Just a quick aside to begin:
Today’s post is pretty different from what I normally put on here so please tell me if you love/hate it. If you love it I’d like to share more posts like this in the future.
It was a sunny Saturday. I called out the next set of instructions to my group of 10 campers.
I was in my third week of running these sessions. I had just been qualified as a trainer 6 months ago and in that time I had only trained a handful of clients.
These group sessions were going great guns though. At 10 people a session I could see that I could make a living at this if I could just get 9 more sessions a week running like this.
The next Saturday I turned up and just had 6 clients arrive.
“That’s ok,” I reassured myself, “It’s just a quiet week.”
The next Saturday I had just 4 clients participate. And then 3 the next Saturday and eventually only 2 were coming regularly.
After a few more weeks I cancelled the class.
This was my first attempt at creating my own bootcamp and I failed miserably. My attitude towards business and my clients was all wrong.
Now I run a very successful bootcamp and I do run those 10 sessions I dreamed about (well another trainer does some of them for me now so I can spend more time with you guys).
I would say a large part of my success came from the support of those around me but also the books I read. And as I’m about to explain, the support I got from those around me came from the books I read.
Here are three in particular that changed the way I thought, not about business, but about myself and relationships.
This book is first, not because it’s best but because it leads on perfectly from my story.
Seth Godin is one of my favourite authors to read. He has a writing style that relentless pummels his message into you using dozens of examples. At the end of the book there is no mistaking the point he was trying to get across.
The Dip talks a lot about what I went through although at the time I had no idea.
Let me lay out the gist for you. When you start a thing you are very excited. You might even have some early success because you are the new kid on the block. But then after a while you hit the Dip. This is the part where the novelty and excitement wears off. The part where you just have to do the work.
It’s at this point that most people give up. The point where no one is coming to your classes. The point where you feel completely out of your depth.
But (mostly) you must push through because waiting on the other side of the dip is that successful place that few reach. The place were people seek you out rather then the other way around.
If you have been a trainer for a while you probably remember entering a dip early on that went something like this:
- I’m a trainer. Yay!
- Oh shit, I have no idea what I’m doing!
- What is the best way to train people? Crossfit? Cardio or no cardio?
- What diet should I recommend?
- Should I do one on one or groups?
- Oh shit, I have no idea what I’m doing! (again)
That’s pretty much exactly what I went through. I was stuck in the Dip. When I cancelled my Saturday bootcamp class I could have cancelled this is a career choice. For some reason though, I didn’t and a few months later clarity and fun work came my way.
But it took time to do that. I had to fight through the Dip to get there.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Then you should really check out The Dip. It’s a really quick read.
Things you will learn:
- How to identify a dip.
- How to lean into the dip to reach the other side.
- When pushing through the dip is a waste of time and you should just quit and move on.
Want something more meatier: The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey
This book has to be one of the most recommended books of all time, but for good reason!
I’ve noticed that a lot of similar themed books out there, like How to Win Friends and Influence People and Influence, focus on tactics and strategies to win someone over to your way of thinking.
Instead, this book dives into how to have this thing called character. I think these days his words could be best summed up as ‘how to be mindful’.
I reread it once every year just to keep my priorities on track.
I’m really struggling to explain why I like this book because it is so many things. Basically just go out and buy it, or ask around, I bet someone in your family has a copy lying around at home.
Things you will learn:
- How to be proactive instead of reactive.
- How to negotiate with others.
- How to communicate more effectively with your friends, family and clients.
- How to stand out from the crowd (most people don’t do any of the things in his book).
Daring Greatly – Brené Browne
If the 7 Habits is the how and why of have character then this book is the science behind it.
If you haven’t heard of Brene before then you should start with her TED talk as it will explain things much better then I can.
Watched it? Great.
So this book goes into more detail about her talk and gives you plenty of examples for applying vulnerability in your own life.
It will give you stronger, more understanding relationships with your family, friends and clients. It too has made a huge difference to my relationships.
In fact, in preparation for our wedding next week I have been blown away by the input from my clients.
- One lady who is a costume designer has made these amazing props for our photo booth. Free.
- Another guy who works for an A/V company is supplying lighting, screens and projectors for free.
- Several clients have donated lanterns, glass jars and candles for decoration.
- Our photographer is an old client of my fiancee’s. He is giving us an insanely discounted rate.
- Another client hooked me up with a suit guy who really looked after me on price and has given me amazing service.
- Several of our clients are attending our wedding because they are very important to us.
When I was training to be a trainer, I remember one of our instructors warning against blurring the line between friend and client. I disagree and so does Brené. As long as they (the client) are comfortable there is no reason a client cannot be a friend.
In fact being vulnerable at the appropriate times with your clients will build strong lifetime relationships. Which of course will build long term clients and plenty of referrals.
Want something more meatier: The Power of Vulnerability by Brené Brown
Let’s tighten this back up as I have gone on a bit of a tangent.
The Dip will teach you when to stick it out and when to quit. Joining this industry, starting your own business, both are fun to begin and both can get overwhelming and become hard work fast. Stick it out through The Dip and you will be rewarded.
The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People will teach you how to improve your character. It will teach you how to prioritise, how to negotiate and how to communicate better. Doors will open for you because of this and clients will feel understood and cared for.
Daring Greatly will teach you that you are enough the way you are. You don’t need to put on a show as some crazed fitness person to your clients (unless that is who you are, then go for it!). If you are an audio person I really recommend The Power Of Vulnerability talk.
Speaking of audio I like to ‘read’ when I’m driving the car. Check out Audible for getting audiobooks (it is a little limited for Australians but getting better).
So wait. What on earth is a Holy Grail Client and what does this have to do with them?
A holy grail client is just something I made up to make the heading sound cool. But it does have a meaning.
A holy grail client is a client who regularly brings friends to your sessions. Who always pays on time. Who bakes things and brings them to bootcamp to share.
A person who will babysit your kids. Help you with your business and is really excited to see you succeed.
They are rare and you will not get one by acting how you think a Personal Trainer should act. You will not get one if you build walls preventing intimacy between you and your clients. Which is fine if that is how you wish to run your business.
I’m yet to hear of a trainer who has holy grail clients though and wishes they didn’t.
I’ve spent this whole talk about me and my experiences not to show off or brag but just so you can relate to me and see how these books have helped me.
What books do you recommend? What was a turning point for you in your relationships with your clients?
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