Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How to Get the Most from Personal Fitness Training

Have you ever considered using the services of a personal trainer to help you get fit? Well, I've been in the training business for several years and have made some important observations. Because my mission is provide you with the most valuable information I can, I'd like to suggest you read this before you spend your first dollar. You won't be sorry.

Millions of dollars are poured every year into private sessions with personal fitness trainers and results are often limited. Sometimes women aren't even sure what results they can expect. And they are never asked what results they want.

Often when women are asked why they want to work with a trainer, they will look somewhat puzzled. Then they will stammer, "I need someone to make sure I exercise" or "I want to get in shape". Go one step further and ask them what results they are really after and again they are stopped dead in their tracks. It is very important that you know what you expect so that your exercise prescription can be designed with very your specific goals in mind.

Hiring a personal trainer is one of the best investments you can make if you want to get into shape.

Time and again I've watched women come into the gym day in and day out exercising on their own and getting absolutely no results. They are certainly committed. They are willing to spend their time and effort. But designing a fitness program is a science with countless variables and one needs knowledge to have exercise sessions be most effective--and safe.

Most women won't ask the questions they need to ask. They simply muddle through on their own. And many do a pretty good job of muddling through. But there comes that moment when, in order to really break through and get impressive results, they need to consult a professional. After all, how many people can learn to play the piano or ski well without at some point getting expert guidance?

However, once they take the step to hire a personal fitness trainer to guide them, many clients don't demand enough of their trainers and many trainers don't get results for their clients. They have a nice time together chatting and catching up but it ends up being more social than sweat.

Securing the right personal fitness trainer is not always simple to do. Most women have no way of knowing who is and who isn't a good trainer. Although the fitness industry is working hard to upgrade the image of fitness professionals, there are still plenty of practitioners around who believe that just because they know how to get themselves into shape or because they care, they are qualified to train other people.

Here are some of the potential pitfalls:

On the part of the client:

The client...

. Isn't clear about what he/she wants to accomplish.

. Doesn't demand the best from trainer.

. Accepts unacceptable behavior on part of trainer;

i.e.,lateness, lack of attention, no charting of sessions 
to track progress, talking while client is exercising, use 
of cell phones during training session, or not 
planning sessions with an eye to results.

On the part of the trainer:

The trainer...

. Doesn't ask client what they really want.

. Doesn't customize the sessions, using boilerplate workouts.

. Doesn't set goals with the client.

. Doesn't dress appropriately.

. Doesn't hold the client accountable, accepting unacceptable client behavior; i.e., cancellations, lateness, no-shows.

. Doesn't keep his/her eye on the client during the session.

. Accepts less than perfect form.

. Doesn't continually instruct client.

. Doesn't educate client.

Getting the Client/Trainer Relationship You Want

There are several ways in which you can assure yourself that you are selecting the trainer who suits your needs. Here are some guidelines:


Not every trainer and client are suited to one another.

The first thing you need to do is make a few decisions before you interview even the first trainer. Do you want someone who is "tough" like a drill sergeant or does a gentler type of coaching appeal to you? Do you want someone young or someone more mature? Do you feel more comfortable working with a man or a woman? If you have a preference, for goodness sake, don't waste your time talking to anyone else. You need to feel comfortable with the person you select. You end up spending a great deal of time together. You need to find someone you can trust. After all, you are going to have to be willing to surrender to their coaching so you need to feel that whatever they are suggesting is in your best interest.


What is their training philosophy? How do they work with clients? How do they feel about what they do? Do they take their work seriously? Are they committed to fitness as a career? Are they ongoingly engaging in educating themselves about the most current developments and techniques in fitness? As in any discipline, research is always being done that produces new insights into the most effective ways to get results and, if they are truly committed to their chosen profession, they will want to find the most valuable information.


There are trainers who are most effective with athletes; some work well with seniors, some with disabilities, some with pregnant women.

You need to know what you are looking for. What kind of trainer do you want? If you are a 50-year-old woman and hire a trainer who is interested in working with youthful body builders, you will surely be disappointed with your training sessions.


You want to find out what degrees and/or certifications they have. I don't mean to suggest that there aren't terrific trainers who don't have the best credentials, but the quality of the education is a pretty good indicator of their dedication to stretching themselves. They aren't willing to slip by with the most minimum of training. And are they continuing to educate themselves and keep up with the latest training techniques?


Ask for referrals. How do their current and past clients feel about them?

A few other important items

Do they have hours flexible enough to accommodate your schedule? They need to accommodate you; you don't need to accommodate them.

Notice their personal appearance. Are they neat, clean, well groomed? Do they take pride in their appearance? A word of warning here. If you notice that the trainer is more interested in looking at him/herself in the mirror than watching you, you need to find someone else. His/her attention should be on you at all times.

Are they reliable and prompt? Were they on time for the interview? After all, you are going to be paying them for their time so they need to be there when they scheduled you.

And you're not off the hook. Once you have made the commitment to personal training and have a found a trainer with whom you want to work, there are a few rules to which you need to adhere . . .. if you want to get the most out of your personal training.

You need to be on time for your training sessions.

You need to make your fitness a priority. Canceling sessions frequently displays a lack of commitment to the program. Consistency is important.

If canceling is unavoidable, you need to give your trainer sufficient notice. After all, it is their business and what they sell is their time.

You need to follow the trainer's instructions given without whining. After all, you've put your trust in them.

You need to let your trainer know if you are having a physical problem. That will allow them to make intelligent decisions about your workout session. Don't assume it doesn't matter.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How To Find The Right Personal Trainer

This article will spell out for your the most important questions and points needed to guarantee that you will find the best/most qualified personal trainer available to you.

The first and most important question a personal trainer should ask you is "What are your goals?" or "What are you trying to accomplish"?

You are employing him or her to teach you the proper techniques needed to utilize the equipment effectively and safely, yet providing you the results that YOU desire. You want a personal trainer who will listen to you and be sensitive to your limitations at your present fitness level.

He or she needs to assess your level of endurance, strength, and coordination to actually provide you an exercise program designed specifically for you. A perfect way of doing this is by describing past workouts, prior activities, former experiences with personal trainers, and daily activities.

The chemistry between trainer and client is very important. You are entrusting your body to a stranger, be sure you are on the same page when it comes to fitness goals. Your physical well-being is at stake.

All goals are discussed and agreed upon before action is to begin. A trainer should know the fine line between pushing the client and when to ask for input. Asking if the weight being used is too heavy or are you getting enough out of the exercise is paramount. This is extremely important since you deserve to get the most efficient and safest workout possible in the time you spend with the trainer. There needs to be a high level of communication between client and trainer during training sessions to promote safety and professionalism.

He or she needs to know if a certain motion irritates a body part or joint. This will allow you to feel comfortable with the trainer and permit you to have a positive outlook on your workout.

The second, and equally important, question you need to discuss is that of physical limitations. This is what you can and can not do to permit a safe and productive exercise program. Physical limitations can be anything that prohibits any kind of activity. Limitations may include cardiovascular risk factors such as: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a sedentary lifestyle, tobacco use or a family history of heart disease. Others may include joint, ligament, or tendon weaknesses. These involve knee pain, lower back pain, or range of motion limitations in your shoulder. You should advise the trainer of all these items or problems.

You should also see a physician before starting an exercise program if any question remains with any kind of physical restrictions. The potential personal trainer should take into consideration all your limitations with each and every exercise that is presented to you. This will prevent any new injuries from developing and stop old injuries from reoccurring.

With all this physical history about yourself, the trainer can design a workout regiment for you. He or she should also tailor your workout to your goals, your time frame, your fitness level, and give you a realistic perspective on what to expect. You have every right to expect this kind of service since you are paying 
money to look and feel the way you want.

You should also ask as many questions as needed to allow yourself to feel comfortable and put to rest any concerns you may have prior to commencing your workouts.

Inquiring about liability insurance is another criteria needed to use in selecting a personal trainer. All personal trainers need professional liability insurance to protect themselves in case of unforeseen accidents. It's the law. Professionals should not be offended by such questions, which are a necessary formality. Just 
like an uninsured motorist, an uninsured trainer is not ready for the unexpected and occasional accident. A free weight dumbbell, which is handed to the client from the trainer, may fall and hit and break a toe. This could end up costing thousands of dollars after all medical bills are paid.

Does your prospective trainer know cardiopulmonary resuscitation? Also known as CPR. All certified trainers must pass this before they can teach someone fitness. They must be prepared to perform CPR at any time. Make sure that there is an emergency plan in place. This planning can mean the difference between minor injury and tragedy. This is a very important criterion you need to check and feel comfortable with when choosing a personal trainer.

In conjunction with your new trainer, you can now set realistic goals. You will also set a realistic time period for when you want to see results. Ask your trainer for the most efficient and safest way to achieve your goals. Frequency, duration, and methods of training will be discussed at this time. For example, to get rid of 
those love handles: the most effective way to do this is to increase the level and intensity of your cardiovascular workouts. A time span of two to three months is ideal, since it is long enough to get your body exposed to a new workout and produce results.

As a client of your trainer, you should always demand professionalism. Your trainer should always dress appropriately, be on time, speak to you respectfully and courteously, and encourage you constantly while supervising you during your workout. A trainer who wears skin tight clothes or yells at you during agreed 
upon sessions is probably more interested in his outward appearance and showing off to others surrounding him than helping you attain the look and health you desire.

After your new workout is custom designed and goals are agreed upon. It is time to set a time frame to achieve your goals. This will provide urgency to start working out and sticking to it. Above all, do not gauge your results by the number on the scale. A better measure of goal attainment is how you look and feel in your clothes in targeted areas. With your specific goals in mind, and 
the properly chosen trainer, you then can start an effective training regiment.

Monday, June 6, 2011

6 secrets of award winning customer service

Would you believe that your ability to provide quality customer service to your clients is at least as important as your ability to get them results from their training program? Did you even know that customer service was going to be part of your business model? After all, what does personal training have to with customer service?

The answer: everything. Remember that your clients are people first, and their status as one of your clients comes second. Knowing how to tend to the needs of your customers will literally make the difference between a long and prosperous career in the fitness industry, or a short-lived stint that leaves you wondering what career path you should try next!

In order to assist you in walking down the success path, here are six methods that you can use to "WOW" your clients on a regular basis, keeping them happy, loyal to you, and engaging in long-term prosperous business relationships. In no particular order they are: contact, date and event recognition, listening, flexibility, forward thinking, and over-delivering.


When you get a new personal training client, many people will still second-guess their decision to hire you. After all, a personal trainer can be an expensive asset, and your clients need to believe that they made the right decision. One of the easiest ways for you to ease their mind in the beginning as well as during the course of their training program is by simply staying in contact with them.

Most clients will see you at most 3 times each week, and some clients even less than that. With at least 4 days in each week when your clients don't see you, you are influencing them less than 50% of the time! Many clients hire a personal trainer because they need constant guidance and support, and less than 50% could hardly be considered constant.

An easy solution to this is to send your clients a few emails a week, or mail them an actual snail mail letter once in awhile. Clip an appropriate article from a magazine and make copies of it to mail to your clients, or email them the URL of a great motivational story about weight loss that you found on the Internet. Forward them funny anecdotes about health and fitness, or drop them a postcard congratulating them on their latest progress.

For that matter, pick up the phone! Call Suzie Client on Saturday to let her know that you just got done updating her client record and had reason to again marvel at how great she is doing with her program. You just can't pay for the type of customer feedback you will get from something like that!

Stay in contact with your clients in between training sessions, and the increased attention will remind them on a regular basis that in the beginning you committed to a one on one training program for them, not just to stand there 3 times a week while they exercise.

Date and Event Recognition

Recognizing special dates in your client's lives is another great way to show them that you are thinking about them in between training sessions.

- Send your clients a birthday card, or even a small but thoughtful gift. - Congratulate them on their wedding anniversary, or even send flowers or a card to their house. - Ask them how excited they are about the upcoming graduation of their child from high school or college. - Have a special token of your appreciation sent to their home or office after a set amount of time that they have been training with you - maybe annually or semi-annually. - Give them a special award every time they lose 5 pounds, or drop a percentage of body fat. - Attend the race or other fitness event that you have been training them for.

As you can see, the possibilities are limitless. The lesson that you want to take away from this section is that you went above and beyond the call of duty to recognize a date or an event that was important to your client. They won't forget that when it comes time to decide whether or not to keep working with you!


The fact that you should listen to your clients should go without saying. If your title is "Personal Trainer", please take a moment at this time to re-read the first word! Too many trainers fall into the familiar trap of just taking their clients through workouts. Your clients aren't paying you to workout with them. They are paying you to give them dedicated one on one service, and the actual workout is only one part of that.

In addition to the exercise programming, you must again think about the fact that your clients are humans before they are clients. As humans, they have as many outside considerations as you do. If you are only seeing them 3 hours per week, that leaves 165 hours each week when you are not around, and the lifestyle events that happen during that time will spill over into the training sessions.

Your clients will talk about their jobs, their spouses, their relatives and in-laws, their children and their neighbors, their gardener and their mailman, etc. Any good personal trainer realizes that although we have no business actually dispensing professional advice on personal or spiritual matters, we are a 3 time per week sounding board for our clients, and that is just part of the job. Listen to what your clients have to say, help out without leaving your professional boundaries, and let your clients know that you care about what happens to them, not just about what happens during the training session.


Although a trainer's day is usually dictated by a preset schedule, if you paint yourself into a corner with your calendar, you will quickly find that some of your clients can't stick with their program because their schedule is just not that black and white. In today's world of the ever-changing landscape of professional as well as personal lifestyle factors, many people have trouble doing the same thing day after day, and week after week. In order to keep your clients happy and on track with their programs, you must "roll with the punches" and exhibit some flexibility when it comes to scheduling and training issues.

It is a very good idea to have a running cancellation policy for your business, and it is an equally good idea to educate your clients on the need for regularity in their training program. However, being so inflexible that you charge a client $50 every time they get a flat tire, have to work late, or have a family emergency will quickly eliminate any professional bonding that your clients may have previously felt was a part of your working relationship. Enforce your policies, but be realistic about the fact that life is just not as black and white as it may have been 20 years ago.

Forward Thinking

This is as much of a sales technique as it is a great customer service tool. In a nutshell, it means that you should always be planning for the future when it comes to your clients. Talk to them about how you are going to start running with them once they get their weight down enough for their knees to handle the stress. Explain to them how much fun it will be when you can start taking them through the new training protocol that you put together. Get them excited about how good they are going to look on the beach this summer after several more months of working out with you, or about how their cousin Sally is going to be so envious at Christmas time this year when she sees how much weight your client has lost.

All of these things plant the seed for your clients that you are thinking about their future, and not just taking them through a workout. Let them know that you have great plans for them in the future, and that you can't wait to see their results when they get to a certain point in the program that you have them on. Again, your clients are people, and they want to be made to feel important, needed, and respected.


Over-delivering value to your clients is probably the most important technique out of any that have been listed so far. It is last in our list of customer service secrets so that it is the one that you remember the most!

Over-delivering is just what it sounds like - giving your clients more value for their money than they originally expected to get. In fact, all of the items listed above are great examples of over-delivery. Do you think that when your clients hired you they expected to be getting gifts on their birthday, expected you to be excited about the graduation of their children, or that they could vent to you about their mother-in-law during training sessions? These are all examples of the infinite number of ways that you can over-deliver value to your clients.

In addition to what has already been listed, you can get much more specific with your over-delivery efforts. Each of your clients has a very well defined fitness goal that they are diligently working towards. As a fitness professional, you should be regularly keeping up with the latest news stories about health and fitness, as well as getting Continuing Education Credits.

Put that information directly to use for your clients! How impressed do you think your client would be if their fitness goal is to be a competitive swimmer, and you take a course on training competitive swimmers? What about if you have picked up some clients who are over the age of 55 and you start reading books and clipping articles on Senior Fitness? How about a bonus training session that you give your client when they reach a goal? What about if you have a client who is on the high school wrestling team, and after working with him for 2 months, you offer to do a free class for his entire team? The teenager becomes a hero because his personal trainer gave up some winning tips before the big meet, and you get a boat load of free publicity!


The pattern developing here is clear, and the above examples are only sketches of things that you might consider. Remember that every successful personal trainer runs a business, he or she doesn't just workout with their clients. Get under the hood of your business, tinker around with the wiring, and find ways to "WOW" your clients everyday!