I was pretty excited when Rick agreed to let me write a guest post for www.ExerciseForInjuries.com. You see, I’m quite a fan.
Our industry needs more channels for fitness professionals of all ability levels to gain access to such descriptive knowledge. Rick’s circle of colleagues represents some of our industry’s elite, which allows trainers new to the industry to learn from some of the best.
Our industry needs more of this.
Let me get to my article.
I love personalized training; I love being able to help clients overcome specific situations and knowing I’ve had an impact on their lives.
The determination to develop my skills has persisted throughout my career as I completed certification after certification and attended conference after conference.
The majority of My Time is Spent Here.
I even worked double-time to expand my skills, pursuing full-time education in treatment-based massage therapy. I don’t hold a kinesiology degree or anything of the like but have personally completed more than 30,000 hours of client sessions in more than 15 years; the majority spent in one area: relieving muscle imbalances to improve posture and eliminate pain.
I firmly believe that a trainer could spend their whole career quite successfully, just working with people to improve muscle balance and function about scapular stabilization and hip function if you can effectively communicate the significance of this to elicit the same level of passion, enthusiasm, and concern in your clients that you hold toward proper body function.
Some of the brightest trainers and practitioners I’ve ever met were also those who seemed to struggle the most to develop a career providing the financial reward they deserve. Many (myself included) have been frustrated at one time or another by Bob’s Boot Camp just down the street, that’s packed full of people doing all kinds of ridiculous things and often undoubtedly doing more harm than good.
Yet Mary Jane Consumer associates this with a sense of fun, community, belonging, and The Biggest Loser.
We Need to Think Like Our Clients
It shouldn’t be this way, and it doesn’t have to be. We have to learn to put our analytical, technical minds aside for a moment to focus on how Mary Jane Consumer thinks, understands, and makes decisions.
Most people (outside of athletes, which is generally a small, hard to reach, and not super profitable audience for most) associate some plans as usual. They don’t acknowledge the outward rotations of feet when they walk, the unevenness of their shoes wearing, or that their shoulder blades may protrude from their back like an extraterrestrial being. These things are unnoticed and can’t be related to the nagging knee pain that prevents them from playing recreational volleyball on the weekends like they used to love to do, oust going for a run, or even playing with the grandkids.
Your Words Much Match Your Client’s Thoughts
Our level of communication with our clients and prospects needs to match their vocabulary. Communicating our progressive ideas and their importance can be much more effectively accomplished when presented in a question format that allows them to determine it was their idea. I often think this must be much like parenting. I think most parents would agree that most children are resistant to things that they are “told” to do instead of the things they “decide” to do on their own.
Being Technical Can Be a Problem, Here is Why
It may not be accurate for everyone, but I usually find that the more technical a trainer is, the more difficulty they have communicating with a client who thinks much more emotionally. The expert is analytical, systematic, and task-oriented, the prospect is not, or they wouldn’t be looking for you in the first place. It makes sense.
How to effectively communicate with a prospect:
Point #1) Ask relevant emotional questions:
- What brought you here today?
- When was the last time you did what you enjoyed most for as long as you wanted?
- What stops you from doing the things you enjoy most (or used to do)?
- When did you feel your best both in terms of how you look and physically feel? What do you think has changed from then to now?
- If you could change anything today, what would you change?
- What other things have you tried that have failed you?
By asking these relevant questions, you gain a proper understanding of how they feel and, when combined with a descriptive health history, what they will identify with or what will validate value and success. Often what we think is a success isn’t perceived the same by our clients (For example, weight loss clients who don’t lose 10lbs in the first week. No one should, but many are disappointed because traditional weight loss says otherwise. Or the client you’ve worked with for months can finally perform a proper air squat and can’t understand why you’re so excited.)
Learn to associate your technical knowledge in a manner that identifies with the answers to the above questions, leaving Mary Jane Consumer feeling confident about her success rather than self-conscious about her lack of understanding.
Point #2) Demonstrate how you will identify progress and why that’s important.
One of the best things I ever did was match terminology with the questions above with descriptive materials that represented a more technical language.
For instance, Bill has dysfunctional glutes, shortened quadriceps as a result, and hip flexors that are trying to make up for those weak abs. He’ll never understand that which is so apparent to you; all he knows is that volleyball is now out of the question because he can’t get out of bed for three days. After all, his knees hurt so badly.
But if we first show Bill…
- We might use a diagram of assessment protocols to assess all of these areas.
- And while showing it to him, visually associate it with how it can improve his life.
- Then provide examples of the most common exercises he’s likely seen others do in gyms (and done himself) that are making it worse.
- She was followed by assessing to show him his current function.
- And finished with a practical exercise to begin improving the situation (likely something he’s not seen or never done.)
We now have a method of communication that applies our technical knowledge to the emotional pattern of which the people that need us the most are thinking.
As a qualified expert, you should never have to compete, compare, or consider Bob’s Boot Camp down the street, yet this is a grim reality for many ultra-capable fitness professionals. I think what this shows is what many of us already know: we’re continually developing our skills, but for each of us, the skillset that needs creating is likely different. I hope you’ve found this interesting and helpful.
This is just an example of what I do with my clients and the fitness professionals I mentor to help them reach 100K. If you would like more details on how I heal personal trainers and help other fitness professionals get 100K, take a look at my 100K Personal Trainer System.
About Cabel McElderry
After struggling for eight years as a Personal Trainer, Cabel McElderry challenged the typical gym setup and created quite a reputation for himself.
His 7-figure studio, now five years old, has won multiple awards for business excellence.
He has been recognized as one of the top 100 fitness entrepreneurs in North America and is currently one of 50 nominees for Optimum Nutrition’s Canadian Trainer of the Year.
Cabel now mentors fitness professionals worldwide with his 100K Personal Trainer System to help them achieve similar or better results than his own.
Cabel’s advice and writing can be found amongst some of the biggest blogs online, and he is constantly called upon to offer his advice and strategies at some of the largest fitness events worldwide. wProfitablePersonalTrainer.com
Big thanks to Cabel.
Cabel has been on EFI before. I interviewed him on 3 Steps to Getting Medical Referrals.
Another article that might interest you is The Mature Market: The Fitness Industry Perfect Storm.
That is it. If you know of someone that might benefit from this article, feel free to forward it to them.
Rick Kaselj, MS