The other day, I went to get my haircut, and as I was on a break from work, I was still in my uniform. The guy who was cutting my hair spent 30 minutes telling me how "he only cuts hair part time now because he’s really a trainer." The man sitting next to me joined in the conversation, informing me that his son was a personal trainer as well.
The following day, I went to a sports store and was served by a girl who informed me she was in her last year of a Human Movement course and had just started her own personal training business.
It was at about this time I realized that nearly everyone is a trainer, wants to be a trainer or knows a trainer. Well, it seems like it anyway.
However, the reality is that only a small percentage of people who call themselves trainers actually seem to earn a reasonable income from personal training. By reasonable, I mean $30,000 plus per annum. If someone tells you how incredibly well they’re doing with their personal training business, you might want to halve the figures they give you. Then maybe halve them again.
Recently, I ran a one-day workshop for trainers. There were about 50 people in the group who all said they work in some capacity as a trainer. When I asked them to be absolutely honest about how much they were earning, I discovered that two people out of the entire group were making over $500 per week on personal training.
Now, I know success isn’t only about financial rewards, but if we want to make a career out of personal training, it must be financially viable as well as fulfilling and enjoyable. By the way, making lots of money (or having that as a goal) doesn’t make you shallow - that’s just how some people rationalize their own lack of success.
People who have never worked as trainers and are on the outside looking in often consider personal training a way to make some easy money. Many would-be trainers who come to me for advice have a "Hollywood" perception of what personal training is about.
No, I don’t spend my days training Miss World contestants or famous athletes for $200 an hour. Try unshowered, unshaven, stinky, grumpy business men at 5:30am who forget to bring their wallet, sleep through appointments and assume their time is more important than mine.
The good news is that it is very possible to succeed in personal training, but as with any other endeavour, it is more about planning, vision, passion, knowledge and action than it is anything else.
In the pursuit of excellence in personal training, we need to ask ourselves one important question: what do people want from a personal trainer?
- Consistency - They want to know that every time they walk through the door, they will be provided a quality product - not just when the trainer is having a good day. Too many people complain that their trainer has good and bad days. If people consistently pay the same money, they should expect to consistently receive the same level of service and quality of product.
- Fun - Even if the session is "technically appropriate" for the clients, if they hate the training, they won't be around for too long. It is possible to get results and enjoy the process - we just need to be perceptive to our clients' needs. Some trainers seem to have had a personality by-pass at birth. Clients generally don't want to join the Army or train with Sergeant Slaughter. They usually just want to lose a few pounds and have some fun along the way. Some people like the militant approach, but not many.
- Integrity - People don't want to think their trainer's sole motivation for training them is money. They want someone who genuinely cares for them and does things for them they don't want to do themselves. It is my experience that if someone is involved in personal training only for the money, they will probably fail. There is nothing wrong with making money, but if you don't have passion for what you do or the people you train, it will be reflected in the quality of your work and in your manner with clients. (For more on integrity, please listen to Phil Kaplan's audio clinic titled Integrity: The Art of Doing What is Right.)
- Professionalism - This covers many areas: communication, knowledge, qualifications, training skills and business skills. I wish I had $10 for every time someone complained to me about an experience they had with an unprofessional trainer. Every time someone trains with you or uses your service, it should be a completely professional experience from start to finish. If you really want to destroy your reputation and business quickly, just start dating your clients - it works for lots of trainers! If you really want to clinch it, just run down all the other trainers in your area and tell your clients how lucky they are to have you - this is also pretty effective.
- Honesty - People want to know that they are not being "scammed" or just told what they want to hear. People will respect you more as a trainer and an individual if you are truthful, respectful and genuine.
- Inspiration - Clients want someone who can motivate, teach, guide and inspire them. Remember, if you're not motivated and inspired, you won't motivate or inspire anyone. They want someone involved in their life who is passionate and dynamic and who can help them to achieve the things they've never been able to achieve on their own.
- Results - The bottom line for many clients is results (i.e., physical changes). Of coures, everybody who walks through the door has goals and aspirations. As trainers, we want people to enjoy the experience and be motivated and educated. However, one of our primary objectives is to help them change their bodies. If you want a lot of business, create outstanding results with your clients. Remember, many people will judge your ability as a trainer on the results you get (or don't get) with your clients. So, be absolutely passionate about creating outstanding results. If you help someone achieve something they've struggled with for years, they'll bring you more business than you can handle. And there's your marketing strategy: results!!
By implementing these seven essential elements, you will be well on your way to achieving success in your personal training business!