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Your Personal Training Business Culture

Posted November 23, 2009 in News, Blog

Over the past decade, I have had the opportunity to work with (and within) countless different fitness organizations. Add to this the extensive exposure which I have had to prospective PFP clients, companies for whom I have conducted sales and motivational seminars, as well as all of the individuals and groups which I have spent time with at conferences, training seminars and fitness and sporting events. During all of this time I have had the cumulative pleasure of getting to know a great many fitness organizations and their cultures.

But what do I mean by Personal Training Business Culture?

Every workplace in the world, regardless of industry or intent, is a completely unique sum of all of its moving parts. It is impacted in infinite ways by its locale, community, managers, ownership, products, clients, level of success, attitude towards growth, sales approach, so on and so forth. In fact, if you were to interview different individuals who comprise your organization, and ask them what motivates them to be a part of the team, you would certainly get a variety of answers.

Perhaps some are building a career in an industry that they love, others will be there simply in exchange for a paycheck, and others are only there until something better comes along.

Your corporate culture is a sum value of all of these interconnected attitudes, personalities and contributions. Each of the individuals in your team, from your most junior part time receptionist to your most senior Personal Trainer, have the ability to impact your club business culture and therefore your bottom line profitiblity.

Over time, the culture of your organization will change and evolve as a result of maturity, growth, key personnel changes and management initiatives. In order to evaluate Personal Training Business Culture within an organization, I ask two simple questions.

Firstly, do you have a monthly revenue or sales target for your organization or department? It is rare that I see anyone who doesn’t have some type of a monthly goal. However, the answer to the follow up question really separates the wheat from the proverbial chaff.

What are you doing to ensure that you reach that target number?

Wow. The seconds that follow that question reveal more about an organization, it’s key players and its potential for growth than anything else I can imagine. In fact, more often than you can imagine I hear things like:

    “We’re hoping that the current marketing piece really makes an impact.”
    “I hired a new Trainer who says he really drove numbers at his last club.”
    “We’re hoping that the economy has finally turned a corner!”

More often than I wish to admit, I have even heard:

    “I’m crossing my fingers that we have a big month.”

Oh dear.

You may be asking yourself what these two questions have to do with club culture or PT Business Culture. In short, these two questions reveal nearly everything about the effectiveness of your management strucuture, the motivation of your sales and service providers, as well the general motivation of your team to be successful.

At the end of the day, it has everything to do with expectations of success and motivation. Does your team want to be mediocre? Does your team expect to fall short of targets? Are they motivated to be the best?

These are the questions that you need to ask yourself. If you don’t have individuals that are doing everything possible, every month, to exceed goals and expectations, then you stand very little chance of growth and success, and therefore you do not have a strong Personal Training Business Culture.

I don't know how many times I have heard senior club managers jump to the defense of underperforming team members who are completely negative in their approach to their jobs, claiming that they are "really a great Trainer"!

Why are you in Business?

A very savvy Club Owner and Business Consultant once stated to me, early in my career, that I would be surprised by how many people out there are not in business to make money. It seemed like a ridiculous idea, but my experience has proven his theory to be correct time and time again. I repeatedly find myself exposed to operators who seem to be in business to a) indulge their own ego’s b) cater to staff ego’s or c) just keep the doors open. None of these motivations can possibly lead to a successful Personal Training Business Culture.

If operating a fitness facility were a game, then net income would be on the scoreboard. Are you winning?

With no further ado, I would ask each of you, regardless of whether you own a chain of clubs, or if you are an Entry level Personal Trainer, to ask yourself:

What are you doing to ensure that your company exceeds expectations this month?

If there is no answer to that question, than I think that you need to take a long look at your company’s Personal Training Business Culture. Do you have the desire, need, approach, personnel, management etc. to win? If not then perhaps to is time to make some changes.

Sean Walpole CPT, MTS
(646) 736-7868

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MTS Conference December

Posted October 13, 2009 in News, Blog

On Saturday December 5th from 9am -5pm The River Valley Club in Hanover New Hamphsire will be host to the Movemement Training Specialist Conference.

There will be 4 guest speakers and you will be eligible for continuing education credits. Topics will include Functional Flexibility and Warm Ups, 3 Dimensional Training, Zero Resource Exercise Training and Utilizing Effective Nutrition Plans for Weight Loss and Performance Living.

If you are a club owner who is interested in improving your personal training business, a certified trainer or Fitness Consultant or a current MTS Certified Trainer, this is the ideal setting to network and bring some new and exciting tools to your clubs and clients.

For a complete list of topics and presenters and to receive your regisration form either email your PFP Fitness Business Consultant or go directly to Canadian clients have a great opportunity with the strength of the Canadian dollar to get a first hand experience of the personal training culture and system that exists at RVC.


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Personal Training Business - The Right Way

Posted August 26, 2009 in News, Blog

We all know that in business there is no such thing as a short cut and your Personal Training business is no different. Since 1998, I've worked with over 60 independent health clubs to help grow their personal training sales and departments. I have also worked as a Personal Trainer, Fitness Consultant and Fitness Director in large club chains as well as in independent facilities.

There is a large movement today that believes that the future of the Personal Training business rests in the hands of group and semi private training. When you dig a little further you uncover that the philosophy and  the push behind this approach comes from Personal Trainers more so than club owners. Trainers are trying to convince owners that they can make more money this way because it's cheaper for the client and they'll be able to produce more sales and get more members serviced. What they often fail to mention is that it's easier for them to make more money with less work by packing more clients into a session. They also don't take into account the long term affect that this has on the growth of a Personal Training department. If you just stop for a moment and consider the long term impact on renewal sales as well as the ability to increase prices for sessions you get a very different perspective and picture.

If you've had the opportunity to read Ken Blanchard's book Raving Fans, you'd realize that creating any successful business starts with creating the best possible service and experience for the client. What would the ideal Personal Training experience look like and how do I go about delivering no more than 100% of that service and expectation, predictably each and every time. The clue is in the words themselves - Personal Training. If you want to deliver the best coaching service and experience, it has to be personal. How can you effectively assess a person's lifestyle, nutrition, stress and emotional issues in a group setting? If you're going to be successful long term, and charge the maximum amount of money for your knowledge and education, you have to take a coaching perspective on personal training. Each person has specific issues and tendencies and they need to be addressed in a private, one on one setting to be truly effective.

If it's just about maximizing sales in the short term and packing as many people into a second rate service out of the gates, you will surely jeopardize your Personal Training business down the line. We just went through a recession and we saw the effect on new membership sales. Without this new business coming through the door, many Personal Training departments were ravaged. That's because they didn't establish enough one on one, solid relationships with clients who see their Trainers as life coaches that they can't do without. In 2009, one third of our PFP clients had their best year ever in Personal Training sales. You can contact me directly to get their names and phone numbers. We're moving into a culture where everything is becoming an "in and out" service. I never feel valued when I go to visit my chiropractor and he's running from room to room pushing me through the assembly line. The same holds true when I visit my physician who is bouncing from office to office pushing out prescription sheets without having adequate time to discuss what's going on in my life and what might be really causing the problem.

We are one of the last beacons for true, one on one service that gives 45 - 55 minutes of quality attention and service. How do your Trainers propose to effectively raise their rates on half hour or group sessions with these kinds of experiences? In many cases, clients show up 5 - 10 minutes late and by the time you factor in drinks, rest and getting changed you're down to a less than adequate workout period. Let me ask you if your exercise routine consists of 15 minute workouts with a group a few times a week? Many of our senior and Master Trainers in our PFP clubs are charging between $75 - $100 per session for one on one and get little to no resistance when they go to their clients and up the fees. When it comes to group training the only way to make more money is to jam more people into the class which then makes for an even poorer training experience and a lower retention rate.

Group Training is simply an easy way out, a band-aid for the absence of professional sales people in your Personal Training departments. It's your Trainer's way of saying I'm not comfortable with sales so I need to charge less money. They are one of the only professionals that I know that spend years in a college kinesiology program, and then more years and a small fortune on certifications, and then simply give their knowledge away for next to nothing. Try asking a lawyer to give you free demo or orientation or maybe a nice group rate on legal counseling. This I can guarantee. If you ever dreamed of selling $400,000 per month in Personal Training in one location, on a consistent basis, like the club that I was an owner at in Toronto, you will never get there by building your Personal Training business on groups and semi privates. Most of our current clubs that do between $100,000 and $200,000 per month produce 90% of their sales numbers from one on one training and 10% from groups. The Pro Fitness Program is not designed to be all things to all people. It is designed to make a club the maximum amount of money in their Personal Training department. It just so happens that the focus and process also offers the best possible service and retention. It's funny how the two must go hand in hand together. If you're truly in business to make money, then to date, this is the only proven system to produce maximum sales results on a consistent basis. When it's proven to me, in any demographic or market and regardless of club size, that groups and semi privates can produce similar success, only then will we start to consider a paradigm shift.

In the end, group training should simply be a vehicle to get people into one on one training. I did 2 years of dance classes with my wife at Arthur Murray. I only had to spend 2 sessions in a group to realize that I needed some personal instruction. We invested 2 years of our money and time working with our instructors so that we could feel comfortable going back into a social group environment. But what kept me coming back for more was the great relationship we developed with our instructor from Venezuela who is a friend to this day. If you head down the path of groups and semi privates it will be extremely difficult to switch back to one on one. You will create a culture where members are conditioned to pay a lower fee for your Trainer's knowledge and service. It will be difficult for you to justify why a real training session involves stretching your client out, going over their food and training log book and making adjustments to the workouts based on previous recorded sessions and how they're feeling that day. Your entire system must prioritize one on one as the best possible solution and experience. Only as a last resort, when all objections have been professionally uncovered and addressed, should you ever offer a group or semi private session. That means that if you're a Pro Fitness Program client 30% - 40% of all new members will purchase a one on one Personal Training package between 12 - 144 sessions and renewal rates will average between 60% - 80%. Never allow your members to confuse Personal Training with group or semi private instruction. It's your obligation and duty to educate your members and community as to what is the best possible service and education to get them real results for life.


By Jeff Russo in collaboration with Vince DelMonte

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What's on Your To-Do List?

Posted August 05, 2009 in Blog, News

What's on your "To-Do" List Today?
8 Things to Add which will Maximize You Effectiveness

By Sean Walpole CPT, MTS
The Edge Fitness Business

As a Business Consultant, I have had the distinct pleasure of working with some of the most gifted Fitness Directors, Club Managers and Owner/Operators in the industry today. In fact, I too was a Club Manager not so long ago, working with John Johnson and Jeff Russo implementing the Pro Fitness Program at a 30k square foot facility in Toronto Canada. (Read More)

$271,772 in PT Sales for June - A New PFP Record

Posted July 06, 2009 in News, Blog

A successful personal training business is all about a combination of various sales elements that contribute to new sale and renewal business. Up until this month the River Valley Club in Hanover New Hamphshire held the PFP record in both areas. $199,000 in total department sales and $157,000 in renewal sales for a single month with a club of 2000 members.

When you consider that The Athletic Club in Guelph Ontario Canada is only in their second year with the Pro Fitness Program personal training sales system, and you add into the mix the month of June and a recession, you come up with the single greatest perfromance in PFP history. Fitness Director Ryan Flesch and his team of Consultants and Trainers wrote an incredible $271,772 in personal training sales for June with $196,341 coming from renewals.

Two of Ryan's Trainers broke the previous single month Trainer sales record of Chris Poljacik of the River Valley Club at $39,000. Chris Kopichanski wrote $41,342 with a combination of three 144 packs and two 72 packs. In the end, Chrisitian Stoneman set the new record with an amazing four 144 pack sales and a single 208 session sale to finish with $42,566!! Congratualtions to both of you; you are obvioulsy exceptional Trainers who know how to provide value, variety and entertainment, and who are not afraid to demand the best from your clients by asking for long term committed relationships that lead to real results for life.

The Athletic Club's Fitness Consultants Shine in June

In order for a personal training business to be outstanding it must rely heavily on new personal training sales. In the past we've had numerous Fitness Consultants from a club chain write some big numbers. Club Fit in Edmonton Alberta used the Pro Fitness Program to grow their personal training departments to well over $60,000 per month in each of their 5 locations. However at no time in history have we seen a performance like June 2009 at the Athletic Clubs.

In 5 different locations Fitness Consultants from the Athletic Clubs wrote over $20,000 each in new personal training business. Jeff Steinmetz from the Brantford club led the way with $31,232 followed closely by FC Andrew Durand from the North location at $31,173. Lisa Dawn Murison at the North location wrote an impressive $30,950 with Barb DeCook from Amherstburg with $25,525 and Jordan Sharpe from the South location at $23,078 rounding up the record month.

These clubs are in a variety of different markets with vast differences in demographics and size and yet the consistency of performance is a testament to the number one personal training sales system in the world today and the only one guaranteed to grow your personal training business beyond belief!

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How Does the River Valley Club Define Success?

Posted June 25, 2009 in News, Blog

How do you define success? We all strive to be successful in our field but how do you know when you are successful? Also, how do you determine when your personal training business needs to change direction? I'm pretty sure I know how to answer both of these questions. It's called bottom line profitability!

At the River Valley Club, we measure ourselves based on several things. Inreased personal training sales revenue from the past year, billable training hours and smiles on our member's faces; this all equates to improving people's lives daily. Oh, and by the way 1.8 million dollars in personal training sales in one year with 2000 members is pretty good also!! All of this has occured due to the number one personal training business system, the Pro Fitness Program.

When we first started with Jeff Russo and his personal training sales system 9 years ago, we were grossing just over $60,000 a year. I laugh out loud when I hear that number today. The tipping point for us came after just one year with the Pro Fitness Program going from $69,000 to $215,000. In year 3 we grossed $407,000 in personal training sales, and in year 4 an amazing $765, 000 again with only 2000 members. Yes, these are real numbers from our personal training department and you can call me or the owner Joe Asch to confirm anytime you like.

The Pro Fitness Program is the answer to selling personal training. They have developed a system that drives quality service and personal training sales. The program helped us change our culture here at RVC from being a facility that sells health club memberships to a health club that now sells results and relationships. Due to a shift in our philosophy, we have become a leader in the indsustry in personal training sales. We truly believe that everyone can and will benefit from working with a personal trainer.

Working closely with Jeff and his team of Fitness Business Consultants over the past 9 years has been a wonderful experience. From Sean Walpole, to Vince Delmonte to James Manson, the Pro-Fitness Program team has kept it fresh and exciting and has provided a variety of training and business experience. Not only has RVC grown and developed as an outstanding personal training business, but with the growth of the Pro Fitness Program, my husband Chris Poljacik and I have developed the PFP's number 1 approved personal training certification -MTS (Movement Training Specialist)

The MTS certification provides Trainers with the knowledge they need to keep renewals high and keep clients coming back. Last month our Trainers combined renewals and floor sales to produce $130,000. How many clubs can count on their team to deliver this level of personal training sales on a consistent basis? For more information regarding MTS please visit our web site at

MTS is offering a Level 1 certification at the River Valley Club, Hanover, NH. Sept. 26th and 27th. Space is limited so you should sign up on line today to reserve your spot. If you're an existing Pro Fitness Program client ask for your preferred vendor discount.


Jen Poljacik

RVC Fitness Director/Co-owner MTS/Business Consultant Pro Fitness Program

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