The Training Trio
Top training professionals from Life Time Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness and Chicago Athletic Clubs give advice on sales, programming and trainer development.
Brandon Yates, a personal training manager at Chicago Athletic Clubs, provides advice on personal training sales.
How do you make personal training less intimidating and more enticing to members?
We offer discounted personal training sessions when they first sign up for a membership. We also have workshops every month, which are free for members and introduce them to new tools at the gym and how to use them. We also offer free nutrition consultations as part of these workshops. We use these tools to make it less intimidating and give new members a chance to get any questions answered before they start their training package.
What are some ways clubs can boost personal training sales?
What we try to do with our trainers is let the clients’ goals be the direct focus of training. Always go back to their goals and give them assessments that are particular to their goals. Get to the root of why the member wants to train. Don’t try and show them everything you know. Focus on what the members want out of the session, rather than what you want out of the session. Take less of a sales approach and instead show them the value of what you can do for them.
Trainers are not usually professional sales people. How do you help trainers become better at sales?
We do personal coaching sessions about three times a week across all of our clubs. We also do in-house sales training with the trainers because selling is probably the hardest part of a trainer’s job. All of our trainers sell to their clients, so we don’t have a manager that oversees all the selling to the members. We try to keep it as — the trainer has the relationship with the member, they are in charge of selling services to their personal client. We give them the tools and ways to deal with members and speak about the different training options that we offer.
Jeff Rosga, the senior director at Life Time Academy, Life Time Fitness’ personal trainer certification and training program, shares his insights on personal trainer development.
What skill sets make a trainer successful?
Foundational knowledge is certainly key and the ability to apply knowledge is a big skill set that we look for. You may know how the body functions, but if you are not able to apply that knowledge and effectively communicate with someone, then it is going to be very difficult to be successful as a trainer. Being able to motivate and create behavioral change is also important. Trainers are in the service business, so if they don’t provide a good level of service, if they are not able to listen and understand exactly what the client is trying to achieve and create the necessary behavioral changes and exercise program to accomplish those goals, the client is going to look for that service somewhere else.
How does a trainer build trust with a client?
A level of trust will move people along the fastest path to success. A good trainer asks a lot of questions. Someone’s health and fitness is a very personal thing. Trainers should ask a lot of questions and truly understand their clients’ goals, then collectively figure out a pathway for how to get there. The biggest pitfall trainers will make is assuming something — they think they have all the answers. They want to throw out solutions, rather than develop one.
What advice do you have for other personal training directors about trainer development?
Professional development is critical, not only in education, but service skills. Trainers thirst for knowledge. They love to learn more about the body, nutrition, what programs they can apply — all the things relative to what they find personally interesting. However, the skill sets that are the most useful are the ones that don’t exist in the exercise space — communication, behavior change, time management, business skills, ability to apply knowledge. Refining those skill sets elevates a trainer to be even more successful than all the knowledge they can accumulate.
Jason Stella, the vice president of fitness at 24 Hour Fitness, provides advice on personal training programming.
What are some of the best ways a trainer can motivate their client?
Track small results, not just the weight loss, because that isn’t going to happen over night. They might not see the change that is happening when they are looking in the mirror. So whether it’s strength, flexibility, mobility or core strength, if you can assess those small things, you can go back to them on a weekly basis and show the client how their body is changing. People want the weight loss, but if people see these other things happening faster, then the weight loss will come because they will adhere to the program longer.
How can trainers individualize programming for each client’s unique needs?
Try and understand what they want and give them what they need. Identify if they like to be pushed — do they like certain pieces of equipment, certain styles of exercise, are they afraid of doing heavy barbell workouts? There might be certain exercises that the client loves, but might not necessarily get them the results that basic strength training is going to get. If they love an exercise, maybe start with it, end with it, but then give them what they need to reach their goals in the middle.
Why has small group training become more popular recently?
Group training is getting popular because it is cost effective and it is community driven. You are working with people with similar goals, beliefs and struggles, which allows them to support each other. Where group fitness becomes bad is when you lump everyone into a one-size-fits-all group training program. At 24 Hour Fitness we have a tiered approach. Based on an assessment, you get put into whatever level you need and there are milestones to be able to progress through the levels.
By Emily Harbourne