Stronger Sundays

Dominate your fitness business with this weekly collection of strategies, tips, and tricks.
By trainers, for trainers.

July 14, 2019

Quote of the week:

“Someone who types in all lower-case letters and doesn’t use punctuation just called the most prolific and influential spine researcher of all time ‘a quack’ in his reply to one of my posts. This is what I get for checking social media on a holiday weekend.”
                                                                       - Eric Cressey on Twitter, referring to this tweet
Watch for this newsletter from the Personal Trainer Development Center each Sunday.

In this issue:

  1. Bullies are bad for business      
  2. How to sell personal training
  3. Sit up straight when you read this
  4. Alway help. Never keep score.
1. Bullies are bad for business

It’s a tale as old as civilization itself: Wherever humans gather, the strongest or most ruthless will try to press their advantage over the rest.

It was true in tribes and villages, and it’s still true in gyms and online communities.

Andrew Coates, writing about it in this provocative Facebook post, says it usually goes something like this:

A “tiny minority” of “loud, aggressive members” create a hostile environment by harassing or bullying gymgoers and low-level staff. At the same time, they “buddy up to the managers.”

This suck-up, kick-down tactic does two things: It makes their victims reluctant to report the problem members, and when does someone does complain, it makes the managers reluctant to believe them.

In a follow-up email, Coates described an example he witnessed firsthand:
“The ‘dirty old men,’ as they were dubbed, would leer at female staff and members, including two teenage clients of mine. That prompted a complaint from their parents, who were members. The complaint was dismissed, as were many others.”

The takeaway: When members and employees see the harassment continue unchecked, “they quietly leave,” Coates says, canceling memberships and warning people in their social and business circles to stay away. “The facility has no idea until the behavior drives away enough business they feel it.” Since ignoring the issue only emboldens the perpetrators, Coates recommends confronting them. “Use as much tact as possible” while also documenting the problems they create. That way you can show cause if they refuse to comply and you need to kick them out. Unlike your members, bullies never go quietly.
2. How to sell personal training

Sun Tzu was not a personal trainer, as far as we know. But he sure knew how to come out ahead in a negotiation, which is why The Art of War is considered essential reading in some parts of the business world.

In his chapter on weaknesses and strengths, the Chinese general offers this advice, which we think is crucial for anyone whose living depends on making deals and closing sales:

“Those skilled in war bring the enemy to the field of battle, and are not brought there by him.”

The sales meeting is our field of battle. As Jonathan Goodman explains in this recently updated article, the potential client will come into the meeting ready to hit you with a series of questions. “How much does it cost?” “What does it take to lose 15 pounds?”

They’re good questions, but if you answer them right away, you effectively surrender the home-field advantage. “Taking early control of the conversation is key,” Goodman writes. “The simplest way to do that is to ask questions.”

This is the most important: “What do you want to achieve?” Listen carefully, take notes, and don’t be afraid of a little silence. The client’s initial answer will rarely include why that goal matters to her. Give her space to fill in the blanks.

As Sun Tzu wrote, “Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness.”

Check out the full story here: “How to Sell Personal Training in Five Steps.”

3. Sit up straight when you read this

Want to start a fight on social media?* Write an article about posture.

* This is a rhetorical question. We hope you have better things to do, like train clients.

At one extreme you have coaches who hunt for dysfunction like Elmer Fudd chasing wabbits. On the other, you have physical therapists who say there’s no point because posture isn’t actually linked to pain.

Chris Leib, DPT, offers some welcome middle ground in this guest post for Eric Cressey:

“Just because proper posture hasn’t been highly correlated with pain doesn’t mean it’s not important,” he writes.

That leads to his first and most important point: “Posture may not cause pain, but improving posture can help to decrease pain.”

The takeaway: The extreme positions people take on the subject of posture are “unnecessary and overblown,” Leib writes. “Any respectable strength and conditioning professional would agree that proper positioning and technique is vital when undertaking various movements in a strength and conditioning program. Why should the importance of positioning be any different in our movements throughout the day? … Posture should be viewed as a dynamic, ever-changing journey, not a fixed destination.”

4. Alway help. Never keep score.  - Jonathan Goodman

One morning in late June, I woke up to an email from the editor for one of the world’s largest fitness platforms.

I didn't ask for help, but he was offering it: a chance to contribute content, become a promotional partner, and share some exciting opportunities.

His email ended with this line: "I'll always remember how you helped me start online training four years ago. I still have some of those clients! The script you gave me was brilliant."

I don't remember helping him. But he remembers me helping him, and if this partnership works out, he’ll repay me many times over.

I’ve helped lots of people over the years. I’ll never hear from most of them, and that's fine. It’s how these things work. You don't keep score.

But that’s not the way most of us approach favors, whether they’re personal or professional.

It's natural to make a deal in your head. You think that, because you helped them, they owe you something, even though they were never made aware of the deal. When they don't keep their end of the bargain—and how could they, since it only existed in your imagination?—you hold them in contempt.

My advice: Always help, and never keep score.

You never know what the people you help will become, or whether they’ll acknowledge what you did for them. Those things are out of your hands. But if you can be a catalyst for change during somebody’s journey, you're already positioned well for success.

This morning I caught a lucky break not because I'm a lucky guy, but because I've spent thousands of hours over many years manufacturing my luck. One way I did it was by helping people with no consideration of whether I'd ever be repaid.

Don't make deals. Genuinely help people.

**Thanks for reading. What to do next**

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