Personal Trainers: Independent Contractor vs. Employee

One of the MOST common questions we get from fitness business owners/managers in our mastermind group and from those who have purchased our Business of Personal Training System  is “Should I have Independent Contractors or Employees?”

Here is my answer….
Reviewing the history of the personal training industry, pretty much all of us started as independent contractors operating our personal training businesses within existing health and fitness clubs. Slowly over the years, many of these facilities decided to bring the training department in-house and make all their trainers employees. Why would they do this?

ONE: having employees brings more control and standardization to your business. It can become extremely unprofessional and confusing to the clientele when you have multiple trainers all running their own businesses within the same facility.

TWO: the IRS has very strict guidelines for professions and who should be considered an independent contractor or an employee.

Here’s what the IRS dictates –

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Posted in Human Resources by Sherri | 2 Comments

Cancellation Policy – What Now?


Last week I gave you all of the steps we take to ensure we stick to our cancellation policy, keep revenues when it comes to cancelations and keep our customers happy when they need to late cancel.

Those steps work almost 100% of the time for us, but there is always the exception to the rule.  Some client needs and some situations just can’t be resolved this way.  So…if all else fails and you don’t want to lose a client over a cancellation dispute…Try:


Providing written explanation if needed:
If the client expresses their concern through email or you are unable to speak to them in person and/or you want to provide them with a copy of your cancellation policy and rationale. You do that and also include an email/letter that explains that you need to stick to your cancellation policy in order to be fair to all clients (how do you decide if one reason for a cancellation is better than another?), to keep clients accountable to their fitness programs and ensure that you won’t lose 25 -40% of revenues (common in our industry if you don’t have a strong cancellation policy) so that you can stay in business. When you are writing this type of email/letter be sure to still use the approaches I outlined in last week’s Cancellations Don’t Mean Revenues Lost blog post (paraphrase, empathize etc)

When is it the right time to waive the cancellation fee?: Read the rest of Cancellation Policy – What Now?

Posted in business success by Sherri | 36 Comments

Cancellations Don’t Mean Revenue Lost!

Cancellation Policies can be tricky, but with the correct approach they don’t have to mean lost revenue and they don’t have to mean upset clients.

The following simple steps help us avoid most of the issues that can arise when a client cancels after our predefined cancellation deadline (24hrs).  This can work for you too!

Step 1. CSRs (Customer Service Representatives) – whenever booking an appointment, always remind clients, “If for whatever reason you need to reschedule, please give us 24 hours notice so we can schedule someone else into that time slot”.  This will regularly remind them of the importance of advance notice and the value of our time and that we have a policy in place.

Step 2. Ask all of your trainers review your cancellation policy and the importance of explaining it during the comp session. Also, make sure Read the rest of Cancellations Don’t Mean Revenue Lost!

Posted in customer service by Sherri | No Comments

Overcoming Obstacles & Excuses – Week 5

We have made it through the majority of the excuses that your clients will try to use to get out of training with you. After reading these last two scenarios you will be armed with what you need to help your clients overcome these obstacles.  Pretty soon your clients won’t even try to get out of workouts because they know you always have a comeback that is just too good!

Let’s Go Back Home
Imagine this scenario.  Your clients have scheduled a two-week vacation and have decided to drive to their favorite holiday destination. They get half way there, get a flat tire and turn around and go back home.  Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?  But this is exactly what happens when most people start exercise or nutrition programs.  They are on their way to their goals and they slip up.  Instead of “fixing the flat” and continuing on toward their goal, they give up and return to old habits and patterns.  We know that 70 percent of people who start an exercise program drop out within a matter of months.  And most people who lose 10 pounds gain them back.  So how do you help your clients avoid being one of the failures?  It is important to help your clients realize and accept that there are going to be obstacles, challenges or perceived failures along the way to any goal.  Those who succeed learn from the challenge and get right back on the exercise track.

The Here and Now
So many of our clients fall prey to the lure of immediate gratification.  The chocolate cake staring them in the face is too great a temptation compared to future weight loss.  They would rather experience the pleasure now and worry about the consequences later.  A binge today simply means tomorrow they will eat better or they will work out twice as long or hard.  There is always a way to justify a lack of discipline.  Discipline and will power are perceived as deprivation – Read the rest of Overcoming Obstacles & Excuses – Week 5

Overcoming Obstacles & Excuses – Week 4

Here we are at week 4 of our 5 week series on Overcoming Obstacles & Excuses.
Remember, knowing how to get your clients or potential clients past these road blocks will keep them coming back for more.  It is your job to ensure that they stick to the plan!

My knees hurt so I can’t exercise
The health benefits of exercise often outweigh the risks.  Certain conditions may make exercise more difficult but a good trainer can work around most problems.  Consult with a health professional who can help you design a program that addresses your client’s specific concerns.  For example, if a client is suffering from a knee injury, there is no reason why you can’t work on their upper body and abdominals while they are rehabilitating their knees.

I can’t see any results
One of the biggest hurdles new exercisers face is that the effort often does not match the result.  They have been exercising for five weeks and jump up on the scale.  Ugh, no change!  They feel the program must not be working and give up.  Unrealistic expectations can be a real downer.  Convince your clients to stay off the scale.  Monitor how many more repetitions your clients can do of a particular exercise.  Read the rest of Overcoming Obstacles & Excuses – Week 4

Overcoming Obstacles And Excuses – Week 3

I know that you have heard these excuses from your clients before.  Read this week’s addition to my series on helping your clients overcome obstacles and excuses.

Getting your clients past these excuses can be the key to getting them to invest in your services!

I Hate exercise
In the beginning, exercise may feel like a chore to your clients but eventually it will become a physical and mental health need.  It is important to find activities your clients enjoy doing so that they will participate in them regularly, see the results and get hooked.  Have your clients use music, try hiking or walking and add variety to their program to make it more fun.  Have them exercise with friends.  Studies show you tend to achieve better results that way because it will become more difficult to skip workouts.  There is also no evidence to suggest that exercise needs to be painful.  If it hurts that much, your clients may be doing too much, too soon.  While exercising, they may feel some discomfort, muscular fatigue or a burning sensation near the end of a set or an exercise bout.  These feelings are normal.  However, while performing an exercise, they should not feel sharp pain.  This is not normal and they should stop the exercise immediately and consult a sports physician or physiotherapist.  All of us have experienced muscle soreness after a new activity or highly intense workout.  Remember the feeling after your first day of skiing, first aerobics class or the first run of the summer?  This sensation is referred to as delayed onset muscle soreness because it usually takes one to three days after the workout to kick in.  Many participants rate the effectiveness of a workout by how sore they are afterwards.  But it you are training appropriately, there is no need to be sore.  It is okay to think “Hey, my muscles feel like they had a great workout yesterday.” However, if your clients have a problem getting out of a chair, walking, or even just moving, they are training too hard – and not very sensibly.  Read the rest of Overcoming Obstacles And Excuses – Week 3

Overcoming Obstacles And Excuses – Week 2

Hey Fit Pros,
Here we are at week 2 of our 5 week Overcoming Obstacles and Excuses series.  We hear these next two excuses over and over again!  It is time to have a response that will help your clients get over these obstacles once and for all!

I have no energy
Those who exercise regularly know from experience that exercise actually leaves you with more energy!  Some helpful strategies for overcoming this obstacle are to have your clients’ schedule exercise when they are less likely to feel exhausted from a long day at work or with the kids.  Have them get up 45 minutes earlier than everyone else and go for a walk.  It will start their day off on a positive note.  Suggest they keep their fitness gear in the car so that on the way home they can stop at the gym for their workout.  If they go home first, the couch and TV may be too tempting after a long day at work.  Or if they do find themselves skipping out on their workouts because they’ve got no energy, have them schedule in their workouts with you or a friend.  Whether they are tired or not, they still have to be there because someone is waiting for them.

I’m too old to start exercising
No, they would be too old not to exercise!   Every decade a 30-year-old sedentary individual will suffer from a 10 percent decrease in muscle mass and aerobic capacity and a reduction in flexibility.  Bone density deteriorates starting at age 35.  By the time your clients are 68, they will have experienced an 80 percent decrease in strength.  By age 80, an individual will have lost half of their muscle mass.  The good news is that if your clients exercise, these statistics will improve dramatically.  Even people as old as 90 have experienced the positive benefits of exercise so it is never too late to get started.  The Surgeon General’s Report indicates that 30 minutes of activity every day is enough to achieve various health benefits.  The level of activity is equivalent to gardening, performing household chores or light walking or cycling. Consider enrolling your clients in a line-dancing or ballroom dancing program.  Perhaps Tai Chi or Mind/Body stretch would be enticing to your clients. It doesn’t have to be intense, but they do need to start doing something!

Stay tuned for next week’s obstacles & excuses…and how we combat them!

PRODUCT SPECIAL: This “5 Week Overcoming Obstacles & Excuses Series” is just a small sample of the type of information we provide in our Client Programming Systems & Forms Package. This package comes with all of the client programming systems we use to create the best and most consistent training sessions for our clients….and it comes with all of the client forms we use everyday….and it comes with our Fitness Results Manual!  Get  20% off our Client Programming Systems & Forms Package by entering promo code CSF20 at checkout. That is almost a $200 savings that you don’t want to miss.  We will even put $600 toward the full Business of Personal Training System if you decide you need the full deal after purchasing the Client Programming Systems & Forms Package!

Overcoming Obstacles And Excuses – Week 1

Excuses, Excuses…
As you all know all too well…Eighty percent of people still do not exercise consistently enough to enjoy any health benefits.  And clients come up with a ton of excuses as to why they’re not sticking to the program.  Over the next 5 weeks I am going to share the most common stumbling blocks to exercise and ways you can communicate to your clients to help them overcome them.  Now there will be NO MORE EXCUSES!

I don’t have enough time.
If your clients are having trouble finding time to exercise, they are not alone.  A perceived lack of time is one of the most common excuses for not starting or for quitting an exercise program.  But it really does not wash.  We have clients who manage large businesses, clients with 6-8 children and clients who seem to do it all.  How do they do it?  They make health and fitness a priority in their life.  When life gets rough, exercise is usually the first thing to go when, in fact, it should be the last.  Exercise is the glue to mental sanity when life becomes chaotic.

Somehow, when other people need your client, their needs tend to end up on the back burner.  Someone at work asks them to complete a project, their spouse needs their attention, their kids need some quality time, their friends are asking you why they have not called, and they have got a to-do list that extends well into the next 6 months.  You can see how easy it is for your clients to convince themselves that the morning workout can wait until lunch and then until after dinner.  Or maybe tomorrow and finally, “I’ll get back on track next month!”  Commitments, responsibilities and the demands of work, family and social life are always going to be there.  When your clients allow their own needs to become second to everything and everyone else, they will end up the loser.

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Careful and Consistent Marketing For Fitness Professionals

So many Fitness Professionals don’t take the time to create a logo, message and image that can stand the test of time….and they pay for it later.  The last thing you want is to realize that the logo and messaging you chose for your business no longer represents who you are.  Thus, forcing you to create new artwork and rebuild your brand.  Get this essential aspect of your business correct from the start! Read how in this important blog post I wrote for PTontheNet.


Yours in health, fitness and business,
Sherri McMillan

PS.  We LOVE PTontheNet!  Our trainers use this online resource daily.  If you want to give it a try make sure to enter promo code NWPT at checkout to get 10% off your registration.  Go HERE to learn more.

PRODUCT SPECIAL: We are also announcing our April product special.  Get  20% off our Client Programming Systems & Forms Package by entering promo code CSF20 at checkout.  This package comes with all of the client programming systems we use to create the best and most consistent training sessions for our clients….and it comes with all of the client forms we use everyday….and it comes with our Fitness Results Manual!  This is almost a $200 savings that you don’t want to miss.  We will even put $600 toward the full Business of Personal Training System if you decide you need the full deal after purchasing the Client Programming Systems & Forms Package!

Posted in Uncategorized by Sherri | No Comments

Group Fat Loss Program

Spring is here and people start thinking about shedding body fat in time for summer.  So it’s a perfect opportunity to offer a Fat Loss program or Weight Loss challenge.

At Northwest Personal Training, our Spring Weight Loss and Makeover program has been a huge winner both from a financial and a client success perspective. Here are some of the details of our program:

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