Archive for May, 2009

We’ve got to start with the kids!

May 30, 2009

If our goal as Fitness Professionals is to inspire the world to fitness, then we should definitely involve the kids!

I had the opportunity to work with some Vancouver kids today to teach them that working out and eating healthy can be a ton of fun. Check out the video above. It’s so cute!

Here’s the reality…

These days kids hardly get any activity. Most schoolwork involves sedentary activity and with television and video games as after-school pastimes, the temptation to sink into couch potato-land becomes pretty overwhelming for our kids. Check out these startling stats:

* Children today are approximately 40% less active than they were 30 years ago
* 20% of children and teens are overweight enough to threaten their future health
* One report states that the number of overweight children ages 6-11 has increased by 50% in the last 15 years and by 40% in those ages 12-17. Lack of exercise is considered a major contributing factor
* 40% of children already have at least one risk factor for heart disease and reduced fitness due to an inactive lifestyle
* Children spend an average of 26 hours a week watching television and also spend 25-30 hours a week sitting behind a desk

Kids who exercise can experience the following benefits:

* Daily physical activity builds a healthy heart and stimulates muscle and bone growth
* Healthy, fit kids have more energy, sleep better and often have better eating habits than their sedentary peers
* One six year study found that the academic performance of students who exercised regularly had significantly improved compared to students who did not participate in regular physical activity
* It appears that children benefit from better concentration, memory, creativity, problem-solving ability and overall mood for up to two hours following exercise
* One report states that exercise can boost a child’s self-confidence and self-image. It also reduces aggression and decreases anxiety and depression.

So consider volunteering to lead a kids fitness program or launch a Kids Bootcamp class. Do what you can to start them young!

Yours in health, fitness & business,


ps. As a side benefit, their parents may also start working with you!

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People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!

May 27, 2009

What is the easiest way to enhance team morale, increase job satisfaction, boost someone’s confidence, make a client feel great, increase a loved one’s inner joy and cure the world’s problems?

Okay so maybe I’m going overboard there but telling and showing someone how much you love, respect and appreciate them goes a really long way! The best part is if you’re struggling with this economy and on a tight budget, it doesn’t cost much if anything!

So whether you are a personal trainer, fitness instructor, manager or owner, here’s few ideas:

*Give a thank you card or letter to a client or team member who has been with you for a long time to tell them how much you appreciate that they are in your life.

*Pick up a few $10-$20 gift cards from Itunes, Starbucks, Movies etc to give to staff to thank them for going above and beyond.

*Order some water bottles, t-shirts etc with your logo on it to give to loyal clients and staff – a great marketing initiative too!

*Send a short, impromptu email to a client or team member to let them know you recognize how hard they’ve been working.

*Post client testimonials and success stories on your website, on a bulletin board at your studio and in a scrap book to be displayed at your studio.

*Plan a staff thank you party and/or a membership/client appreciation get-together or BBQ to let your people know how much you care about them.

*Wildly celebrate all client and staff successes & special moments like birthdays, anniversaries etc.

If you’re like most leaders (and yes, you’re a leader), it’s easy to forget to do these things. So put it in your calendar so it is ritualized. For example, you might decide that every Thursday, you are going to email 3 people to thank them or the first of every month, you are going to purchase a few small gifts to give to those people who you really appreciate or every quarter, you’re going to host a party. Write it down and then make it happen!

Yours in fitness, health and business,

Sherri McMillan

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May 22, 2009

Hey Fitness Pros.

Sorry about that monster huge head shot that arrived in your inbox yesterday. It must have frightened you! No one needs to see that! And I definitely did not like to see my face that big on the screen! Yikes! Anyways, I had the settings incorrect on our new enewsletter system and I believe I’ve corrected that. You must have thought I was so vain when you received that! My goodness…

Right now, I’m getting ready for our Girls Night Out that we’re hosting at our Portland studio tonight and it made me think that I should mention how important it is to your business to host social events like this.

I had a client email me recently who was diagnosed with breast cancer and was going through chemo and radiation treatment. One day she noticed that all of the friends who were visiting her in the hospital during her treatments were gals that she never knew before starting to workout with us at NWPT. And now they are inseparable and the best of friends. She was just emailing to thank us for creating such a great opportunity for friendships to be developed. Isn’t that cool! So we have the opportunity to create so much more than just an exercise program or class. We are LITERALLY changing peoples lives!

Plus when you create situations where friendships can be fostered, it truly enhances client and member retention. People are less likely to leave your studio, club, class, or program because they would be leaving so much more than just an exercise program, trainer or building. They would be leaving a lot of friendships and no one ever wants to do that! Can you imagine someone say “I’ve got to stop coming here. I just have way too many friends and it’s just too much fun!”? I don’t think so!

So do whatever you can to ensure your clients/members get to know each other, laugh together, have fun together and become friends. Here’s some tips:

1. Host a Night Out like we’re doing tonight
2. Organize a group hike or bike ride
3. Host a grass-roots fun run, triathlon or obstacle challenge
4. Organize an exercise-a-thon fundraiser
5. Heavily promote partner and small group training
6. Offer an Outdoor Bootcamp program
7. Encourage all members to participate in group fitness classes

Last, as often as you can, introduce your clients to each other. Make that a daily part of how you run your business.

Yours in health, fitness and business,

Sherri McMillan

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Posted in Business, fitness professional, personal training 16 Comments »

You’ve got to sell to succeed!

May 21, 2009

On Tuesday, I spent a few hours role playing with one of our interns, Remy, who will be starting with us in a week. She’s been shadowing trainers, taking mock clients through workouts and learning all of our systems. She is passionate, smart, kind and caring and is going to make an incredible trainer. Out of her entire internship, the time we spent on Tuesday was probably the most important. She took me through an initial training session with me pretending to be the prospective client with the goal of trying to encourage me to invest in her services. Then we practiced various ways to show me the value of her services and to help me overcome any obstacles I presented. We role played for about 3 hours and I am 100% confident that the time we spent together is going to help her help so many more people!

I was fortunate enough to work for GoodLife Fitness Clubs in Canada for the first 5 years of my career. They are the largest and most successful fitness club chain in Canada. They achieved their level of success because the owner, David Patchell Evans, understands the critical importance of developing the sales skills of his entire team. In fact, when I worked there, every week I would meet with my manager and we would role play various scenarios. I did this for 5 years!! We also met as a team monthly to do more role playing.

Now I know you didn’t become a fitness pro because you’re passionate about selling but rather your drive is all about helping people. Well, you can’t help anyone if you can’t convince them to invest in your services, program or club. And if you’re having a discussion with someone who is on the fence with getting started with a fitness program, if you don’t try to help them through whatever stumbling blocks they are experiencing, you’ve done them a disservice. You’ve got to ask questions, you’ve got to probe deeper to find out what’s holding them back from making the commitment to their health and fitness. Most fitness pros freeze when confronted with a potential client’s obstacle (ie I need to think about it, I’ll talk it over with my hubby, I don’t think I can afford it, I don’t have the time etc). They don’t know what to say and they don’t want to appear too aggressive so they use the “I totally understand. Here is my business card. Give me a call once you’ve decided” approach. And the person goes back into thinking, contemplation mode vs doing and taking action. It’s our job to help them take action!

So how do you get good at influencing and motivating someone to take action? You practice and practice and practice – just like I did with Remy. So if you work with a team of fitness professionals, make the commitment to regular role playing. If you’re a solo fitness pro, rally a friend or family member to role play with you. It can actually be fun! Trust me – it totally works!

Yours in health, fitness and business,

Sherri McMillan

ps. We have some great resources (books, webinars etc) on how to specifically improve your sales skills in the fitness industry including sample scripts for role playing, what to say, what not to say guidance etc. If you’re interested, email our Fitness Education director at

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Get FREE Press!

May 18, 2009

I just sent out a Press Release to our local media reps. It made me think that I should send out a Blog to you about how to do this to get Free Press in your community. Here’s the premise and approach…

Who has the money to take out ads in magazines or newspapers or create a commercial for the radio or television? If you’re like most fitness businesses, you don’t! But there is a way to get free advertising but you have to work for it.

• Develop a list of key local media contacts in your area including print, radio and TV

• Complete regular mail-outs, emails and fax-outs to develop relationships. Tease them with some health and fitness information. For example, state “I was just at IDEA, The International Health and Fitness Conference in Las Vegas and I learned some of the most incredible exercises for the abdominals. It’s stuff you’ve never seen before. Call me if you’d like to hear more about it” or “I was just at the IHRSA show in San Francisco and I’ve got to tell you about some of the hottest and craziest equipment new on the market” or offer a human interest story about one of your clients and their success- with their approval of course. Just wet their taste buds and you can expect at least one or two call backs from each of your efforts. Of course each time they run your idea, you are mentioned as the Health and Fitness expert and you can also ask for your business and your number to be listed so people can contact you if they have further questions.

• Offer to write a free weekly/monthly fitness column. The time spent writing the article will be well worth the advertising value.

• Offer key media contacts a couple complimentary sessions so they can try out your services and see what it’s all about. Perhaps propose a “Media Fitness Challenge” or “Getting into shape” challenge and rival reporters and producers of various networks against each other. The press you get will be huge.

I can use myself as an example of just how much free advertising you can get. When I first moved to Vancouver, BC, and developed my new business, I started doing regular fax-outs and mail-outs. In the beginning the response was poor. But after a few months, I started to get at least one or two call backs from every effort. Soon I was being quoted in various sources and being asked to appear on local radio and television shows for 3-5 minute guest fitness appearances. In the beginning, I wrote so many free articles and did so many free appearances but the exposure I got was priceless. Then I had my first big break. The Province Newspaper, our daily Provincial newspaper in British Columbia, with a very large circulation, asked me to write a weekly fitness column for them. And get this, they were actually offering to pay me! Can you imagine how much it would have cost me to actually purchase the type of exposure I have received. Then as a result of the newspaper exposure, I was asked by a local publisher to write a book. One-year later “Go For Fit – The Winning Way to Fat Loss” was printed and launched. I started being asked to write by national magazines like Chatelaine. Then I gained interest on the international scene and was asked to do some work with the prestigious Shape magazine. I co-founded and edited a local health and fitness magazine, Go!

Then I got married and moved to the states and had to start all over from scratch. So I repeated the same process. Took about a year of these weekly press releases and teasers and then we got our big break. We were asked to write the weekly fitness column for the Columbian, our city newspaper. Did that for about 3 years. Then got our next big break when the Oregonian, our state newspaper, asked us to start a weekly fitness column. Been doing that for years now and the exposure is incredible!

And all of this exposure by just committing to do some work for free in the beginning. Sometimes new trainers expect things to just happen. If you want to succeed, you will have to work at it. Remember this, what goes around, comes around. And your efforts will not go unnoticed! Short team pain for long term gain!

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Posted in Marketing, personal training, Sales 13 Comments »

Stay Busy so you can get Busy!

May 15, 2009

Think about the last time you were looking for a good restaurant. Let’s say you came across a restaurant that was empty. What are your first thoughts? Probably something like – “This restaurant can’t be that good. There’s no one there!” Typically, you’re more drawn to a restaurant that’s got a lot of people in it and the place looks like it’s buzzing. That’s always a good sign!

Well, it’s very similar for a Personal Trainer. One of the worst things is to see a trainer sitting around all day behind a desk or just hanging out talking to other staff. The perception to a potential client is “That trainer must not be that good since they don’t have any clients!”

So in order to get busy, you’ve got to LOOK BUSY! Here are some important tips:

1. If you’re just getting started, give away some FREE training. Did I actually say FREE! Yep, I did. But be selective about how you go about doing this and who you give this free training to because you don’t want to devalue your service. There’s got to be a method to your madness! You want to choose people who you know are movers and shakers in your community or high profile staff in your club. So in a club setting, maybe you give a few sessions to the top sales staff who will then be talking you up to all the new members. Or maybe give a few free sessions to the most popular group fitness instructors who also will rave about you to all their class participants. Or maybe you train a few of the customer service reps who also will share their experience with members. Maybe even offer some free training to the veteran trainers on your team who are popular but too full to take on any new clients so that when someone wants to train with them they can easily and comfortably refer that client to you. Or maybe you choose someone in your community – a radio talk show host, the mayor, an elite level athlete, a business owner with strong relationships with lots of people in your community, the mom who is the PTA president who everyone knows, loves and respects – and give them a number of sessions. The only rule with this is ask the person to not mention to anyone else that they are getting free personal training and also ask them in return for the free personal training to tell everyone they know and meet how great you are. Create an arrangement so that for each new client they bring you, you will continue to thank them with an additional personal training session. Now, you’ll look like you’ve got a lot of clients plus you’ll have a whole sales team selling your services!
2. Do Mini-sessions. There is absolutely nothing like face-to-face marketing! So if you don’t have any clients or long breaks in between clients and you want to fill your schedule, think of mini-sessions as the way to look busy and to develop relationships with potential clients. All you have to do is approach a member doing their own thing and say something like “Hey, Sally, I’ve got 20 minutes before my next client. I’d love to take you through a mini-workout.” Then find out what they’re working on and then take them through a little mini-session. Strut your stuff and show them the value that you can add to their exercise experience. I have found that 9 times out of 10, this type of connection opens up a dialogue about your services. For example, they might bring up “You know I’ve been thinking about seeing a trainer once a month to create a program for me” or “Tell me more about your Team Training. I’ve been meaning to ask someone how that works” or “Do you think seeing you just once a week would be beneficial because I think that’s all I can afford?!”.
3. Spot in a Group Fitness Class. Find out who are the most popular group fitness instructors in your club. Then suggest to them that you’d like to come to their class and provide some spotting and technique monitoring during the strength and/or abdominals sections. Any group fitness instructor would love to have this type of assistance. In return, ask the instructor to mention how great of a trainer you are and how you could offer them some solid accountability and help them reach their goals. Spotting in a group fitness class is a great way to connect with multiple people for the same amount of time – you might get to meet 20-50 people in 10-15 minutes.

This approach absolutely works! Trust me! Here’s a real life example. I was consulting with a club in Oregon. They had just hired a new trainer who in his first month generated $7000 in revenues. So I asked him what he was doing to fill his schedule so quickly. First, he told me he had given away 2 Personal Training sessions to every employee at the club and was even doing some partner and small group training with various staff members. He had created a buzz and everyone was talking about him!

Secondly, he was doing the mini-sessions I talked about above and let me tell you how valuable this is. One day I was in his club to do some training with the trainers. I saw him training one of the members. So once the session was over, I started talking with the member and asked her how it was going. Her response was “Oh, he’s an amazing trainer. You know I’ve been a member here 15 years and he’s the first trainer that has ever talked to me!” I thought this was very valuable information that I could share with the trainers to emphasize the importance of connecting and developing relationships with members. So I told the trainers what she said and they couldn’t believe it. There response was “That’s not true. We talk to her all the time. I say hi to her everyday!” So of course, I just had to get to the bottom of this. So I went back to the member and mentioned to her “I really want to help the other trainers here at the club so I want to clarify something. I told them what you had said and they didn’t understand because they felt that they all did have a relationship with you and said Hi to you everyday.” Her response was “Oh yeah. Of course, they all say hi to me and are very nice. But my trainer was the first one to ever approach me and take me through a little workout. He really showed me that I could take things to a whole other level by working with him so that’s why I started training with him.” So I went back to the trainers and told them what she said. Their response was “Well, she’s been a member with us for 15 years. She looks great and it looks like she really knows what she’s doing so we just assumed that she really wasn’t interested in training with a trainer!” My response was “Well, obviously, you were wrong because she’s now training three times per week and will probably be one of the best PT clients ever!” So never assume someone can’t benefit or isn’t interested in Personal Training. Even high level, highly motivated athletes like Lance Armstrong have a whole entourage of coaches and trainers. So if they can benefit from the services of a trainer, we all can! If you get the brush off from a few members, don’t let it detour you. Sometimes you have to experience a few rejections to find those awesome, life-long clients!

If you train in a club or you’re a fitness director and manage a number of trainers in a club, have a discussion about some of these ideas. If you implement these initiatives and get the buy-in from your trainers, I guarantee your PT revenue will dramatically increase!

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The ‘How To’ of Group Training

May 14, 2009

Yesterday, I taught a 2 hour Webinar on how to Make Money at Group Training and how to practically manage a group training session.

Group Training is definitely the wave of the future in Personal Training because it’s a win:win:win. It’s good for the client because they can access more frequent training at a lower rate plus they enjoy the group energy and group accountability. It’s great for the trainer because it mixes up the energy (less personal drama), they can earn a higher wage for the same hour and it’s just a ton of fun. And it’s a win for the business because you can generate higher revenues for the same period of time and achieve a higher level of profitability.

But if you don’t understand how to effectively program, package, bundle, market and promote your group programs, your potential will be greatly limited. And if you haven’t figured out how to effectively manage a large group and create the type of energy that people don’t want to live without, again, your success will be limited.

I’m teaching a group session today at noon. And although I have a plan for the workout, most of my thoughts are centered around what can I do to create an awesome experience for my clients today. Whether it’s a fun joke I’ll tell them. Or offer some cool fitness trivia. Or create the perfect music playlist. Today, I”m teaching a Brick Workout – 20 minutes on the bike, 20 minutes run and 20 minutes Core Conditioning. For the run segment, I’ve made up some fun chants to help them take their mind off the challenging effort that running always offers. So it works like this, I yell out the first line, they repeat. Then I yell the second line, they repeat. Think military chants. Here’s a couple sample chants that I’ll be leading today.

Exercising Everyday
Getting fit in every way
Working out night and day
Getting strong in every way

Bootcamp, Bootcamp is so fun!
Look at me and see me run.
Working out from noon to one
In the rain, cold or sun

Feeling good & Getting Strong
Being healthy all day long
I am fit and I am strong
Muscles getting lean and long
My heart is pumping hard and strong
Exercise ain’t never wrong

Hope this gives you some ideas.

Yours in Health, Fitness and Business,

ps. I wanted to let you know that the 2 hour Webinar I did yesterday is for sale for $99. It will be a great resource that you can refer to forever. Plus the $99 you spend will create so much more than that. Last year we did $100,000 in Group Training and an additional $150,000 in events. Just email Kari, our education director at and she’ll hook you up.

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Grass Roots Promotions Really Work!

May 13, 2009

Let’s say you’ve got a new Outdoor Bootcamp program you want to promote. Or you’re hosting a fundraising event. Or maybe you’re organizing a Girls Night Out at the club.

How do you get the word out?

Take a multi-focused approach.

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Posted in Marketing, personal training 20 Comments »