes a) who the program is for; b) why the program works (include the hook, or why they should care); and c) important considerations for participants.
The purpose of this isn’t to sell the program, so there’s no need to be promotional. Simply explain the purpose of the program and why it works if somebody adheres to it. This will give your buyer confidence in the system and understands what is required of him or her.
- Write a half page or so that describes how to know whether to progress or regress an exercise (i.e., if you can perform all reps, progress the exercise. If at the most advanced exercise, then progress the weight).
- Describe the variables of the program (sets, reps, tempo, et cetera). You can Google these.
- You can also include notes on gym etiquette. (This is optional.) I suggest including a list of 5 to 10 gym etiquette considerations like putting the weights away, wiping down equipment, and the like.
- Describe how to fail with the program, such as not lifting heavy enough or not taking enough time off between workouts to recover. (A simple Google search for the biggest workout mistakes works.)
- Give them advice about what to do next; generally, this will be a call to buy another program or hire you for in-person or online coaching.
- Include a disclaimer. Look at any workout book in the bookstore to find one to emulate. It should say something like, “This book is for information purposes only. Consult a physician before starting any exercise program.”
- Include copyright information (this is optional).
- Finally, upsell (optional). This might include a call for more money for a custom nutrition plan or an affiliate link to buy a recipe book online where you get money if they buy. This complicates things and there are a ton of options of ways to make more money after you’ve sold the initial book. If you want to simplify your life, just sell the basic book.
Steps to Editing/Polishing the Book
Decide on a name. Don’t overthink this for a basic book. A simple descriptive title works.
Get a cover designed using fiverr. It should cost you $5. If you want to get a more expensive and better-looking cover, you can use eLance or 99Designs.
Get the book edited. A service called Scribendi is fantastic and cheap or get a friend or family member to do it.
Compile your document into a pdf file and include separate workout templates. You can use existing ones that you have or get free ones online. A site called exrx.com is a good option.
Sign up for a free PayPal account (you’re only charged a percentage of the sale), connect to your bank account, and create a payment button for the book. Charge whatever you like; $20 is reasonable.
Have a system for delivering the book. There are a host of options but here are 3 simple ones to choose from:
- Have your PayPal button redirect the user to a hidden page on your website (if you have one) where they can download the book.
- Connect PayPal to your email marketing system and have the first auto-response message contain a link to download the book.
- Simply send the book file via email whenever you receive an email that notifies you of a successful payment made via PayPal.
Steps to Promoting/Selling the Book
Make a list of everybody who you know who has a goal similar to the one that the book is designed to help people meet.
Email these people week before the book is released, and tell them to get on a pre-sale list by filling out a Google form (this is free) or simply emailing you; enter their names into a spreadsheet to capture their emails. You can also share a “coming soon” notice on your social media accounts telling people to join the pre-sale list.
Create an FAQ, or Frequently Asked Questions, list. List the answers to the common questions you expect to make answering them easier. (This step is optional.)
Create a “products” page on your website and sell directly through there (again, this is optional).
Wait for people to approach you with questions. Remember that this is an asset for your business. The idea isn’t that you sell millions the first week. It’s meant to serve as something to offer people if they ask for your advice, if they don’t live close, or if they can’t afford your in-person rates.
If you follow the steps I listed above, the book should cost you less than $20 to produce from start to finish; possibly a touch more due to editing depending on length. A single sale and you’ve made back your entire investment. Two sales and you’ve made a profit!
I suggest creating 2 to 3 books (one for each major issue that your training solves). Even at a single book sale each week is an extra $1,040/year. Not only that, when you write you become an expert. You’ll be surprised at how much an e-book like this will drive awareness of your training and build your reputation. Consider this: if you sell 3 to 5 e-books each week, you’ll make an extra $3,120-$5,200/year on top of your regular training income.
What “Secrets” Should You Know?
Yes, every trainer is different. But I’ve listed here some of the things that I did which had a huge impact on my career. I hope that they help you as much as they did me.
- I learned to manipulate grips.
Programming progression can be done a number of different ways. One of my favorites is to manipulate the grips I have the client use. Often times with new clients I didn’t want to change the exercise for the first 12- to 16 weeks.
To alleviate boredom for the client, I’d change the grip. Additionally, changing the grip can be a great way to continue training through injury. For example, a trainee with shoulder impingement from too much bench pressing might benefit from pressing dumbbells with a neutral grip.
- I taught jargon to clients.
I used to love it when my clients knew the difference between a barbell and dumbbell. Sometimes I would even catch them making jokes about the fact that all exercises named after former Soviet Union countries are vicious! I want to pass on my love for the gym to them and this is one of the ways I did so.
- I learned how to unload a bar without breaking my back.
Step 1: Remove clips.
Step 2: Remove all weight from one side.
Step 3: Tip the bar, dumping the weights off the other end.
Step 4: Wipe the dust off of my shoulder.
- I learned to shut up.
I often asked open-ended questions like “how did that feel?” or “are you enjoying the workout so far?” and then would be quiet. I learned to do this from making sales calls—I used to get nervous after asking a question and instead of waiting for the person to respond, I would quickly chime in with my two cents.
When you’re silent, both you and the client feel awkward. And the more awkward the client feels, the more information my client will tell you to fill the silence. This strategy helped me get to the root of problems quicker (if they existed) and write better programs now that I was armed with more knowledge.
- I prepared for everything.
Read the section in this book about what I suggest to keep in your desk for more.
- I had a “soft” copy of everything.
My clients used to lose and forget their workouts. No matter where I was, I could email them another electronic copy in seconds. Keep all of your clients’ workouts on your computer, and teach the receptionist at the club how to access your files so if you’re not around, she can help your client as well. If you don’t have an internal network at your gym, create a separate Dropbox folder that you can access it anywhere.
- I introduced my clients to everybody.
My aim was to make my clients the most popular people in the gym. I’d introduce them to all of the other trainers and members. Doing this involved them into the gym culture right away. Adherence increased as a result.
The added bonus is that people wants to bring friends to a place where they’re popular. My clients went out of their way to tell friends and family members about the gym because of how comfortable and good they felt there.
- I used BCAAs.
I have a really tough time putting on muscle and when it’s there, I don’t want it to leave. Training 10 to 12 clients in a day didn’t leave much time to consume 3000+ calories. I started to add 10 to 15 grams of BCAA powder into my water and sipped it throughout the day. It gave me a hit of energy and helped me maintain muscle mass.
- I figured out that frozen vodka bottles make great foam rollers.
Ice pack, foam roller, and a party all in one package. What could be better?
- I learnt how to apply Albert Bandura’s social cognitive theory.
This theory shaped the way I train. Armed with it, my clients’ confidence in the gym increased. This is how I was able to help clients—even those who had failed many times before—believe that they could succeed.
- I discovered super shakes.
Step 1: Pick a veggie (I like spinach).
Step 2: Pick a healthy fat (coconut or almonds are my favorites).
Step 3: Pick a protein source.
Step 4: Pick a topper (coconut shards and cinnamon are great!).
Step 5: Add in a liquid (I like almond milk).
Step 6: Blend well.
Step 7: Drink.
With a super shake, you’ll never go hungry training 6 clients in a row again.
- I learned constantly.
I always had two books on the go: one for training and one for business.
- I smiled constantly.
Always. Smiling is contagious.
- I deadlifted often.
Spotting clients with a weak back can be dangerous and I can guarantee that you’ll be moving weight when tired loading and unloading bars. Keep your back strong.
- I changed my socks often.
I straight up hate bad socks. Always have a spare pair on you.
- I always looked for ways to go the extra 10 percent.
Every second of every day I looked for ways to add value to both my own and others’ lives.
- I taught my clients gym etiquette.
It helped them gain confidence in the gym and improved their adherence to the program with or without me.
- I mastered my 2-sentence pitch.
You should be able to explain why you’re different and better than other trainers in no more than 2 sentences. Before I did this, I didn’t feel comfortable selling myself to clients. In retrospect, I was confused as to what my training methodology was. I didn’t have a personal manifesto. Write your own today. Here’s mine:
“Do great work; hang out with great people; ignore shitty people; never call out anybody publicly and always deal with disputes behind closed doors. Have an intangible element for everything you sell; create better free content than anybody else; and, perhaps most importantly, when you do decide to sell, make sure that it’s fucking awesome and sell hard.”