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Monday, June 15, 2009

6 Ways To Be More Awesome

My boss and I had a short conversation not too long ago about appearance and perception: What kind of trainer do I appear to be? And how do potential clients perceive me when I'm on the floor training myself and others?

Today I want to focus on how appearance and perception lead to success in the fitness industry. Below is a follow-up article to my post on how to become the best at anything. In it I will lay out the steps I feel are needed to become an awesome personal trainer. These steps have counterparts in any field so don't be afraid to apply them to your situation, whatever that job may be.

Step 1: Accept Your Path
First understand that there there is no wrong way to become a personal trainer. A degree in exercise science may shorten the learning curve, but it is no substitute for on-the-job experience. Your background is what makes you unique from the other trainers at your gym. Your personal story can help color how you are perceived by potential clients and can help established a possible niche market for your services.

Step 2: Certify

Certification from a nationally recognized organization (like the ACSM or the NSCA) means you understand the basics of proper program design, human physiology and client relations. Certification from a well-respected organization tells potential employees that you are serious about being a fitness professional and will not endanger your clients or the facility. If your industry doesn't have a certification, ask yourself, "What credentials do the most respected individuals in my field have?" and attempt to obtain similar credentials.

Step 3: Refine Your Technique
Certification is important, but it must always be considered the minimum standard of competence for any profession. Once you certify, you must keep learning new skills and improving old ones. Most fitness credentials require you to re-certify every few years by providing proof of continuing education, so you really have no excuse not to learn something novel and applicable for your clients.

By learning new things, you also refine your methodology as a fitness professional. What populations do you enjoy working with? What techniques get you the best results? Do you work better one-on-one or in small groups? Blend your new-found knowledge with your existing experience and background and see where it takes you. New certifications and specializations help clarify to clients what they can expect while working with you.

Step 4: Put You First
Your physical appearance and how potential clients perceive you are very important. If you claim to be a speed specialist, how fast do you run a 40 yard dash? If you're a nutrition expert, how often do you eat healthy foods? Leading by example is any easy way to build trust. Seeing is believing, and nothing can turn a potential client into an actual client faster than your own proof-positive results.

Step 5: Expand Your Network
Business doesn't happen in a vacuum. Get out of your gym and meet new people!

Attending conferences and workshops is a great way to meet others in your field. It's also a great way to make new friends and establish professional contacts. Find mentors and ask questions of those that know more than you. Never hesitate to refer your clients to other professionals for special services. The deeper your working relationship, the easier it will be for your colleagues to refer their clients to you when the need arises.

Step 6: Expand Your Product Line
The more trust and confidence you can instill in your clients and in the communities you serve, the easier it will be to sell these people new products and services later on. Write an e-book and distribute it on your website. Create a clinic and invite all your past clients to attend. Contact newspapers in your neighborhood and offer your services as a consultant on future articles.

If you appear knowledgeable and confident, your clients will perceive you as trustworthy and worthy of their time and money. The more you deliver on your promises of firmer bodies and smaller waistlines (or heavier lifts and faster lap times, as the case may be) the more your market will turn to you for expert advice. The secrete is delivering on your promises.

Don't let your clients down. They'll thank you time and time again.

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