Oh hey! How have you been? It’s been a while since I put digital pen to paper, so to speak, and while I’m sure everyone out there can also say they’ve had a lot going on with this life, I can honestly say writing hasn’t been a priority for me for a while. I need to change that and get back into gear, and in the words of Hemingway, the shortest answer is doing the thing.
I’ve been fortunate enough to build this small platform, which gives me the chance to connect with a lot of people, many of whom are trainers fairly early in their careers. It’s a pretty regular occurrence to get an email from someone recently certified or who has only been training for a year or two asking for career advice or ways they can improve their business, get better results for their clients, or solve some problems they’ve been encountering. I’m always happy to do this, as there’s no telling what heights someone can reach from a simple positive interaction.
Today I wanted to outline some of my biggest advice that I could give for trainers looking to get rolling, plus this info could double as beneficial for more seasoned veterans in the game who may be needing a new direction or their own simple spark.
Leverage Time with Production
When you’re starting out, you don’t have a full client roster and a lot of gaps in your schedule without much to do. This is a big opportunity to seed the growth of things that will help you out a lot down the road.
One of the easiest things to do and that has the highest potential payoff is to create a video library of exercises you use with your clients and with your own training. Start simple, and set up a free Youtube account, film some 30-60 second coaching videos from your phone, and try to get 2-5 a day uploaded while you have a ton of time available. Bonus points for monetizing the videos to earn a few pennies from views. Every little bit helps.
This is important to do because it’s a resource you can lean on again and again and again over time. I still use videos I shot over 10 years ago with my coaching clients and they still hold up today. It’s also really easy to respond when you get a message from a client asking how to do a specific exercise, and you just send them the link to the video you shot on it.
You can also use these videos to feed into social media posts grow an audience on different platforms. People look for creators and content on platforms like Instagram and TikTok, but look for answers on Google and Youtube, so supplying the same video content to both makes you more easy to find for potential clients.
These videos can also be used to create programs for your clients in the future, plus build programs that can be used for wider sharing through paid access, online coaching, whatever you would prefer and that works within your business model.
Train Anyone You Can, As Much As You Can
The best way to get good at anything is to practice it as much as possible. Reps and reps and reps and reps. With lots of availability, you should be willing to train anyone who is looking for assistance, as much as possible. Friends, family, co-workers, whomever you can get your hands on. There’s times when being paid may not be possible, but the experience gained will be invaluable.
You can get some additional training experience with internships at a lot of facilities. Many of these are unpaid, but the experience gained to make you a better professional easily recoup the time investment quickly and substantially.
Reach out to any junior teams in sports you’re interested in and offer either a discounted or free strength coaching program to build their skills but also build your own. Volunteer work like this is both emotionally rewarding and can help build a significant skillset that could lead to further opportunities down the road, or at the very least give you a chance to organize group training sessions more effectively.
Contact businesses or medical professionals whom you’d like to form a referral network with and offer the owner free training for a set period of time. If they enjoy it they can continue with paid sessions, but it also helps create a bit of a marketing angle to help bump potential referrals.
Be Judicious About Continuing Education
Every piece of equipment in the gym has its own certification course you could take. Many of them are, quite frankly, useless. A course that gives you the ability to work with more clients, build more effective processes, and improve specific skills to work with certain goal sets should be prioritized.
If your goal is to work with fat loss clients, a sports performance certification may be fun but won’t directly improve your ability to help your goal clients, charge more for your time, or streamline your processes with those clients.
When you’re looking at taking a new course, ask a few questions:
If you can say yes to one or more of these questions, then the course is likely going to be of benefit to you, so party on. Then add in the potential costs of the registration, any travel and accommodations needed, and time away from work and family that may be needed to factor in the costs to see if it will be economically feasible, and then proceed if you can. Education is a great investment if you plan to use it, and a terrible expense if you don’t.
Often, the specific benefit flow you can get from continuing education is live events > online streams > pre-recorded video workshops > articles
This is also consistent with the costs of such content delivery. If you can’t attend a live event, there’s often online options available.
PERSONAL PLUG: I’m teaching a workshop in Edmonton March 19th on Scientific Mobility Training, which is definitely one that will check all of the above boxes 🙂
If you want some of the online offerings I have too, Click HERE
If there are successful trainers in your region, ask if you can watch over their shoulder for a few hours here and there to see how they conduct themselves and their sessions. Ask questions, observe their systems, learn what you can use effectively with your own training business and where your own gaps could be filled or see how they solve common problems.
Shadow medical professionals where possible. Physiotherapists, chiropractors, and even some physicians allow student shadows to give an idea of how rehab programs can blend into strength training and conditioning within the gym. Shadow sports teams and strength coach programs for athletics to see how they run things. There’s no limit to how much you can learn from seeing it in action. Plus, sometimes these relationships form into new partnerships, which is a big game changer.
Automate As Much As Possible
A downside of training is we usually only get paid for the sessions we train. That means phone calls, text messages, program writing, scheduling, payment processing, etc all take time and resources but aren’t directly putting money into your bank account. For this reason, anything that can be automated or systematized should be. Client onboarding, program templates, scheduling, payments, can all be set up to run on autopilot or with a few simple clicks.
You can get on apps that allow you to run your business with scheduling, payments, and program design integrated directly, which can be a massive time saver albeit at a cost. You can also spend some time with Google’s G Suite to figure out how to do all of that stuff for free with some time investment in the initial set up if you want. In either case, having the systems in place will make life much easier when you do get busier, plus help free up time for things like your own workouts, and having some semblance of a social life.
Hopefully this outline can help give some advice and suggestions on how to build a successful career in the fitness industry, or give some options to further refine your current approach. As always, I’m happy to hear your thoughts on this too.