Stronger Sundays

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


Quote of the week:

"If you're having a hard time understanding why folks aren't inclined to follow your advice, or believe your arguments, you might think more about how you're arguing vs. what you're arguing.⁠"
                                                                                          - John Berardi on Instagram
Watch for this newsletter from the Personal Trainer Development Center each Sunday.

In this issue:

  1. Big rocks and unpopular truths of personal training
  2. How to manage a client’s expectations
  3. Is this the biggest factor in weight management?
  4. How we make money
1. Big rocks and unpopular truths of personal training

Bret Contreras calls these the unpopular truths of strength and conditioning:

  1. Low- and high-rep sets are similarly effective at building muscle.
  2. Training to failure isn’t necessary and can diminish results.
  3. Complex periodization schemes aren’t superior for hypertrophy.
  4. No single exercise is mandatory for building muscle.

Which reminds us of a 2012 article Contreras wrote for the PTDC:

--> The Big Rocks of Personal Training

Among the "big rocks" he mentions are the ability to teach your clients the basic movement patterns; to design programs based on those movements; and to know and deploy progressions and regressions from those basics.

The takeaway: "When you’ve mastered the 80 percent that makes you effective as a personal trainer," Contreras writes, "you’re ready to learn the remaining 20 percent."

Go deeper: Ben Bruno also has some thoughts about the basics, which he shared on Instagram. Those thoughts are about the exercises he sees on Instagram—"the wacky stuff that fit people come up with just for a video that most normal people would never—or could never—do in a real workout.

"I get the desire for novelty," he continues. "But remember that most of your results come from doing the basics really well, and the fit people doing those ‘cool’ exercises got fit doing the basics."

Put another way: Nobody builds an Instagram body by doing Instagram exercises.

2. How to manage a client’s expectations

Continuing with our "remember the basics" theme, Tony Gentilcore has some thoughts about an important and underrated skill for personal trainers: managing your clients’ expectations.

In particular, when someone asks you "how long will it take to …", the best answer is "3 x 52."

"Rather than place a specific number or time frame on a goal, it’s my job as their coach to titrate their expectations and to reframe things toward the idea of consistency," he says.

The takeaway: If you can get your client into the gym three times a week, 52 weeks a year, good things will happen. It might not take a full year, but it definitely won’t happen if the client doesn’t commit to showing up and putting in the work, week after week after week.

Go deeper: Geoff Girvitz wrote about client expectations in this 2018 PTDC article:

--> What Do You Do with a Client Who Wants Too Much, Too Soon?
3. Is this the biggest factor in weight management? Lou Schuler

I’ve been writing about fitness and nutrition since 1992, which means I’ve had lots of opportunities to write things I no longer agree with—including three of Contreras’ four "uncomfortable truths" about strength and conditioning.

But I’ve also been right a few times, including the reasons why all popular diets basically get you to the same place. Reason #3 on that list: "They eliminate most processed foods."

A recent study by Kevin Hall and colleagues supports that point in the most rigorous way possible. They locked volunteers inside a metabolic ward for four weeks and accounted for every bite of food. Here’s how the New York Times Magazine describes the experiment:

"They were each randomly assigned to one of two groups. One ate meals consisting primarily of ultraprocessed foods, including many that people typically consider healthy: Honey Nut Cheerios, Yoplait yogurt, and precooked frozen eggs.

The other group ate mostly unprocessed foods, including oatmeal, roast beef, Greek yogurt, fresh scrambled eggs, and barley. The meals offered to each group contained an equivalent number of calories and proportions of carbohydrates, fat, and sugar; participants ate as much as they wanted.

After two weeks, the groups switched diets."

The takeaway: Everyone reading this should be able to guess the outcome:

"On the ultraprocessed diet, the subjects on average consumed 500 more calories a day and gained two pounds."

Go deeper: Mike Doehla, founder and CEO of Stronger U Nutrition, says most people don’t want to believe their weight-control problems are the result of anything so straightforward. That’s why anyone who tries to offer nutrition advice needs to be prepared for negativity:

"The people you’re trying to help have heard it all before. … They think they have complex problems that require complicated interventions. You’ll see the same issues over and over again, and almost every time, the person you’re trying to help believes his or her problem is uniquely difficult."

You can find more of his insights in our latest article:

--> How to Become an Online Nutrition Coach
4. How we make money - Jonathan Goodman

Back in 1976, legendary radio host and motivational speaker Earl Nightingale made this observation:

"The money we receive will always be in a direct ratio to the demand for what we do, our ability to do it, and the difficulty in replacing us."

Demand comes from desire, and desire must be created. Your prospects won’t desire you just because of who you are. They’ll desire your products or services because you’ve made a market by establishing a new category that gives them a new path to achieving their goals, and new hope that achieving them is possible.

But demand by itself isn’t enough to guarantee your success. You need to focus that demand on the category you’ve created, on a product or service your prospects believe they can’t find anywhere else.

It sounds hard, but it’s actually easier than it’s ever been. Through groups or forums or social networks, any of us can gather our people in one place and speak to them as the only trusted expert in this space.

Within that space, you live and die on the quality of your product. You must be good, and you must get better over time.

If you’re a trainer whose clients don’t get the results they want, no amount of marketing, or market-making, will save you. Great marketing with a bad product will get some initial customers, but after that you have to get results. That’s what people pay for, and what drives word of mouth.

It also makes competition irrelevant. You’ve converted your competitors’ potential customers before they even knew those customers existed .

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

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