Personal Fitness Professional Mar/Apr 2013

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Maximize your business with

group training

TEAM ADVENTURE RACING The training program is inside!

READY TO GO FROM FREE TO FEE? 10 strategies to win loyal, paying clients

JOURNEY TO SUCCESS John and Cara Eckerman: Dynamic duo isn’t afraid of risk




josh vogt | EDITOR

lindsay vastola | MANAGING EDITOR


rachel spahr | PRESIDENT

chad griepentrog | CREATIVE DIRECTOR


lori patterson, lori sawyer, joe vennare FEATURED COLUMNISTS

Training clients for an obstacle course race? March exclusive web feature: Callie Durbrow offers ideas for how your facility can host a benefit boot camp to help a local cause in need while keeping your clients fit and motivated.

POLL RESULTS What learning method do you prefer?

24.18% 40.66%


Jump Start


by: Valorie Ness




Live conferences/ seminars Classroom setting Webinars

Career Builder by: Josh Bowen

Hands-on workshops

NEXT POLL Entrepreneur

by: Cabel McElderry

What defines your training services? b. 2-4 small group training c. 5-20 group training d. 20+ group training e. Team training



VIDEO Non-traditional dynamic warm-up

Send subscriptions to: By mail: PFP, P.O. Box 259098 Madison WI 53725-9098

In PFP’s latest online video, Julio Salado demonstrates his non-traditional dynamic warm-up, part of his Corrective Warm-Ups series. It’s great for ankle mobility, knee stability, hip mobility, scapular stability, posture, balance and core stability.

Training Wheels

Setting goals: a weight loss paradigm shift we must share with our clients

SOCIAL MEDIA pfpmedia @PFP_FitPro

a. One-on-one personal training

Functionally Fit by: Brian Schiff

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Visit: to participate

Challenge them with Joe Vennare’s workout on page 24 and watch the video series online.

greg justice, phil kaplan, bedros keuilian, pete mccall, tammy polenz

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Lindsay Vastola |

Valorie Ness |

Changing lives from 50,000 feet There is a trending message in this issue focused on the business of group training: “I want to change as many lives as possible.” I would contend that for most of you reading this, this message is integral to your purpose as a fitness professional and the reason why you wake up every morning before the sun does. We have an opportunity to serve more people than ever with group training. The growth of group exercise in clubs and the rise of smaller boutique facilities is evidence that this group trend is here to stay. But the difference from the 1980s aerobics-era is that our clients are craving a more personal experience within a community of like-minded individuals. The challenge for fitness professionals is to carefully create a hybrid between the personal service of one-on-one sessions and the dynamic of group training. Though there is limitless opportunity, group training also translates to more client touch-points, more accounts to manage and a greater number of people relying on you. It is critical that you carve out time to deliberately focus on looking at how you serve your clients from a higher level... from the proverbial “50,000-foot view.” The goal of this issue is to offer you valuable tools, expertise and resources to help you take the 50,000-foot view of your business: 

As part of our 15-year anniversary redesign, we’re introducing a new feature we’re calling “The Message” to feature fitness professionals successfully using social media, email marketing and new technology to share their message.

Lori Sawyer, one of the innovators of the stroller fitness trend, talks about how to evolve your group training business using “one-off” programs.

Ever wonder how to convert your free group exercise classes into a revenue stream? Lori Patterson offers 10 simple strategies.

Our Journey to Success feature is guaranteed to inspire you. Husband and wife duo John and Cara Eckerman share their journey from working two jobs each, to moving across the country to open two successful boot camp studios.

I challenge you to take a look at your business from the view of 50,000 feet (after you read this issue of PFP, of course!). What does it look like? Does your business look chaotic and unorganized or is it a smooth operation? What if a potential client looked at your business from 50,000 feet? Would they be impressed and be clamoring to work with you, or would they hesitate? Serve your clients from 50,000 feet and you’ll exponentially increase the number of lives you touch.

A new model of small group training We caught up with Valorie just as she was reaching land following Nick Tumminello’s Strength Cruise. Valorie shared with us her plans for spring and gave us a peek into how she maximizes her business with group training. Briefly describe the group training model at Catalyst Fitness. Our model is unique in that we offer a personal trainer on-demand service. The group model is what we call Small Group Training (SGT). Our model allows our members to come in when their schedule allows (for example, if they can come in at 5:07 p.m. to begin their workout, it works for us). We believe in eliminating as many obstacles as possible. In this time-pressed and high-stressed society we do not want an individual’s exercise routine to be one of them. Our program is also unique in that we program in a systematic and progressive manner that allows our SGT participants to attend six days a week. We begin each workout with self-myofascial release techniques and movement prep exercises before the training begins. What are your favorite trends currently in group training? At Catalyst Fitness we are enjoying the ability to reach a large scope of people on a daily basis and yet serve them on an individual basis. Training with SURGE and ViPR are two of our favorite equipment trends for small group fitness. Each lends itself extremely well to functionallyspecific movement patterns and individuallyspecific intensities based on how easy it is to regress/progress exercises. Are you working on any new projects this spring? Yes, we are releasing the educational platform for the SURGE 360 and 180, as well as the MMA track for ViPR.

Committed to your success,

Trainer of the

Year 2013 MAR-APR 2013 | WWW.FIT-PRO.COM | 5


MAR-APR 2013

Group Training


OTHER John & Cara


Columns 08 Treadmill Talk Lead, follow or get out of the way By Greg Justice

09 Top-Notch Training The 80/20 rule to business By Tammy Polenz

10 Boost Your Business How to reach more clients and boost your income By Bedros Keuilian


Journey to Success: Embracing risk, raising the stakes and savoring the reward

10 Education Connection 5 tips for choosing the right conference By Pete McCall


Have you shifted your group exercise paradigm?

10 simple strategies to drive revenue with group exercise By Lori Patterson


Group training game-changers

Go from stagnant to stellar with one-off group training programs By Lori Sawyer

30 Be Better Rediscovering Hygeia, the missing goddess By Phil Kaplan

Departments 05 Letter from the Editor Changing lives from 50,000 feet

23 The Message 26 Exercise Spotlight Step360 Pro


Obstacle race training for the adventure athlete Preparation tips for the novice and pro By Joe Vennare



28 New on the Market 29 Events Calendar


Lead, follow or get out of the way The client-personal trainer relationship rises or falls upon leadership. When a client hires you, they expect you to ‘lead’ them toward their goals. Here are five functions of your leadership as a fitness professional and how you can integrate this leadership strategy to build meaningful and lasting relationships with your clients. Develop a clear vision – Successful trainers are capable of seeing a vision and carrying clients toward their goals. Your job is to focus on your clients and keep them motivated and determined to safely reach their goals. Be flexible to changing circumstances – In a perfect world you would design a 12-week workout program to go along with a wellbalanced nutrition regimen for every client. Your clients, for the most part, won’t follow the plan exactly as it’s designed. If you’re working with the general population, it’s important to understand that we (trainers/gyms) aren’t the center of our clients’ lives. Working an eight-hour shift, running a carpool or dealing with life’s many distractions consumes their thoughts. It’s important to know our clients and understand when we need to make adjustments to their program so they can stay on track toward their goal. Teach present moment focus – You know how easy it is for your clients to get caught up worrying about tomorrow’s “to do’s,” while trying to redo yesterday's mistakes. It’s easy to get overwhelmed just trying to figure out what to do with your daily stresses and anxieties. Present moment focus is about being aware of the moment; what is filling-up this exact moment. It isn’t empty; each moment to the next is filled with sight, sound, sensations, thoughts and emotions. This mindfulness principle will help your clients embrace their workouts and be more appreciative of the experience. Set realistic goals – Goals are important because they help your clients maintain focus, but they must be realistic and specific. Remind your clients to avoid imperative statements like “I’m never going to eat chocolate again,” or “I’m going to exercise for an hour a day, every day.” That just sets them up for failure. Create synergy (empower your clients) – To make any client-trainer relationship successful, you need to be aligned with one another. Clearly define your clients’ goals as well as their roles and responsibilities and communicate your role as their trainer. Strong leadership is inherent to a successful fitness professional. Leadership is a skill that lends itself to continual growth and improvement and it is an imperative responsibility that we remain a strong leader in the eyes of our clients.

Greg Justice, MA, CPT, is the founder of AYC Health & Fitness ( and the Corporate Boot Camp System ( He has been actively involved in the fitness industry for more than a quarter of a century as a club manager, owner, personal trainer and corporate wellness supervisor.




The 80/20 rule to business As a fitness professional you may already know the 80/20 rule when it comes to nutrition. But do you know this rule as it is applied to business? It is said that 80 percent of your revenues come from about 20 percent of your clientele. This is especially true for trainers or boutique facilities only offering group classes. Think about this for a moment; most of your money comes from a select few. How can you use the 80/20 rule to increase your revenues? Find out what services and classes those customers like best about what you have to offer and create specialty classes just for them. When a member or client comes to you with a class suggestion, perk up your ears and listen. They are telling you exactly what they want, which means that when you offer it you will immediately have people waiting to buy. Specialty classes are the best way to keep your customers happy and coming back for more. They are not for everyone, just those looking for something really different. Add a twist to the old or mixand-match your current programs to create the newest, hottest, have-to-participate-in group classes that everyone is talking about. For instance, you may have heard of combination classes of ab lab and power yoga, TRX and spinning, or strength and plyometric boot camps. These old faithfuls combined create new and improved versions. Sometimes just renaming a class by giving it a catchy new title can entice newcomers to join. Checkout your local events calendar; there are always fun fitness events and fundraisers around town like tower climbs, urban obstacle courses, walks, bike-a-thons and triathlons that may inspire a new class. Create a special class to help people prepare for such events. One reason to do this is because an unprepared participant can become an injured participant. Another reason is that you can help people do better than their current best by training them for the event. In the end it’s a win-win and financial payoff for your business. When you take a minute to contemplate the 80/20 concept you will probably agree that there are those clients that buy with little to no effort on your part. The best part is they keep coming back for more. Why? Because they believe in you, and as a result, trust your products and services. Take advantage of the opportunity!

Tammy Polenz, CPT, has been in the fitness industry since 1991 as a personal trainer, club manager, corporate wellness consultant and gym owner and designer. She is the author of Think Fit 2 Be Fit, founder of Vedas Fitness in Cleveland, and has been featured in numerous fitness magazines and media.

BooST Your Business

EduCATIon ConneCtion

Bedros Keuilian |

Pete McCall l

How to reach more clients and boost your income

5 tips for choosing the right conference

I think every fitness professional reading this would agree that as a professional trainer you’re most passionate about helping as many people as you can reach their health and fitness goals. When I first got certified, all I wanted to do was expose as many people as I could to fitness and a healthy lifestyle. However, as a one-on-one trainer I had two major obstacles to overcome. The first was time; at my very best, I could only train six to eight clients a day. The second obstacle I faced was having a small number of people in my area that I could market to since one-on-one training is rather costly. My solution was to hire trainers to help me train my clients. However, that ultimately led to me managing over 60 employees, and while we were able to train a lot of people, I ended up with two other big problems. I went from being a trainer and working with people on their fitness goals to managing a big staff, which I didn’t necessarily like. The second problem, ironically, was having a lot of employees ultimately costs a lot of money in payroll. So while my training centers were generating great revenue, our profits were pathetic. But all that changed when I discovered group training and boot camps; my model went from one-on-one training to one-on-many training. Client results came quickly, retention was higher because of the sense of community, and more people in the area could afford the lower price point of boot camps. Yet, I made more dollars per hour than I did as a one-on-one trainer. I was reaching more clients, helping more people, and making more profits because I had fewer employees. Today the boot camp model has evolved from outdoor militarytype programs to results-driven training programs delivered in groups. The best boot camps don’t run classes; they run sessions. They don’t run them outdoors – they run indoors, which allows you to offer more session times in the mornings and evenings. For those looking to maximize their business, group training programs and boot camps are the natural evolution in fitness – you’ll reach more clients, increase your profits, and have fewer staffing and employee challenges. It just makes a whole lot of sense.

Personal trainers and group fitness instructors muscle through burnout all the time, even those who’ve been in the industry for years. Sometimes it comes from performing the same routines with clients day after day; other times it comes from feeling like all the early mornings and late nights aren’t making a difference. Either way, rekindling your love for fitness can be as simple as attending a fitness conference. The energy you’ll get being surrounded by hundreds of people like you can reignite the passion you felt as a newbie. The trick comes in finding an event that not only meets your interests but offers top-of-the-line, quality education from respected experts. Before you register for any conference, make sure it has all of the following: 1. Well-known, expert speakers - Conferences need to feature experts respected in the industry. Look for one that offers a wide range of experts specializing in fields like biomechanics, movement training, group fitness, nutrition, specific equipment or training styles, senior fitness, business or mind-body exercise. 2. Plenty of continuing education - To help fitness professionals stay up-to-date on the latest research and training strategies, conferences often offer workshops or interactive sessions led by experts from a variety of fields. Before you register, make sure the continuing education offered can apply to your career. Also, consider whether the event is pre-approved by your certification organization or eligible for petition so that any CECs you earn can be applied toward your recertification. 3. A host with a reputation - Choose a conference hosted by a trusted organization that has a positive reputation in the industry. Find out the organization’s mission, what the staff works on outside of events, and if they offer resources to help fitness professionals advance their careers. Pay special attention to organizations that offer accredited certifications, commission third-party research or offer continuing education. 4. History of good organization - Event organization will be a huge determining factor in your enjoyment of the event. If registering is a headache, chances are the conference will be, too. Make sure the registration process is straightforward and the event schedule is easy to decipher. You’ll also want access to customer service representatives via phone and volunteers at the event. 5. Quality exhibitors - An easy way to judge a conference is to find out who else will be there. Take a look at the exhibitor list for trusted brands in the industry.

Bedros Keuilian is the founder and CEO of Fit Body Boot Camp. Get more free fitness business boosting tips and tactics on his blog


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Pete McCall, MS, CSCS is an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise (ACE). For information on the 2013 ACE Symposium, visit

Are You The Next Big Name In Fitness?


Trainer of the


Year 2014

Fill Out Your Application Today!

CURRENTLY, THE WINNER WILL RECEIVE OVER $7,000 IN DONATIONS AND PRIZES: • $700 SPRI gift certificate • Free flight to Club Industry 2013 in October in Chicago courtesy of SPRI* • Free BodyMetrix Professional System – Ultrasound Body Composition ($1,895 Value) • Free Ab Coaster ($1,500 Value) • Free ACE Health Coach Premium Study Bundle ($599 value) • Free VIP Package to Fitness Business Summit 2014 courtesy of PT Power ($1,200 value) • Free two-night stay at the Club Industry 2013 show hotel courtesy of PT Power • 2014 PFP Trainer of the Year trophy • Winner announced on stage at Club Industry 2013 • Cover and Journey to Success spotlight in November-December issue of PFP • And much more still to be added!


• $150 SPRI gift certificate • Free flight to Club Industry 2013 in October • Free two-night stay at the Club Industry 2013 show hotel

PFP Trainer of the Year has been a wonderful and exciting ride; I have had many opportunities to use my new title to spread my fitness message throughout my community and state. I’ve become the featured writer in multiple publications, author of the Jump Start column for and have opportunities to work with local charities and host community seminars in my facility. This year has been wonderful so far and I am so excited to see what happens as it progresses. Thanks so much PFP for your support and this honor!

Valorie Ness, 2013 PFP Trainer of the Year *One domestic round-trip ticket from your location to Chicago.

Look for updates on this year’s TOTY competition on Twitter (#TOTY2014) & Facebook.

Journey to Success

By Lindsay Vastola

EMBRACING RISK, RAISING THE STAKES AND SAVORING THE REWARD A few years ago, I was at a fitness business summit where I was briefly acquainted with Cara and John Eckerman. We were outside of the conference room during one of the breaks and there was this energy about the two of them that was hard to ignore. This husband and wife duo immediately oozes energy and excitement; the kind of enthusiasm that is contagious (and not to mention of the Texas variety). And their story is similarly inspiring. This issue’s Journey to Success feature goes a bit against the grain and features this dynamic husband and wife duo. Here is a snapshot of John and Cara Eckerman’s journey to success; a glimpse into their individual journeys as well as their journey as husband, wife and business partners.

DISCOVERING WHAT THEY WERE MEANT TO DO… John Eckerman started as a personal trainer doing one-on-one sessions in 2004 and tried to start a boot camp business in 2005 but had no idea what to do so it fizzled out. He was working for the Houstonian health center, but was yearning for more out of his career. Prior to her life as a fitness professional, Cara was a teacher and knew she wasn’t doing what she was meant to do. She gave up teaching to become a trainer and also took

on a part-time nanny position, training boot camps early morning then tending to the kids the rest of the day. One morning, John left a note on her car that said, “THIS is what you are meant to do,” and she realized she had found her purpose. She loved waking up each morning and helping others. John and Cara were looking to run a business to create more income than they were making working two jobs each – something that would allow them to enjoy more freedom and to ultimately help more people. They soon discovered the power of working in tandem. In the fall of 2009 they contemplated opening a Fit Body Boot Camp location. John was still working as a one-on-one trainer and Cara was also pulling double-duty as a trainer and nanny. In John’s words, “We were in fact very naive and really had no idea how to run a business. Our plan was for Cara to be the boot camp trainer and I was going to continue working at the Houstonian. Initially, we began our boot camp in a gymnastics center, renting space and doing all the training. It actually worked out pretty well for us. Low overhead and we did everything ourselves. No staff to manage, which seemed ok at the time. We had the opportunity to open up another Fit Body in a neighboring city outside of Houston, so what did we do? We went for


it and opened a second location.” Business took off so quickly that John decided to take a risk and resign from the Houstonian to pursue the Fit Body Boot Camps full time. Though they loved what they did and life seemed great, they very quickly realized the downside of running and manning their own fitness business. Aside from easy burnout, they saw that they had merely created a “job” for themselves rather than a flourishing and sustainable business.

John & Cara

Embracing risk, fEar and doubt About a year after opening their first two locations in Texas, they had an opportunity to move to California. Not only would they be opening their own location, but they would be working with the Fit Body company to empower and help other business owners. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. After much soul searching, they left their families, their home, their business and everything they knew to move to southern California to open their first stand-alone Fit Body studio. They worked tirelessly to get the business running and experienced the growing pains of hiring staff, establishing and organizing systems and, of course, shouldering the financial burden of a new business in a town where they did not know anyone. The growth did not stop with one studio; in just over a year after moving halfway across the country, John and Cara pursued finding a second location. Lessons learned from having three boot camp locations paid off; they opened the doors of their second California studio with trainers ready to train, members ready to go and a business model set up for success.

manifEsting thE vision Opening the new business model after moving challenged the resilience of the Eckerman team, but they were confident in their vision and knew that risk would bring great reward. As Cara and John put it, “We were just starting so we didn’t have the cash to hire a full team to assist us with everything that needed to be done for the business. We had to do what we needed to do, which often meant 15- to 16-hour days, little sleep, all to get up and do it all over again. We pushed through and knew that it would be worth it. We focused on delivering the best service to all our


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members. We took this time [just getting started] to get to know each and every one of our members and many of them are still with us. Those days were rough; frightening at times. But it was our passion and we weren’t going to give up. We would often times be training just a few people and we would imagine the place packed with so many people that we would need to knock the walls down to expand. In fact it’s been a while now that we have outgrown our little studio and we look forward to expanding.”

dividE and conquEr In my interview with John and Cara, I asked them about how they work together, as business partners and husband and wife. It is clear they have this part figured out. They each have very specific roles in the business. Cara primarily focuses on the training aspect, client management and interface as well as social media. John has shifted his focus on managing the business to a higher level. They have a trusted mentor they refer to in any case they need a third party for business decisions; a good practice most businesses should employ whether a partnership or sole owner. This clear division of roles extends to their team, as well. As they both attest, “Your team is a reflection and an extension of you, and you are only as good as your team. We took time to define the roles and responsibilities of each person on our team. We carved out our core values and our mission statement. Our team believes in what we stand for and stands behind our mission. Every person on our team including ourselves has very clear and concise roles based on each individual’s strengths.”

thE EckErman crEEd “Times will be tough, real tough in fact and you

might feel lost and unsure about your purpose. You will want to give up, but don’t; it will serve you well. Know that for every obstacle you are facing you are being molded for something great and you will emerge a stronger more resilient person who will leave the world a better place than you found it. We have learned so much about how to truly run a business and we went from running two boot camps in gymnastic centers to owning two stand-alone studios. Making big changes are scary especially when things are comfortable but when opportunity knocks, even if you are frightened, you have to feel the fear and do it anyways. Take risks. If you win that’s great; if you don’t you emerge wiser. So really it is a win-win.”

thE journEy continuEs… In the next year John and Cara envision opening a third location, with all three locations systematized so they might even take a break to really enjoy what they have worked for. The Eckermans also are passionate about helping other husband and wife teams in the fitness industry and have visions of creating a business focused on serving couples in business. We all need to remind ourselves of the excitement of what we do; and to not become jaded by the daily grind, clients who do not comply with our programs, or the feeling of spinning our wheels in the sand. John and Cara should inspire us to rekindle the day we first started our fitness journeys, when nothing could stop us and we were open-minded and willing to try anything, without fear of rejection or failure. In just a few years, this dynamic duo has taken on risks most wouldn’t dream; took their destiny into their own hands and has refused to let anything get in the way.


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Have you shifted your group exercise paradigm? 10 simple strategies to drive revenue with group exercise Lori Patterson For most fitness professionals, group exercise has never been considered a business. Club owners viewed group exercise as a drain on the budget but a necessity for new member sales. Personal trainers viewed group exercise as a waste and group exercise instructors viewed group exercise as a hobby. What few understood was the phenomenal business behind it. The past decade has seen a shift in perception and paradigms around group exercise. The data obtained and the statistics published have shown group exercise is not only a business but a booming business at that! The question is how? How can business owners generate a sustainable revenue stream through group exercise? How can personal trainers use group exercise to increase their clients and how can group exercise instructors turn group exercise from a hobby to a business? Club owners have long struggled with creating a budget for a department that generates zero revenue. This has changed. If created and implemented strategically, group exercise will not only generate a healthy revenue stream but also create its own budget. Below are the steps to implement a successful revenue stream within the group exercise department.

Have a plan To take your free group exercises classes and attach a fee will be disastrous to the department as well as the club. When making the decision to implement a fee-based program in your department, ensure you have added value. Answer these questions: Why are we charging for this program? What is the added value? Will this program generate measureable results? After you have answered these questions, share the information with the members. When the members understand the “why,� there will be no confusion. They will understand the difference between the free classes and the fee-based classes and will choose which one works best for them.

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Strategic scheduling Bringing fee-based programs to the group exercise department takes planning. First, avoid pulling all your free classes off the schedule. For instance, if you have a Monday through Friday 7 p.m. step class, keep the Monday/Wednesday/ Friday step class and incorporate a fee-based program on Tuesday/Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. This will allow your members to choose between fee and free.

Successful pricing Before charging your members for a fee-based program, take a moment and ask them what they would pay for and how much they would pay. Find out what motivates your members and then deliver. Most personal trainers are educated to work with clients on a one-on-one basis, or with small group training averaging three to four clients. What most personal trainers miss is the “business” of group exercise. If personal trainers are open to learn the skill set to lead large groups, they can then use group exercise to generate


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leads, connect to their target market and offer additional services to their clients. Below are a few “must dos” for a personal trainer to become proficient at group training and, thus, reap the benefits of the business of group exercise.

Facilitation Trainers must learn how to effectively facilitate. The goal is to keep the participants in a constant state of movement. Let’s be realistic; most trainers have exactly one hour to train the participants’ entire bodies, minds and attitudes. So trainers need to adapt strategies to help. For example, adapt a go-to exercise that can always be implemented without equipment and much supervision, i.e. jog the perimeter. This will help all trainers to keep the group moving even when the trainer must direct their attention elsewhere.

cating while standing still and the client is moving through the exercises. When leading groups, this is not an option. The trainer must move (to see the whole group and to check form and alignment), keep the whole group moving (facilitation) all while educating the group on why they are doing what they are doing and how to do it.

Cueing and coaching How does a trainer teach 20 people to perform a squat correctly? The methodology is called coaching and cueing. The right words must be used to help the group move in proper form and alignment, simultaneously. And trainers will find not all words, coaching and cueing work for all participants. Trainers who can become proficient at cueing visually and verbally will have great success leading everyone in a group training setting.



Trainers must be able to educate while facilitating. In the personal training business, trainers have the luxury of edu-

This is a skill most trainers have mastered, and now must execute on a larger scale. For example, learn the name of all

the participants. Say their names during the training. Call them out when they are doing a great job. Everyone likes to hear their name called out. And call out the entire group. If the group is training exceptionally well, let them know. Again, everyone appreciates an “atta boy!” Group exercise instructors have struggled with parlaying group exercise instruction into a business or even a full-time job. Because teaching a group exercise class requires the constant moving of the body and the use of the voice, to teach eight hours a day is not a possibility. How can one instructor make $100 an hour, lead large groups and change lives? Answer: turn free classes into fee-based programming. As mentioned above, slapping a dollar amount on a class will not work. Check out the strategies below.

Start with education How do personal trainers charge $60 to $100 per hour for their time? They add value. The group exercise instructor can add value by learning how to administer assessments, take a course on nutrition and learn the why of everything the body

does. Being great at cueing or being a great connector will make a great instructor. It will not, however, be a powerful enough motivator for participants to pay to train. If instructors invest in themselves and value is added to the classes, the members will pay for it.

Stop working for free Many group exercise instructors teach as a hobby. Some instructors teach for free. To change this landscape, instructors must first start believing in their own skill set, the services they offer and the benefits they bring to the members. Again, if education is delivered and value is added, turning free classes into fee classes is simple. Not only will the group exercise instructor have the opportunity to generate a substantial income, the entire department will benefit.

Speak the business

the instructor team and the members. Club owners are not concerned about the “super cool workout” or the newest, hottest craze. Club owners want to know the investment, the ROI (return on investment) and how it will best serve the club. When group instructors talk business, their department becomes part of the business. Group exercise instructors stand in front of more members at one time than any other employee at a gym. You just can’t ask for a better opportunity to maximize group exercise than that!

Lori Patterson, owner and CEO of VicteliB, LLC, is the creator of successful fee-based programs to include Boot Camp Challenge and Kids Kamp Challenge. Lori served in the US Army as well as 29 years in the fitness industry. You can reach Lori at, at 636-734-8594 or

When talking to management about bringing in a fee-based program, focus on the benefits for the club,

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Group training game-changers By Lori Sawyer

Go from stagnant to stellar with one-off group training programs order to build a successful group fitness program it is essential to constantly look at the latest trends and research. Understanding what your clientele wants and needs is crucial to the development of a program that is unique. Whether you are working in a premier fullservice club, a small studio setting or in a park on your own, clients need to be engaged and challenged. They like to try new trends and ideas. Consider using your base program to then create one-off programs for your existing clientele. In turn, this will increase your retention, increase membership and create a constant revenue flow. For example, stroller fitness is a group exercise trend that has been around for several years. It has remained fairly popular because there are always new moms who want to get back into shape, but do not want to put their babies in the gym daycare. But these babies grow into school-aged kids, so how do you re-

tain this clientele? This example can be used across the board regardless of your niche or client-base. Keeping your clients intrigued, involved and wanting more will ultimately play a critical role in your retention rates. First, you need to listen to what your clients want. This is where you can clue into what would make for a potentially successful one-off program or programs. Second, if you see retention in your classes lacking, find out why. Is it the schedule or times? Do they want something new, or is the class just not for them anymore? Listening to your clients and asking these critical questions can help you create a well-rounded program with sustained retention numbers.




One-off ideas }

Create a next level for your main program or class. This could be an advanced class or a specific-needs class, for example, a mom-based fitness class that does not include the kids (one-off from the stroller fitness class). Moms are still getting the socialization, but their kids may


be in preschool or they are ready to take on a new challenge. Set goals for your groups. Contests are very successful in group training. Find a local health or wellness vendor (i.e. running store, juice bar, etc.) that would be willing to donate gift cards to your program. Create contests within your groups depending on your specific class. Everyone loves a challenge and it keeps your clients involved and coming back for more. Find a walk or run to do together as a group, allowing you to represent your club or group exercise program at a charity event. These events occur almost every weekend. Create a fitness charity event of your own. For example, a boot camp workout for a charity or local organization. Listen to your clients chatter. If you have an advanced boot camp class that wants to do a mud run, get a group together and create a team that represents your business. Have weekly workouts for these specific groups. This is an excellent source

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of additional revenue and it builds team spirit by keeping everyone involved. Not mud run ready? A popular one-off is to create a weight loss challenge. This is a great opportunity to use the wellness referral system I describe below to engage your partners to advertise for you. You will likely have a few people in your group exercise program that want more personal services, like personal coaching or training. Group exercise is a great way to let your creative juices flow and demonstrate to your classes what you can give them on a more personal level. Think broadly and advertise that you are available for private consulting.

The umbrella of success: a solid wellness referral system There are many keys to success. One that needs to be in every group exercise program is a strong referral system for your clients. One professional does not have all the answers and cannot be a total wellness package for all. In order to keep your clients healthy and coming back for more, you need a wellness referral system. This means you should be creating relationships with nutrition experts, chiroprac-


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tors, massage therapists, yoga instructors and others with whom you trust and can refer your clients when necessary. Cross-marketing with these other professionals is not only a great tool for your clients, but also will help you create additional revenue by the potential referrals you receive from the partnerships.

Group fitness growth thrives online and on social media Social media has changed the way we communicate with the world. Using tools like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube can significantly help you grow your program, if done properly. If you are launching a new program, contest or product, be sure to systematically promote it through your social media channels to build and engage your audience. If you need more privacy with a program, say for example a weight loss program where people will be posting personal information or you just want your paid members to get certain access, then creating a private group on Facebook, for example, may be the better fit. There are endless resources online to engage your clientele and attract new business. Using free conference call platforms like www. and offering webinars on

relevant topics gives you an opportunity to connect with clientele on a different level outside of the workouts. There are countless opportunities for growth with technology and online tools; it’s critical that you stay current with the trends. Specialized group fitness has created a real buzz in the past decade. The number of smaller studios and small businesses catering specifically to clients’ needs has put the personal fitness professional into the spotlight in a new way. By creating programs and evolving your one-off services that serve your specific clientele and more importantly, that grow with their needs, you will keep your client turnover to a minimum, increase your revenue flow and achieve a wellrounded, sustainable business.

Lori Sawyer, MA, ATC, NASMCPT has been working in the fitness industry for over 20 years. Merging her skills as an athletic trainer with personal training, she has created a niche market and successful service offering with her clients. She is the owner of LS-Fitness, LLC and creator of the Mommy Moves Fitness Program and the Run with the Girls Running Program.

THE MESSAGE Website: | YouTube: JESSICASMITHTV | Twitter: @jessicasmithtv | Facebook: 10 Pounds DOWN

Jessica Smith, recently named one of Sharecare's top 10 online influencers in fitness, has more than 13 years of experience in the industry as a certified Wellcoach, personal trainer, group fitness instructor and author, and is the star of several best-selling exercise DVDs. Here is how she shares her message… My message focuses on small, simple daily steps that can offer big, lasting results! Too often we try to overhaul everything all at once in an effort to lose weight or become healthier, and it’s just not sustainable over the long term. If I had only one way to share my message it would be YouTube. I use my YouTube platform to connect directly to my audience – I “teach” my students through this amazing media that allows me to reach people I will probably never meet in person no matter what time of day it is or what country they live in. It’s incredible! I love getting emails from people in Germany that have worked out with me while I was sleeping.


I think people follow me because I love what I do. When you have a passion for what you do, it shows and that passion is contagious! If I am enthusiastic and energized, my followers pick up on that energy and get excited, too.


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PHOTO: Vanessa Rogers Photography

The key to successful messaging is being myself. I think people appreciate when you are truthful. If I mess up (on camera) I’ll admit it and laugh at myself. I share with people my personal story and struggle with my weight (I lost 40 pounds before getting into fitness). When you are relatable, you are less intimidating.



ADVENTURE Preparation tips for the novice and pro


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Obstacle course racing events and adventure races like Tough Mudder and Spartan Race are popping up across the country. Combining elements of trail-running with a military challenge course, obstacle races take the adventure off-road. On a cross-country running course you can expect to encounter hills, mud, rope climbs, water hazards and other fitness challenges. Despite references to Spartan warriors and reputations as extreme tests of endurance, there is an obstacle race out there for everyone. Because races vary in terms of distance and levels of difficulty, participants range from first-time runners to elite athletes. Before registering for an event it is best to look into the different races to learn about the course, various obstacles and level of competition. It is important, however, to properly train and prepare for these types of events, and for fitness professionals to safely and effectively prepare clients. When creating an obstacle race training program, prioritize total body strength and conditioning. Begin to build a base of cardiovascular fitness by completing 30- to 40-minute steady-state runs, speed work and hills sprints. Then, when it comes to strength training, use bodyweight exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, tricep dips, squats and lunges to improve relative strength. Because you will be expected to move your own bodyweight up, over, around and through various obstacles, your strength-to-weight ratio, or relative strength, should be a main focus of workouts. After building a base of strength and endurance, begin to incorporate more advanced techniques into your training program. Exercises like the kettlebell swing, box jumps, rope climbs and deadlifts are great options for improving total body strength. It’s also a good idea to become acquainted with the burpee, or squat thrust. Combining a push-up and a jump squat into one move, this exercise is a mainstay in almost every obstacle race. You can also create interval-based workouts that increase speed and cardiovascular conditioning. Pair strength-based exercises like the kettlebell swing with sprint intervals to prepare for the start-and-stop, strength and cardio aspects of an obstacle race. Then, when you’re ready to get to work, give this workout a try and use it as a template for future obstacle race workouts. Repeat the following circuit one to three times based on ability and fitness level. A 400-meter run is one lap around most outdoor tracks. If you do not have access to a track, use a stopwatch and run for three to five minutes. Then, rest one to two minutes before moving to the next exercise.

Obstacle course training workout: Watch these exercises in action on  Run 400 meters  Kettlebell Swing – 25 reps  Run 400 meters  Burpee – 20 reps  Run 400 meters  Kettlebell Thruster – 25 reps  Run 400 meters  Plank rows – 10 each arm

Ideas for your race day checklist … What to wear:  Expect to get dirty and trash your clothes. Wear clothing, shoes and gear that you wouldn’t mind discarding after the race.  Choose the right clothing like moisture-wicking clothes and compression shorts. Cotton and baggy clothing is a bad choice. It will slow you down and get snagged on obstacles.  Race in something you have trained in. Don’t wear something straight out of the box on race day.  Opt for trail running or off-road shoes.  Consider athletic or weightlifting gloves to help with grip and to protect your hands.

What to bring:  Hydration pack  Knee, elbow, or leg protection, pads or compression sleeves  Sunscreen  Athletic or medical tape  Watch and/or heart rate monitor

Joe Vennare is the creator of Hybrid Athlete and co-founder of Kettlebell Cardio group fitness program and Race Day Domination obstacle race training plan. For more information on Joe’s programs, visit,,

Post-race needs:  Bring a change of clothes, towel and toiletries to be warm and dry for the post-race party.  Have some extra cash on hand for food and merchandise.  Enjoy the race and post-race activities.


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ExERcISE spotlight Exercises designed by 2013 PFP Trainer of the Year Valorie Ness and SPRI

Step360 Pro

Balance is a foundational element necessary to enhance the overall effectiveness of fitness, performance and rehabilitative exercises. The Step360 Pro is a 360 degree training experience specifically designed to improve the body’s ability to react to a more demanding conditioning stimulus, thus heightening its training response. Step on it, stand on it, lay on it, jump on it – this unique tool provides a safe and superior balance challenge for all core, range of motion, strength, power and performance movements. Step360 Pro comes with a training wall chart, hand pump and workout DVD.

Step360 swings

Start in a wide-squat position with feet slightly externally rotated, hips and knees flexed with torso upright and arms in an offset forward and back position gripping the top of the Step360. With control and arms extended, lift and rotate the Step360 up towards the sky engaging your lower quadrant to full hip extension. The core will maintain stability while the move is finished with the Step360 overhead in shoulder flexion.

Lateral lunge to push-up

Start with Step360 pulled into chest and shoulder girdle engaged in good posture. Step right leg laterally into a split-stance position. While maintaining control, push the Step360 out and lower it to the ground with arms extended. Then step right leg back and perform a push-up, bring right leg back to split stance position, pull the Step360 up and back into chest and rotate to center.


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For more information, visit or call 800.222.7774

Forward/reverse lunge with ball flexion and extension

Start by standing on the Step360 with shoulders in flexion and Xerball extended overhead. Take a lunge step forward off of the Step360 following through while bringing the Xerball to the ground. Maintain good core control, flat back and keep your head up. Return to the beginning position and then step back with the same leg into a reverse lunge allowing your arms to remain extended overhead; with good core control perform spine extension while keeping hips tucked under.

Frog jumps

Start in a crouched position with the Step360 planted on the ground. Lift and extend the Step360 in front of your body, and place it firmly on the ground while placing your body in a push-up position. Perform a push-up and hop both legs into beginning crouched position. This exercise will be a locomotion exercise so make sure you have room to move.

Lunge to row with band

Start in a lunge position with left leg on the Step360 and right arm extended at shoulder-height. Engage left leg to lift your body up into a standing position while drawing your right arm back in a low row motion and bringing your right leg into ankle, knee and hip flexion. Return to starting position and repeat on the same side.

V-sit with Xerball spinal rotation right/left

Start in a V-Sit position with hips, knees and ankles flexed, core engaged and chest lifted. Hold Xerball at chest-height with arms extended. While maintaining good core alignment and body balance, rotate spine to the left allowing the Xerball to follow in a diagonal direction towards the ground. Return to center and repeat on the right side.

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New oN The Market The latest trends in fitness equipment

Vr1 ProgrammaBle PersoNal TraiNer headPhoNes The FX-sport Vr1 Programmable Personal Trainer headphones are the first and only programmable wireless sports headphones with built-in premium quality, waterproof 8gB mp3 player, great for any sport activity including swimming (with fully waterproof silicone skin accessory pack). The Programmable Personal Trainer function allows the user to customize any workout with instruction, time notifications and motivational messages. your whole gym routine, running, cycling, or any training session can all be structured and voiced to you.


Lindsay's Review: Aquajogger

summer will be here before we know it and that means taking our workouts outside of the gym. Pool workouts are fantastic for cardio and resistance training and offer clients an opportunity to train without impact and with less strain. suggesting water workouts for clients during the summer may be just the change they need to keep their workouts fresh. The aquajogger has several different fitness tools for a total body workout that can be accommodated for all levels of fitness. Think about cooling off your workouts this summer and incorporate water training!

ThoroTread P2

Firm massage Balls

The Thorotread P2 machine is an interactive functional workout that combines strength and cardio into one exercise. This is done by adding upper body resistance to a traditional treadmill and adding a reversing feature to the belt. it’s a high-calorie burn workout that keeps your mind and muscles guessing with endless variations. it’s safe and simple for users of all ability levels. 800.805.4591 or

Perform Better introduces their new Firm massage Balls. These Firm massage Balls are perfect for targeted massage to specific body regions. The small size of each ball helps release tension in hardto-reach places and is used to relieve trigger points and help alleviate pain. These Firm massage Balls are lightweight and durable and will keep their shape during and after use. They are odorless, water resistant and are available in both 3” and 5” diameters. 800.556.7464 or

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aNTimicroBial Body rollers harbinger is expanding its line of exercise gear with specially-developed Body rollers. available in 18” and 36” lengths, the harbinger Body rollers are the first retail foam rollers to be antimicrobial-treated to control odor and staining caused by bacteria. designed to relieve tight muscles and alleviate soft tissue pain, harbinger Body rollers facilitate myofascial release in pre- and post-workout routines.

EVENTS CaLeNDar March-June 2013

IHRSA 2013 - 32nd International Convention & Trade Show March 19-22 | Las Vegas, NV By IHRSA

National Posture Institute Workshop April 13-14 | College Park, MD April 19-20 | Miami, FL June 7-8 | San Diego, CA By National Posture Institute

NSCA Tactical Strength and Conditioning Conference April 16-18 | Norfolk, VA By NSCA

IDEA Personal Trainer Institute West May 2-5 | Seattle, WA By IDEA

Florida MANIA May 3-5 | Orlando, FL By SCW Fitness Education

ACE West Symposium May 16-18 | San Diego, CA By ACE

“One World” Fitness Education & Certification Conference May 31 – June 2 | Atlantic City, NJ By AAAI/ISMA

ACE Small Group Training Workshop June 15 | Los Angeles, CA June 15 | Houston, TX June 15 | Providence, RI June 15 | Minneapolis, MN By ACE

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Check Ou

Atlanta MANIA June 26-28 | Atlanta, GA

By SCW Fitness Education

For a complete listing, see our online Events Calendar at



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Connect with your peers mar-apr 2013 | | 29

BE BETTER Phil Kaplan |

Rediscovering Hygeia, the missing goddess Jack Sorenson has high blood pressure and is 50 pounds overweight. He wants to feel better. He opts for a medical consult. Judy Bluestar has hypothyroidism and is having trouble maintaining her weight. She opts for a course of hormonal injections, thyroid pills and medical advice. Dave McGan, Josh Greenspan, and Chuck Vanelli, although they’ve never met, all start their mornings with a ritualistic popping of pills intended to treat their blood sugar, blood pressure and hypercholesterolemia. Their doctors set them on a common course. I’ve learned to refer to those who are functional, working and living their lives burdened with chronic ailments and dis-ease as “the unwell,” and they make up 60 percent of our adult population. We, as fitness professionals, are sometimes invited to help the unwell marketplace find renewed health, but the bulk of our field is serving other markets, the markets most acclimated to our offerings, the fit and the near-fit. The unwell typically go in another direction. They opt for medicine. The world of medicine is a very different world than the world of fitness. Medicine involves pharmaceutical interventions. Fitness involves exercise prescription. Medicine involves blood tests and urine analysis. Fitness involves skinfold measurements and timed runs. Medicine involves surgeries and bypasses. Fitness involves adaptation and progressive challenge. Clearly these are not only two different business models, but two different universes. Medicine is applied by doctors and nurses; fitness strategies are taught by and guided by personal trainers, exercise physiologists and group exercise specialists. Different skill sets, different educational requirements, different positioning in the eyes of the public. I believe the separation between fitness and medicine is not only misguided, but it limits the ability of a unified allied healthcare team to begin to improve the health of our nation. I can take it a step further. I believe the separation between fitness and medicine evolved from a place where they were rightfully joined, entwined like a pair of snakes wrapped around a staff, and it’s time to get them reconnected. Wait, that’s an odd metaphor, isn’t it? Entwined like snakes around a staff? Where’d I pull that out of? I pulled it out of history, with a dabbling of Greek mythology. I’ll explain. You’ve seen the medical insignia featuring a snake or two wrapped around a staff, and like most people, you never questioned what in the world snakes had to do with medicine. Western medicine has its roots in ancient Greece, somewhere around the 5th century BC. Hippocrates, a philosopher and healer, has been revered as the father of medicine, and with his texts withstanding centuries and generations, every physician in the Western World begins his or her career with the Hippocratic Oath. “I swear by Asclepius, Hygeia, and Panacea . . . to do no harm.” This translation from ancient Greek texts refers to teachers and physicians


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who lived before Hippocrates, the most prominent of which was Asclepius, who was the first recorded physician – a masterful healer. He planted the seeds of what we refer to as medicine today. He walked with a large staff and believed snakes had healing powers. His ancient healing “facilities” were abundant with non-venomous snakes. The medical insignia is a representation of The Staff of Asclepius. Ah, so it begins to tie together. There’s more. Assclepius was not only a healer, but a teacher, and he passed along his skills and knowledge to his daughters, Hygeia and Panacea. Panacea was the goddess of herbs and surgeries. Her sister, Hygeia, an equal partner in medicine, was the goddess of wellness, of self-care. In other words, medicine, at its roots, had two distinctive parts, one being the use of unnatural interventions, the other being recognition of the body’s ability to preserve or restore health. Today, in the 21st century, medicine has lost sight of Hygeia. Drugs and pharmaceutical interventions are clearly the domain of Panacea, and “wellness” has become an almost frivolous pursuit of the near-fit. Ancient Greeks might have understood the complementary power of herbal elixirs and human movement (exercise), but they didn’t have epidemics of type 2 diabetes. They didn’t have diagnoses of metabolic syndrome. They didn’t have processed grains, hydrogenated fats, environmental toxins, or offices that had them sitting round-shouldered typing away at computers. From what I understand, some of those players back in the 5th century BC knew how to party, so they weren’t strangers to excess, but if medicine had two parts back then, it’s clear that there was an “undoing” process for some of the perils of overdoing. We desperately need that power of “undoing” in the U.S. today. With an enhanced skill set, the fitness professional is a true healer, and while Panacea can fix damaged limbs, manage chronic conditions, and remove arterial blockages, if we are going to lead the unwell to “cure” we need to reconnect the broken lines of medicine. Through exercise and eating interventions we can reduce and often reverse the onset of chronic disease. We can positively impact insulin efficiency… without drugs. We can positively impact hormonal balance… without injections or pills. We can improve our population (here comes a word I made up but you’ll get the gist of it) biochemicanically. In fact, I’ve seen firsthand how a strategic integration of exercise and lifestyle shift can move people backward along the disease continuum, back toward health. It’ll take some time before the snakes become entwined once again, but with a growing awareness of the power we truly have to impact the health of our population, perhaps Hygeia can return to a platform to stand behind her sister and we, as the messengers, can serve as invaluable members of the allied healthcare team.

Phil Kaplan has trained a growing number of personal trainers to integrate strategies for restoring the unwell to health with his ASPIRE program. If you have interest, email him directly at or visit

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