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Basketball was cancelled this morning so I ended up on a stair climber. The only beneficial thing that happens when I am forced to make that mode change is I can set a magazine in front of me and get through a few articles while step away… so couple thoughts from today’s readings.

Article 1:
First point that made me take a second look was a report from the New England Journal of Medicine. It read that those who have a close friend who is overweight are 57% more likely to be or become overweight themselves.
This brought my mind to what we do here to combat the effect of the “friends”, which had me think of various efforts to create “community” within the clubs or other via group fitness, group training, retreats, community events, bootcamps, etc. No big deal, I didn’t invent them, but I’m glad we utilize them as a piece of what we do…

Article 2:
The Economistlet me know, just in case I hadn’t noticed personally, that the US economy has “slowed” a bit. Housing market dropping, ability to get credit tightened, inflation (fuel, food, etc.) higher, and the jobless rate is up. Little scary… and off goes my mind again to what am I doing about it?
I’m not bright enough to fix it for the US economy, but in my own life I realized that the little things we do here in the local part of our business makes a huge difference in having stability when the consumer market gets shaky. Just like a retirement planner will tell you in dealing with a financial portfolio you must do with your fitness business… DIVERSIFY.

These two topics fit together because offering group style programs is one way to diversify your ‘normal’ personal services. By trial and error over the years, we have played with many other programs that all were essentially diversification of our existing business model. Adding fitness products, nutritional supplements, aromatherapy, and sport equipment brought a physical product option to those we worked with. Adding an interactive website (or two) brought us to others outside our own area. Adding chef prepared meals to offer clients gave new options. Adding training in yoga offered new group fitness program options. Providing fitness professional education programs provided a new target market. Working with local companies in wellness programming brought us outside the gym. Creating home parties delivered the message to many new faces and gave us the opportunity to present our solutions to a groups of interested spectators.

Point here is that every company, large or small, needs to add some elements of diversification to their offerings. This better protects your bottom line. Should one area go out of favor with the customer you are already operating and ideally generating some amount of revenue in others.

This does not mean lose focus on your primary niche or to attempt to be the master of multiple industries. The fitness industry is insanely huge. I simply suggest you look outside of your one specialty area and add one or two diversified offerings for business security as well as potential business growth.

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Below is a summary of the Fit Pro input on the Fitness Pro Travel site and the services it provides. Not included were numerous questions or points of confusion that some people had on where to find things. The single point from that is the realization of a need to clarify certain points and duplicate pieces of information to other areas of the web site. This process is the beginning of that.

Some items may be cost prohibative from creating their functionality other items are simply out of our control. I can tell you this, we will mull over each of these and ponder ways to achieve as many as possible… The fun part is that we have a few additional ideas that encompass some of these and a few others that were not mentioned at all, but we believe you may like.

Feel free to comment on any of the listed items below. We are ALWAYS open to suggestions and will be adding additional features in the future as we most likely will upgrade Fitness Pro Travel in stages.

On behalf of myself and Suzelle (who should be back from the Caribbean shortly) thank you for all your input!

               
Comments & Questions for the use of the Fitness Pro Travel Service.
Response Percentage
Request or Suggestion Description
With Our Comments Below
               
19.5% Find some way to reduce airfare             
Wish we had control of this. We continue to research options.
13% Remove potential for being bumped from resort  
Resort controlled issue. They at time have bumped paying guests. Will continue discussions
10% Ability to comment between Fit Pros
Looking into technical requirements for providing this
9% View class schedule for the resort before purchase
Resort controlled and sometimes they change without notice – will post last known schedules
9% Ability to post photos from trip
Looking into technical requirements for providing this
8% Feature for select pros advanced notice of date releases
Looking into technical requirements for providing this
6% More resort options            
Always on the look out for this. Have a contact, we’d be happy to talk with them
4% Have resorts promote pro’s more            
We encourage resorts to this before & during your stay. We realize they often don’t.
4% Change travel days to other than Sun to Sun
Resort controlled issue. Sun to Sun matches their weekly entertainment & marketing sched.
4% Change gift fund to paid gift fee for all resorts
We are encouraging resorts to accept this. Some are still resistant.
4% Ensure resorts use gift fund on their fitness equipment
Resort management determines gift fund use. We encourage & advise upkeep on fitness supply
1-3% each prefferred user discounts, t-shirts, easier search features, resort eval on FitPro, details on music, reduce # classes each day, etc.
These plus 10-15 other individual suggestions. We are considering them all in addition to the above. There were also numerous procedural questions and items that needed to be explained. Some answered directly and others in a previous blog post.
               
Comments & Questions for the Fitness & Sport Professional Business/Career
               
18% More time to escape for travel            
This really summarizes all the below. As a FitPro diversifies their income and adjusts their business model, and we learn from each other, more time is available for these other interests. 
15% Keepin up with fitness world, fads, products – advice
We’d like to find a way that our community of FitPro’s can help each other out on this      
9% Enhanced Networking abilities            
Several communication ideas offered. Technical side may be difficult, or exp. But we’re checking  
8% Marketing, and related personal business advice
Common theme relating to business development            
5% Insurance            
Many sources available. We are checking on group rates as well. Already have travel insurance    
5% Getting new clients            
More business development            
5% Quality usable education programs  
Fit Beach is available now. We are researching other options for the community
5% Client motivation            
Business and Education related            
5% Knowing other pros for subing partners
Networking and communication            
<5% becoming a presenter, website presence, club management, FitPro review of ed. Workshops, how to align with a product, sharing routines, starting a business
Heard a lot from the personal trainers and group fitness instructors in this area. Tennis coaches & yoga instructors, has this developed any ideas within your specialty?

 

 

 

 

Quick Note: Your replies to our email have been great. We have many new ideas coming in and like I thought, too much for me to be able to answer each one individually. Thank you all for the good commentary.

Couple items that have come in a number of times, but are already addressed in the site… We will try to make them more clear in the future.

  • Short descriptions of each resort and a link to their website can be found in the bottom border menu by clicking “view resorts”.
  • Also under that “view resorts” link, at the top of the page is a link to where we are starting to collect instructor provided photo’s.
  • The “faq” page has many answers to the most regularly asked questions. We will be adding a few more after all the feed back is in, but many questions coming in now are answered there now.
  • If you have been having trouble using the search features to find available dates, you can click on the “learn more” link found in the middle of your account page for detailed instructions.
  • Airport and transfer information is on the “manadatory general information download” document also found on your “my account” page.
  • To see resort reviews or to make a resort review, go to the product (where you would click checkout for the resort) and click on either link just below the product description.

There are just a few of the items/questions I’ve received this weekend that are readily answered with no changes or additions to Fitness Pro Travel. Other items have ranged from reducing airline costs, to addressing the fear of being moved off site from over booking, to finding more ways for the various specialty fitpros to communicate with each other, helping with business solutions to free up more time for travel, to a system for letting you know before dates are posted. Bottom line is they are all great and helpful… keep them coming. I’ll do another summary by next week of the many suggestions.  

Hey Fit Pros… You more than likely found your way here today, or within a couple days of today, because you received the Fitness Pro Travel email blast talking about the many changes we’d like to do on that site and asking for your input. Replying to that email, posting here, calling the office, any of those are great as long as we get your input. It would stink to put in significant time and resources simply to add items you could care less about and get no use from.

This Blog, as well as Suzelle’s, (link in left column under Fit Bodies) will be used regularly while this process of changes run. We will ask specific questions and provide updates to you here so your email accounts are not hit too hard. Just click on the “comment” text link to give any feed back or ask questions and we’ll be rolling.

Reading again through the Dosh Dosh blog today, I see the topic of social networking (web 2.0). Knowing that this subject is becoming near and dear to my hear, and hopefully yours as well (more on this later), I’d like to highlight some key points.

According to a recent study of 2 million people and 8 million phone calls over one year, researchers discovered that the cause of persistent relationships is reciprocity – returning a friend’s call. The more often you call each other, the longer your relationship.

The results of this study showed that the strongest building of meaningful relationships developed from the reciprocity (returning of the calls). The value of this relationship building process can and should be utilized in the world of web 2.0 “social netwroking” and social networking should be utilized in your fitness professional life.

If you haven’t jumped in the game yet with myspace, twitter, facebook, linkedin, you tube, plurk, or another of the hundreds of social networking sites… you need to. Not only do these vehicles of communication increase the quantity of interactions, but according to the study those with a greater quantity of communication in relationships did not lose out and actually had a greater depth and quality in their relationships. There is incredible power in this with greater relationships, marketing, knowledge, and reach through social networking.

I’m happy to say that we (Fit Launch & Fit Bodies) are attempting to not be too much behind the curve on this very subject. Change is in the wind on the fitness pro travel website. We’ve been discussing several additions, upgrades, and changes to the site over the past couple months. Some we have integrated in the backend that you may not readily notice (ie. photo’s are now automatically resized for you) others (addition of travel insurance options, changes to faq information) are more easily noticed. We have many more items under consideration and several more in the works. We want this site to be useful to you in multiple ways while still maintaining the core working vacation opportunities.

We’ll be talking about this more so start collecting your ideas now! Tell us what you want within that site. How can we make the community better? What related services would help you in your business and career? What features would help you on your working vacations? Do you have a need for classified adds, products, education, self promotion, etc, etc, etc.? We have well over 5000 fitness professionals actively using our system… feel free to turn this into an open brainstorming session. If you’re not comfortable with comments here you can provide your input at info@fitnessprotravel.com

We certainly don’t have the financial resources of the big social networking sites listed above, but I believe we can learn from their’s and others businesses to make this site useful to each of us in many ways.

Since the last post was touching on the professionalism of the group fitness instructor, lets keep that line of thinking for the personal trainer.

Within the past 6 days I have been in two conversations on this topic. One with a client and the second with a “professional” trainer. It was obvious to see that from the professional as well as the consumer perspective, there are differing views of what, how, and who a professional trainer does, acts, and is. You’re also not going to believe this… but neither of those conversations had anything to do with the topic of accreditation vs. national exam.

The Client: “Here are my observations from being a member of a gym for 20 years…. I challenge people to spend some time at these gymnasiums and watch the personal trainers.  (I challenge personal trainers to watch other personal trainers work at the gymnasium.)  Typically the client follows the trainer around like a little lap dog.  I had a personal trainer extensively in 1990, 2001, and 2008 (3 different gyms).  The fitness programs were all the same, in fact I could have got the same program from Tom Platz out of my 1983 copy of Muscle magazine.  McTraining at its best.  Of course there were always one or two “cutting edge” exercises.  Most likely exercise that involve a machine only that gym offers, or something so ridiculous it requires a partner and something you most likely would never do on your own….”

The client went on to say a number of positive things about his current experience, but this isn’t a toot my own horn blog. The point here is, are you training your clients similar to this clients observations? I’ve been in the gyms and I’ve received the reviews on some from the working vacations. I know there are far too many that devalue every other trainer by their latte in hand, count the reps, cookie cutter training style. Step up to be a professional trainer and find constructive ways to encourage other trainers to do the same.
Do you see it differently?

The Professional Trainer: “I’ve been in this business longer than the certification companies making money an trainers and sending out unqualified people who have never even lifted a weight but who pass a written test based on memorization. No thanks. I appreciate your position as the representative for the resort. If folks don’t know how to think outside the box, I certainly am not going to argue the point.”

Here is an example of another side of “professional”. This trainer isn’t wrong in implying that just because you pass a written test that you don’t know everything. Likewise, just because this trainer has some gym & bodybuilding experience and enough genetic potential that they even won several competitions, it doesn’t mean they are qualified, safe, or current in training techniques for working with varied populations.

We love experience in our various fitness professional programs, but the experience must be built on a solid foundation of education and kept current through required continuing education programming. Pride in your profession should be a key motivator to keep the trainer acting like a professional. In the client case above that means that there are more than exercise protocols in training clients. Their is also customer service and realizing that all are not built the same and even when they are close, they notice your programming when it looks like the same cookie you gave the other client. In the trainer case, being professional is more than simply resting on your past experience, understanding that scientific research continually identifies new realities on personal health as well as varied and more efficient & safe procedures for achieving those personal health goals.

The certification doesn’t do it alone… heck, I even past a “top shelf” certification exam, but it is an essential foundation. Invest in yourself, increase your professionalism, and in turn you will increase the value and respect of our profession as a whole.

OK – the many pro travel website adjustments are beginning. I’m really exited for this next week when everybody starts to learn about some of the things we’ve been working on. I’m even more excited to hear about your opinions on what you’d like to see added there.

In the mean time, I read an article recently…

Two fixes for the group fitness room to increase member participation and success.

  1. Put the instructor on a stage
  2. Take out the mirrors

I can see the reasoning for each of the above (for the most part) but, the article finished by suggesting “To truly maximize the potential of group fitness in your club, you need to have a controlled system of branded group fitness to ensure the highest quality, consistent experience.”

Are “branded” solutions the future of group fitness? Do instructors no longer walk through their class to ensure and correct form?  Don’t most professional instructors primarily utilize quality cuing rather than the watch me and repeat technique? Do you not provide modifications and adjust your programming to some extent based on the make up of your participants? Does the choreography or program sequence never change throughout the month? Isn’t there some amount of thinking involved?

Group fitness instructors must be careful when jumping on these pre-choreographed programs with their large budget marketing dollar. Club facilities are being “sold” on their “value” all the time. As an individual group fitness instructor, your skills are key to an effective and safe class. Your ability to adjust and modify programs for your group or situation are what give you high value. When we lower our own creativity to “perform” anothers choreographed program we also lower our skills and eventually our value.

Group fitness instructors are part of the Fitness Professional family. I encourage you to remain a fit pro and keep your skills diversified, your own creativity and ability to adjust of the highest importance, and fight any urge to jump on the bandwagon of the well marketed “branded” group fitness programs

Looking for ways to encourage clients to maintain their workout program. The list of reasons is long, but, possibly, at the moment, more important than worrying about developing plaque in your arteries, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, some cancers, loss of physcial function, etc. etc. may be their ability to receive emergency help in a crisis.

-Here is an interesting fact/policy they may need to know –

A tramatic accident can happen at any moment and will when you least expect it. The emergency services team in your area will respond to provide you whatever life saving care is necessary. That care may include a quick helicopter ride to the nearest trauma center.

….. will your client be considered for this mode of transportation?

In the last month, a NorthWest, air rescue company sent out notice to all local emergency services informing them of weight restrictions for medi-vac. No, I don’t recall specifically what the physical girth measurments are where you become inelligable (for flight safety reasons and available space in the helicopter), but I do know they begin asking specific question when the patients estimated weight is above 250 pounds.

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