The first month of your career is the most important
Pete Gleeson, Head of Personal Training for Goodlife Health Clubs, looks at what you must do in your early days as a PT to ensure many more busy, long and successful ones in the years to come.
- You’ve got one month to create the right impression of yourself as you embark on your PT career
- Be prepared to give away free advice, free sessions and free consultations
- Make yourself known to the most influential members and staff within the club
- Be tidy and professional in your behaviour and presentation and lead by example when it comes to your own fitness and wellbeing
- Be relentless, but not pushy, in booking appointments and making friendly contact with members in the club
- Keep moving, avoid distractions, train acquaintances in your 'downtime' and remain positive.
Why should the first month be free? Because if you want to be running a pumping PT operation in the months to come, you’ll need to free up your first month, be prepared to give away as much free advice as possible, deliver free sessions at the drop of a hat, and have an abundance of initial consultations for, you guessed it, free. Now, this is not necessarily advice, but more like reality for the majority of personal trainers. Once this reality is accepted, you can ensure this ‘free’ month sets you up for a successful career packed with high earning ones!
First impressions count, but don’t get hung up on the old adage ‘you only have 7 seconds to make an impression’, because with that thinking all opportunity is lost by the eighth second. Not here. You’ve got one month to create the right impression of yourself as you enter the gym to embark on your PT career.
So, here, in no particular order, are 10 must-do's to set the foundations on which to build a solid second, third and fourth month... and beyond (and considering your PT business is unlikely to hit financial freedom in the first 31 days, what have you got to lose?)
1. Create a champion network
Meet everyone that’s ‘gym famous’. Fame in the gym is defined as staff members, team members or (the best type) members that are known by more people than they know themselves. These champions are well respected, they’ve been around for a while and, without a doubt, they are the most influential people in the gym. Every time something amazing happens, whether it’s good or bad, these people not only share it, but influence it with their take on reality.
You need these people to be the ones that share your ‘story’, because it has more impact when others tell it than when you tell it yourself. Your story may be filled with amazing achievements and attributes; you’ve completed an Ironman, you’ve competed at bodybuilding, you’ve won a powerlifting competition, you’ve earned honours in your Human Movement degree, you’ve undergone a mind-boggling transformation, you’re prepared to care for your clients like none other and will be going the extra mile to get the desired results for everyone you work with... but if you tell it to everyone you encounter, you risk sounding like a bragger. If your club champions, the social influencers of your gym floor, regale others with these impressive feats, however, it becomes that Holy Grail of marketing that beats all others – truly impactful word-of-mouth. Think about it: ‘I’m awesome’ versus ‘He’s awesome’.
2. Tidy your ‘office’
Your office is your gym. Pretty awesome office, eh? Ensure you keep it tidy, and are seen keeping it tidy, by clearing things away not only before members arrive, but during their visit. Have respect for your office right there in front of the members. It may take three times as long because there are people in the way, but that’s part of the point. Every weight plate you unload should be done with your head up and a smile on your dial. Every time someone finishes, be there with a ‘Let me help you rack the weights... great work by the way!’
Your approachability will grow exponentially for members with every interaction that happens naturally. Not only is it pleasing for a member to see a PT tidying up after the ‘other’ members have left their equipment out, it becomes the easiest inducer of head-turner marketing. For your success, you need members to know who you are, how you carry yourself and what your style is. This can be done by doing funky exercises and solid coaching with your client and, of course, making some noise. But, if all of the trainers are being awesome then there’ll be no head-turn as it’s simply the norm. Tidying is different. It’s not degrading, it’s invigorating. It’s pride building. And it’s such a head turner that you’ll have members saying, or at least thinking, ‘It’s so good to see you tidying up after the members that don’t unload their weights’. The attitude you take into a tidy office will transfer into the positive profile that you’re attempting to pass onto the members. This is not direct marketing, but it’s real, and it’s long lasting.
3. Become an appointment addict
Set appointments to set appointments with prospective clients, set appointments to confirm appointments, set appointments to follow up appointments, set appointments to complete appointments… get addicted to appointments! Start by locking in non-negotiable appointments, just like you would with your doctor or accountant.
Hit the phone, or your other preferred method of communication (if it’s effective), like crazy. Hit it non-stop. Hit it like Rocky Balboa! You can build up the amount of time that you spend doing this: start with 15-minute blocks in which you contact people, and then build up to 30, 45, and 60-minute blocks. Do this at a different time each day, and once you’re within your appointment, give it 100% focus.
4. Stay fit
Look after yourself. Don’t get sucked in by the advice to always carry your client’s water bottle: instead, always carry your own water bottle! Eat clean and live lean to stay energetic. Don’t stress about having to eat a meal every two to three hours, but do trickle away at high energy whole foods just like a Tour de France cyclist would. Sleep well.
Train efficiently, keep it interesting, avoid training alone and wear gym clothes on brand rather than on point. You don’t have time to waste, so show everyone what a 30-minute session looks like. Train via multiple methods. Get creative and always learn. Setting quick sessions with fellow trainers and staff members is key. Try to attend at least one group fitness class per week, again opting for 30-minute classes if they’re available because your time is super valuable. Follow up your workout with a cold shower, kill the sweat and don some clean clothes. Be a rockstar of a neatness and professionalism, with a pleasant aroma to boot. Check yourself. Click, point, and wink… you’re ready to get back to work.
It’s true what they say ‘Don’t ask, don’t get’, so strengthen your power to ask. Asking is the most powerful way of getting what you want, and when what you want aligns with what the other person needs, you’ll have an instant agreement. Practise asking everything from ‘Can I help you unload those weights?’, ‘Can I show you a cool feature of the treadmill?’ and ‘Can I help write you a new gym routine?’ to ‘Can I book in to see you tomorrow to record your body composition?’ and ‘Can I help you with your training by being your trainer?’! Ask, and you shall receive.
6. Stay positive
The story of the rotten apple in a barrel goes that one rotting apple will rot the whole barrel (by giving off excessive ethylene gas that in turn quickly over-ripens the rest of the fruit, if you want the scientific explanation!). Often used to illustrate the dangerous impact that one negative person can have on a group, don’t allow anyone else’s thoughts or opinions to ‘rot’ your own. Follow Arnie’s advice regarding naysayers: ‘pay no attention to the people that say it can’t be done’. And as another wise person also said, ‘If people are trying to bring you down, it only means that you are above them’.
7. Keep moving
WARNING: Standing still for too long will often lead to sitting down. Members don’t want to hire a trainer that stands still and is often seen lounging around. This happens very easily if you stop to talk with other team members. Keep these conversations to the office to avoid being seen hanging around with other staff, which can look cliquey and lazy and be off-putting. If you’re standing still and chatting, make sure it’s with a member. Consider the behaviour of wait-staff at your local restaurant: you’re OK with the staff talking with other patrons, but if you witnessed a lengthy chat between wait-staff when you were waiting to give your order, you’d soon become irate.
8. Mates rates
Train your friends and family as often as you can squeeze them in. Train them for free in your free time. Your free time currently yields $0 per hour, so you may as well get some bang for your buck by showcasing your talents to the gym floor and training your mum or your neighbour! Members will always want to train with the busy trainer – so get busy!
Slightly controversial in 2019, and ironic as you may well be reading this on your phone, but my advice is to delete the distractions for your first 31 days. You only get your first month once. If you can’t help yourself, deactivate your accounts! They’ll still be there once you’re up and running. Yes, you’ll miss some ‘crucial’ followers. While there might be a 1,000 people on your Instagram that can marvel at your nice technique and strong back squat, this is worth nothing compared to the gold-plated, platinum laced, diamond-studded market that you have right in front of you: club members just champing at the bit to get results. Put your black mirror down.
10. Go for it
You’ve studied hard to become certified in the greatest job in the world (I’m biased), you’ll work with the most amazing people, and the results you get with your clients will not only be life changing for them, they’ll totally enhance your life forever. Be proud of your career, it’s awesome! The early days can be hard work, a steep learning curve and financially unrewarding, but they can also set you up for a fantastic future, so stick it out and keep going until it’s going. Giving up is the fastest way to coming last, so never give up.
The head of personal training at Goodlife Health Clubs, Pete has a passionate drive to ensure all PTs have a successful client base that delivers an abundance of results. This passion has led him on a 16-year journey across four Australian fitness brands, encompassing roles from PT to management positions. goodlifehealthclubs.com.au