All personal trainers who make a living getting people in shape operate by one measurement of fitness currency.
Sessions serviced are the number of hours or blocks of time a person purchases from you to help them get into shape. At a gym, sessions are sold in packages and promoted as programs. The problem with this process is that programming becomes secondary to purchasing sessions, and the quality of the program usually relies on the number of sessions a person purchase.
I did the same thing as a personal trainer, and I unknowingly would give specific clients more attention than others because they purchased more sessions. One day I looked back at the progress of my clients. I looked at the ones who were in great shape and got some results but not the fantastic results as my more consistent clients. I began to dissect my process, and I realized that I was subconsciously discriminating against clients who didn't buy colossal session packages. This realization made me understand that I was training for the wrong reason.
Please don't get me wrong, I wanted to see people get in shape and meet their goals, but they invested more hours with me with the stipulation. Over time I would get burnt out by training too many people, which caused me to fall out of love with personal training. I took a one-year break and returned after the requests of some old clients that needed me. I knew I didn't want to dedicate many hours to training everyone, so I focused on designing their programs with so much detail that they wouldn't need to spend hours with me to get the result they wanted.
This tactic proved to be more valuable to my clients than the personal time and allowed me to double my cost per session because they knew they would be getting 3 hours' worth of training with one hour of my time. I figured out why I wasn't as successful as a trainer early on in my training career. I was selling sessions and not pitching programs.
If you wonder what's the difference, I will break it down for you with a scenario. When you go to the doctor, you pay for that doctor's appointment to diagnose a symptom or cure an ailment in your body. When you meet with the doctor, he analyzes the problem, gives you a temporary fix, and sends you home with a prescription that gives you detailed instructions on fixing your situation when you leave the doctor's presence. A personal trainer does the same thing. A client walks up to us. They present us with a problem (they need to lose weight, gain muscle, improve energy, athletically perform better, etc.) After diagnosing this problem, usually a 30, 60, or 90-day workout program, we should prescribe them a routine to get them to their goal and eliminate their fitness problem.
The prescription step has been missing for most trainers. We live in a fitness world now where there are two types of trainers;
Trainer #1: The on-the-fly trainer.
This type of trainer is the one with no clipboard. They can tell a client exactly what they need and design every session is on the spot.
Trainer #2: The program designer.
This trainer is the one who has a library of "satisfaction guaranteed" programs that can get anyone into great shape.
I have been to both of these trainers, and it wasn't until I became a fitness manager and tasks to teach new trainers how to be trainers that I found out that the perfect trainer is the one who is a blend of the two. The ideal trainer can assess a client and, on the fly, design a program that will guarantee that individual client's satisfaction. Once a trainer can master these two traits, they will be 10x more successful instantly.
It sounds easy, but how do you pitch programs instead of selling sessions? Aren't sessions part of the program? Isn't this the same thing? The answer is yes, and no.
Yes. Sessions are part of programs, but the amount of sessions needed to complete a program varies from person to person. Depending on where you work, the temptation can be to sell the most sessions possible rather than pick the best plan to help the client.
No. Sessions are not the same as a workout program because an individual session doesn't help anyone unless there are follow-ups. A workout program contains follow-ups to all individual sessions.
When you are building your fitness business, you must adopt the art of pitching programs instead of selling sessions. Now, this truly is an art because personal training is not tangible. People pay for personal trainers based on trust and the idea that a fitness professional can advise you to reach your fitness goals. People pay for private training to have someone design a road map to success when taking a person's goals and creating a detailed plan to meet that goal, making personal training a necessity and not a luxury.
Making Personal Training Tangible
How do you make personal training tangible?
Personal training is not tangible or a physical item, in the sense that you cannot physically take personal training with you. Personal training is a service. It is a luxury service. The problem with luxury services is that when people are budgeting their finances, the personal trainer is the first one to cut out the budget. Think about your finances, and now think about your physical fitness goals. As you think about your account, you will start to assume that a personal trainer's cost, which can be close to $800 + your gym membership, which may range from $20 to $60 a month, is unnecessary. You will begin to think, why don't I pay my membership, get off my ass, and train myself? This solution sounds like an easy fix, get rid of the personal trainer. Now, remember that you are a personal trainer, and your income is based on people NOT treating you as a luxury item and more of a necessity. How do you change their minds or ensure that these thoughts never enter their minds at all?
The way to avoid this is by making personal training tangible. Creating a physical workout program is a way to make personal training real. I'm going to give you three techniques to quickly design a program that will give your client a tangible product to warrant the amount of money they pay for personal training.
Technique #1: Write their first-day notes down.
When you assess a client on their first time meeting you, treat it as day one of their programs. Even if they haven't bought training from you yet, every person who allows you to assess them is a person who wants you to train them, or else they would have never given you an hour of their time. Make sure the person sees you writing notes because, as a doctor, you are the professional, and when you visit a professional writing notes about you, you start to think about what you're doing a little deeper. For example, when a doctor asks you to open your mouth, they look in it and immediately start writing notes after observing your tongue, your mind says something is going in, and I don't know what it is, but this doctor needs to fix it. The same goes for training. When you ask a person to do squats, no matter what their fitness level is, and you write notes, they immediately think something is wrong with their form or technique, and they look to you to correct them. This starts the process of making personal training tangible.
*Side note *
Don't just write random notes down. Write actual letters about your client; don't use their session as an opportunity to write your grocery list.
Technique #2: Have a set amount of sessions already ready to be pitched.
I know you are thinking you just said stop selling sessions and start pitching programs. This statement is not a contradiction. Remember, sessions are part of programs, but selling a random amount of sessions for the sake of selling sessions is not pitching a program. Having a set amount of sessions in your head that match your program makes it easier for you to instruct how many times a client needs to meet with you. At the same time gives them an ending point that allows them to feel like they are purchasing something that will produce results and not just giving money to a trainer with the blind hope that they will get them in shape. For example, a two day a week 30-day program is eight sessions, a two day a week 60-day program is 16 sessions, and a two day a week 90-day program is 24 sessions. When you have these set sessions, it's easy to have your client focus on the program instead of the number of sessions they are buying. This allows them to separate the price from the program.
Technique #3: Write out the first month with the client.
A handwritten (or typed) calendar is the most valuable item trainer can give a client. It's a literal road map for the client to get to their goal, and it gives them a physical item that allows them to see when they will reach their destination. It all serves as an additional tool for motivating your clients when you are not around. Writing the calendar out with a client helps them feel empowered by the process of starting their fitness journey with you. After the program is written, you now have a tangible piece of personal training that makes a person feel better for purchasing personal training with you.
Pitching the Program
Sales are everything, and even if you think you don't want to be a salesman as a trainer, you have to be. Remember, you can't get a client to train with you unless you sell them training. Pitching a program takes the word "sell" out of the equation, which will psychologically make a potential client feel more comfortable and show when you are trying to offer them a program. To pitch a plan, you must have a pitch. The best program pitches for fitness are usually story based because it gives you a chance to take the client to another world in their head. You can then incorporate wellness into this world and eventually get the client to "start" their program instead of "buy" training. I have three pitches that I use for clients that help paint the picture of my workout programs. Feel free to use them as much as possible. Don't worry if it doesn't work on the first try. Practice makes perfect.
The setup is your ice breaker and leads to more successful closed deals. Having a great setup means you can associate a story with the fitness program that allows your potential client to see the journey's benefit.
"Baking the Cake"
Starting a workout program is like baking a cake. First, you need the ingredients, milk, flour, eggs, cake mix, and frosting. These are similar to your gym membership, workout clothes, and water bottle. Next, you need to set the oven to the right temperature and mix the ingredients. This process is equivalent to coming getting your gear on and heading to the gym. The next step is the baking process, all components are placed in the oven, and they start to cook. This process is equivalent to doing daily runs, taking a class, and getting on a workout schedule. Last, you get to decorate the cake. This is the fun part; it's equivalent to buying new clothes to fit your unique body or getting ready to conquer that competition you've been training for.
Now that you see the similarities between baking a cake and starting a workout program, all you need is a cake recipe and a good chef. Your custom workout program is the recipe, and your trainer is the chef.
Let's get started.
Once the client hears the setup, they will begin to explain their goals. Most clients who don't have specific fitness goals, such as injury rehab, will have three common goals.
• Weight loss
• Muscle Gain
• Perform Better
Before you pitch a program for any one of these goals, make sure you set a specific goal. This can be losing pounds, gain 5 pounds of muscle, or run a mile 1 minute faster. Once the particular goal is set now, you can pitch a program.
Pitch #1: The Sinking Boat (Weight Loss Program Pitch)
Imagine your body is a boat. This boat carries your muscles, bones, and organs through life. Now imagine bags filled with cement being piled into your boat. How slow do you think your boat will go? How many bags before your boat starts to sink? Losing weight is just the process of getting rid of these bags so that the boat can sail easier. As you get rid of these bags, the boat's engine (or your heart) doesn't have to work as hard to move it through the water. The structure of the boat (your bones) remain strong because they're not carrying excess weight. Now your body treats fat the same way (bags of cement weighing down the boat). When you eat bad foods, you are putting the bags of cement into your boat. When you don't actively exercise, you allow the bags to pile up, making you heavier and sinking your boat. A sinking boat is equivalent to diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. Exercising is how you get rid of these bags or fat. Imagine every time you exercise; your body has its workers dumping bags overboard. The workers in your body are your muscles. The better you treat your workers, the more efficient they are at removing bags from the boat; hence working out more will make your muscles more efficient at removing fat.
The way personal training factors into this scenario is that every boat needs a captain and a map. Let the personal trainer be your captain, and let your workout plan be your map.
Let's get your weight loss journey started.
Pitch #2: The Rubber Band around the Pencil
(Muscle Gain Program Pitch)
So you want to build muscle. Well, when you think about building muscle, you have to breakdown the process. Most people see building muscle as inflating balloons on your body, giving you a look you want. That may be the case with illegal substances, but muscle building is a longer, more tedious process to do it naturally. To get the whole idea about how to build muscle, grab a pencil. Then snap it in half—easy right (if not, hire a trainer asap!). Now take ten rubber bands, and then wrap them all around the pencil. Now try to break it. The pencil won't break easily because the lead's structure is protected by the rubber bands' buoyancy and resistance. Even if the pencil does break under the rubber bands, it will only be cracked, and the rubber bands around it will allow the pencil to maintain its structure. This relationship between rubber bands and pencils is the same as your bones and muscle fibers. Your muscles wrap around your bones to cover them and protect them from harm, so when you build muscle, breaking bones is not easy because you aren't attaching balloons to your bones for them to look bigger, you are wrapping them in rubber bands to protect them. The hard part of this process is that it's long and tedious. This process's benefits are that you will be much stronger when done correctly than before and look good.
Your trainer will serve as the artist who spends time wrapping your pencils (bones) with rubber bands (muscles) to ensure you build muscle in all the right areas. Let's get you started.
Pitch #3: The Lonely Lumberjack (Performance Pitch)
Old school lumberjacks used to use one ax to take down a tree. It took hundreds of swings, and it took days to chop down a few trees. Eventually, lumberjacks began to team up and use double-handled saws, plus teamwork to help saw through trees and cut them down faster. Decades later, machines were created to take down multiple trees in half the time, and they could be operated by one lumberjack again. Imagine the tree is your fitness goals, and for years you have been chopping your goal with one ax, by yourself. Now imagine your trainer being the person holding the other side of the double handled saw helping you cut down that tree. How much faster would you reach your goal? Last, imagine that your workout program is your tree cutting machine. How many goals would you be able to achieve now that you have the device to guide you through most of the process? This is how personal training works to get you to perform better. Your trainer is the assistant with the equipment to help you cut down your goal trees.
Let's get started.
Did you notice how every pitch ended with "Let's get you started"? This statement will help you gauge your client and make a set decision (start training or don't). This question is not backing them in a corner. It shows them the journey and allows them to decide whether they want to take it with you. This statement cuts down on objections because it only allows the client to give objections based on price and time.
Price objection. They can't afford training, but they still want it.
Time objection. They don't have time now, but they may have to make some.
Be sure to say this statement confidently. If it comes out like a question, you have lost your client. Believe the statement. When you are using these pitches, you have a mock program ready for each pitch to show the client. If you use these tactics, you will increase your training business by 50% quickly, and if you don't believe me, then test the pitches out. Use these program pitches on ten people. I guarantee five will start training with you.
The keys to successfully pitching these programs are simple;
• Take time to illustrate the story
• Suggest getting them started. Don't ask. Make them tell you no.
• Be confident.
These three keys will ensure the process is smooth, and it doesn't pressure a person to buy anything from you but guides them on a journey with you. Remember, most people who will allow you to train them already want personal training. You may hear, "oh, it was free, so I did it," or "I just wanted to learn something new to help me with my program." That's all "B.S."! These statements are walls to try to keep from committing to training. That's why you never "sell" training. You "pitch" a program. People don't want to buy personal training, but they will invest in a workout program they believe in.
This process of pitching programs will never work if you don't believe in the program yourself. Don't pitch nonsense. Take your time to design a weight loss, muscle gain, and performance program, then apply it to yourself. You are a certified fitness professional, and you are an athlete yourself, so be sure that you are participating in your program before giving one to someone else. This way, you will be staying true to what you pitch. This process is simple;
"practice what you preach, so you can preach what you practice."
Once you have mastered the process, you won't have to resort to selling anything. You will illustrate your success story and ask a person to start their own story with you as the author.
Thank you for reading this portion of the book. As a community of fitness professionals, we are the frontline in the war against obesity and diseases that can be cured and prevented through physical fitness. We are the fitness warriors, but we are a small army, so we must continue to train and recruit more fitness soldiers to help us win the fight.
I wish you all nothing but success in your fitness careers.