"What's the Best Piece of Fitness Industry Advice You've Ever Received?"

Apr 19, 2015

Tricks of the Trade

The best fitness advice that I have received is: Don’t be afraid to be creative. I was nearing the end of my education in the fitness field. The advice was just what I needed before returning to my hometown to start training a full client list. I was at a “hands-on” retreat to get practical experience in training.

One presenter at this workshop was Derrick Price of PTA Global. He was introducing us to a concept near and dear to his heart called the “play-out.” We were in a room full of unconventional training tools—everything from medicine balls and dumbbells to balloons and pool noodles. We were encouraged to “make up exercises” with the tools. This was my “AHA!” moment. Until then, all my school courses preparing me for training were heavily focused on form for traditional exercises and lifts and on using conventional weight training machines. This new concept was extremely useful; it taught me confidence in my knowledge of proper body mechanics, allowing my clients to move in many planes, even adding games and the element of fun to exercise.

This advice has served me well in my first 4 years of personal training. I live in the beautiful Florida Keys, where we do not have many gyms, but we do have many people who would love to move and feel better. I fill this need by getting my clients outdoors or showing them how they can get a fantastic workout without leaving home. When I look at a public park now, I don’t just see a park! I see trees that allow for suspension straps and resistance bands; lampposts as anchors for undulating ropes; and fields for games and relays. I do the same when I visit clients’ homes and yards. I have clients living with Alzheimer’s disease who enjoy exercising while playing “I spy” and memory recall games.

I also train at a beautiful four-star resort on a private island. The fitness center is small and full of treadmills and stationary bikes. My guests love getting an island-style workout outdoors, while watching manatees visit and boats go by. This style of training keeps me busy because, quite simply, it’s fun!

I try to pass on my enthusiasm for fun to my clients. I don’t want them to say, “I have to work out today”; instead, I would love for them to say, “I get to work out today.” When I achieve that, then I know that client will stay fit for life.

Stacy McKie
Personal Training with Stacy
Little Palm Island Resort and Spa
Cudjoe Key, Florida

The one piece of advice that has really worked for me is “five a day.” I heard this at a group I joined called the Be Better Project, led by Phil Kaplan. We learned a lot of good information about growing a personal training business. The idea is to talk to five people a day about your business. If you are shy, you could start out with just talking or saying hi to five people a day. Once that feels comfortable, then talk to them about your business. Don’t do a sales pitch; work what you do into the conversation casually. I always let people know that I have a monthly email newsletter that discusses exercise and healthy eating and includes a great recipe. I ask them if they would like to receive my newsletter. If they say no, then I say, “Okay, no problem.” If they say yes, I get their email information and sign them up.

I always carry an index card with me and I write down the contact information I receive. My kids used to ask me every day who was on my card. It kept me accountable.

The people I speak to tend to remember talking to me, and they think of me when asked if they know a personal trainer or when they are looking for a trainer themselves. I have had people call me who were referred to me by someone I met in the grocery store. This “word-of-mouth marketing” is very effective. Most of my business is from referrals. If people meet you and talk to you in a nonthreatening environment, they tend to be more comfortable and open to you. I specialize in working with people who want to lose hundreds of pounds; going to the gym can be a threatening environment for these clients.

Holly Kouvo
Owner, Fitting Fitness In™
Stow, Massachusetts

I received the best piece of advice from my back surgeon, and it turned into my motto “Just Move.” After I had spinal fusion surgery, I was in a great deal of pain. I was stressing out about not being able to do my preferred workout (Tae Bo® at that time). With two toddlers at home and a husband who traveled for work, I was depressed and felt that I’d never get back to my former fitness level. My doctor simply said, “Just move. You don’t have to ‘do a workout’ to exercise.” He told me to just do one thing I didn’t do the day before: dance to my favorite song, walk, play with the kids, etc. As soon as I let go of that “workout” mentality, I was able to relax and appreciate the strides my body was making in healing itself and regaining strength.

I often work with clients who are struggling. Being inundated with photos, websites, etc., of incredibly fit, ripped individuals is very defeating for them. They think they must “kill their workout” to get anywhere. I simply tell them to “just move.” Slowly but surely we get to their goal, and they often tell me that keeping it simple is what finally worked for them.

Judy Koenig Browne
Manitou Springs, Colorado

Leave your ego at the door.

I’ll never forget when Bruce Burke, owner of One on One Fitness in State College, Pennsylvania, said those words to me while I was interning there my senior year of college. As a student, eager to begin my career, this was the last thing I wanted to hear! I had just spent 4 years getting my kinesiology degree and already knew everything there was to know about training. Boy, was I wrong! It wasn’t until I humbled myself that I began to grow and that doors began to open for me.

If you want to be successful in the fitness industry, you need to realize it is not about you; it is about your desire to help others, your ability to listen and your commitment to professionalism. Every moment of every session must be about doing what is best for the client— not doing what you do best or are most comfortable with. Humility allows us to do that. It also allows us to regularly ask for constructive criticism, which gives us the opportunity not only to get better, but often to salvage a client relationship.

Checking your ego is the best advice I was given early in my career. Now, let me give you some advice. Seek mentorship! We don’t know what we don’t know. I have developed a long-term mentoring relationship with Bruce Burke (a 30-year industry veteran), which has contributed significantly to my company’s success.

Don’t confuse ego and confidence; they are two totally different things. Well-placed confidence will lead to success. Ego will not.

Ryan Hassinger
Founder, Ry 9 Fitness
Blue Bell, Pennsylvania

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