There are two approaches to weight management the right way and the wrong way. It's this simple. Tune in to any media outlet, and you'll learn all about the wrong way, including restricted calorie dieting, stimulants, pills, herbs, patches and hypnosis. This misguided method also employs a faulty measurement protocol to gauge success pounds-on-the-scale which is not only myopic and  misleading but, in fact, dangerous. Conversely, almost all fitness and wellness professionals are familiar with the right way to achieve real weight loss. In fact, the proper approach mandates proper nutrition inseparably combined with physical activity, using body composition as the primary tracking mechanism. 


Where's the Beef?

            Experts estimate more than $12 billion is wasted each year on faulty, misleading commercial weight loss programs and methodologies ($36 billion if including diet foods). It is very easy to blame big-budget advertising, mass marketing and America's erroneous quest for instant weight loss. But then again, what has the fitness and wellness industry done to offset this constant barrage of misinformation? More importantly, what have you, as an informed professional, done in your own market area to educate the public about sensible weight management? 

            For marketing-savvy, next-generation professionals, the chaotic world of misinformation, in fact, presents enormous opportunities. The reality is that you are perfectly positioned to provide viable protocol toward weight management. You are the only professionals who can actually stand up, tell the truth and back it up with human physiology. From a marketing standpoint, this statement is an important distinction. When contrasted against commercial weight loss centers, the fitness professional's "expert positioning" pits the fitness protocol against all others in an "us versus them" scenario. Unfortunately, many in the fitness and wellness industry have not yet learned to expose and leverage this important difference. 


Monkey See, Monkey Do

            Today, most health clubs structure their weight management programs through the personal training departments as exercise programs bundled with their nutrition plans. They typically imitate the look and feel of commercial weight loss programs with point A-to-point B programs as well as use trendy program names and a slew of look-alike marketing strategies. This is a huge mistake. In the consumer's eye, these look-alike programs and marketing strategies lump fitness-based weight management into the same category as all other commercial weight loss programs with no distinguishable difference. Thus, on the surface and in presentation, there is no differentiation. As a result, enrollees enter these programs with the same unrealistic expectations and ultimate disappointments that they have found before.


Take the Education Route

            However, it is possible to take a different approach. You can change the entire playing field by offering the one thing commercial weight loss centers fear the most knowledge. By understanding that you are more than just a trainer and, in fact, a teacher, you can begin to offer more than a "program" and offer a "course." Don't use trendy names and programs, but instead, incorporate a more serious academic title such as "Weight Management 101," "Principles of Weight Management" or even "Weight Management Institute," and use terms in your marketing strategy such as instructor, class, students and curriculum to emphasize this approach. With this emphasis, fitness professionals can educate their clients about real weight management issues with scientific-based information involving basic physiology, metabolism and digestion as well as productive exercise, stress and foods. As a result, you can guarantee all students, upon

graduation, will have the knowledge, tools and strategies to manage their weight and body composition for the rest of their lives. At the graduation ceremony, you can even present "certificates of completion" to each student. It is also possible to negotiate with local colleges to offer continuing education credits (CECs) for such courses. 

            In addition, mobility is another important advantage of teaching a weight management class. You can hold these weight management classes at corporate sites, churches, schools, community club houses, recreation centers, hospitals, health clinics, fire departments, police departments and military bases the possibilities are endless. Just by making such classes available, you can create good will and project your leadership throughout the communities you serve. Further, a traveling class not only earns you revenue, but it is also one of the best marketing vehicles available to create positive word-of-mouth and to promote all other personal training services. 


Nuts and Bolts

            While creating a course may seem daunting at first, you will soon discover similarities to your own existing business. Just as you customize a training routine for each client, you will create a course that fits your individual teaching style based on your own knowledge and communication skills.  Consider:

Class Location: Classes can be held in your studio or small facility if you have enough room to seat all students without distraction from the rest of the facility. For example, you could hold evening classes once a week Wednesday nights from 8:30 to 9:30 PM and allow your clients to attend in street clothes, if desired. If you don't have the space, remember, your class can be set up almost anywhere, including corporate conference rooms, school classrooms, church facility rooms, recreation centers, etc.

Class Size: Groups should be big enough to make the course worthwhile but not so big that it becomes unmanageable. You can enroll between six and 12 students per group. Larger corporations may enroll more than 35 people per class. In such cases, a teacher's helper will be required.


Course Curriculum: Course curriculum will vary based on your level of expertise in

specific areas. But the overall goal is to provide a holistic approach with particular emphasis on two components: physical activity inseparably combined with proper nutrition. Your course also should dispel all popular weight loss myths such as restricted calorie dieting, "magic" pills and trend diets. It should convey the absolute truth about how the human body actually functions through a discussion of basic human physiology. Whatever the curriculum, keep it simple, and don't make it too technical.


Teaching Tools: Good communicators may do well with just a white board. However, a computer/LCD projector combination will allow you to create very professional PowerPoint presentations. Other teaching tools include handouts, anatomical charts, tracking logs and nutrition software.


How Much to Charge: An eight-week course will require eight hours of your time, not including preparation and graduation ceremonies. In addition, you will need to consider the costs associated with your material handouts. The typical retail cost for such classes will range from $199 to $299 per student with full payment received in advance. In some cases, you may consider a flat fee for large groups. Pricing is dependent on your market area.


            Arthur I. Rothafel specializes in credible, long-term weight management, nutrition and fitness courses. For more info., please email him at