Fitness Business

Hit ‘em With a Stick – Use Perturbations to Train Balance and Core Stability

Posted by on February 13, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Guest Post by Cody Sipe, PhD

Almost all mature clients need to include training for balance and core stability in order to improve activities of daily living, reduce risk of injury and prevent falls. There are many ways to train these specific areas, and you should learn some of them if you want to know how to be a personal trainer that is well rounded. One method that is effective yet seldom used is perturbation training.

Reactive and Proactive Postural Control

Postural control is by definition the ability to control the body’s position in space in order to control the center of mass relative to the base of support and to maintain the appropriate relationships between the body and the environment. There are two basic types of postural control: reactive and proactive. Reactive postural control is the ability to recover after an unexpected perturbation (i.e. push, pull, shove, slip, trip, etc.).

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For example, when a person is bumped unexpectedly from behind they must react to the perturbation quickly and appropriately if they are to remain upright. If the bump is strong enough then it might also require the person to take a compensatory step in order to keep from falling.

Proactive (or anticipatory) postural control is the ability to modify postural control before a perturbation occurs in order to maintain stability. In essence, the person knows the perturbation is coming and reacts in order to be able to keep from being destabilized by the perturbation. For example, when a person sees that a person is about to bump into them then they change their posture accordingly. Typically this means that they lower their center of mass, lean in the direction of the coming perturbation and tighten their core musculature.

Both reactive and proactive postural control is important to train because while there is definite overlap between the two there are also distinct differences. Reactive postural control relies heavily on somatosensory information coming from touch and proprioception. Perturbations that are unexpected turn on proprioceptors to a much greater degree than perturbations that are expected. However, how quickly that information is processed and then turned into appropriate compensatory muscle activation varies.

The point of training older clients using perturbations that are unexpected is to teach their nervous system how to react quickly and effectively when their postural control is challenged. Individuals that cannot react quickly and appropriately will lose their balance because their center of mass will get pushed outside of their base of support or will cause their spine to flex. This increases the chance that they will trip, fall or become injured.

Proactive postural control relies heavily on visual information to estimate the force parameters such as direction and magnitude in order to scale an appropriate response. When a person sees that, for example, a person is about to bump into them they quickly determine how to change their posture or take an evasive action in order to either absorb or avoid the perturbation. Experience in similar situations helps the individual to determine what kind of response to make.

Multiplanar Core Stability

It is the primary purpose of the core musculature to stabilize the spine and keep it in neutral position during human movement – activities of daily living, recreational activities, sports, work tasks, etc. This requires counteracting forces in the sagittal, frontal and transverse planes…and many times multiple planes simultaneously. Sometimes this is unexpected and sometimes it is expected thus the need for including perturbations that challenge both reactive and proactive postural control. (more…)

Personal Trainer Certification – Why Muscle Power Matters

Posted by on February 6, 2014 at 3:53 pm

Guest Post by Cody Sipe, PhD

Muscle power is an essential element of physical function and a component that declines very rapidly with advancing age. In fact, although many of us are obsessed with muscle strength, studies show that muscle power declines earlier than muscle strength in mature adults and that it declines at a faster rate. Many activities of daily living, such as stair climbing, walking uphill and quick acceleration, rely on adequate power making it a critical component to address in a functional exercise program.

Most of the focus should be on improving lower body power (which is explained in greater detail in the Functional Aging Specialist Certification- a personal trainer certification that focuses on functional training strategies) but upper body power is also important. Even a task as seemingly mundane as opening a heavy door requires sufficient upper body power along with core and lower body stability.


Unfortunately, the traditional “way” of training upper body strength isn’t the best for improving power. Consider the typical seated row on a selectorized machine. For one, since the weight stack moves against gravity performing high-velocity movements are a little tricky and can be somewhat dangerous. When a high speed movement against resistance is initiated a lot of force is generated in order to get the weight stack moving. After the weight stack gets moving then momentum takes over and very little force is needed during the latter half of the movement.

So really high force at the beginning and very little force at the end.

Secondly, there is basically no core requirement because the chest pad on the seated row stabilizes the trunk artificially which does not mimic daily activities. There is no external trunk stabilizer when a person opens a heavy door or starts a lawn mower. Trunk stability must be accomplished through co-activation of the core musculature.

Thirdly, the traditional row is performed bilaterally (using both arms simultaneously). Again, this doesn’t really mimic daily activities which are typically performed unilaterally (one arm). And even if it were performed unilaterally the chest pad would stabilize the trunk anyway eliminating most of the core demands.

In addition, what we typically consider “power lifting” (moves such as snatches, cleans and jerks) is not typically appropriate for the older client. Now I will be the first to admit (and I teach people) that the older clientele is very diverse and there may be some that could do these traditional movements. However, there are very, very few that could. So when we talk about training for muscle power we do not mean traditional power lifting.

If we really want to perform upper body power rowing movements to prepare for activities of daily living then they need to be performed:

· Unilaterally (to create sagittal and transverse plane forces)
· In a stable stance position (to create ground reaction forces)
· With no external trunk stabilizers (to activate core musculature)
· With equipment that minimizes or eliminates momentum

An exercise that I use often with clients and we teach in the Functional Aging Specialist Certification is the 1-arm standing row in a semi-lunge position. Our preference is to use the Keiser Performance Trainer, the Keiser Functional Trainer or resistance tubing. Not everyone is going to have access to Keiser equipment but it is ideal for performing power movements because it uses pneumatic (compressed air) resistance. (more…)

How to Retain Clients to Maximize Your Personal Trainer Marketing Budget

Posted by on February 4, 2014 at 11:45 am

One-time clients aren’t going to help you continually grow your boot camp or personal training business. Sure it’s nice to see someone get results, but it’s not so nice when they leave to try and maintain their new-found results on their own. You’ve worked hard to get these clients into your program, but when they end up being one-timer- you’re left to fill the hole with a new client and that means hunting down a new one.

Knowing your client retention rate goes hand in hand with your marketing because if you aren’t keeping track of how long a client stays with you then you won’t be able to maximize your personal trainer marketing plan and its budget. Although there are lots of resources out there for free and low cost marketing strategies, but it’s still time consuming and requires some investment.


Losing a few clients here and there is only natural, especially if it’s because someone is moving out of the area or some type of emergency occurs. But if some of your members aren’t showing up on a consistent basis or they disappear altogether, then you’ve got to figure out why.

Get to Know Your Members

You may feel like this has nothing to do with marketing, but getting to know your members is a great way to build up your word of mouth reputation- and there’s not much advertising that can beat that.

From the very first client you sign on to the 100th client, you (and any staff that you hire) should be concentrating on building a solid relationship with them. By taking the time to get to know your members and showing an interest in them, they’re more likely to be upfront with you if they’re having any issues instead of just dropping off the face of the earth and avoiding your calls. If you’re noticing that a big percentage of your members aren’t renewing their agreement, then something is wrong and you need to know- and fast.

Start by constructing a short, but well-written questionnaire that includes a limited time coupon in a friendly email and send it to past clients who didn’t renew with you. Be sure to leave a space for them to leave comments and pay close attention to the answers you receive. This is where you can take major action, especially if their making the same complaint.

Listen to what they’re saying and offer what you can to get them back. Offer nutritional support if they’re not seeing the results they want, or change up the exercises if they’re finding them boring. Up the energy of the place if that’s what it takes. By giving members what they want increasing your client retention rate- you’ll build up your “word of mouth” and save tons on traditional fitness marketing.

Show Them Love

Be generous with your members, show them that you appreciate their business by incentivising their hard work from time to time. Host a silly costume contest or hold a theme day at your boot camp or gym and get everyone to dress up. It’s a lot of fun and it’s a great way to bring everyone together. Give the best dressed a gift card to their favorite restaurant or half off their monthly rate to show that it pays to participate. (more…)

3 Tips on How to Sell Personal Training More Effectively

Posted by on January 17, 2014 at 3:12 pm

Being a personal trainer, no one really gives you the blueprint on how to sell your services when trying to get more clients to grow your business. Selling is important because if you’re not able to convert the people who are interested in training with you into paying customers then you’re never going to have a successful business. As personal trainers, we are the ones who change people’s lives for the better, but it’s impossible to do so without selling them the fitness packages they need to get results. The more people you help, the more money you’ll earn in return.

So, here are a couple of tips on how to sell personal training to help you increase your closing rate:

1. Learn to Love Salessales

Okay, that may sound a little cheesy, but it’s important that you have a positive outlook on sales in order to be good at it. If you view it as an “unnecessary evil” in growing your business then you’ve got the wrong idea. Sales and personal training go hand in hand. You want to have a good relationship with your clients, right? Learn how to sell to them in a way that it doesn’t even feel like a sale, but more like a friend trying to help another lose weight and get in shape. Most personal training or boot camp business that fail do so because they lack the ability to convert leads into clients. Be open minded about sales, and try not to hate the process.

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to stop thinking of sales as a negative thing. Selling only feels negative because we all hate getting sold to insincerely, so if you have a better outlook on it then you’ll come across much more genuine and likeable.

2. Be Passionate.

Energy is contagious, and if you’re fired up about helping your potential clients lose weight and look great then that will show whenever you sit down to meet with them. Even if selling isn’t your strong point, being passionate about your services will help sell more than if you were unenthusiastic. No one wants to train with someone who lacks energy, so make sure that you’re excited and in a good mood during consultations.

Remind yourself of why you became a personal trainer in the first place. It’s not an easy job, and not an easy business to run if you’ve got one, but if you remind yourself that you’re in it to help people then you really can’t go wrong. You have to have a passion for changing lives and if you do, you’ll grow your business faster than you thought possible and achieve the type of freedom you want.

3. Figure Out the Reason Why.

People from all walks of life will come to you for help with weight loss, muscles building, strength training, or just to become healthier overall, and it’s your job to find out why. Why does the person you’re meeting with want/need your help? And why do they want/need it now? They may have been overweight for years, so what would finally drive them to seek help? (more…)

Report on 2014 Fitness Industry Trends and Predictions You Don’t Want to Miss

Posted by on January 11, 2014 at 2:42 pm

If you’re a personal trainer thinking of starting a fitness business, then let me let you… this is going to be your year. The results of my annual State of the Industry survey are in and 2014 is looking to be as promising as ever, especially with the economy bouncing back and spending on the rise.

Check out my fitness industry report and predictions for this year. There’s some interesting stuff you wouldn’t want to miss.

I response I got this year was amazing. It’s awesome that there are so many of you out there that are dying know which way the business is heading. The survey I took reached more fitness professionals than ever before, over 100,000, through different means like social media and my email subscriber list, which gives us a pretty accurate sample of the fitness industry and the professionals in it.

Here’s what was asked:

1. Primary source of business?

Group Training and Fitness Boot Camps - 57%

One on One Personal Training - 43%

2. Gross total income for 2013?

Group Training and Fitness Boot Camp - $238,376.84

One on One Personal Training - $66,768.29

3. What would you like to learn more of in 2014?

 - Online Fitness Marketing and Client Attraction

- Fitness Information Product Creation and Marketing

- Offline Fitness Marketing and Client Attraction

- Personal Training Sales and Closing Skills

In the past couple of years I’ve done this survey, the top two answers to the question “What would you like to learn more of” have always, hands down, been online fitness marketing and offline. But this year is a complete turn around for fitness info product creation, as it was chosen as the second most popular thing that fitness professionals want to learn more of. #1, of course, was online fitness marketing and client attraction, but it’s awesome to see that so many of you are interested in creating and selling online fitness info products.

So for 2014, expect more posts on online marketing tactics, fitness info products and how to create them as well as how to market them to the masses.


Top Trends and Predictions for the Fitness Industry in 2014

1.) Nutrition and the rise of clean and healthier eating. Finally, people are starting to see that diet and nutrition a huge part of weight loss and fitness success. And not only are people catching on to proper diet and nutrition, we’re starting to see a big increase in diets that were typically only followed by athletes or really fit celebrities. Diets like gluten free, vegan, sugar free, Paleo, unprocessed food free, have been gaining popularity throughout 2013 and is sure to stay for 2014.

Just by taking a look at the top selling recipe and cookbooks for 2013 tells you that more and more people are taking their nutrition seriously. This is awesome news for personal trainers because what we’ve been saying and preaching all along is becoming more of the norm and accepted among more people. There’s less of a stigma for people to hire a personal trainer to help them with their weight loss.

2.) Challenging workouts are here for the long haul. Whether you love or hate them, intense workouts like those from CrossFit and P90X proved that challenging and dynamic workouts are exactly want the public wants. I see it all the time in our Fit Body Boot Camp locations where we use unconventional gym equipment like battling ropes, straps and sliders, kettlebells and sandbags, plyo boxes and resistance bands to train the “average” people who want to get fit, lose fat, and look like an athlete without being one.

Clients don’t want to see the same boring equipment, so it’s important to start incorporating some new and exciting exercise tools… if you haven’t already. They’ll get more out of it than they would passively jogging on a treadmill anyway, train them hard (but safe) and your clients will love you for it. (Though it may be a love/hate relationship!)

3.) Keep your workouts fresh. Do your best to make sure that each and every one of your workouts are unique. Clients are not okay with doing the same workout over and over again, even if you are using unconventional equipment or it produces awesome results. Our clients want change, and they want it as often as you can give it to them. It’s our duty to make sure that they’re paying attention so that they keep coming back to work hard for those results.

Unfortunately, a lot of personal trainers who own their own business tend to get burned out, and start to fall into a pattern of complacency and repetitiveness. And if you’re not careful, your clients will start referring you less and less and eventually find a new place to workout.

4.) Fitness info products are certainly going to be huge in 2014. The web is amazing at giving you the power to share your knowledge or special skill with people all over the world, not just in your area. Home workout videos, diet products, recipe and cookbooks, dynamic training programs continue to gain popularity and demand.

Who knows, maybe you’ll come up with the next big thing and reap massive profits this year. (more…)