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Integrity and the importance of a clear conscience

Following on from my post about Business Planning For Independent Personal Trainers earlier this week, a little talk about integrity in business. Now... it's no secret that there's a lot of scumbags and scam artists out there in any field of business and especially in weight loss. There's certainly money to be made through having no integrity, dubious ethics and misleading marketing practices, but I'm pretty sure you're not interested in learning how to do any of that. I'd like to think most people in the PT business are genuine and actually want to help people though, and apart from having to compete with and avoid being screwed by the dishonest business people, there are a few other points that might be an issue as well.

What I mean by integrity is equal parts doing the right thing by yourself and doing the right thing by other people. We're in the business of helping people, but that doesn't mean we do so to our own detriment. This means we charge a fair rate, we pay a reasonable fee for use of the facilities, and we do the right thing by cleaning up after ourselves and so forth.

If you are dealing with people (gym owners) who also have integrity, this will be enough to foster a mutually beneficial arrangement. By marketing yourself, you are also marketing the gym. When you sign a new client, the gym also gets a new member. Maybe the client also buys a set of gloves, supplements, water before training and a protein shake after training. You are contributing to the success of the facility, and in return you have the opportunity to use the facilities to become successful in your own business.

This is a fair arrangement and provided you are doing the right thing in terms of paying your fees on time, cleaning up after yourself and so on, most ethical business owners will be only too happy to have you on board. The good ones will leave you to run your business as you see fit, and the really good ones will assist you in becoming more successful, perhaps by promoting and recommending you to potential new clients, or by actively mentoring you either in your approach to training or business development skills.

These opportunities are somewhat rare though, so as I said in the previous entry if you are lucky enough to find one treat it like gold. It is an invaluable asset. The opposite and more common people you may find yourself dealing with are the more self centred, short sighted type... who are happy for you to be there and to be making money, but only if they are making more money from you being there than you are making yourself.

These sort of people are good at painting things into a light where you being successful is unfair and something you should feel guilty about, as if you are being greedy in wanting to make enough money to pay your own bills or something, even while making a fair contribution to their business as well. Avoid these types if you can, but if you find that you're dealing with one the value of integrity is that you already know that you are making a fair contribution, doing the right thing, and are entitled to make a fair profit for your efforts. Therefore, you have no reason to give in to unfair demands due to doubting your own intentions or value.

I'll tell you some stories about a gym owner like this that I had to endure some other time.


Business Planning For Independent Personal Trainers

So I decided my next project is going to be a new website helping new trainers to make their business plan and have a chance in hell of actually making a living while helping people get healthier and happier. That's the dream, isn't it? Basically it's just going to be "well here's what I do" plus a couple of "well, maybe you could try this as well or instead" type ideas.

There's about a million people doing this already, selling business and marketing systems for trainers. Some of them are really really good, and some are just looking to exploit people. They might not even realise it, but that's what they're doing. Some are just MLM people looking for new recruits to resell their products, which I guess is fine except when you're targeting trainers with this brainwashing type "this is what you have to do to succeed, if you don't want to do it then you don't want to succeed" message... I think there needs to a system for the people who don't want to do any of that stuff and ACTUALLY want to be trainers working directly with clients and delivering results through sensible eating and strategic training. Like I say, there are some very good systems available made by legitimate fitness people, but there are far more that are put out by marketing people who completely miss the point that our primary motivation is that we actually want to be in the gym with clients... we're fitness people trying to become successful business people, not business & marketing people who realised there is money to be made in weight loss and fitness.

The other aspect is that there are a lot of traps and pitfalls that new trainers and especially the younger ones can fall into, so hopefully I can help some of the genuine and sincere people to be successful in business while actually helping their clients, and to avoid being exploited by greedy and unscrupulous business people.

The education / certification providers advertise that as soon as you graduate you'll have a lucrative career with a schedule that suits your lifestyle, making big bucks and loving every minute of it. In actual fact... well, you CAN have that... but most often that is not the case, as I'll describe a little later.

Why be independent though?

The hard part about being an independent trainer is finding a suitable location. If you can make an arrangement with a local gym to bring your clients there, that is the ideal situation. The benefit to the gym of course is that you are marketing on their behalf. You're going out and finding them new members, who'll pay fees, perhaps buy accessories, drinks, supplements and so on... perhaps they'll ask you for a small fee for each session.

The beauty in this arrangement is that you are free to run your business as you see fit, while having the use of a full gym facility. If you are fortunate enough to be able to make such an arrangement, honour it by paying your fees on time, tidying up after yourself, and finding other ways to show your appreciation. Even though you are bringing something to the table and contributing to the profitability of the gym; remember that you (probably) need them a lot more than they need to you to stay in business. Keep them happy!

In such an arrangement, you work for yourself. Working for other people usually sucks. If you can get a job with a good boss and fair conditions, all the better. More often than not though, working as a PT in someone else's business is rarely a good arrangement. You'll find yourself being expected to be available up to 16 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week. You'll find yourself having sessions cancelled or rescheduled at a moment's notice, which you probably won't be compensated for. You'll find yourself having to kill time for an hour or two between sessions as well, and only being paid while you're actually with a client. You'll probably be expected to go out and market for new clients on your own time, just so you can receive maybe a 1/4 of what they are paying to the business owner in fees.

These are the sort of arrangements a young and enthusiastic trainer might find themselves in, being run into the ground for a fairly average pay day, and having all their energy and enthusiasm sucked out of them due to an unrealistic and exhausting schedule.

I might post a few horror stories from my own experiences as examples of what to avoid when you start as a trainer. The point though for now is that after being in business for a few years, avoiding some of the traps and falling into and then climbing out of the others, I now have an excellent marketing and business system that is allowing me to be successful on my own terms, while actually helping people and making a positive contribution to society. And the interesting part is that it is mostly due to doing everything that people told me I shouldn't do!

Watch this space for more.


Effective Training Programs For Men And Women

I'm gonna do a post about the difference in training programs for men and for women. That is, the difference in effective programs for men and women; not the difference between programs marketed towards one sex or the other.

I was working in a little gym last year and I would say 90% of the people didn't really have "a program" as far as I could tell. Especially the females were mostly just doing the usual bike, treadmill, x-trainer "plus some dumbbells to tone the arms" sort of ... unproductive activities, let's call them.

So anyway I took it upon myself to put people on an actual program. Pretty much the same as the free program on Lose Weight No Bullshit, right? And people were happy because someone had finally shown them how to use some of the equipment and explained why it was useful, and they felt like they were actually doing something worthwhile that would produce results.

But you know... a few times I had to sort of explain or justify myself to people who thought they knew better. Like, shouldn't everyone get a different program? Shouldn't males and females do different programs?

Well, not really. The difference in how men and women train usually come down to not knowing any better. Once you actually have some understanding of effective training, you realise that it's not about programs for men or programs for women. It is about programs for human beings. 

Now how you put these programs together can vary a little or a lot but there are a few bases that always need to be covered, as follows:
  • Pushing Movements
  • Pulling Movements
  • Bending & Extending At The Knee
  • Bending & Extending At The Hip
You can do this with free weights, leverage machines, cable machines, body weight exercises, TRX, resistance tubes... and you have different choices of exercises from each of these options. A competent trainer will be able to choose the most suitable option, or variety of options for each client from within their preferred method and either ascend or descend them as required. That is, make each exercise more or less challenging to suit the current abilities of the client.

Regardless of age, sex, ability level, natural aptitude or even your goal. You do it by getting stronger and healthier. Sporting performance goal? You need to get stronger and healthier. Body composition, weight loss or aesthetics based goal? You need to get stronger and healthier.

Any effective training program is about making human beings, people, stronger and healthier.

And happier.

Deadlift session from the weekend

With my main man SuperJubs aka Toast And Iron on Tumblr.

Progression was 150kg, 160kg, 165kg and 170kg... except I could quite pull the 170... for now!

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