Fitness Professional – Critical tips for business success

Hey Fitness Pros,

January is when you should be spending the majority of your marketing dollars.   At Northwest Personal Training, we’ve got direct marketing post cards being sent to thousands of homes in our demographics, ads in various local newspapers and magazines, a number of social media and online coupon offers, enewsletter blasts and more.  Bottom line – January is crunch time, our ‘make or break’ time. This is when people are thinking about getting back in shape. It’s just human nature that come January people are motivated to start working out and taking better care of themselves. And successful marketing for any business is being in the ‘Client’s Mind when the Client is Ready to Buy.” And right now the client is definitely ready to take action!

Mike Chaet from CMS (one of the world’s most reputable experts on the fitness club market) puts it this way – “You don’t go to a fruit tree and try to pick fruit when the tree is bare. No matter how hard you look, you aren’t going to find any fruit. You go to the tree when it is overflowing with fruit and that’s when you shake that baby and you harvest an abundance of fruit. In the fitness industry, January is when the tree is full of fruit!”  Now of course, our clients aren’t fruits and we want to be ready and willing to help them throughout the entire year. But this is the time of year when most people WANT our help!

So what does that mean to all of us? January is when we set up the entire year for success. Here are some tips to ensure you set up the stage for an incredible 2012. Think of this as a Fitness Pep Rally (a ‘Win one for the Gipper’ speech!)

Be at your Best: Well, as a fitness professional, we expect that year-round, right?! But it’s even more important in January. You can’t afford to be away or sick – your clients and classes need you! So get lots of good sleep, eat well, drink lots of water and take your Airborne or Echinacea if you’re feeling run-down. Put your game-face on no matter what is going on – you need to be positive, energetic and customer-service oriented. It’s show time!

Be present: If you can help it, try not to be away over the next few months. One of my friends is a manager at Safeway grocery store. And for the grocery store industry, one of their make or break times is Thanksgiving through the holidays. She knows to not ask for any extended vacations during that time. In the fitness industry, it’s important to be present and at your best in January-March and September-November. The best time to schedule holidays in the fitness industry is July & August and December (keep that in mind as you plan your 2012 vacations.)

Be mentally & physically prepared to work hard: You might need to stay late, come in early, work on a weekend. You might be juggling multiple tasks. You might be doing things that aren’t part of your normal job responsibilities. You should be prepared to take phone calls, do tours and be really good at this. Be ready to find out what a clients’ needs are and to show them how you can help them. Be genuine and honest and highlight how much we will take care of them.

Hone your skills now: When you spend a lot of time and $$ to get people to check you out, you need to be master of the phone and tours. What a waste it would be if an individual is motivated to call or come in to check you out and their first impression is a poor one. Focus on customer service!

Get in people’s minds: Now is the perfect time to call or email those clients who haven’t been in for a while or haven’t made the commitment to their health and fitness yet. Now is the perfect time to ask for referrals. As people are thinking about fitness, you want them to think about you!

I hope January excites you as much as it does me. I love coming into our studios when classes are energized and at capacity, the private area is full and the studio is just humming. It always makes me feel like we’re really doing a good job and are positively impacting our clients’ lives. So embrace the busyness and celebrate it!

Yours in health, fitness and business,

Sherri McMillan

ps.  If you would like to set up your business for success in 2012, one of the most important things you can do is invest in our Business of Personal Training system that has helped hundreds of personal training businesses reach the million dollar mark.  Contact for more information.

Propose a weekly health and fitness column

Hey Fitness Pros,

Have you proposed to write a regular fitness column for your local newspaper or magazine? You can’t beat this type of exposure and branding for your business!

Research the contact information for all the editors in your area.  Then send a weekly or bi-weekly ‘teaser’ email about a hot-topic that you would write or be available to be interviewed for.  If you do this right, you will become a regular resource for key media professionals in your area and like us, be offered to write a weekly fitness column for them.  Sweet deal! See the link below to see what I’m talking about.

Yours in health, fitness and business,

Sherri McMillan



A few critical things you need to know about your Personal Training business in January…

Hey Fitness Pros,

January is just around the corner and that means people are going to be ready to jump-start a new fitness program and that’s where you come into the picture to help!

A couple critical things that you should know that can make or break your entire year!

1.  You should spend about 3-5% of your total gross yearly revenues on a solid marketing and advertising plan.  So for example, let’s say your business brings in $500,000 per year.  Three percent of that would be $15,000 and that’s what you should spend throughout the year on all of your initiatives.

2.  You should spend about 40% of your total marketing dollars in January.  So if you’ve got $15,000 for the year, you should be spending about $6000 in January.  This is when people are thinking fitness and you want them thinking of YOU!  So get your name in front of a lot of people in January.

3.  Your marketing campaign should be diverse…online, social media, print, ads, referral incentives etc.  Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.  Diversify your campaign.

4.  Don’t wait until January to pull together your January campaign. Way too late by then!  You should be finalizing your entire plan right now!

Hope this helps you get a jump-start on things and brings you incredible business success in 2012.

Yours in health, fitness and business,

Sherri McMillan

ps.  Our Business of Personal Training system is hands-down the most comprehensive and critical system for your Personal Training system.  Make the investment and watch your business soar in 2012.  Contact and she’ll get you all set up.  We offer payment plans so by the time you’ve completed payments, you’ll already be experiencing significant increases in your revenues!

What are you doing for your clients?

Hey Fitness Pros,

What are you doing for your clients for the holidays? Here’s some ideas…

1. Thanksgiving workout. We’re doing a special class and also hosting a Flag Football and Ultimate Frisbee event. Clients can burn all the Thanksgiving dinner calories before-hand!

2. Holiday specials. We offer our biggest specials of the year right now and encourage clients to give the ‘Gift of Fitness’ and to make the commitment to their own health and fitness program and stock up for the New Year. December is our biggest month of the year!

3.  Year-end Party. We host a big party to thank our clients for trusting us to oversee their health and fitness program. We offer food, DJ, cash-bar and dancing all night long. This year our theme is “Formal” so we all get to get dressed up fancy!

4.  Gift - We send all of our clients a fun holiday card that includes a personalized message from all of us, a $25 Gift Card and a Gift Certificate that they can give to someone for a Trial membership with us.

5.  The opportunity to give back – We support various local shelters throughout the holidays and make it easy for our clients to feel good about helping those in need.

Hope this gives you some ideas.  As a reminder, if you are part of our Personal Training Master Mind group, you would have access to all of our fliers, forms, templates and more.  It sure would make your life a whole lot easier!  Just do what we do and watch your PT revenues grow! Email to try it out. Your first month is FREE! It’s a no-brainer!

Yours in health, fitness and business,

Sherri McMillan


The most critical business action you can take!

Hey Fitness Pros,

As things start to wind down for the Holiday season, now becomes the most important period of time for me. It’s when I put aside time to plan and prepare for 2012. Remember the saying “Fail to Plan and Plan to Fail!” We want to enjoy an incredible 2012 year and so my preparation over the next month or so puts everything in action to ensure our success. Fail to take the time to do this and you’ll be ‘behind the 8-ball’ all year!

So here’s what I’m collecting right now:

1. Client Feedback – Using Survey Monkey, we’re collecting feedback from clients on what we’re doing well and what we need to do better. We ask them which programs, classes, educational seminars and special events they would like us to host in 2012. Since it is our clients that we are trying to service, it’s absolutely critical that we know exactly what the majority of them want.
2. Staff Feedback – I also collect the exact same information from our team. I want to know what they believe we are doing well, what we need to do better, what we should add, what we should get rid of, what we should budget for etc.
3. Community events – I take the time to gather all the dates of important community events in 2012 so I can ensure we are involved and/or I don’t program our special events on a date that would compete with an established community event. For example, our local Susan G Komen Race for the Cure in September draws about 50,000 people each year. It would be smart to ensure I don’t plan one of our events on the same day or risk very poor attendance.

Once I’ve gathered all the information, I pull out a big calendar and I start programming everything in for the entire year. I try to ensure everything is balanced month to month. I don’t want too many things in one month and not enough in another month.

Included in our yearly marketing calendar is:

1. Internal marketing initiatives
2. External marketing initiatives
3. Specials/promotions
4. Educational seminars
5. Specialty classes/programs
6. Events
7. Team meetings
8. Community outreach
9. Team Birthdays/Anniversaries

It takes me about a full month to pull this all together. Once all items and dates have been finalized, then I program everything into my calendar with triggers to ensure everything gets done in a timely fashion. I use “Outlook” as my time management system and I swear by it.

Both of our studios generate over a million dollars in fitness and training sales every year and I believe this is one of the key reasons for our success. So whether you own your own business, run a PT department or are a sole proprietor, do not neglect this key entrepreneurial action step.

Side note: If you are part of our Personal Training MasterMind group, not only would you know all this, you would have all the forms, templates and systems already done for you so you could just tweak it for your business. If you’re not part of our Personal Training MasterMind group, are you crazy?! Seriously, contact if you want to learn how to generate more than a million dollars in training sales every year and make your life a whole lot easier!

Yours in health, fitness and business,

Sherri McMillan

3200 potential clients…

Hey Fitness Pros,

I’ve got to keep this short because I need to get ready for 3200 potential clients coming through our training studio this weekend. Yep, I said 3200!  Can’t get a much bigger and better community outreach and external marketing campaign than that!

So how do we do it?

Well, each year, we host a number of events and we invite our community to participate.  They started as small events with less than 100 people and have grown to our Girlfriends Half Marathon that sells out each year and this year maxed out at 3200 women, our Girlfriends and Dudes Triathlon with 350 people, our Summer Solstice 3 and 6 mile Fun Run and Live Concert with 250 people, our March Maddy Madness with 200 people plus so much more!

So why do we do it?

  • Community Outreach and External Marketing – The majority of the people who participate in these events are not current clients.  But now they know who we are and we also have access to their contact information including emails and can invite them to various upcoming events, programs and promotions
  • Branding – Our logo gets on everything – t-shirts, water bottles, goody bags, brochures etc.
  • Philanthropic – Last year our Girlfriends Half Marathon alone raised $50,000 for Susan G Komen for a Cure!
  • Fun – These events are so inspirational and full of laughter!

If you want to know the details of how to start Event Management within your company, email and she’ll provide you with some information about the resources we offer.

Okay, I gotta run. Lots to do to get ready for 3200 women coming into our studio.

Yours in health, fitness and business,

Sherri McMillan


How to get lots of people to your gyms and training studios…

Hey Fitness Pros,

We offer educational seminars at our studios each month that have attracted up to 80+ people for two important reasons:

  1. Customer Service Initiative – offer education, knowledge to our existing clients about topics they are interested in. We believe if they know better, they can do better!  Knowledge + Action = Results!
  2. Marketing/Outreach – Our clients can bring guests and we can promote to our community so people from outside come to the studio in a no-pressure way, learn from us as the experts and get enticed to try out our services

Here’s how we do it… Read the rest of How to get lots of people to your gyms and training studios…

One of my biggest pet peeves in the personal training industry…

One of my biggest pet peeves in the personal training industry is picking up a Client File and not being able to determine what a trainer has been doing with their client.  If a trainer does not make any notes in their clients’ files, how can they record and comment on progress (ie John, last week you did 10 reps and today you were able to do 12 reps at the same weight), how can they assure systematic periodization, how can they implement planned variety, how can they record any subjective and objective notes critical to make program updates and modifications…

In an ideal world, a personal trainer would have an assistant follow them around to record notes but that’s not realistic.  So how to do other professionals do it?  Read the rest of One of my biggest pet peeves in the personal training industry…

Big Problem in Personal Training industry – Lack of Regular Program Updates

Hey Fitness Pros,

In my next few blogs, I wanted to touch on a few items that I believe would elevate the professionalism and standards in our industry. Please leave your comments at the end of my blog and let me know what you think. Am I on the right track or out to lunch?!

The Problem:  Lack of regular client program updates: Trainers are often busy back-to-back with clients all day long.  It’s difficult to find the time to do program and file updates to keep clients on track with their fitness program, progressing appropriately and achieving their goals. But this is the most important part of the process – it’s the method to the madness, the rationale for what we do.  Otherwise we’re just going through the motions.  Trainers who do understand the importance of this process are often forced to do these critical program updates at home or in their down-time without getting paid.  But why would you not get paid for the most important part of the process – remember the saying “Fail to Plan then Plan to Fail!”

The Solution: As a professional fitness and training organization, we absolutely need to take the time to regularly update our clients’ files and programs, periodize their progress, measure success and plan accordingly to help our clients achieve incredible, life changing results. These extensive program updates need to be completed every 3-4 months as a minimum.  And most importantly, trainers should be charging and getting paid for this time as professionals.  Think of attorneys – very little of their time that they charge for is face-to-face time.  They understand their value and worth and have no problem charging for any time they spend on your file!  And not only that, they charge top dollar!  Bottom line – if you want to be regarded as a professional, you need to act like one.

The Action Plan: Inform your clients that for the next year, you are going to put it in your calendar every 3-4 months to spend time planning and updating their entire program.  You will systematically progress and adjust their program to ensure they are achieving incredible results.  Let them know that you will use 30-60 minutes every few months to make these important adjustments to their program.  Let them know you will complete this task in the following ways:

  • When they short-notice cancel, you will use that time to complete significant program updates.
  • When they are on holidays, instead of canceling out of all of their scheduled appointment(s), you will use a session to complete these significant program updates.
  • When a client is consistent and doesn’t miss sessions, you will use an hour of their time during your down-time/admin time to ensure these program updates get done.  You’ll just need to program that time for them into the computer like a real session and make a note in their file that you used that hour for a program update.
  • If for whatever reason your client is not comfortable paying for your ‘non-face time’, inform them that you will ask them every few months to come in early and do some cardio on their own, then you will do a shorter muscle conditioning workout, and then spend the remaining time doing this critical planning and prepping together.

Note:  During these extensive program updates, you should systematically perform assessments to measure progress and ensure your program is working.  If not, something needs to be adjusted!  At NWPT, we perform body composition and/or performance assessments every few months to ensure results are going in the right direction.

Note:  Human nature dictates that clients are ready to ramp up their program in January, Spring and September.  It would make sense to perform assessments and launch upgraded programs during these time periods.  So then the months prior would be a good point to take some time to get their files in order.  In terms of the calendar year, this is perfect timing.  December is typically a down time for clients because of the holidays and travel.  So use this time to get clients’ files in order before the January surge– just remember to charge for your time.  Same in August – training is typically slower so this would be a great time to get files in order to ramp up for September.

Win:Win: The clients win because you will be spending the critical time to ensure you’re taking a systematic approach to helping them reach their fitness goals.  You and the business wins because every few months, you’ll charge one hour to their account so you can complete these updates – that means paid training time, increased productivity, higher revenues and more bonuses.

Let me know what you think.

Yours in health, fitness and business,

Sherri McMillan


How Personal Trainers can develop a full clientele base

Hey Fitness Pros,

We have a trainer on our team, Rob Cloke, who has been with us for almost 12 years. His schedule is always at capacity, he always hits bonuses and always reaches his revenue goals. So how does he do it and continue to do it for 12 years?! Well, we asked him and thought we’d share his thoughts with you!

Rob and Jim 225x300 How Personal Trainers can develop a full clientele base

Rob Cloke training one of his clients

Read the rest of How Personal Trainers can develop a full clientele base