Stronger Sundays

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


Quote of the week:

"Something that's so damn easy to lose sight of: How a person treats you is a better reflection of their internal dialogue than their feelings toward you. Hurt people hurt people."
                                                                                          - Alex Cartmill on Facebook
Watch for this newsletter from the Personal Trainer Development Center each Sunday.

In this issue:

  1. Don’t be in a hurry to specialize
  2. When to share the information you’ve absorbed
  3. A few words about age, integrity, and perspective
  4. How to build trust
1. Don’t be in a hurry to specialize

“My first job in the fitness industry was early in 2000, working the front desk of the gym my mentor owned,” writes Eric Cressey on Twitter.

He did anything his boss needed: cleaning, answering phones, showing people how to use the equipment. There wasn’t any point in asking for bigger responsibilities because he didn’t yet have the knowledge or skills.  

“I had to be a good generalist before I could even think of becoming a specialist in any capacity,” he says.

Cressey moved up faster than just about anybody we know in the fitness industry. He was contributing to T Nation by 2003, opened Cressey Performance in 2007, and expanded to a second location in Florida in 2014. And on October 30, he was in Houston to see his client, Max Scherzer, pitch in Game 7 for the World Series champion Washington Nationals.

But none of that would’ve happened, Cressey says, if he hadn’t begun his career with an "I'll do whatever is needed" mindset.

The takeaway: “If you're 22, don't ask about how to find/develop your niche,” he advises. “In the long term, the broad foundation you develop puts you in a position to connect dots down the road when you're ready to specialize.”
2. When to share the information you’ve absorbed

Fitness pros need to absorb a lot of information before we can even get started. The basic knowledge of anatomy and physiology we need to earn a personal training certification only gets us in the door. It takes years to become proficient at training people.

But once we reach that level, what comes next? How do we transition from absorbing information to sharing it? Andrew Coates has some thoughts:

“You’ll never feel prepared. No amount of absorbing knowledge will help you get past the initial feeling of imposter syndrome … It will keep you from putting your personality and ideas out there for fear of being judged by those you deem more knowledgeable and experienced.

I can assure you, those who came before you may look like they’ve got it all together, but they didn’t really know what they were doing when they started. They just got started. Things came together because they set aside fears of judgment and made things happen.”

The takeaway: Coates says that the more he writes, and the more podcasts he records, the easier it is to begin the next article or episode, and the better they turn out. “Do something, anything, with your time today to take an action step toward something you’ve been wanting to do.”

3. A few words about age, integrity, and perspective - Lou Schuler

Steven Head had an experience familiar to every fitness pro with some frost in the follicles:

He saw a Facebook ad from a young coach who says he helps other trainers scale and grow their businesses. Pretty normal stuff so far. What got Head’s attention, though, is when the coach referred to himself as “an OG” because “he was training ‘before AirPods were a thing.’”

Head couldn’t resist telling him “that I was training before he was a thing.”

I can relate. My career not only predates AirPods, I learned to drive before airbags were a thing. I can remember when TV remotes and push-button phones were cutting-edge consumer tech.

That’s why I’m taken aback when I see a 30-year-old sharing life lessons, or someone who just turned 40 offering insights on the aging process.

My perspective aligns with this Dan John quote:

“Fifty-six is when the statistics punch you in the face. Fifty-six is when the guy knocks on the door and says, ‘It’s time to pay the piper.’”

Go deeper: One perspective I hope we all share: Honesty and integrity still matter. As Lee Boyce says in this scathing essay, if you’re three years into your training career, you haven’t “helped thousands of people reach their goals,” and you aren’t “the #1 trainer in North America.”

For a look at how to present yourself both optimally and realistically, check out this recently revised and updated article:

--> Seven Tips to Improve Your Personal Trainer Bio
4. How to build trust - Jonathan Goodman

Every 22-year-old fitness pro imagines himself as a superhero, the guy who swoops in to save the world from mediocre workouts and ill-advised diets. And every experienced fitness pro rolls her eyes, knowing it’s far more important to let your actions speak louder than your words.

Even better, though, is to let others do the talking for you. Get existing customers to speak (or type) about what you’ve done for them. Praise is exponentially more valuable when it comes from someone other than you.

Acquiring sensational testimonials isn’t something you do once and consider it finished. It’s a continual job. More testimonials, from a wide range of clients, are always better.

The goal is to answer the most pressing question a prospect will have: Has somebody like me had success with this product or program?

When you do it right, future customers who identify with your successful client, and who have the same doubts and fears she started with, will see her transformation as proof they can do it too.

That gives you credibility, and credibility is the first and most important component of trust.

Letters after your name add to your credibility, and potentially lead to improved trust. It doesn’t matter if the client knows what the letters mean; it’s up to you to give them meaning.

Trust also comes from reliability. Do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it.

Finally, show empathy. The words “I’m sorry” are particularly effective when a client describes a negative experience from the present or past. You aren’t accepting blame. You’re expressing regret that something bad happened to your client.

That’s what it means to be a modern-day superhero. You’re not so much the hero of the story as the catalyst. Your customers are the heroes, the stars of their own stories. Instead of talking about yourself, talk about them, and the amazing, improbable, occasionally heroic things they’ve accomplished.

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

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