REAL WORLD PT: Shannon Pigdon, Health, Wellness, & Fitness Coach, NSW

A snapshot of how today’s personal trainers are working, living and shaping their careers

Business name:

Lonedog, lonedog.com.au

How long have you been a PT?

Seven years

Are you full time or part time?

Full time

Why did you become a trainer?

I enjoy being surrounded by movement and exercise.

Do you specialise?

Group training is what we have a great reputation for.

What’s your signature style of training?

Our Lonedog M.P.E. program is our most popular. It’s a non-choreographed group environment that allows people to progress as individuals. We utilise whatever the clients ask for and aligns with their style and goals: kettlebells, TRX, Animal Flow, battling ropes, barbells, boxing, ViPRs and Sandbells, all blended throughout. The toys they appreciate the most currently are the TriggerPoint kits, heart rate monitors and PowerPlate – tools that enhance their recovery and performance.

How many hours do you train clients for each week?

It varies between 20 to 40 hours.

How many hours do you spend working on your business?

Again this can change, but an average of 20 to 40.

What hours do you work?

6am start with an 8pm finish weekdays. This is a mix of group sessions, PT and admin. Saturday and Sunday sometimes include specialty programs or facilitating education workshops for Australian Institute of Kettlebells, TRX and TriggerPoint.

What do you do in any downtime during the day?

I schedule in downtime that includes continuing education and time for my own training (I’m a Kettlebell Sport athlete for fun). When our schedules align, I will jump at the opportunity to grab lunch or a movie with my wife Cheryl.

How much do you charge for training?

We offer a range of services, and prices vary based on specialisation and frequency. You can find details on our website.

How many clients do you have?

I don’t keep score. It’s somewhere north of 120 amazing people that I get face-to-face training time with each week. Plus, some others that I work with less frequently (fortnightly, monthly or occasionally)

How long do your clients stay with you?

85 per cent of our clients are long term (12 months+) with many choosing to work with us for longer. We have relationships that have been ongoing since Cheryl (my wife and business partner) founded Lonedog nine years ago.

How do you get new clients?

Word of mouth trumps any of our other marketing. Nothing sells our product better than the results clients achieve and the testimonials they share.

Do you vet clients before you agree to train them?

Yes. We offer a free initial consultation that includes a health screen, movement observations and a program design questionnaire.

Do you ever turn clients away or refer them to other PTs?

We absolutely refer clients into our network. Some people are seeking specialisation and others have requirements outside of our scope. We have never turned anybody away, but we also understand that we may not be the perfect fit either. People have made a big decision in coming to see us, we want to guide them in the right direction for them.

What makes you different to other trainers?

Rapport and empathy. Working with people and asking what they want so we can explore the solutions together. When people don’t want to do what you suggest, the problem is not a non-compliant client, the problem is your program and your approach, regardless of how proven and effective it is.

What do you do in terms of your ongoing education?

I’m a huge fan of always learning, particularly through face-to-face workshops. At the start of each year, I select which workshops, mentorships and immersions I want to be a part of and try to craft my calendar around the ability to pursue them.

What is the best thing about being a PT?

The potential it has revealed in many aspects of life – not only fitness – for countless people I’ve met along the way.

And the hardest?

Cognitive dissonance (ha ha – I wish I was joking!). It’s a real challenge to introduce new concepts and education to people when it conflicts with their existing beliefs. These opposing points of view often cause a disruption in progress towards clients’ goals. Understanding their perspective and building relationships can be difficult but are key for long term success.

What’s the biggest misconception about working in fitness?

That to get success in fitness or performance, sacrifices to physical and mental health are a standard part of the process. I know pro athletes who have performed at the top level but destroyed their bodies to do so and have witnessed plenty of people trading their health to pursue their ‘perfect’ body. I love their passion and intention, but there are plenty of strategies that allow high performance, peak health and looking good on the beach at the same time.

Where would you like your career to take you?

I’m incredibly grateful for where it has already taken me. You start with your vision and as you follow it, these tangents of opportunities keep arising. Your work can manifest some brilliant experiences and I am excited for what else will present itself while cementing Lonedog in the health, wellbeing and fitness community.

What is your fitness philosophy?

Learn by doing. Remain open-minded and explore things for yourself. Everything continues to evolve so you must also retain that ability.

What advice would you give to someone starting out as a PT?

Surround yourself with mentors and like-minded passionate people, but don’t get fixated on any one guru. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and maintain the humility to collaborate.

Follow Shannon and Lonedog on Facebook fb.me/LonedogHealthWellnessFitness, Instagram @lonedogshannon and Twitter @lonedogPT

Photo credit: Ben Mason