What are good fitness marketing methods?

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Once in a while I like to help out my fellow trainers with their business. I actually do that quite a bit and I feel privileged to get asked questions by some of my clients who have themselves become trainers over time, whether it’s part time or full time.

At this past week’s IDEA FIT convention,I had the chance to discuss with many new and aspiring trainers about many ways to grow their business. While I was there primarily to promote the SmartFlex™, I didn’t lose focus of the fact that I created it in many ways to also help my and others’ fitness business. Indeed, whether it’s to “augment” the repertoire of “go-to fixing” drills for a golfer’s swing, a tennis player’s backhand/forehand, a volleyball player’s spike or jump, or an older person’s balance (equilibrium), the SmartFlex™ can be used as a conversation starter for prospecting, an ice-breaker (while it’s still a novelty item) or PR promoter, or gateway to further education.

I have always and always will recommend that any newbie enter this industry via a big box gym. I published articles years ago on the best gyms to work for, and you can find that in my archives, although the pay scale may now be changed (for the better I believe, based on feedback I received this weekend), the gist remains the same: a big box provides you with foot traffic you simply don’t know how to generate on your own without guidance, and guidance can be costly. The managing staff usually provides you with basics of sales tactics and strategies, role playing scenarios, rebuttal techniques etc. It’s no wonder so much of our industry revolves around marketing and sales rather than the purity and passion that fuels our calling as trainers. No one truly enters with the goal of making it rich and big fast (there are better ways to do that, and while that happens to some, it’s as hard as breaking into Hollywood).

Pay your dues, learn the systems and get paid for it. It’s that simple. Eat crow, see what you’re made of and you will find your voice. Most of my successful peers always respond with passion and integrity with what fuels them, but are, consciously or not, answering that they found their voice. That”voice” shows in their training, the smiles of success or grunts of effort during a session, and the repeat customers create social proof that “this trainer is good, I want to get trained by him/her!”. So, systems, foot traffic, exposure and all of this without spending a dime of your still not earned cash.

What ensues in that “voice building” is your interest in other aspects of training: corrective exercise, post-secondary rehabilitation and any specialized training. Think of it as a base model car: many are the same on the road, but the options are what differentiate them. That car has a spoiler, lowered suspension, performance exhaust and bright colors. It will not appeal to the person who needs the hybrid version with a roof rack, off-road tires and paint job that shows off dirt less. This comes from, obviously, the CEUs/CEC (continuing education units/credits).

It doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from a good coach or marketing expert in the business. I personally vote for the trainers who have been in business for years either one-on-one renting space, or running a studio with trainers working for them (at a fair wage or in exchange of rent). Too many scammers will sell you on systems they either came up with on paper only, not field tested or not even market tested: the Los Angeles market doesn’t respond the same way the Minneapolis market responds to certain ads, pricing or other.

Watch, learn, observe the behaviors of gym members. Interview seasoned trainers. It will cost you less than an expensive program some less than scrupulous folks, or perfectly legit too, will sell you. If these people are making a living off the products they sell, not how many clients they train and acquire (other than the captive audience of trainers who seek to expand their business), beware.

Things to watch out for are:
-done for you marketing systems where you only need to follow the directions so you can work ON your business rather than IN the business. You’re now no longer training, you’re selling and potentially not fulfilling the demand, which can result in many refunds. You’re spending more time rather than less time away from the gym (the goal is always passive income).
-systems that ask you to hire others for a low wage: you will have a high turnaround.
-strategies that try to establish you as a local celebrity (never works).
-selling you territories (which no one owns, except for the people in that particular network, and I still doubt there is no crossover).

Mostly, you will find that the scripts provided, allegedly expertly written to elicit a certain response, sound like snake oil. And most are stolen from other coaches in other industries! I once had to practice a phone interview and ad libbed based on my style, what works for me and failed. Once I read it word for word (robotic, fake), I passed but never used it on clients. My own way, my style lends me to a much higher conversion rate. it comes indeed from my passion, but the craft behind always transpires.

I am not the smartest, strongest, fittest, cheapest, most expensive. I am always crediting others, inspiring myself from peers who do better (and I ask them too) as well as confident in knowing who I am. In the end, even if it’s not the intention, the end result is I am selling myself, not the tool or program. I am selling confidence in the client that I am the person for the job. ABC: always be closing, right? But don’t sell what you wouldn’t buy, you’ll be sniffed out.

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