How To Have Better Client Consultations

I recently brought on an intern to our coaching roster and, similar to many of my hires over the last few years, Nick came from the Exercise Physiology program at Kent State University.

To date, I’ve had some really great experiences with all of the students who have come over to help me and, thus far, all of them have become paid coaches beyond their intern experience.

Nick and I were having breakfast the other day and I was asking him about his studies. He plans to graduate later this year and, in addition to interning with us, he’s working at a box gym in the area where he has the ability to build clientele of his own.

As part of that onboarding process, I was curious what type of training they had given him to help him grow that clientele. He said that there was little to no training in that regard. As a result, he was basically winging it when it came to building his roster.

I thought back to what client consultations have looked like for me over the years and how things have evolved. Much of what I’m sharing with you today (as fellow coaches) I was also discussing with Nick in efforts to help him be successful with client consults too.

While I am certain there are always things I could improve on, I’ve found a general system that has worked well for me in not only “closing sales” but developing rapport and helping to forge a path for client success should the client elect to get started with us.

Most of this will apply to in-person trainers but my fellow online coaches may find some insight they could swipe for their own uses.

I’ll refer to the client as PC (potential client) moving forward since, for the purposes of this article, there is no guarantee they will join as members.

Pre-Consultation Expectations

Depending on how a PC has found me (Facebook, Instagram, Website, Email, Client Word Of Mouth), I am normally contacted first by them. They could be inquiring about prices, the layout of the sessions and possibly their own scheduling concerns. Once we’ve covered those items, I will ask if they have time to come in for a formal consultation. I remind them that most of my consultations last approximately an hour and are free of charge. If the PC is coming to me primarily for fat loss, these sessions can run an hour or longer. If they are coming to me for general strength training, they are likely much faster consults because we’re not spending as much time covering nutrition.

Some PCs ask if they need to bring any particular clothing (with the assumption that they will be working out in addition to the consult). I don’t do this often but if we were to go directly from consult to a training session, it could be due to timing constraints and how quickly the PC wants to get started.

The Environment

Nearly all of my business as a trainer happens face-to-face. While I do have online clients, it is not the demographic I aggressively market towards. If an in-person PC has scheduled a consult with me, that’s typically happening at RevFit.

When the PC comes in the door, we typically have music playing (house music, rock, etc) and there may or may not be other training sessions happening at that time.

I introduce myself, welcome the PC into the studio, introduce them to anyone else who may be in the studio and ask if they’d like a cup of water before we begin.

My office sits off of the training floor so if there are no other sessions happening, we can keep the door to the office open. If training is in session, I’ll close the door so we’re less likely to be interrupted.

I’ve always appreciated a less formal approach to consultations but I do like the warmth of a well-lit room and open space between the PC and myself. I used to have a desk set-up which allowed that openness by default. However, I recently changed my desk position and it closes off part of the room. Now, when I handle consults, I bring a separate chair in front of my desk so that nothing is standing between myself and the PC.

I have a questionnaire that is already printed and waiting on a clipboard in the office. I’ll typically ask the PC to spend a few moments filling those pages out. I’ll discuss more detail about the questionnaire shortly.

In addition to the clipboard with the questionnaire, I’ll have another clipboard handy with a blank sheet in case they would like to take notes during the consult.

Depending on the person, some PCs are already actively engaged in some small talk while they’re filling out the questionnaire. I try my best to remember anything pertinent that might apply to who they are and what they currently have on their plate (life stressors, work/life balance, scheduling around kids/family, etc). If something sticks out to me, I’ll take some notes on the questionnaire once they’ve finished it.

The Questionnaire

I have opted to go a particular route with my questionnaire. There are many questions I prefer for the PC to answer on their own which may or may not need a great deal of background. There are other questions I save to ask that are not on the questionnaire. I’ll break these down accordingly.

On the questionnaire

Date

Name

Address

Phone Number

Birthdate

Email Address (if they would like to be on our weekly newsletter)

Do you have any current ailments or injuries that should be taken into account before exercising?

Have you had any injuries in the past which required surgery? If so, what happened?

Have you ever been a member of a gym? If so, which gyms and how did you like your experience there?

Have you ever had a personal trainer before? If so, what did you like/dislike about their approach and methods of training?

Are you currently on any medications? If so, which medications and what conditions are they used to treat?

Do you drink alcohol? If so, what do you drink (beer, wine, hard liquor) and how often?

Do you use any recreational drugs? If so, which do you use and how often?

Do you smoke cigarettes? If so, how many and how often?

I also have a checklist of items which may be of interest to the PC that they can select if it’s part of their goals. These include:

-fat loss

-lean muscle gain

-dietary advice

-better endurance

-proper form when exercising

-more agility

-stress relief

-lifestyle change

-improved social life

-higher self-esteem/self-worth

It’s not uncommon for some clients to select all of these options.

On the last page of the questionnaire is where we have a breakdown of our pricing, how we accept payment, other services we offer such as: on the go workouts, grocery store tours, pantry/kitchen interventions, and continued nutrition coaching (beyond the consult)

The last section asks that should the PC not elect to join today, if they could list any pertinent reasons why.

Off the questionnaire

These are the questions I will ask that are not listed. I feel this allows me to develop better rapport and understanding of who the PC is and what makes them tick.

Verification of age

Height

Current weight

If there is any family history (maternal/paternal) of high blood pressure, high cholesterol or Type II diabetes. If so, what side and what conditions?

If it’s a female PC: are you currently peri-menopausal or menopausal?

How are you sleeping? (If sleep is not adequate) Is there anything contributing to the current sleep patterns?

On a scale of 0 to 10, 0 being not noticeable and 10 being intolerable, where is stress for you?

If the PC is coming in for fat loss, I’ll ask for a 24-hour recall of the diet (everything they’ve had to eat or drink in the last approximate 24 hours).

These are the questions which I believe open up the most dialogue. If a PC is not coming to me for fat loss, we generally do not cover nutrition in depth and I may only be answering more in-depth questions about how and when we train and what they could expect if they join.

If the PC is coming in for fat loss, I describe a handful of different options we can use to help them reach their fat loss goals. Prior to COVID, I would use a tape measure and a handheld BIA monitor to submit into our client tracking software. I currently use BodyEvolver PT Pro and it’s worked very well for my needs. I know there are a host of different software offerings out there but this one does what I need it to. This software allows me to calculate caloric estimates and macronutrient goals so that the more data-conscious PCs have more detailed information to work with.

However, because of COVID, not every PC has wanted me in close quarters doing tape measures, so we have been focusing more on behavioral changes and diet tweaks to still get to the same end goal of fat loss. This is where the 24-hour recall can be helpful.

Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover

I’ve heard horror stories of trainers who incorrectly assumed a PC was coming to them for fat loss and treated them accordingly. Not every person who “appears” to need fat loss is coming in for that goal. Many PCs are perfectly happy at their current weight, and unless specified in the pre-consultation stage or in the questionnaire, I’d suggest you only service the goals they’re asking specifically for.

Problem Solving Trumps Sales Hacks

I have been in some aspect of sales since I was 16 years old. I will be 46 this year which gives me three decades of learning a great deal of brilliant and not-so-savory sales practices. I try my best to not “sell” our services. It’s my goal when a PC is talking to me to simply help them solve their health related problems (assuming they are within my scope of practice).

I also do what I can to overdeliver with information.

With fat loss, my goal is to give someone enough information and wisdom that even if they decided not to join, they could still see success with. Fat loss works most efficiently through dietary changes and, it’s my belief, that the average fat loss seeking PC needs better eating skills.

Regardless of what obstacle a client is trying to overcome, it’s my job to come up with a solution (sometimes several of them). When appropriate, I might also reference other client scenarios which might be similar as a way of showing that:

A) We’ve worked with that type of scenario

B) The PC is not alone in going through it.

For instance, if a PC has a history of shoulder pain, I’ll ask what type of movements aggravate that joint. As the PC is describing those movements, I will make note of movements I believe will be a lower risk of injury for them and discuss some options I think we can utilize to help them train more effectively. I might also use another client as a reference point who also struggles with shoulder pain and how we were able to help them.

When I first started in this industry, I took every single client I could possibly take on. Over the last several years, I’ve found my comfort zone with who I like to work with and who I believe I can do the best job for. If I don’t feel I’m the right fit, I will refer to someone who I think can do a better job than I can.

I’ve found that as long as I can continue to offer reasonable solutions to what a PC is struggling with, I don’t have to “sell” anything. The service, at that point, basically sells itself. I should add that if the PC has been referred in from an existing client, this is one less obstacle to overcome in the selling process.

There are a lot of books out there about how to sell and I would never say they don’t have effective tools. What I will say is that I know how I feel as a consumer and if I were the PC, I would want the person providing the service to listen to my concerns and provide realistic solutions. It’s simple…it’s not easy (kind of like dieting).

Be Painfully Honest

If you’ve been in this industry for any amount of time, you’ll know that some clients have unrealistic expectations of what their bodies can and can’t do. You might answer questions such as: “Do you think I can get down to “X” weight?” or “How quickly can I lose twenty pounds?” You might also answer questions like: “Will I be able to run like I did in my twenties?” or “Do you think I can bench press what I did in college?”

I’ve become really accustomed to responding with: “I don’t know”, “I’m not sure”, and the industry favorite “It depends”. However, more detail has to be given to help a client understand why there is no black-and-white, one-size-fits-all solution to those questions.

What I do know is that human behavior is messy, unpredictable and goals can change on a dime. The more you know about your PC, the better answers you can provide by helping them understand if the goals are realistic and achievable and how you might be able to get them closer to reaching said goals.

I don’t blow any smoke in consultations. If a PC wants to know how I feel about the keto diet, I’ll tell them. I’ll give them pros and cons based on what I’ve learned to date and what I’ve seen happen in real life within the four walls of RevFit. The more accurate and honest I can be, the better we can have a mutual understanding. If a PC is very closely aligned with a dietary philosophy (for instance, veganism), I try to show them how to keep that diet in line with their physique goals. I never suggest a PC to eat like I do so they can look like I do. For the record, most PCs don’t want to look like me. I’m a skinny bastard!

What If They Don’t Immediately Sign Up?

Years ago, I worked for a computer company, who, at the time, only sold their computers via phone. I worked in one of their call centers and it was one of the most stressful jobs I’ve ever had. However, I heard a term back then that still applies today: close rate.

Your close rate is essentially how many leads you sign compared to how many come in for consultations. In my case, I average an 85-90% close rate. Using simple math, let’s just say that I’ll sign 9 out of every 10 people who come through my door.

Sometimes, a PC will appear to be interested in the services but they will need to verify the expense with a spouse or family member. I encourage them to do so. Some coaches might do an immediate follow-up within the next 24-48 hours but I typically do not. If I have done my job during the consultation and answered their questions to the best of my ability, even if the PC does not sign up on the day of the consult, they will usually circle back to do so later.

Every so often, I’ll have a PC who simply does not sign up.

I don’t worry too much over this. While I know that I could take it on the chin that someone truly does not want to join in, I make the assumption that something I said was not the solution they wanted, perhaps the cost of joining was not financially feasible for them, or they found another facility that was a better fit. If my close rate was significantly lower, I would start to dissect how I handle my consultations. I might also look for a mentor to help me understand where I could improve my consultation skills. It might also be beneficial to record consultations (with the approval of the PC) so that you can listen back and see how you might have answered some questions better or provided more appropriate solutions.

If a PC does not sign immediately, it is not a direct indication of anything you did wrong. There may be other factors at play which are out of your control that affected their decision or delay in joining. One thing that has been helpful for me goes back to something in the questionnaire. Since you’ve asked for their permission of email use, you can put the PC on your mailing list and they can see your correspondence. When a better time comes for the PC to join, you would be the top of mind selection.

In Closing

If a PC signs up, explain to them the process for getting on the schedule for their first session. Thank them for the opportunity to work together and let them know anything else you believe they’ll need to know before officially starting. Before they leave, ask them if there is anything else they need from you in between the conclusion of the consult and the next session together.

If a PC does not sign up, thank them for taking the time to meet. Ask them if there are any other questions you could help with. Let them know that you are available when/if they need and you look forward to any opportunity to help.

Much like crafting the ideal workout regimen or meal template, consultations can go a host of different directions and still have positive outcomes. Continue learning how to provide a warm environment, a glimpse of who you are as the coach so the PC knows who they will be investing their time and money with, and offer solutions that make sense for that person and what they bring to the table. The process will never be perfect and there will routinely be things that you think of outside of the consultation that could have been explained or expressed better. Use those opportunities to improve your skills so that the next PC can benefit from the service you have to provide.

Below you see me with my longtime client and friend, Randy. Randy was one of my first clients around 11 years ago. He and his partner moved out of state and we remained in contact all those years. When they moved back to the area, Randy came back into the fold with us and it’s been a really amazing experience having him back here.

The goal with any consultation is to not only help your PC live a healthier life but, in the case of Randy and myself, hopefully forge a lifelong friendship of camaraderie and support (even outside of gym walls).

Revolutionary You! #305-Dr. Stuart Phillips: A Primer On Protein (1 of 4)

I begin the next 4-part series of the show with a guest who needs little introduction within the fitness/nutrition industry: Dr. Stuart Phillips from McMaster University. Dr. Stuart has arguably done more research on protein and the intersection of exercise with its use than anyone else I know. We kick off the series with a primer of sorts and start building the foundation for the following three episodes together. In this episode we discuss why protein is important, considerations for dosages, the potential downsides to protein use, how animal and plant based proteins differ, amino acid profiles, leucine thresholds and why protein works for dieting. You won’t want to miss any of these! 


To learn more about Dr. Stuart’s work: 
www.twitter.com/mackinprof
www.instagram.com/mackinprof
www.facebook.com/SMPPh.d


To learn more about your host: 
www.jasonleenaarts.com
www.revfittherapy.com
www.facebook.com/jason.leenaarts
www.instagram.com/jasonleenaarts


You can also like our Facebook page at: 
www.facebook.com/revolutionaryou


To purchase my book, “A Revolution A Day”: 
www.amzn.to/2R9Larx

Apple Podcasts OR Stitcher OR iHeartRadio OR Podchaser

The Road Out Of Hell

Over the past week, two people have reached out to me on the topic of addiction. I won’t get into a lot of specifics with that because it’s a different aspect of addiction for each of them and how it’s currently affecting their families.

When people ask me about my past with addiction, more specifically, how I overcame it, there are always a few of places I feel I have to offer with a disclaimer.

My story is my own and what got my life turned around won’t be the same for another

I am still an addict although my addictions are “safer” by comparison

No one changes until they’re ready

The last part is more important than the first two.

I know, throughout the time I’ve had this blog, that I’ve covered a lot about addiction, abuse, rehab, etc. Every time I write about these things, I have to dig deep and re-open some wounds to flesh out details that sometimes I wish didn’t exist. Not because I live in regret, mind you. I don’t regret the things that have happened to me, I do regret the people who I’ve hurt along the way because of those things.

To tell a story in a slightly different way, I’ll start here:

I was raised by two parents who did absolutely everything in their God-given power to give me a good, loving, healthy, supportive life. They were not perfect parents (that doesn’t exist) but there was not a day in my life where I felt unloved or uncared for by my parents.

Nevertheless, traumatic and damaging things have happened to me and I’ve caused my fair share of damage (to myself and others) on my own.

I write these words mid-way through the 4th decade of my life. Much of what I’ve come to understand about my life, has only happened in the last few years. In other words, there was a narrative I crafted along the way that wasn’t always accurate. A narrative which, incorrectly, made me think: You’re like this because of that.

I was wrong.

What I’ve come to discover is that nearly every bad event in my life (save for a few) has been a conscious or unconscious reaction to being sexually abused when I was around the age of 5 or 6.

I did a fantastic job of blocking that event in my mind through most of my adolescence, never telling my parents until I was near the end of high school.

We also moved around a lot. My father was a lifelong Goodyear employee and we were transferred to different states and one different country through all of my childhood. As a result, my parents were often my closest friends, as each move would cause me to uproot, leave friends behind, make new friends and then move again and repeat the process.

One upside was a greater exposure to different cultures, experiences and lifestyles that most people could never appreciate. I’m always fascinated by people who spend the first 18, 25, 35 years of their life in basically the same town. By time I had graduated high school, I had lived in 4 different states (Tennessee, Oklahoma, Ohio and Texas) and one other country (Brasil).

A downside to all of that moving around was the feeling that I never really “fit in” anywhere. I wasn’t the smartest, I wasn’t the most athletic, and I wasn’t the best looking. I was chronically the new kid until I got settled and then it was back to being the new kid again.

When I came to terms with the whole sexual abuse situation, I was in my junior or senior year of high school and I had my eye on college in a different state (graduating high school in Ohio and looking to go back to Tennessee for college).

College was, for me, much like it is for a lot of young adults; a chance at liberation and starting a new life without being under the roof of my parents. I didn’t really stir up a lot of trouble in college initially, I was too busy with girlfriends and making music that I didn’t really have time to get into mischief.

That all came to a grinding halt in 1996. I went through a rough breakup, was tossed out of band I started because I wasn’t “Christian” enough and that’s where things started to go haywire for me.

In 1996, I was hospitalized 4 times for suicide threats and suicidal ideation. I was misdiagnosed by the doctors who treated me and continued to suffer negative side effects of prescription medications that I never should have been on to begin with.

I should state, for clarity, that some people legitimately need medication as that will provide them their best life. To those individuals: stay the course, trust your doctor unless you believe you are not living an improved life and, if that’s the case, find a doctor you can trust. This make take time, patience and a great degree of trial and error.

After my third hospitalization that year, I started turning to street drugs. I was forced to drop out of college because I couldn’t function on the prescriptions I was given. Some say that weed is a gateway drug and that might not be the case for others, but it was for me.

Couple that with the fact that the “rave” scene was picking up steam in Ohio and it was a perfect storm of events for me: an imbalanced mental state, prescription drugs, street drugs and a plethora of people to mingle with at these parties. I was having a blast (relatively speaking) at 20 years of age (just shy of my 21st birthday).

I call my 20’s the “lost decade” because I would remain addicted to street drugs right up until I turned 30 years old. That wasn’t planned, it’s just the way it happened.

Early on, my drug use compounded so quickly and my tolerance level grew so fast that I had to start dealing drugs to afford my habit. I almost always had a full time job so there was at least a cover for my less than savory behavior outside of work. And, early on, I knew how to separate work from pleasure. I’d go to work clean and sober and engage in all the other behavior after my shifts and on the weekends. Later in the decade, I would be on drugs from the time I woke up until the time I went to bed.

There’s an adage that goes something like this: No one makes a significant change in their life until they’re tired of their own bullshit. That, in a nutshell, is as succinct as you can make it. I spent 10 years as an addict because I convinced myself that life was better under the influence than otherwise. I didn’t care who I hurt, how I hurt them or what collateral damage was in the way. All I cared about was numbing the pain and staying numb.

I quit drugs for a handful of reasons but the primary one being that my drug use and the money I was spending on drugs was causing me to skip out on paying my bills. I made enough money to pay them, but drugs were the priority. This came to a standstill when one of those bills was my mortgage payment on a house that my father co-signed on. That delinquent payment affected his credit record and when we discovered that reality, I knew things had gone too far.

I had also reached a point where most of my drug use was in isolation. I wasn’t doing drugs with friends as much and, at least for me, getting fucked up by myself was no longer enjoyable. I got tired of my own bullshit.

This year will mark 15 years clean. I still drink alcohol but I have a vastly different relationship with alcohol than I did with drugs. For some reason, on a chemical level, I could have massive amounts of drugs in me and still feel “in control”, save for a handful of extenuating circumstances. Alcohol is a wholly different monster. I don’t like the feeling of being drunk so I don’t drink for that feeling. I drink to have some bonding time with my wife in the evening and I rarely over do it. Come to think of it, in the 11 years Marissa and I have been together, I think she’s only seen me drunk less than 5 times. I’ve come to realize I’m too much of a control freak to do that…

The downside to writing about these things is that people turn to me for a solution and I don’t have it. I really wish I did. I wish I had that “one thing” that I could say that could flip a switch and get people to make a complete 180 in their lives.

It’s at this point that I need to repeat the phrase I said at the beginning: No one changes until they’re ready (and some people never change and that becomes fatal).

I’ll also add this, and not for dramatic flair, every great and important thing in my life has come at the cost of immense suffering. My business was built out of the loss of my job, the dissolution of my marriage (to Jackson’s mom), and the death of my Grandfather and Uncle on my mother’s side. Great suffering and loss had to occur for me to open my doors and that’s not an easy place to build a foundation from.

My life has been a series of struggles and suffering at nearly every decade’s turn. I’ve bled for this life, I’ve cried for this life, I’ve nearly died over half a dozen times for this life.

And every day that I wake up, I have to remind myself: You are a lucky son of a bitch. Don’t fuck this up.

Not every bad thing that happens to us has to remain in the forefront of our minds. The bad that’s happened that I had no choice in has shaped who I’ve become. Whether I like it or not, it’s informed a great deal of my life’s decisions.

It’s difficult sometimes being in the position I am with this business: as a coach, a mentor, and inspiration (of sorts) to a variety of different people. It’s easy to feel like a fraud because my life has had such spectacular failures to bounce back from.

However, I guess that’s the whole point, right? You have to bounce back. You can’t stay down.

To those who read my work, and digest my podcast and who know someone who is struggling with addiction or struggling with their health I’ll say these things I think (I hope) I’ve earned the authority to say:

Get a therapist who you trust. Maybe you need medication, maybe you don’t, but at the very least, get someone to talk to who can break you out of your head. Sometimes, your head is a dangerous place to stay until you learn how to live there. It would take me (and my family) seven months, four therapists and around fifteen different medications to get anywhere near close to a solution for me.

You’ll need tremendous support. I am where I am today because my father (before he passed), my mother and my wife at different periods of my life have sacrificed a great deal of time, effort and energy to keep me on a given path, a safer path, a healthier path. I would not be alive today without them.

Suffering is unavoidable. I said it before and I’ll say it again, albeit differently: You will have to suffer to a significant degree to have the life you want: emotionally, physically, mentally. Prepare for that. I don’t believe you can have the life you want or deserve without it. It stands to reason, the severity of suffering is different for every individual.

You have to do the work. Beyond the traumatic things in my life that have happened outside of my power, it has been 100% my responsibility to change who I am and how I react to the world around me. I am not a victim, I am a survivor and no one can take that from me. All the good that I want to come from this world and this life has to be initiated, nurtured and maintained by me. It helps to have a support system that can lift me when I need it but I still have to do the work.

I have a very good life and I am extremely fortunate to wake up to it every day. I am not sure how I’m alive to be here and write these words but I am.

If you are struggling to find some light at the end of the tunnel, please get help. The world needs you.

If you know someone who is struggling to find that light, be the light.

Revolutionary You! #304-Mike Howard: The 4 P’s Of Progress (4 of 4)

I wrap up the final episode in this 4-part series with Mike Howard of Lean Minded this week. We touch on what Mike calls The 4 P’s Of Progress: Practice, Patience, Persistence and Presence. Mike talks about these factors when it comes to food and I took a leaning towards exercise and strength training. A big shout out to Mike for being my guinea pig on this new venture as I hope you, as the listener, enjoyed what we were striving for. 

To learn more about Mike’s work: 

www.leanminded.com

www.facebook.com/leanminded

www.instagram.com/leanminded

To learn more about your host: 

www.jasonleenaarts.com

www.revfittherapy.com

www.facebook.com/jason.leenaarts

www.instagram.com/jasonleenaarts

You can also like our Facebook page at: 

www.facebook.com/revolutionaryou 

To purchase my book, “A Revolution A Day”: 

http://www.amzn.to/2R9Larx

Apple Podcasts OR Stitcher OR iHeartRadio OR Amazon Podcasts

The Journey Through MNU

Shortly after I first got certified as a personal trainer (circa 2007), I knew that the weight loss demographic would be the clientele I most wanted to work with (an attitude that has only slightly changed over time). However, as many of my fellow coaches know, you really don’t learn as much as you need to about nutrition to help this demographic with a base level certification.

My initial certification was done through ISSA and shortly after I passed the exam, I furthered my base with certifications in fitness therapy and nutrition. Somewhat interestingly, the nutrition certification was written by one, John Berardi, who would go on to start Precision Nutrition (PN for short).

As more certification options became available to me, and certainly after I started RevFit, I began to spend even more of my time learning what I could about nutrition. I attended seminars, found some specialty courses and picked up some other continuing education options to further what I knew.

As PN began to make waves, I picked up that certification as well (Level 1) and kept trying to expand my base. I constantly felt like I was behind the ball in the industry because my degree was neither in Exercise Physiology nor Nutrition. My degree was in Business Management and I kept pushing myself to learn more about the field in which I started this business.

Over the last several years, I started to hear more about Mac-Nutrition UNI, a UK based nutrition organization, and I saw that several of the coaches and health professionals I’d held in such high regard since I started this business were singing it’s praises. People like: James Krieger, Dr. Spencer Nadolsky and Danny Lennon, to name a few, all spoke so highly of the work that MNU was doing, namely the creator, Martin MacDonald and his staff.

Martin was even kind enough to join me on my podcast a few years ago and I thought we had a wonderful conversation. To date, the episode we did together remains in my Top 10 most downloaded.

Like a lot of niche areas within health and wellness, starting MNU was not a low-cost endeavor. I knew it would be something that would not only challenge my skillsets as a coach but would comparatively be the most expensive continuing education course I would have taken on since I started this career.

In late 2019, after releasing my book, “A Revolution A Day”, I was ready to sink my teeth into the MNU course.

Classes began in Spring 2020. Little did any of us know what was going to happen in the world with the pandemic and initially, the time we spent in lockdown allowed me to put more focus into the course.

To paraphrase Martin, MNU was designed to not only further the education of coaches like myself but it also served to help doctors, dietitians and the like from across the globe. I knew then, that any course which would have to provide value and substance to the individuals in the upper echelon of health and wellness would indeed prove challenging for me.

I wasn’t wrong.

Coming out of lockdowns, RevFit became busier than we were heading into lockdowns. We were already having a great year but the remainder of 2020 would continue to put a damper on my schedule as business continued to grow almost month over month.

For those who don’t know the layout of MNU, imagine something like a college course. You tackle a lecture per week, approximately 90 minutes in length (some shorter, some longer), complete a quiz, and you often have additional homework to complete as well.

It was advised that students spend 3-4 hours per week on the course and, admittedly, due to everything else I had on my plate, I did well enough to just not fall behind in coursework.

The support was excellent, the lectures also excellent. There were so many things, so many little details that I felt fortunate to learn, even if much of it was above my head.

In many ways, I was grateful because much of what I had been coaching my clients to do was on point and correct in execution and theory. The course itself gave me more insight into how and why that was the case. There was far more discussion about the evidence behind why we coach the things we do with our clients and where fad diets and misguided trends tend to get things wrong.

There were subsets of information, like the lectures on PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), diabetes and eating disorders which were absolutely fascinating to learn more about. As with many areas of nutrition, understanding nuance, causation versus correlation, and working with your clients where “they” are can be the most helpful tools in a coach’s toolbox.

The test itself, I can’t lie about it. It was the hardest test I’ve taken in my adult life. Maybe other coaches might disagree but I was not confident I had absorbed, retained and could express what I had learned as easily as others might.

However, as of yesterday, I received the news that I did, indeed, pass the course.

The experience was exceptional. The depth of information, I only hope I can utilize to its best effect.

While the recognition may not mean as much to my clients, those who have succeeded in the course probably know as I do, that the time, effort, and expense was worth it.

To Martin MacDonald, Sarah Duffield and the staff of MNU, thank you for your support and guidance.

I aim to make you proud over here in Stow, Ohio.

To my fellow coaches who may be considering the course and who already have insight similar to mine heading in, make sure you carve out the necessary time to study each week’s course load. In hindsight, I should have done more but I felt that under the circumstances of running a business that has been kicking my skinny little ass, I am genuinely thrilled that I can now call myself: MNU Certified.

Revolutionary You! #303-Mike Howard: Context, Cues And Proximity For Fat Loss

Mike Howard of Lean Minded is back with me again this week as we continue our 4-part series together. This week, we dive further into the nuance of food environment and how what we’re exposed to can influence how and how much we eat. Mike and I talk about better ways to craft that environment so you can see better fat loss results. 

To learn more about Mike’s work: 

www.leanminded.com

www.facebook.com/leanminded

www.instagram.com/leanminded

To learn more about your host: 

www.jasonleenaarts.com

www.revfittherapy.com

www.facebook.com/jason.leenaarts

www.instagram.com/jasonleenaarts

You can also like our Facebook page at: 

www.facebook.com/revolutionaryou

To purchase my book, “A Revolution A Day”: 

www.amzn.to/2R9Larx

Apple Podcasts OR Stitcher OR iHeartRadio OR Amazon Podcasts

Twelve Things You Need (and Need to Know) When You Start Your Personal Training Business

As you’re reading this, RevFit (Revolution Fitness & Therapy) will be celebrating 12 years of business. We opened officially at the beginning of May 2009. It’s been amazing, enthralling, frightening, frustrating and every possible feeling in between in the last 12 years.

Due to the events which occurred in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many gyms were forced to close their doors and many trainers either had to pick up additional jobs for income or leave the industry altogether. As a result, a new surge of coaches decided they could strike out on their own and forge a path with their own training styles and philosophies and try to make a better career for themselves.

So, after you’ve incorporated your name and you’ve told the world who you are, where you are and what you do, here’s a list (not exhaustive) of 12 things you’ll need to make your business the best it can be.

  1. Develop a banking relationship. From your first dollar on, you need a business checking account. In addition, you’ll need a go-to point of contact for all of your banking needs. This could be if you get in financial difficulty or if you need advice on how to start up credit card processing with minimal fees for your business. Some day, you might need a line of credit for your business or you might need a business credit card for unforeseen expenses (which will come up more frequently than you’d expect). I have one person I have used almost exclusively for nearly a decade. Any banking concern I have and Laura is an email/phone call away and she can get most anything I need or problem solved faster than I can often do it on my own. This, ultimately, saves you time that could be better spent coaching or trying to attract new business.
  2. Hire an accountant. Like you, I know how to add and subtract. However, I do not have the time, patience or insight to know all the inner workings of tax law and how things change as my business grows over time. Find an accountant, someone you trust, who understands and works with small businesses. I have had my current accountant, Deb, for about five years. She and her firm are AMAZING and they have done nothing but look out for my best interest since I hired them. A good accountant won’t be cheap and, to be honest, they shouldn’t be. They just need to care about your business almost as much as you do.
  3. Start small. Expand later. This was one of the best pieces of advice I received before starting my business. It was given to me by my Uncle Bruce who had a ridiculously successful niche-business for several decades. In his words: “It’s better to start small and be in position to expand than to start big and have to downsize.” This also matters when it comes to the amount and type of equipment you purchase to train your clients. Start with as little as humanly possible (some of which is dependent on how many people you expect to train at one time) and add pieces as you grow. One of my biggest mistakes in starting was that I bought WAY too much equipment, brand new, and ended up selling off many of those pieces because they were not worth the space they took up in my first location. My first spot was roughly 1000 sq. ft. We have since expanded not once, but twice, and now have a location that is well over 3000 sq. ft. We don’t have significantly more equipment than we did when I started. What we DO have is more space for clients to spread out for their sessions which has been a godsend in light of social distancing protocols with the coronavirus.
  4. Have an online presence. Want to know how I built my business with online exposure? Speaking only for RevFit, it goes: Facebook, Website, Instagram. I know other personal trainers who may change that order respective of their businesses but this is the order that works for me. I started my website first but it was only to be accessible through Google searches. I know things like meta-tags matter when it comes to searches and other businesses may have better looking/functioning websites than mine but all I needed and wanted was visibility. Facebook is my biggest driver of new and referred business leads. I do NOT pay for any Facebook ads nor do I pay for more followers on Instagram or pay for SEO rankings. However, I do market this business very aggressively (see Point #5) and I cannot possibly oversell how good this has worked for us.
  5. Brag like your career depends on it (because it does). What you market is what you attract. If you run group exercise, post pictures and videos online about it. Do it as often as you can. If you help clients with weight loss, find fun and creative ways to show that off. Whatever it is that you feel you do and coach best, is what you need to put out into the world. I wrote a fairly lengthy article about this for the Lift The Bar community and if you’d like some inspiration to get your gears turning, feel free to read the evolution of my social media strategies and how this works for us.
  6. Time Matters. If you’re just starting out, you may have to take any and all business that comes your way. This may mean a huge span of time in a given day to train clients. When I started, I took every person on that I could. I learned quickly which areas of nutrition and training I felt most comfortable with and I learned the areas where I did not feel I could do my best work. I am now in a position (and have been this way for several years now) where I can kindly decline business and/or refer out to others if I feel that our services are not a good fit. The busier we’ve gotten over time (and we are busier now than we have ever been), the more I need downtime in a given day to take care of all the things related to this business that aren’t directly related to training on the gym floor. One of the best things I did for my own sanity and to keep operations running as smoothly as possible, was to split the day into essentially two training blocks: 530a-10a and 230p-530/6p. The time we are closed is when I am writing client programs, getting in my own training or a meal, running essential errands for the business, handling client consults/coaching calls, or simply recharging my batteries. Due to the demands (both physical and mental), during the training blocks, some downtime is needed each day so that we as coaches can be our best for our clients when they arrive. When you’re just getting started, you may not be in the position to close off part of your day the way that we do. However, once you get to that point, you’ll understand how important it is to segment time to focus on the business that happens behind-the-scenes. I should also add to this point that how you prioritize your time is how you get your own training in as well. While I don’t believe that every successful trainer should be stage-lean or batter themselves with workouts, I do know that you have to “walk the talk” when it comes to prioritizing your own training. It doesn’t have to be fancy but it does need to be done, if for no other reason than because the type of work is very demanding on your body and you need to be physically prepared for it.
  7. Build a community. Not that it took a pandemic to illustrate how incredible our community is, but I’ll be damned if our RevFit family didn’t show up and prove their mettle in light of a global concern. In my wildest dreams, I could have never imagined a more fun, engaged, caring and supportive group of people than folks like who we have now. The bigger we get, the more it seems that our core collective shows up and embraces the whole. We have two closed communities on Facebook and the one comprised of our current clients is what I remain most proud of. As the coach, you need a place where not only can you share your wisdom, insight and experience to help others but you need a place where those who are on the journey can give a hand to lift others up as well. We have, since 2009, been a fully inclusive business so we have always welcomed, with open arms, any individual regardless of race, gender, sexual preference, political/religious affiliation, you name it. If you’re ready to improve your health and you like the way we approach training/nutrition, you’re welcome here. The best thing about an online community is that you give exposure to people in the group who might not normally see each other face-to-face because of when their training is scheduled. There is also a greater potential of clients baring more of themselves without fear of reprise because they know that the culture supports them. Not everyone will engage but many will lurk in the background and can benefit from the actions and words of others.
  8. Get great results. No matter what segment of the population you look to serve, results speak volumes. So, whether you train clients for endurance, aesthetics, strength, etc. make sure that you have documentation and proof of the results. Your business won’t grow if you don’t have what it takes to attract new people to your door and to retain what you currently have. There is a natural state of attrition that happens with personal training because it is, by nature, a luxury service. However, if you are consistent, caring, and understanding of the fact that life has a tendency to ebb and flow with the stresses of work, family, emotional status and social impact, you can provide a place where people find you are an integral part of their health and livelihood. As someone probably far smarter than me has said: give people the tools they need to survive without you but give them an environment that makes them never want to leave. I’ll add one component to that by saying: If they leave, keep the door (and your arms) open and ready for their return should they elect to come back at a future time. Some of my best client success stories have been from clients who left for a period of time and came back when they were “ready”.
  9. Evolve or die. It’s hard to talk about this point and not have the year 2020 as a point of reflection. However, beyond that, your business and business model should always have areas to improve on. The business will never be perfect and sometimes little nagging details will slip through the cracks but treat your business the way we ask our clients to treat their bodies: ever-evolving, ever improving. Learn how to operate in both a physical and virtual landscape, learn how to automate certain parts of the business to make your life easier and never stop asking yourself (or your clients) how you can improve the business. You may not be able to please every person but you can continue to strive for smoother operations, a better customer experience and a place that, each day when you wake up, you feel excited to go to.
  10. Never stop learning. Unlike a lot of trainers in the industry, I did not go to school for exercise physiology or anything of the sort. My degree is in business management and prior to starting RevFit, nearly all of my work experience was running retail facilities. While I do believe that experience has helped me from a customer service standpoint, much of what I have had to learn to make this business what it is today has been from a nearly insatiable desire to learn more. I read constantly, nearly everything I can get my hands on. I read books on psychology, nutrition, exercise and I sprinkle in a healthy dose of fiction (to be a better writer) and books about music (for sheer entertainment value). In the last 12 years, I’ve picked up no fewer than ten different certifications all applicable to the work I do as a trainer. As someone in his mid-40s who is continuing to see the rise in younger, hungry trainers move into the industry to make their mark, I know I can’t rest on my laurels. If I’m not growing, that’s a problem. So, I spend as much time as I can trying to figure out not only how to be better for my clients but how to be better for myself and my family too.
  11. Have a voice, have a platform. The longer you’re in the industry, the more you stand to learn about the best ways to help your demographic. However, it’s one thing to “know” what it takes and it’s another to be able to spread the word to others. I use both this blog and my podcast as ways to carve a message and a methodology to help as many people as possible. I know that not every person who reads my blogs or tunes in to the podcast will become a client of mine. I am okay with that. What’s more important to me is that someone digests those forms of media and finds inspiration to improve themselves. Just knowing that I provided a little ripple of change to someone is worth all the time and effort it takes to put a blog out into the world or a podcast on the air. I know these things will have posterity and, if I keep improving the work I do, I have a better chance of reaching others. I wrote more about that platform awhile back and you can read some of those thoughts here. What I will say is that you should find the medium of your choice. One of my favorite coaches in the industry, Meghan Callaway, is excellent at providing videos of exercises including progressions, regressions and explanations of why she performs things in the manner she does. As a result, she’s gained a huge following of loyal, buying customers because she has found the method that works best for her. Be willing to experiment, be willing to fail and be willing to study and learn ways to improve your method of reaching as many people as possible.
  12. There Is No Competition. I Repeat, There Is NO Competition. I think I have to credit Alwyn Cosgrove for this sentiment and I will have to paraphrase his words. I heard him once on a podcast and he was expressing the fact that even if a coach left his facility and tried to open up a gym to compete with him within geographic proximity, they would not be able to match his success. At first, I thought it was kind of a boastful expression. That is, until I saw what happened with RevFit over time. Shortly after I started this business, a CrossFit box opened up down the road from me. I kept hearing people talk about this style of training and I thought that maybe my business model was the wrong approach. I started looking into certifications for CrossFit because I didn’t want to miss the boat on something that was about to blow up. Instead, by just continuing to refine the work that we do, I saw that it attracted the type of clientele I wanted, the type of clientele that, perhaps, would not have been suited for CrossFit. Shortly after that, a franchise boot camp came to the area and I heard even more people talk about training there and how much they enjoyed it. Yet again, I had that FOMO (fear of missing out) feeling that maybe I picked the wrong area of fitness to put my focus into. Turns out, that business didn’t last long due to some shady financial practices. Over the years, one curious thing of note, is that the more fitness facilities I have within a 5-mile radius of my studio, the better RevFit seems to do. I wish I could give you an explanation for why but, to be honest, I don’t know. All I know is that once upon a time, every fitness place that I saw close to me felt like a threat. Not anymore. I welcome them, because whether they do great or they go belly-up, RevFit keeps growing. To mirror Cosgrove’s sentiment, we have no competition. We are who we are, we train who and how we train and, in consideration of all the points you read above, we our on our own little island. I think the more fitness facilities are around, the better it is for the public as a whole. If we are growing, it’s for one main reason and one alone: our community simply kicks ass and that is more credit to them than to me.

As I try to mentally wrap my head around the fantastic successes we’ve had and some of the colossal failures I’ve seen this business through, I still marvel that we are where we are today. If you’re local to us, we’d love to serve you, your friends, and your family. If not, we’d love to inspire your journey from afar. The beauty of things like social media is that you can find inspiration from so many places and every day I come to work, I remain inspired by the people who have chosen us. A big thank you not only goes out to them but to the coaches who have been a part of this journey as well. My love goes out to Coach Megan, Coach David and Coach Mike who keep me grounded and help RevFit cement its status in this little corner of the world.

Thank you to everyone who made the path to 12 years a possibility.

“We Make Great People Greater”

Revolutionary You! #302-Mike Howard: Steps Over Leaps (2 of 4)

My new direction of the show continues this week as Mike Howard of Lean Minded returns for Part 2 of a 4-Part series. In this episode, we cover the concept of steps over leaps and why small changes may be more important, more sustainable and more realistic with fat loss over larger, perhaps more dramatic changes. 

To learn more about Mike’s work: 

www.leanminded.com

www.facebook.com/leanminded

www.instagram.com/leanminded

To learn more about your host: 

www.jasonleenaarts.com

www.revfittherapy.com

www.facebook.com/jason.leenaarts

www.instagram.com/jasonleenaarts

You can also like our Facebook page at: 

www.facebook.com/revolutionaryou 

To purchase my book, “A Revolution A Day”: 

www.amzn.to/2R9Larx

Apple Podcasts OR iHeartRadio OR Amazon Podcasts OR Podchaser

Back To “Why”

Several years ago, I had the pleasure of working with a client by the name of Mark who has since moved away from this area. During our time working together, Mark had made a comment that has stuck with me ever since.

Historically, he liked to hit the golf course with his friends and afterwards enjoy a beer (or two or three) and have some chicken wings.

Knowing the way that friends have a tendency to rib each other after a few drinks, he had mentally prepared himself for one conversation that happens all too often with fat loss.

When one person is trying to improve their health and is trying to make better decisions around food/alcohol choices, someone will ultimately ask if they’re on a diet. Which then has a tendency to lead to some sabotaging behaviors from others along the lines of:

-You can have just one bite, right?

-One more drink won’t hurt

-You can cheat this one time, etc. etc.

So, Mark was ready for the dialogue on one particular outing when his friends asked him: “Are you on a diet?”

To which he replied: “No, I’m training.”

“Training for what?” his friends asked.

“Training to get off medication.”

And, by reframing the motivation, it halted the sabotaging behavior of his friends.

It should be of little surprise that many illnesses and diseases we hear about in the modern day are termed: lifestyle related.

In other words, if someone is a lifelong smoker, there is a greater potential of being diagnosed with lung cancer or throat cancer (to use an example).

With weight gain, over time, problems that may not have plagued us when we were younger may manifest into a greater problem as we age. And, ask anyone who is no longer a “spring chicken” how hard weight loss is when they’re older and they’ll be quick to tell you it is much harder with an eye on the past that they “wished they would have done it sooner.”

Which brings me to the recent success of one of my clients (and someone I’ve written about before), Pat C.

Pat’s daughter, Cherie and her husband, Roger, started training with me well over 5 years ago. Shortly after they started, Cherie received the news that Pat had been diagnosed with emphysema (shockingly, having never been a smoker).

That initial diagnosis led Pat to start training with us and she was initially very motivated to lose weight in hopes that it would help her breathing.

Throughout the time Pat has been with us, she’s had to watch her parents age in a nursing home (which was not easy in light of COVID) and she has lost a sibling. Those factors contributed to some ups and downs with her own weight until she received news from her doctor late last year that he would need to put her on some additional medications.

There was the belief that if she could reduce her weight, that she could discontinue the use of her medication and that became the catalyst for change.

Pat told me that she was renewing her focus on weight loss to see if she could reverse the path of the medications.

So, for the better part of this year, Pat has been steadily losing and as of just a couple of weeks ago, she reached a new all-time low since she started training with me over five years ago.

All along, she would patiently update me on her progress and make comments to myself and to other clients who might be training at the same time as her: “At my age, I’ll take any little bit of progress I can get!”

And it wasn’t just about the diet, Pat has been steadily rebuilding her upper body after a knee surgery kept her from using her lower body like she was used to.

I have always been very inspired by Pat. To me, she is another shining example at RevFit of someone who knows how to fight through adversity and keeps putting the work in. Success doesn’t have to come quickly, it just has to come (and sometimes it changes in definition).

However, Pat has also been a shining example of reclaiming her “why”.

Why it matters that she loses weight this time

Why it matters that she retains and rebuilds her muscular strength

Why, even in the midst of COVID, she focuses on areas that can help her breathe better and live better.

Far beyond my description, Pat summarizes her work to date more succinctly that me: “I am proof that you don’t have to be 100% “good” on the diet to be successful”.

And she’s right, you don’t have to be 100% on point, but consistency, focused effort, and a guiding “why” certainly help.

For you, if weight loss is the goal, ask yourself similar questions:

Why is weight loss important to me?

-Is this my goal or a goal someone else wants for me?

What is motivating me to lose weight this time that makes it different than a previous time?

How am I going to lose weight?

What is my action plan when things don’t go the way I expected them to?

In this week, we celebrate not only our “Mama Pat” but the many other RevFit clients who are doing the same kind of work with similar purpose.

Congratulations on 22 pounds down (with more to come)…

“We Make Great People Greater”

Revolutionary You! #301-Mike Howard: Habits For Fat Loss (1 of 4)

As I looked into the future for this podcast, I wanted to take the show in slightly different directions. I credit returning guest, Mike Howard of Lean Minded, to be the “guinea pig”, if you will, for the first in a 4-part series. To hear our previous episodes together check out Episodes 64, 102, 159, and 221).This week, we kick off the series with habits for fat loss. Mike and I tackle what we believe are some of the most important concepts to consider and what he has found works best for his clients when you’re trying to lose weight effectively. 

To learn more about Mike’s work: 

www.leanminded.com

www.facebook.com/leanminded

www.instagram.com/leanminded

To learn more about your host: 

www.jasonleenaarts.com

www.revfittherapy.com

www.facebook.com/jason.leenaarts

www.instagram.com/jasonleenaarts

You can also like our Facebook page at: 

www.facebook.com/revolutionaryou

To purchase my book, “A Revolution A Day”: 

www.amzn.to/2R9Larx

Apple Podcasts OR Stitcher OR iHeartRadio OR Amazon Podcasts