Saturday, April 30, 2011

Personal Training | Name One Good Reason Someone Should Hire You

By the time you have gotten past the title and read the first line of this article, you should already have the one reason in your head why a prospective client would hire you. If you don't, then you may have already discovered the biggest obstacle to the success of your personal training career!

What we're talking about here is a very important sales tool known as a "Unique Selling Proposition". Basically, this is the single most important thing about your business that makes you stand out from other professionals in your industry. The basic, bare bones, from the gut, instinctive answer that comes to your mind when someone asks, "Why should I train with you instead of another trainer"?

After all, isn't this the absolute most important question that you could possibly answer? Isn't this similar to a question that you ask yourself every single time you are about to spend money?

When you are headed out to the grocery store, you decide to go to a particular store. Why? Better prices, usually, although that is not always the answer.

If you are going to get gas in your car on the way to work, you choose a specific gas station to fuel up. Why? Price sometimes, but often with a convenience store, location is more of a deciding factor.

What about if you are going to go shopping for clothes? What makes you decide to go to an anchor store like Sears or JC Penney instead of going to Target, or Wal-Mart? Certainly not price, since the department stores are usually cheaper. Why did you go to the mall?

By now you should be starting to see a pattern developing here. Whether you are talking about buying groceries, gas, or clothes, each time when you decide to shop at a certain establishment, there is always some underlying reason WHY you decided on that store. Whatever that reason is, that is the Unique Selling Proposition of that store, and the way they got your business!

For grocery stores, it is often selection that brings in customers. Gas stations have price wars, but in the end it often ends up just being about convenience. Clothing stores get a lot of their business from the brand names that they carry, rather than their rock-bottom prices.

Those 3 examples were chosen to illustrate an incredibly powerful point for you in your personal training business. That point is that you need a Unique Selling Proposition, and contrary to popular belief, having a lower price is not the one that you want to choose. In fact, lowering your prices can help you to actually LOSE customers, and will definitely help your business to a lower bottom line!

Now ask yourself the same question again, only this time, really take the time to think about the answer. Why should someone train with you instead of another trainer? It is possible - in fact, even likely - that you may not have a good reason! If that is the case, your business is surely suffering as a result, and coming up with your own Unique Selling Proposition should become your highest priority.

Here is a brief but hardly all-encompassing list of ways that your business may stand out from your competitors. Even if none of these ideas apply to you, utilize this list to start thinking of other ways to make yourself a more appealing option for potential clients than your competitors.

Customer Service. This has been one of the most basic business success secrets since the dawn of time, yet personal trainers often don't take care of their customers nearly as well as they should. For some great tips on customer service, see the article 'Personal Training: 6 Secrets of Award Winning Customer Service' at the following URL:

Experience. People have always valued businesses who have a lot of experience in the service being provided, and that is certainly true for personal training. Your client's very health and well-being is in your hands! Don't expect long-term personal training clients if you don't have the knowledge to get them the results that they are looking for.

Education. Although education is certainly no substitute for experience, in a health profession such as personal training, you won't get far without the knowledge to get your job done properly. This can include your basic certification, your Continuing Education Credits, and any applicable college or trade school classes you take during your career.

Niche. Having a niche market is probably the most effective way to stand out from the crowd! If you are a trainer who "trains everyone", how can you possibly be very good at training a particular group of people? How can you claim to be the best trainer in town for athletes if you only train one athlete, and your other clients include a housewife, a corporate CEO, a teenager, a police officer, a kindergarten teacher, an elderly couple, and a swimsuit model? Specialize in ONE group of people, and not only will it build your credibility, but you can charge more for your sessions, since you are specialized in training that particular niche.

Value. Another basic tenet of business success, yet one that trainers often overlook. When all is said and done, what does your client get for signing on with you? Just training sessions? All trainers are doing that! What ELSE are they getting for their money? If you have to think about it, then you might need to build some more value into your business model!

Facility. If you work at or own a fitness facility or training studio, what makes your facility stand out from other facilities in town? Do you have more equipment? Do you offer more unique training programs? Does your facility have child care? A locker room? Private training areas? Think about why someone would walk into your door instead of the gym across the street.

Hours. Whether you work in a facility or do home training, what are your hours? Are you willing to train someone at 5:00am? What about 9:00pm? Today's world is full of incredibly busy people! If you try to stick to "banker's hours", you will have a hard time succeeding as a personal trainer.

As you can see, there are many ways that you can make your service or your facility a better option for your potential clients rather than them hiring one of your competitors. You should take the time to brainstorm even more ideas than those covered above, as that is a short list at best. There are many other ways that you can make your business the best option for your target market!

Once you have a few ideas in mind, choose the one thing that you feel truly makes your business "unique". What is that one single product, service, or business practice that has the power to yank your potential customers away from your competition?

Once you have the answer to that, promote that idea in everything that you do! Don't promote the fact that you are a trainer. Promote the fact that you are the best trainer for your target market because of your Unique Selling Proposition.

Make your business unique in some special way, promote that idea, and your business will grow in leaps and bounds. As you get more successful, you will come up with even more ways that your business is the best option for your target audience.

You will get more and more clients and those clients will be happy, healthy, and spreading the word about your great services. That, ladies and gentleman, is what we call a Win/Win situation!

Monday, April 18, 2011

finding a good personal trainer

The question of how to find a good personal trainer is as old as the industry itself. In fact, it usually gets transformed into an even bigger question - should you even HIRE a personal trainer? Conveniently enough, the answer to one of those questions will dictate the answer to the other one - every time!

The short and simple truth of the matter is that you should only hire a personal trainer if you can find an effective one that is right for you. Here are several things to consider before you decide!


The term professionalism should cover our prospective trainer's skills, as well as his/her ability to act in a professional manner. Both are critical to the training process, and if a trainer is lacking in either department, it will spell doom for your program eventually, either in the short term, or later on down the road.

The days of personal trainers just being jocks with a certification are (thankfully!) coming to a close. Today's personal trainer needs to be a consummate professional with regard to his/her actual skills, as well as ability to treat their clients in a professional and business-like manner.

For now let's just agree that if your trainer doesn't have a clue about how to get you in shape, you probably don't want to hire that trainer!

What about their level of professionalism? A good personal trainer will always maintain their professional bearing. They don't need to be some stick in the mud with no personality, but there are several things that a trainer should NOT be doing during a training session. These include things like staring at themselves in the mirror, daydreaming, excessively talking to other people, talking on their cell phone, checking out members of the opposite sex, and just generally not focusing on you during the workout.

Your trainer should look professional as well. Although the actual clothing standards vary widely, some things that you should not see are excessive body jewelry, the latest fashions such as arm bands, beanie caps, combat boots, etc., or any clothing or accessories that are worn simply as decoration or because the style is in. The latest styles have absolutely nothing to do with your training program!


Which level of personal training certification is the best has been and continues to be a matter of extreme debate. This article will not propagate that debate with further discussion of the details. However, what you should take home is the fact that regardless of your fitness goals, your trainer should be qualified to train YOU.

For general health and fitness, any of the top 10 nationwide certification agencies offer acceptable programs. A brief list includes - but is not limited to - the International Sports Sciences Association, the American Council on Exercise, and the National Academy of Sports Medicine. There are others, and your trainer should be more than happy to point you to the website that governs his or certification, so that you can learn more on your own.

For more specific considerations like training for a sport or athletic competition, your trainer will need a higher degree of expertise. The American College of Sports Medicine has a great program and is one of the most recognized certifications for sport specific training.

You should ask very specific questions about how a potential trainer is going to tackle the particular issues that you want covered during your training program.


Regardless of your potential trainer's credentials and professionalism, you need to know where you are going to train. The industry standard of only working out at a gym is being challenged more and more these days. It is possible now to find a trainer who will come right to your house and train you, or possibly meet you outside, or in your housing area community fitness center. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that you have to go to the gym if you want a personal trainer!


One of the biggest issues for trainers and clients alike is scheduling. After all, you both have to be in the same place at the same time for a minimum of 30 minutes, and possibly as long as 90 minutes. A good trainer will try to find a way to fit you into their schedule. It won't always be possible, especially with a highly sought after trainer, but if the trainer truly wants to help you, they will do their best to fit you in.


Having a good rapport with your personal trainer is crucial! If you and your trainer don't get along, it's a waste of time for both of you. You will likely end up more frustrated than ever, thinking that even a professional couldn't help you!

Working with a personal trainer that you like is necessary, and on the flip side, the trainer should like you as well. You don't necessarily need to pick out curtains together, but you should at least be able to carry on a comfortable dialogue while you exercise. Most good trainers are good communicators as well, but if the two of you aren't very comfortable with each other, then it will cause tension and increase the risk of your program meeting with failure.

A good personal trainer will agree to meet with you face to face before you actually sign up for a training program. Some trainers offer a free or low-cost initial consultation, and that is the perfect time to size up your trainer to make sure they fit your needs!

You should take home the fact that the definition of a good personal trainer is someone who is not only a professional, but is also appropriate for your specific personality, needs, goals, and desires. You may be working with this person for awhile, so choose wisely!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Does Your Personal Trainer Know Squat?

Is your personal trainer qualified? How experienced are they? How can you know before committing to a long-term agreement? These are all questions that clients looking to hire a personal trainer have or should have.

Personal trainers hold a great deal of responsibility in their hands, as they "direct" their clients how to exercise safely and effectively. Personal training can be a lucrative career too, with some trainers charging as much if not more than doctor or lawyer consultation rates.

It is unlikely that you would hire a lawyer or a doctor strictly on heresy, popularity or if they "looked the role" but rather you would spend a good deal of time researching his or her credentials, track record and education. So why if you're going to pay a personal trainer equivalent fees should choosing an exercise professional be any different?

Rather than re-hash the details of the typical "How to Choose a Personal Trainer" cliche, this article provides the lay consumer just two helpful pieces of information to help when deciding on how to choose a personal trainer.

Grade the trainer's qualifications

A personal trainer is an exercise professional so their credentials should demonstrate this. Check to see if the trainer has had a formal education in exercise science, physiology or sports medicine.

Exercise is about science and is grounded firmly in the fields of anatomy, physiology and nutrition. Each field complements and builds on the other. Even the most experienced (or well-built!) personal trainer cannot fake knowledge he does not have. A thorough understanding of these fields is essential to effective and safe exercise instruction and is unlikely to be gained in a weekend or even a multiple week study course.

The client looking to hire a personal trainer should also check the certifying organization. Currently the most respected credentials are offered by the NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association), NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine), ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) and ACE (American Council on Exercise).

Some certifying bodies such the NSCA require certain educational requirements to be completed before sitting for the exam. An example is the NSCA's Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), which requires a bachelors degree in a related field to sit for the exam.

Grade the trainer's experience

An experienced and well-educated exercise professional can easily recognize others on par with themselves simply by observing the manner in how they work with their client and by watching the client's exercise technique.

But what about the casual exerciser who knows nothing of exercise or fitness? How can they discern the small details that give clues to a trainer's experience and quality of instruction? After all, certification only means that the personal trainer passed a written exam.

The answer is that it is very tricky for a layperson to judge personal trainers themselves from simple observation and as a result, may rely too heavily on the opinion of others.

Don't get me wrong there is nothing more valuable to a personal trainer than a good reputation and "word of mouth", but an informed consumer looking for a quality exercise professional should do a little more homework.

While there may be dozens of time consuming and complicated ways to assess a personal trainer's instruction quality and experience, this article describes a single test that will give the client a basic insight before committing to a contract or agreement. A client should not be embarrassed or scared to use this test; it is the full right and privilege of the client to interview and consult with the trainer before committing on a long-term or contractual basis.

The importance of the squat

The squat is a very functional movement that mimics everyday tasks such as lifting and getting out of the seated position. The squat is also quite a complex movement to both learn and teach and must be performed correctly with optimal technique to ensure safety and effectiveness.

Consider the importance of instructing safe technique in the squat. A loaded bar resting on a client's back places them in a compromising position, opening the door to the possibility of a crippling injury. A personal trainer then needs to be particularly attentive to detail when their client performs such an exercise.

The squat test then is a good means of roughly assessing the trainer's instructional ability and experience.

How can I use the squat test for grading my personal trainer?

If you can do it before signing with the trainer, try to observe him or her instructing other clients in the performance of a squat. Does the trainer carefully observe the client's technique (in a mirror if spotting) and offer pointers if necessary or does he or she look around or out the window and seem indifferent? As I mentioned, a squat can be a dangerous exercise to perform, especially for the inexperienced exerciser so attentiveness to detail is essential here.

If you are unable to observe the personal trainer's technique beforehand, request a free consultation and during this time have him or her instruct you in the performance of a body weight squat (even if you hate squats and never plan on doing them as part of an exercise routine, request that the trainer observe your technique and offer pointers as if it were a barbell loaded squat).

In either situation, if the observed client's technique demonstrates the following pointers, or if the personal trainer confidently makes mention of most or all of them, it indicates a good working knowledge in how to teach and ensure safety and correct form in the squat.

If the trainer passes the squat test, the experience and skill they demonstrate will most likely transfer to the instruction of other exercises too.

Here are some of the most important pointers for safe and effective performance of the back squat:

· The bar rests on a platform base of the lower neck and shoulders

· The feet shoulder/hip width apart and very slightly toed out; the heels should only be placed on blocks if the instructor observes the heels rising off the floor in the decent (tight calf muscles)

· The lifter inhales before the descent and holds his/her breath (kudos if the instructor mentions avoiding the "Valsalva Maneuver"* here)

· The legs "buckle" under control - like "sitting down in a chair"

· As the knees bend, they remain directly in line with the toes and do not move past the toes

· The spine remains straight and very close to vertical throughout the entire movement (a slight "hole" is allowed in the lower back, but it is essential that the upper back does not "round")

· The chest remains up and out (extra points if the instructor mentions keeping the gaze straight ahead or slightly above to prevent spinal rounding)

· The back of the head remains approximately parallel to a vertical line from the back of the heels - which remain flat on the floor

· The bar tracks a near vertical line throughout the movement while "pressing with the heels"

· The client exhales through the "sticking point" 

(Your flexibility may limit the performance of a perfect squat but the pointers are still valid).

While a client must consider the other attributes of a personal trainer such as personality and rapport, it is important to have some means of measuring his or her experience and credentials before making a decision to commit to a contract or long-term agreement. Hopefully this article has provided some very basic information for the lay fitness consumer to be a slightly more "informed" one.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Should I Use a Personal Trainer?

Someone asked me if they could write into smart-bodybuilding and get the same advice that they would from a personal trainer? The answer is yes, and no. I give the same information that you may get from your personal trainer. But my answers to your problems will be general in nature, not specific for you the individual. A personal trainer will be able to give an answer that is more tailored to you specific needs.

Personal trainers will be able to help you in areas where working out on your own just won't. If you are new to working out and you have the money get a personal trainer for your first month or so, I suggest that you get a personal trainer.

Some people that are already confident working out on their own still get personal trainers. The reason for more advance trainers going back to a personal trainer can be any number of things, here are just a few that you might consider.

  • Motivation is one of the most important value of a personal trainer for the neophyte to the gym as well as the more experience bodybuilder. In the case of the new comer a personal trainer will help to keep you on your schedule and help you reach your goals.
  • If you are new to exercise then a personal trainer can help you develop a beginner's routine that is in line with your goals.
  • A personal trainer can help you with form and the correct working of the machines
  • A personal trainer can help you with break though plateaus and shorten non-progressive time in the gym.
  • A personal trainer watches your form, monitors your vitals and can provide objective feedback about your limits and strengths.

Many professional bodybuilders have trainers that guide them in not just how to do an exercise but also the nuances of muscle movements. More importantly a good trainer is not afraid of hurting your feeling. He/she will say when your legs chest or arms are lagging behind, or that your present diet is not what it should be. Remember your success is also his/her success so you best interest is (if he is worth a dime) also his best advertisement.