Breaking Down The Three C’S

Back in March my good friend, Nick Tumminello, released his new book titled “Strength Training for Fat Loss” and he was kind enough to share a copy with me. It is a SOLID book and I recommend you pick it up!

Since the book is directed at fat loss, Nick spends a large portion of it discussing metabolic resistance training and what he calls “the three c’s”: circuits, complexes, and combination exercises. These three methods are the key to keeping intensity high which is critical to fat loss programming. While many people are quite familiar with circuit training, fewer understand complexes and combinations, let alone the key differences between the two.

With that in mind, I decided to film a quick video discussing the difference between the two as well as how I like to program them for clients based on Nick’s advice.

 

5 Forms Every Personal Training Business Should Be Using

In personal training we tend to get so caught up in workouts and programming that we often overlook the small, but important, items that set us apart from our competitors. Most potential customers don’t know what a good program looks like, so it is more likely they will choose your business based on your professionalism and first impression.

Do you conduct a client interview? Do you record measurements or perform some type of fitness assessment? What about your policies, do you have any that you make the client aware of?

The key to any successful business is not only to have a great product or service, but also to have the systems in place to deliver an outstanding and consistent experience. Often times, these systems are driven by documents that allow you to record data in a way that will keep you organized and therefore produce a more professional appearance.

The following are the 5 documents that I feel every personal training business should be utilizing to enhance their customer experience and allow them to function more efficiently:

Client Intake Form – Used to gather basic information for your records. Fields to include are address, phone number, email, employer/position (in order to possibly network them with other clients), as well as birthdate so you can send them something special when their birthday rolls around. I also have a box at the bottom of the sheet that I record any additional notes I feel may be pertinent to that client.

Client Evaluation Form – This is the form I use when conducting a consultation. There are questions on this form that I usually ask to understand the client’s goals, past exercise history, level of motivation, etc. These are the questions that really help you to understand the real reason each client wants to participate in personal training (their underlying motivation). Make sure to leave blanks in between questions so you can take notes.

Measurement/Progress Form – Regardless of what methods you use to determine progress, it is important to have a sheet where data is recorded. The sheet I use records changes in weight, girth measurements, and body composition. Since this is something I check every 30 days with clients, I set my sheet up to hold 90 days of data to accommodate multiple measurement intervals. You could also track your client’s personal records on this sheet if performance is their main goal.

PT Agreement – It is important to have a hard copy of your policies that the client can read and agree to in order to set the appropriate expectations. By setting the standard from the beginning, you are able to present your business in a professional way and help clients get the most out of your service. Policies to include are your cancellation notice expectation and refund policy. I actually integrate this form with a receipt so it is signed and explained on day 1 to eliminate any confusion.

Session Tracking Log – After the client has purchased training from you, you will need a way to record when each training session is used. The best way to do this is to have a table with session number, date, and signature. The client will sign for each session at the completion of said session and both parties will always be aware of how many sessions remain. This process also makes it easier when it comes time for the client to renew.

Fix Your Tweaked Back

Lately I have found myself working with quite a few clients that are experiencing lower back pain. For most of them, I would classify it as non-specific lower back pain since structurally there is nothing wrong, yet moderate pain and tightness exists. Actually, while doing a presentation for a corporate client, I came upon some pretty staggering statistics:

  • Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work.  In fact, back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections. (American Chiropractic Association)
  • ›Most cases of back pain are mechanical or non-organic—meaning they are not caused by serious conditions, such as inflammatory arthritis, infection, fracture or cancer. (American Chiropractic Association)
  • ›Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on back pain—and that’s just for the more easily identified costs. (American Chiropractic Association)
  • ›Experts estimate that as many as 80% of the population will experience a back problem at some time in our lives. (American Chiropractic Association)

Quite a bit of this non-specific lower back pain can be attributed to the desk jockey lifestyle. These people sit all day, lose glute function, lose movement in their thoracic vertebrae, and lose range of motion on a multitude of muscles. This forces other muscles/joints to pick up the slack and work double duty.

Another cause of nagging back pain can be attributed to lifting. With exercises like squats and deadlifts being so prevalent, many lifters are not learning how to properly brace their core and instead arch their lower back to create stability. This causes the facet joints in the lower back to basically sit on top of each other. At low weights this general wouldn’t be terrible, but as the lifter continues to increase the load eventually this method cannot hold up and an injury ensues. This actually happened to me in the past, forcing me to relearn how to deadlift and squat properly.

This led me to put together a group of exercises designed to address the needs of both groups of the population. I call it the “lower back pain protocol” and the movements were chosen to target improved glute function and hip extension, teach neutral spine and spinal stability, and integrate the upper and lower body with the core/LPHC (lumbo-pelvic hip complex).

Perform This sequence twice a day for 2-3 weeks and before a workout. After the initial couple weeks you can scale down to one time a day or only prior to your workout.

1)      Dead Bugs – Slowly bring down the opposite arm and leg while keeping the rib cage from flaring. It is important to keep the mid back pressed hard into the floor as the natural tendency will be to arch. If done properly, you will feel tension in the front of the abs. To increase the challenge as you progress, you can extend your legs at the knees and continue the movement with the legs straight.

2)      Windshield Wipers – Lying on your back, bend your knees at 90 degrees. Slowly rotate at the hips while trying to keep your upper back flat on the floor. Move slowly and bring your legs back to the center and proceed to alternate sides. Once again, the challenge can be increased by straightening the legs.

3)      Hip Bridges – Lying on your back, bring your feet towards your butt about hip-width apart. Bring your hands over your chest to minimize possible arm assistance. Press your feet hard into the floor and squeeze your glutes. You are trying to create a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Pause for 1-2 sec at the top and come down slowly.

4)      PPT Plank – This is a more active version of the standard plank. The key here is to really focus on squeezing the glutes hard and you will feel your pelvis “tuck under” a bit. While in position, think of squeezing the legs together and core as well. Bonus points if you can do all that and engage your lats by drawing your elbows back towards your knees.

5)      Quadruped Extension – This is the cousin to the dead bug exercise. Setup on your hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders and knees lined up under your hips. Slowly extend your opposite arm and knee while trying to resist rotational movement at your shoulders and hips. Alternate.

 

The Rules of Selling – Redefined

If there is one area that most personal trainers struggle, it has got to be selling.

My “formal” sales training began in 2007 when I started working for a big box gym where we were quickly expected to “sink or swim” after a 3-day long sales training workshop. You had 90 days after to become a producer or move on.

Naturally, I did what any other person committed to being a trainer did, I produced.

While I can appreciate some of the qualities that working in that environment gave me, I am here to tell you that there are much better and more ethical ways to produce sales. Here are my rules of traditional sales, redefined.

Rule #1 – Don’t talk price over the phone or via email.

This was probably one of the rules that was emphasized the most during my big box gym days. Instead, we were advised to get the potential client in the door as soon as possible explaining that there were a lot of variables to pricing (there weren’t) and that a consultation was necessary to give a proper estimate. If the potential client kept forcing the issue the next step we took was to give a wide price range (maybe $30-$90 per session) instead of a direct price in an effort not to scare the lead away and give us leeway when it was time to negotiate. The reasoning behind this rule was that it was imperative to demonstrate your value as a trainer and discover the client’s underlying motivation prior to closing them in a sale.

Rule #1 Redefined – Be as transparent as possible and gladly give pricing over the phone or via email.

The truth of the matter is that the old way comes off very shady (because it is!) and it is likely that the potential lead will not want to deal with someone that gives them the run around. Clients appreciate honesty and being upfront with them has some big benefits.

One such benefit is that it pre-screens clients for you so that when you do schedule them for a consultation, there will be no need to stress about making the sale because the client is already aware of what you charge and you simply have to prove your value. It will now be a matter of conveying your recommendations for training frequency and finding what fits their budget. This pre-screening will also ensure less wasted time by keeping you from scheduling people that can’t afford your services.

A second benefit of this practice is that it will often help you stand out over your competition. Many trainers still follow the old rule and beat around the bush when it comes to giving pricing. I cannot tell you how many people tell me that they appreciate me being upfront with then when so many other people they contact can’t give them a straight answer.

Rule #2 – Start high so you can negotiate.

There was an old saying at the big box gym I used to work at, “you can only drop your pants once.” This was in reference to negotiating pricing and basically meant that you only have 1 opportunity to lower your price after pitching it initially without losing complete credibility. The goal was to try to figure out what the client could afford and pick a number that was at the top of that range and then if you overshot, drop it just a little bit to get commitment and a sale. After all the mental gymnastics the now new client walked away feeling like they got a good deal because they talked you down.

These were used car salesman tactics at best. Imagine if that client spoke with another client later on only to find out that they were paying $10 more per session.

Rule #2 Redefined – Pitch the rate that matches your value and avoid negotiation.

In my experience, most personal trainers are nervous about asking for money in their early years. This is usually due to the fear of rejection, a lack of confidence, and even more so, fear of losing the sale.  You have to ask yourself what you feel your time and energy is worth and set your rates accordingly. If you do not believe you’re worth it, then the client certainly won’t either.

Many clients will attempt to negotiate after you pitch your price, but I recommend you respond by saying “I’m sorry, but I don’t offer discounts. I charge everyone the same rates to be fair and I believe the cost is very reasonable.”  Nine times out of ten the client will respect your business practice and will have no qualms about paying your rates. If they walk, you are most likely better off. I have found that the most troublesome clients tend to be the ones I have bent the rules for.

Spend more time and effort demonstrating your value to your potential clients and negotiation will become a thing of the past.

Rule #3 – Create a false sense of urgency.

One of the key principles you learn in traditional sales training is understanding “fear of loss”. You see, if there is one thing that tends to motivate people to act it is the thought that if they don’t they may lose something valuable to them. It has been said that the fear of loss is even more powerful than the desire to gain.

When pitching a prospect, the worst response you could get was not “no”, but rather “let me think about it.” When this popped up we were trained to lean a little harder then follow up with the classic “Well, this price is only good for today…” reply. I bet you’ve heard that one before.

Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t, but I guarantee there was never a time it didn’t make us look sleazy.

Rule #3 Redefined – Spend more time understanding the hesitation and don’t be afraid to let the sale go.

It is of critical importance to refrain from using lines like “this deal is only good for today” because that’s quite patronizing to your potential client. Everyone has heard that line before, and they damn well know it’s not true. You just shattered your character. Not to mention, if you have to force someone to buy then their consistency probably won’t be that great and we know how important consistency is to results.

If a prospect says that they have to think about it then take the time to make sure they have all the right information. One of the most common reasons people don’t buy is because they haven’t been informed properly. Ask them if they have any questions or if there is something that you didn’t explain well about your program. If they still want to think about it, then let them. Should they choose to not train with you, it’s ok. By being professional and non-pressuring there is a good chance that they will come back to you when they are ready or even refer a friend your way.

A Better Way To Squat?

Squatting is the one of the most basic movements that the human body can perform. It’s how we sit, how we stand, and even how we use the restroom. Unfortunately, due to a myriad of factors such as joint pain, tight/protected muscles, or limb length, squatting has become quite challenging for a large group of the population.

Does that mean we should abandon teaching the squat? NOPE. It just means that we need to have better variations that can help us develop the qualities needed to perform a proper squat or simply to provide similar benefits. One such variation that I have found to be particularly useful is the staggered stance squat which is sometimes referred to as the offset stance squat.

Here is a video that explains some of the benefits of the staggered stance squat as well as how to perform the movement and progress it: