How to Retain Clients: Experiences of a Fitness Professional to Help Your Business Grow

Client retention is the key to any successful business.  While acquiring new clients is the lifeblood of a growing business, it cost a lot less to keep them than constantly having to find new.  The fitness industry operates the same way.  How can professionals retain clients for services that are 100% based on disposable income?  There is no one single answer.  I will share my experiences to help you in whatever line of client business you are in.

The first step in retaining clients in a business based on disposable income is to have a salesperson mindset.  A huge problem in the fitness industry is that personal trainers think people will come to them because they look good and like working out.  That is the farthest thing from the truth!  Unfortunately, personal trainer certifications wait until the last chapter of a 500-page book to give any information on sales and marketing.  38 chapters are dedicated to anatomy, biology, physiology, and how to partner body parts together for an effective workout routine.  One chapter half the length of all the others gives any info on how to gain and retain clients.  The same goes for doctors, lawyers, and accountants to name a few.

Janet MacDonell

The second step is to work with a wide variety of clients with different goals and ages.  To many trainers want the perfect client who does everything like them and has the same amount of time to spend as they do.  The overwhelming majority of clients have jobs and families that require 99% of their attention.  A couple hours per week with you is not their life.  By working with a variety, you learn how to relate and adjust your style to different people based on where they are in their life.  I had a female trainer co-worker who only wanted to work with other females who were “serious” and had time two days per week at 5:00PM or 6:00PM.  Because she was so restrictive, she missed out on a long-term client that became one of my best friends.  Needless to say, she isn’t employed by the health club anymore or has any clients attempting to train privately.

The third step is to be a product of your product.  People only invest when they see a potential ROI.  Fat and out of shape trainers are broke.  It doesn’t mean you have to be a fitness model or competitive bodybuilder.  You do have to represent a healthy, active lifestyle, and be able to do the workout yourself that you’re making the client perform.  I say this because sometimes the obvious is not so obvious.

Rob Tepper

The fourth step is to be authentic.  People hire other service providers based on some type of emotional connection and justify with logic.  If you are fake, good luck in retaining any clients beyond an initial package.  Because fitness professionals are completely optional, clients are not required to stay with you or even finish out a package they purchased.  A person invested in you because they felt a connection that makes them want to show up before or after work when they have better things to do than waste it on a flake.  Some of my best friends were and are current clients.  You can maintain professionalism and cultivate personal relationships outside the gym when you are authentic.

Hank Adams

The fifth and final step is be teachable.  Continuing education credits are required for any professional service provider.  I’m not talking about going through those motions.  Listen to other gym members, co-workers, managers, and industry news.  Don’t be afraid to implement new ideas and techniques to keep your clients and you interested.  I always have my ears and eyes tuned to other trainers on how they work with their clients.  Give credit to them when you use their ideas and techniques.  It fosters a giving relationship at work and one of trust.  A couple other trainers bought and read my book.  I was honored they thought highly of me enough to invest into my philosophies and practices.

It is easy to think your business is different.  The truth is it really is not when dealing with people.  The service or product you represent is different, how you interact and relate to other humans is the same across all businesses.  For more info on how I work with clients, please email me, Matt Peale, at athleteinthegameoflife@gmail.com, and go to my website, mattpeale.com.

Moderation Examples, Not Extreme Behavior to Achieve Your Resolutions

Extreme right wing, extreme left wing.  Extreme heat, extreme cold.  Obesity, anorexia.  Overuse injuries, injuries from underutilization.

When it comes to new health and fitness goals, extremes are way to common for January resolutions.  Waking up at 5:00AM to run 3 miles when you never wakeup before 6:00AM and haven’t run since PE in high school.  Drop 40 pounds on a liquid diet in 15 days, and you barely drink 3 glasses of water per day.  What are the odds of success in these situations?  Not much.

Photo by Charlotte May on Pexels.com

As a fitness industry expert, I have personally gone through different extremes with my body.  None of these extremes have ever lasted long for many reasons.  The body and mind cannot deal with depravation and over training for long periods of time without injuries.  What has lasted is a moderation of healthy lifestyle habits and activities that I enjoy.  The lessons learned from training for a bodybuilding contest and elite level obstacle course races, helps me maintain a fitness level that works for my personality and body type.

  • “I need someone to be super strict with me or I’ll never lose weight.”
  • “I have to workout for two hours every day.”
  • “I’m cutting all carbs from my diet and eating only meat.”

Do any of these statements make you nod your head in agreement?  If so, has that thought process worked for you beyond the length of a program/diet/contest?  If the answer to the first question is yes, the answer to the second is no.  You have reverted back to your previous self and feel like a failure for doing so.  This cyclic behavior is self-destructive and why your resolutions never work every year.

Regardless if you started and stopped already, or haven’t started yet, try a new moderate approach to changing your lifestyle.

  • No alcohol Sunday-Thursday
  • Replace soft drinks with flavored mineral water
  • Join a group to try new physical activities like hiking or cycling

In an article on NPR about a Swedish study on factors that help keep resolutions, ones that are for pleasurable activities instead of depriving are more successful.  Moderation in your lifestyle can lead to better choices overall.  Look at choices about exercise and food changes with an “if I do x, then I adjust y”.  For example, you’re going to dinner with friends on Thursday night.  Adjust your breakfast and lunch choices to allow for anything you want at dinner.  You fully enjoy the outing without guilt and still on track for your goals. 

NPC Physique competition 2014

Life is meant to be lived, not constantly have the fun taken away.  For 6 years I have maintained body fat percentage around 10% or less.  I don’t skip meals, turn down alcohol, or workout excessively.  The hard work was done during the bodybuilding contest prep.  Since then, I learned that is not the lifestyle for me.  Overall, I don’t drink sodas, keep alcohol to the weekends, and don’t buy sugary foods at the grocery store.  Total calories I eat are more than most people daily, the food is just not processed and full of fat. 

2021 doesn’t feel much different so far than 2020.  What you can take into the new year is a more focused view on your health and fitness to strengthen your immunity and reduce risk factors for heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.  In turn, you will be happier and have more self-confidence to take on the challenges 2021 will bring you.

For help with your goals, feel free to email me at athleteinthegameoflife@gmail.com.  Join the Athlete in the Game of Life Team on my website and receive a free copy of my book!

How do You Know if Pain in Your Knee is From Your Knee?

Have you ever been to the doctor for pain or injury in one area, and come to find out it was caused by a weakness from another body part you had no idea was weak?  Pain radiating in your knees could be caused by a dysfunction in your hips or ankles.  All you know is that your knee hurts when you step a certain way, for example.  The term explaining this phenomenon is called regional interdependence.  What it basically means is the body relies on the surrounding areas of a joint to make that joint functional and stable.  A more scientific explanation when referring to your hips is, the body is an interconnected chain and compensation or dysfunction in the LPHC (Lumbar-Pelvic-Hip Complex) region can lead to dysfunctions in other areas of the body (Cheatham & Kreiswirth, 2014).

Poor posture causes pain throughout the body

Relax, regional interdependence doesn’t mean you’re a hot mess because your knee hurts.  By understanding the signs your body gives that something isn’t right allows you to make a more informed decision on what may be the cause.  Let’s continue on with the example of your knees experiencing pain.  The knees play a critical role connecting your ankles to your hips.  They show compensations from tight muscles, weak muscles, and any injury you have or had above and below them.  In previous blogs I discussed a few specific knee injuries, their causes, and ways to prevent future recurrences.  Please read them if you haven’t to get a better understanding of a problem you are experiencing.

When I work with clients as a Corrective Exercise Specialist, this regional interdependence is what I first assess to determine where is the cause of their pain or muscle dysfunction.  Most people don’t understand how much their daily sedentary patterns play on their joints.  The typical response of “I’m just old,” is not the answer to why you have troubles bending down to tie your shoes.  Let’s examine overall the lower body response to sitting for 6-8 hours daily:

Tight hip flexors, groin muscles and quadriceps

Weak hamstrings, glutes, and hip rotators

Tight calf muscles if your feet are in high heels or don’t touch flat on the floor

Weak shin muscles (anterior tibialis)

The results of these general muscle imbalances are overall fatigue, inability to use proper lifting form per OSHA (bending at the knees not hips to lift heavy objects), and higher injury potential if you’re physically active (gym, pickleball, tennis, golf).  Your “new normal” is not normal at all.  Your brain has adapted its neural pathways to align with your muscle imbalances to make you feel like this the way your body should move.  Does this start to make sense and ring a bell for why you have that nagging pain or discomfort?

With work culture changing to working from home, more device connectivity, and less overall physical activity, these movement problems will continue at an alarming rate.  I haven’t even mentioned what happens to your back and neck!  Muscles work in tandem.  If one side of your joint is tight, say quadriceps, the other is week, say your hamstrings.  Another way to think is your muscles push and pull.  If either is tight, the corresponding is weak.  The NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist textbook says, when a situation of overactivity-underactivity exists between muscles on two sides of a joint (e.g., the agonist is overactive/shortened and the antagonist is underactive/lengthened), a muscle imbalance is said to exist.

The goal of what I do with clients and what you need to think about, is bringing your muscles more into balance first, then work on improving the areas that are important for your hobbies and lifestyle.  Nobody is every perfectly aligned, and that’s ok, you always have something to work on!  Remember, regional interdependence affects how your body responds to pain from what you do the majority of your day.  Take a few minutes every hour and at least stretch the overly tight muscles.  I promise you will thank me now and down the road! To learn more about preventing injuries, increasing mobility, reducing joint pain, and getting more out of life, please go to my website, mattpeale.com.  I offer group and personal instruction via Zoom weekly sessions to help your tennis, golf, workouts, and lifestyle hobbies.  Download my free report, 3 Tips to Reduce Back Pain Your Doctor Doesn’t Know.  Guaranteed to open your eyes and give you a new direction on staying healthy and active you didn’t know possible!

Why Your Hips Hurt From Sitting at Your Desk

Men and women exercise very differently even though the biology and anatomy of muscle functions are exactly the same.  Men focus on the upper body, and mostly the “show’ muscles of chest, shoulders, and biceps.  Women focus on glutes, quadriceps, triceps, and anything abdominal related.  The real story relates to the muscles often forgotten, hamstrings and hips.  For older adults, and successful executives and professionals, sitting dominates a large portion of the day.  The muscles that become weak and cause pain in other parts of the body from hours of sitting are the hamstrings and hips.

I have an amputee client who is a successful medical professional.  Her left lower leg was lost in a lawn mower accident when she was a child.  In her medical profession, she sits while assisting for surgeries the majority of her day.  Even when not in surgery, she’s sitting a lot!  As a Corrective Exercise Specialist, I can assess and work with the dysfunction in her hips and hamstrings that result from prolonged sitting and a propensity to not be as active with her prosthetic left lower leg. 

After a training session in her home, she showed me an article in the magazine Amplitude, which is dedicated to helping amputees in all aspects of life.  The article, “Which Muscles Are You Forgetting?”, discussed all the exercises I had her do in previous sessions to increase mobility and strength in her hamstrings and hips.  It was validating and refreshing to read from a corrective standpoint, the importance of hip and hamstring mobility for amputees.  Without previously researching specific movements for amputees, I used my knowledge and experience from people who sit long periods daily to correct her imbalances and dysfunction. 

Foam rolling the priformis

Mobility in the hips is key to movement in all directions.  The glutes are the largest muscle of the body and responsible for producing power when you squat, lunge, jump, swing a golf club, pick up a bag of mulch, and all other movements related to bending at the knee and lowering your hips.  Without proper mobility, your lower back and quadriceps take on the load.  Have you thrown your lower back out?  Probably because your hips lack the strength and flexibility to function properly.  If you’re an avid gym goer and do deadlifts without good hip mobility (as I see most people do), your low back is a ticking timebomb to blow out.

Working from home over the past few months and sheltering in place exacerbated this already dangerous problem.  Older adults begin to weaken naturally, and hips become brittle from lack of use.  Balance issues are huge for older adults and anyone who sits for hours daily, which often stems also from weakness in the hips.  Pain can be felt in the knees and low back, even though it originates from weakness in the glutes, hamstrings, and hip rotational muscles.  One fall leads to another, and I see it in people starting in their early 40’s.

Bird dog

“Weak glutes can contribute to many issues such as tight hips and lower-back pain.  When we sit for long periods of time or hold poor posture, these muscles disengage,” says article writer John Pope CS, CSCS, MPO, in Amplitude.  Additionally, you can’t stand up straight and fully extend your hips because they are to tight.  Have you seen older adults shifted over and lose height?  This is a prime reason why, and it started decades ago in their 30s and 40s. 

Sitting lengthens the hamstrings and glutes, tightens the quadriceps, and hinders external rotation of the hips.  Focus on strengthening the hams and glutes while stretching the quadriceps.  Most people stand up after long periods of sitting and stretch the hamstrings, further pulling themselves out of position.  For more specific help, find a Corrective Exercise Specialist like me.  We can work with you to stretch and strengthen the proper muscles for improved movement quality in all your activities.  My website, mattpeale.com, has great info on the programs I offer for older adults, and executives and professionals.  You only have one body, and investing in it gives you the highest ROI for everything you want to do in life.

3 Upper Body Stretches to Loosen Up the Working From Home Executive

Working at home during the Coronavirus pandemic has executives and professionals all tensed up and feeling tight.  Not that it’s out of the norm to feel that way mentally, I’m speaking physically in regard to muscles from sitting and typing on your computer.  A whole host of movement dysfunctions result from hours of daily sitting that most people believe are their new normal.  This blog will help you with three specific upper body stretches to mitigate pain and discomfort in your upper body from working extended hours on your computer.

  • Stretch Your Biceps

“Stretch my biceps?” you ask.  Yes, your biceps!  Sitting with your arms bent at 90 degrees or more puts your biceps in a flexed position.  You don’t have to be in the gym pumping out barbell curls to have your biceps experience tightness.  The bicep muscles contract and bring your hand towards your shoulder, not much else purpose for them.  What is important are all the reasons why you bend your arm at the elbow to bring objects and your hand closer to you shoulder, face, and head (bringing food to your mouth is a vital function).  Being in a constant state of flex makes your biceps tight and over time, you can’t extend your arms fully without pain in your shoulder and elbow.  Stretching your biceps like the picture allows the proper length-tension relationship to return to your arms.  Pain in your elbow and shoulders, along with proper function, can extend your work life.

  • Stretch Your Pectorals (Chest)

Sitting with your hands on the keyboard, as I’m doing now, brings your arms together and contracting your pectoral muscles, also over stretching muscles in your upper back.  Over time, this position rounds your shoulders, makes you appear shorter, tightens your chest muscles, and reduces mobility of your shoulders and back.  If you workout, your bench press is impacted negatively from a reduced range of motion.  You literally become closed off and look unhappy even though you’re an upbeat person.  A simple stretch like the image below, is done with your arms in an L shape at 90 degrees leaning into a door frame.  It’s important to also stand up tall while leaning into the stretch for maximum effectiveness.  You will feel more open and give the appearance of more confidence with your shoulders back and head up!

  • Stretch Your Trapezius Muscles

Ever shrug your shoulders?  Of course you have, many times a day.  When you do so, your trapezius muscles pull up your shoulders to your ears.  With your arms elevated on your keyboard, your trapezius muscles are engaged to help keep them in this position.  Long hours of typing letters, presentations, and emails keep your trapezius muscles engaged.  Similar to your pecs, tight traps can give you the appearance of being shorter and hunched over.  Tight and consistently elevated traps pull your head forward extending your cervical vertebrae to potentially cause disc herniation.  Tension headaches also occur as a result of tightness in the traps and cervical spine area.  How can you stretch them out, place your body like the picture below.  Be sure to pull lightly on your neck to avoid injury.  Keep your back straight and upright pulling your keeping your head neutral with the ear lined up with the shoulder.  Do not pull your head forward or back, just directly to the opposite side of your extended arm.

Integrate these stretches a few times a day during your working hours.  Stretching these muscles makes a world of difference in how you feel and look.  During these unprecedented times of longer hours working from home, you need the stress relief!