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Issue Date: March 2009 Web Features, Posted On: 3/5/2009


Surviving During an Economic Decline
By Mike McDaniel
One thing I have learned in the fitness industry, as a professional trainer and health club owner, is that when times get hard financially, clients tend to drop off, and people prioritize their money and where it is being spent. Unfortunately, personal training for many people is hard to justify when money gets tight. The question is: How do we survive in an economic crisis as a professional trainer and still make money?

While there are no easy solutions, there are things that will enable us to find success in the fitness industry. Retaining current clients is an obvious answer, but how? People will sacrifice "fluff" for value, so I offer four C's to training during hard economic times so that you can stay on top:

Create an atmosphere that people love to be a part of. Not everyone comes to meet with their trainer for the same reasons. Some have specific goals they are trying to accomplish, while others may use their training time as "me time." Either way, you must create an atmosphere that caters to the clients' needs. The book The Starbucks Experience discusses the success of Starbucks relying heavily on creating a positive atmosphere. The idea is to have the clerk remember your name, what you like and suggest things they feel you may like. You feel special and want to come back. Make your client feel special. Give them what they want, and make sure they enjoy that window of time that is all about them!

Challenge your clients with new goals that excite them. If you buy into the “times are hard” statements, you stop justifying your own service. Move forward with the full intention that nothing changes with your client and you training together. When you discuss their goals, use "we" instead of "I." For example, "We are going to adjust some goals to be a little more aggressive and see what we can accomplish over the next 12 weeks."

Change must be a key in your training. If you are doing the same workout with your client that you have been doing for some time, then shame on you! We all understand the physical benefits of changing up the workout, but if we do not show them anything new, clients begin to feel they can do this on their own. Get creative! This will help you in the first "C" of creating an atmosphere they can enjoy by adding energy and enthusiasm.

Consider that some clients will discontinue training until their financial situation is resolved, which means you must look for opportunities everywhere. If you are creating an atmosphere people love, other people will see it. If you are being creative in your training and energizing your sessions, people will want to be a part of that. You never know who may have been watching you train for some time, and now, they want to be your next client!

Topic: Career Builder Web Column

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