Tricks of the Trade
“What is the biggest challenge in your personal training career?”
My biggest challenge is finding the
right trainers to work with me. It is hard to find qualified
trainers who are willing to train some of the clientele that I have (the
morbidly obese). Some of my clients require a lot of motivation, and not every
trainer is a motivator. I would rather have trainers who are recently certified
so that I can train them in the way my business, Fitting Fitness In™, works with clients. It is easier
to work with trainers who have not already put in place their procedures and
ways of doing things, because there is less of a learning curve in getting them
to follow our procedures. I look for trainers who have busy lives and know how
hard it is to fit fitness in. My clients can better relate to these trainers.
How do I meet the challenge of finding trainers? I tell everyone
I talk to that I am looking for trainers. I found my last trainer by talking to
the electrician who was working on my house. I told him that I was looking for
trainers. He told me his sister just went through a weekend course and was
studying for the certification exam. I gave him some information to give her,
and she called me the next day. It was a few months before she took and passed
the exam, but once she got her certification she came to work for me. She has
been an excellent hire.
I belong to a BNI (Business Networking International) networking
group and I announce in our meetings that I am looking for trainers. Posting on
websites of various certification companies and organizations like IDEA helps
me find good trainers, as well.
A new idea I received from Phil Kaplan during one of our Be
Better Project teleconferences is to print help-wanted ad business cards and
hand them out. This strategy has worked well because it gives people something
to hand to a prospective trainer that is more than a business card. The card
details what I am looking for, so only people who are interested contact me. I
have been getting great response from these cards.
It seems like I need to interview 5–10 candidates to get a
trainer who is the right fit. However, finding that person makes a huge
difference in my business.
Early in my career I was all over
the place with the type of clients I wanted to reach. Clients
ranged from young athletes who wanted to improve their running time to
90-year-olds who desired to move around the house more easily. I found myself
good at working with many types of clients, but not great at helping any one
type. Although our businesses do cater to many different demographics, I
discovered that my “sweet spot” client is the mature adult who wants
therapeutic and functional exercise. Working with this clientele challenges my
mind. I receive great pleasure when clients tell me how much more easily they
climbed out of their cars or were able to catch themselves when they slipped! I
feel like I have a much greater impact on the life and well-being of this group
than I do on other demographics.
Now, at this point in my career (four facilities, 60 employees),
the challenge has become finding time for me and my family, leaving work at
work and not bringing home the day-to-day stress. When your business is open 7
days a week, you co-own your business with your wife and you are passionate
about what you do, it is difficult to put down your work and find time to
exercise or to take a weekend off for your family. Most weeks fly by in a
blink, and I wonder how they passed so quickly. I truly feel lucky for what we
have accomplished with the great team we have in place, but can’t help but
wonder if the work-life-health balance can be accomplished at a breakneck pace!
To help me find balance, I joined Entrepreneurs’ Organization, so I can discuss
issues with others who have experienced life challenges similar to my own. I
try to leave my computer at the office as much as possible and stop answering
my phone once I am home.
Dale Huff, CSCS
St. Louis, Missouri
Going into my 18th year in the
fitness industry, one of my biggest challenges has been fighting the various
stereotypes of the personal trainer. The perpetual stereotype
of the trainer in films and on television wearing inappropriate clothing,
having a weak knowledge base, flirting with clients, shouting orders and
behaving unprofessionally unfortunately still exists.
I meet this challenge head-on by behaving as a professional
consistently and in every sense of the word. Professional behavior includes
reinforcing my business structure (hours, compensation, policies), being
punctual, maintaining appropriate records, returning phone calls and e-mails in
a timely manner, regularly attending continuing education courses, becoming
thoroughly versed in the most recent research and getting my clients results.
My mission remains to legitimize professional fitness training as
a long-term and rewarding career choice. I am in this unique field of study
that allows us to directly and positively impact clients’ lives! I don’t take
this opportunity for granted; instead, I focus on providing top-notch customer
service, science-based fun and challenging fitness training.
I am a full-time professional fitness trainer by trade—and proud
and Fitness Training
My biggest challenge at this point
in my career is ensuring that I can continue providing quality service to my
loyal clientele while creating space in my schedule for other interests and
Recently a wonderful opportunity with Canadian Sport Centre
Pacific/PacificSport opened up for me. The position is a part-time contract for
the next year. It allows me to help supply resources and support to
high-performance athletes and coaches—especially with the 2010 Winter Olympics
[in British Columbia] around the corner.
In order to take the new job, I needed to rework my schedule and
tweak my training business. Ultimately, I made the decision not to take on any
new clientele, to focus solely on maintaining the loyalty of long-time regulars
and to limit group fitness offerings to two classes per week and find a simpler
way to operate the classes.
Now my schedule is set for 31/2 days of the week with the new job. My regular
clients have adapted to fit into the available appointment slots around those
days. I offered clients who lost one training session a week the challenge of
following a workout on their own at home. I catch up with them via e-mail or
phone before their next face-to-face meeting to see how everything has gone and
to determine what adjustments need to be made—if any—for the following
The logistics of my fitness classes have been easier since I
became an employee of the local fitness centre. Someone else advertises the
classes and registers clients, and I can focus purely on teaching the classes.
While this change may seem to some people like a step back from working on my
own, it has provided a refreshing respite for me.
Restructuring my schedule certainly hasn’t all been smooth; a few
regular clients couldn’t make the change with me, and I miss them. And for the
meantime, as I catch up with my own business and climb the learning curve of
the new position, my life seems more hectic than ever before.
Overall, though, the effort it has taken to accept the challenge
of a new and exciting job and make it work with the best parts of my personal
training business is worth it. At the end of the yearlong contract, who knows
what will happen and what other opportunities may open up? But no matter what
they are, I know there is always a way to make things work—especially if you
really want to make the changes happen.
Diana Rochon, CSCS,
IDEA Elite PFT
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