There’s a steady stream of trainers in and out of gyms these days. The question remains: are you going to be one of them?
After more than 15 years of seeing young and old trainers coming and going, you get a good feeling of who is going to survive and flourish in the industry. Coaching is a lot more than just getting new prospects. The game lies in how you can keep them satisfied, results or not, and have them bring in new referrals – not just simple referrals but clients that are already sold to you.
The answer lies in the how and who you CAN coach. Although most trainers will probably take in anything that breathes, you might have to be a bit more selective about who you love/want to train.
Imagine getting up in the morning, anxious to get to work, to train and push people over their limit, to make them believe that they are powerful beyond measure. In order to do that, you have to believe it yourself. That’s the number one reason why you have to be passionate about who you work with.
The fact of the matter is that clients rely on you to achieve their own, very personal goals. If you give out the impression that you absolutely love what you do and are there to help them with the best of your ability, they will trust you completely.
Coaching needs to be considered as an art. You don’t paint faces when your passion is architecture. In other words, you should find your niche.
What do you love to do?
Who do you love to spend time with?
As a coach, you have many options, but time is of the essence. There is no 30-hour day. The more time you spend loving what you do, the better the world will be. If you love training kids, make it happen. If you would rather spend your energy changing the lives of stay-at-home moms, just do it.
With that being said, different niches require different coaching styles. In no particular order, here are the many styles most of us will go through or encounter during our coaching lifespan and some tips on improving each.
Fresh out of a certification, they are ready to attack. Rookies likely train friends and family for free to get their hands wet and see if they can manage to get some results. The problem is that they are looking to train anything that breathes in order to promote themselves. Unfortunately, that’s the natural flow of things and how it should be. That’s how you practice. That’s how you learn the 4 W’s: why, what, when and where.
Learn and absorb every single piece of information, may it be good or bad. You can’t be a black belt the moment you start. Learn from your most experienced colleagues and leave your pride at the entrance.
The Plateau Caretaker
This is when the rookie decides to take the big step and actually work in a gym. Obviously, this typically is the best way to get a clientele base, but the plateau caretaker still isn’t going to make the big bucks. At first, their task may be to write out simple programs to joining members, which is a great opportunity to get in contact with potential clients, but they eventually need to take on bigger opportunities.
Start narrowing down those who you like to train or those who you click the most with and enjoy being around. You might find that you have a certain affinity for kids, women or men, athletes, weight-loss clients, or those looking for muscle gain. You still may have to take on people from all walks of life and with different goals but keep an eye open to start finding your niche. As people get to know you and you get to know them, you’ll attract more of the people you like with referrals. Keep it up – a promotion is on the way.
The Youth Coach
The youth coach has progressed past the first two phases but decided to undertake the health of the next generation. They have the ability to get a kid’s attention and hold their respect. This is way more than a weight lifting job. Coaching youth is all about creativity, moving, and circuit training all at once.
With kids of 5-6 years old and up, youth coaches are fighting against popular misconceptions but more importantly, parents. Coaches must teach the parents that all good habits start at home. They need to move with their kids. If this one simple habit can’t be applied in the home, kids will form the polar opposite habit – laziness.
Youth coaches may also run into the misconception that weightlifting stunts the growth of children. In that instance, I always refer them to this research from the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics on Strength Training for children and adolescents. It’s very simple to read and provides great arguments.
Start a parent/kid intervention style of training. For the kids age 5 to 12, have the parent participate in a little circuit with their kid. For 12 and above, dual training is always fun, especially if both parent and child have similar goals. Your job will be to make it challenging and fun. It’s not all about big muscles and abs. Sometimes, ”intervention style” programs that emphasize fun and movement can go a long way to improve quality of life.
The Group Coach
Group coaching provides a whole new dynamic. Depending on the age groups, it can be challenging at times. The coach is usually not too far form the sergeant style but not everyone should resemble Jillian Michaels screaming at the top of her lungs. With that being said, working with a group usually takes care of the toughest aspect of training – motivation.
In this scenario, the coach’s job is to push them over their ”known” limits. So, pride may be at stakes for some. Some will face and beat the challenge, and some might give up. Coaches should be ready to see deception and deal with it. Be ready to hear excuses and a lot of ‘I can’t’. The coach’s job is to reverse those negative thought processes and show the client that their only limiting factor is their mindset.
Keep the workout fun while still challenging the group. You can have an intra-team challenge where you split them up into several groups and compete for time. As they try to beat the other teams, they improve their scores, strength, and stamina, and build team spirit.
The Private Coach
This is probably what most trainers and coaches will be doing 75 to 90% of the time. Private coaching is nice because it offers clients a very individualized approach. If trainers do their homework and ask the right questions, clients will see results quickly.
Be more of a listener than a talker. Clients will appreciate the fact that they have your full attention, hearing all of their needs and goals. Be frank. Don’t hold back but always stay professional. Remember, you are not there to make friends. They hire you for a reason: to get results. Yes, you’ll make friends, but let’s be honest, when your friends need your help, do you charge them? Probably not.
Your career may be a blend of all of these scenarios or a specialization in just a few. Some increase revenue fast with minimal effort. Others might take time. You may have the opportunity to work with all of the above. However, if you find your niche and stick to it, you’ll never have to work a single day for the rest of your life.
About the Author
Eric Falstrault is a Montreal-based strength and conditioning coach, Naturopath, Sport Therapist and founder of BODHI Fit. He is certified level 5 PICP (Poliquin International Certification Program) a high level certification program that has proven its grounds on every aspects of the iron game. He has effectively undergone numerous internships with Charles Poliquin (founder of the PICP and world renowned Strength Coach) and Nelson Ayotte (strength and conditioning coach of the St-Louis Blues). Eric has worked with athletes of all levels, from youth sports to professionals in the NHL. You can follow Eric on Twitter and “like” his Facebook page.
Photo credit: Super-trainer.com (featured), ACE Fitness, Skay Health
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