Oh hey brah, thanks for asking.
Originally a personal trainer, I wrote a book called Ignite the Fire and started a website called the Personal Trainer Development Center (the PTDC). My career plan quickly changed and I transitioned to working entirely online grudgingly giving up my offline clients.
While I still miss training clients in the gym, my website allows me to help more trainers help their clients which scales the effect that I can have. I also have the freedom to travel and work now and spent the past winter in Hawaii, which was nice.
Winter in Hawaii, eh? That doesn’t suck!
So you really gave up all your clients to move to the business side?
Yep, I trained clients for 8 years but don’t work with any now.
You know, I can really respect respect that.
One of my pet peeves is fitness business people who act as though they still train clients. If you don’t train clients and you’re better at the business side, I have no issue with that. But at least be honest about what you’re doing on a day-to-day business.
So what drew you to the business side of fitness?
It’s funny actually because I don’t know.
Having almost failed every business course I ever took, this path is a bit of a surprise to me. I view myself as the perfect example of following ones intuition and not fighting change.
Business and marketing was interesting to me so I kept reading and trying out stuff without worrying too much about the repercussions. At 25 I figured that if I failed I’d be just like every other broke-ass 25 year old so may as well give it a shot.
So I kept trying, failing, trying, hustling, failing, innovating, trying, failing, innovating, hustling, and eventually became an overnight success 😉
I’m there with you on this. I hated English as a child yet there are people out there now who pay me quite well to write for their magazine!
As someone who obviously consults with fitness businesses, what do you see marketing wise that’s working? I know that a lot of people struggle to get leads and bodies in the door, so what would you say to someone like that?
Good question and I could go on here for a while but I’ll be succinct and just go over the biggest mistake I see.
Gyms and trainers seem to ignore the fact that they’re in the relationship business more than they are in the training business. I say this because if you don’t have a trusting relationship first, you won’t get a chance to train the client.
Every trainer should aim to become the go-to expert in his or her extended social circle for fitness and health advice. This means going out of your way to give the best advice possible when asked a question and following up afterwards.
It means hosting free q & a sessions on Facebook, and it means writing a blog for a year even if only 30 people read it each day because you know what?
30 dedicated clients is more than enough for one trainer.
To me, fitness marketing is about staying at the top of a potential clients mind for as long as needed until they are ready to commit. This way when they walk into a gym they ask “when can I start” instead of “why should I choose you”.
That’s great advice. Too many are quick to give up on marketing when it doesn’t take off within the first month or two!
Taking the business stuff a bit further, you’ve really seemed to dial in on social media as well. What are fitness pros doing well with social media? And perhaps more importantly, what could they work on to get even better results?
Social media is a bit of an obsession with me these days. Perhaps most pertinent for this conversation is the incredible potential that the fitness industry has to get information to spread through social networks.
I dub the newest drug on the market IIIAF. It describes my theory of selective self-representation and how people’s actions online are driven by the desire to appear Intelligent, Interesting, Intellectual, Attractive, and Funny.
IIIAF is addictive.
Getting perceived social support on Facebook in the form of a “like” has been shown to curb over-eating, alcohol consumption, and nicotine addiction.
So the next time that over-dressed and over-made up girl you know posts a picture with duck lips I suggest you “like” it. You might stop her from smoking a cigarette that evening.
Fitness pros have the potential to exploit this and many are. To get the best results with your social media efforts ask yourself one question before publishing anything: If shared, how will this make the sharer feel that they appear to their audience?
That’s really interesting, and I’ve never heard of IIIAF before.I can totally see how that works, though!
Switching gears slightly, something that seems to be on the up-and-up these days is online training. What are you general thoughts on online training and coaching in general?
I think that online training is the next revolution. While personal training is great and is one of the fastest growing industries in the developed World, obesity rates are still rising; something is missing.
To me, online training solves every major barrier that a potential client faces upon deciding to engage in a fitness program. It’s less obtrusive, more cost effective, location independent, and support systems are more powerful.
Perhaps most important is that potential clients can choose from a wider pool of trainers and do their research before.
Instead of walking into a big box gym and working with the trainer they’re given (which is usually the new guy/girl), they can do a bit of research and find somebody who specializes in exactly what they need.
The result is more confidence in the trainer and program and better adherence.
So you’re obviously a fan! But do you think it’s feasible for the average trainer to get into online training?
Oh, how could you tell 😉
I think any trainer can start to make at least $1,000 extra a month with the implementation of a couple simple systems and an email account. I say this because I’ve seen it happen over and over again by those enrolled in my 1K Extra Course.
What it comes down to is this: clients almost never stop training with a trainer because they dislike him or her. It’s because of one of 3 reasons:
- The moved away.
- Scheduling became impossible – everybody needs that coveted 6pm spot.
So it comes down to reaching out the proper way with old clients or contacts that never started training. Once your program is set up (and it can be done overnight with no software) you can solve every objection towards personal training that stopped people from training with you before.
I can attest to the 6 pm slot. When I was the sole body at IFAST, 6 pm was always booked. And now Zach Moore is booked at 6 pm every night as well!
And I love the 1k Extra course. Even though I’ve been doing online training and coaching since 2007, I’ve gone through all the videos and made tons of notes to make my online training experience even better.
I don’t expect you to give away the farm here, but what are some initial steps that a trainer or coach would need to take to get started working with online clients?
The best advice that I can give is that any trainer wanting to transition either part-time or full-time online needs to value time above all else. When working on the Internet, everything can be scaled or delegated other than the tasks where you have to be there.
When deciding on your packages or service offerings, support becomes a major consideration. Before taking my 1K Extra course a lot of trainers would blindly offer unlimited email support – this is a huge mistake.
Instead, tell clients that they can email you once a week on a specific day. Each email must be in point form, one point is one question, and a point is no longer than 3 sentences.
This way you can plan your time. If the emails all come in on Thursday, book off 2 hours Friday morning to reply to all of them. It also ensures that people only ask the important questions by building a list throughout the week and that they are succinct.
Almost every question can be answered quickly but if you need to, you can always reply back with another question or set up a time to chat for 15 minutes over Skype to discuss. You can always over-deliver.
That’s a great piece of advice. Last but not least, I love to talk about mistakes people have made along the way, and how they’ve learned from those mistakes.
What’s a mistake you made early on (either training live or online clients), and how you have grown from that experience?
I made a huge mistake by charging too little and offering a poor quality service.
There was pressure on me to put out a membership portion of the PTDC website. I developed one and charged a miniscule $5/month. Recently I shut down the membership cancelling over 240 subscriptions at a cost of over $6,000 to me personally.
The service was poor. I wanted to reduce the barrier by charging a little but because of that, I wasn’t able to put any time or effort into it.
The expensive lesson taught me that it’s much better to work with 10 people who will pay you $500/month that you can help than 1,000 who you charge $5 from and don’t help at all.
This carries over to online training. Charge more, find your ideal client, and do everything in your power to ensure they are successful. Even at $500/month online training is still a big discount from working with a trainer in a gym.
Jon, thanks a ton for being with us here today. Could you let my readers know where they can find out more about you?
Thanks Mike, it was fun!
You can find me on Facebook or Twitter or at thePTDC. If you’re at all interested in pursuing online training, I’ve put a ton of time, sweat, passion and the occasional tear into developing the 1K Extra course. I wasn’t interested in producing a low cost Ebook that gets predominantly ignored. Instead I wanted to develop something truly great and that provides step-by-step systems for developing your business.
Thanks again Jon!