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I’m very grateful to the entire community at Fitness Pro Travel. Your excitement for the revved up website definitely eases my fears of this huge endeavor.

If you haven’t seen the most recent “peak inside”, you’ll find that HERE

Chris McCombs

With the many new tools and features being built into our community, it will do everyone very little good unless we have opportunities to learn the “best practices” in using those tools. I’ve had to go through that learning curve… heck, I’m still in the learning curve.

One of the people who I have learned a bit from is Chris McCombs.  Chris is a Fitness Professional based in Orange County. He has utilized the internet as a powerful tool to grow his business exponentially.

I asked Chris if he’d spend a little time talking with me about his keys to blogging. I was ecstatic when he agreed to have it recorded.

You see, Chris is one of the best bloggers I know.  He not only displays his own style in his writing, but also takes advantages of many secrets to driving people to his blog as well as getting those people to stick around and act on his various programs.

You’ll pick up a lot in this conversation… Enjoy

Open Interview in Window Media Player (click on link to open in WMP)
OR (both will take couple minutes to load)
Download MP3 to listen on your computer (right click link & save to your computer)

And, when you are done, think of how this may tweak things in your current blog or how starting one may help you. I’d love to hear about it and look forward to reading your blog in the new Fitness Pro Travel site.

Here is the link to another “getting ready to re-launch the super cool fitness pro travel site” bonus on utilizing social media. This webinar was built for the insiders club several months ago and covers many of the social media sites and how to use them for your business.

I’ll be back in a couple days with more information on other tools, partner sites, and more bonus materials.

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I’ve been involved the past few weeks doing some consulting on web development and internet marketing for a company that is not directly tied to the fitness industry. It’s been a lot of fun from my perspective since it’s a slight deviation from direct work with fitness professionals and their fitness business or the happenings in our other offerings (working vacations, fitness business, fitness camps).

As the bulk of that project is coming out of the development stage and going more into the traffic generation and conversion stage I thought I’d take a short breath and review any lessons learned thus far.

Lessons Learned from Ultimate Ice Wraps Development

  • Timing and Speed can be more important than perfection. – While we all want and should have a quality product or service, at times it is more important to get that offer out there than wait for perfection. It is a great tactic to launch a new offering along with an event. It adds to the excitement and anticipation. UIW has spent the first part of the weekend at the NSCA conference and the second half (until tomorrow) at the National Coaches Association conference. We decided to concentrate on the primary information and product pages and functionality. It worked out great as their booth visitors were able to follow up with their website  to see and learn about their products at the time of the conference rather than running into a “website under construction” sign. (We’ll be filling in those secondary pages this week.)
  • You must evaluate the costs vs. the customer benefits. – We put the UIW website in our G2 cart, which is the same cart we provide the working vacation programs for fitness pro travel on. This cart has many features that the pro travel community are not even aware of (yet). Quality features do not come cheap and the management had to take a good look at their business and evaluate the benefit of those many features to decide which would be beneficial to their customers while maintaining their budget. They made wise decisions as the pro travel community will utilize tools that the ice wrap community will not.
  • Use of social media and in-bound marketing is of benefit to an e-commerce site. – This took a little convincing as company management have not been involved in social media. We have developed a great marketing plan that will have them active in the social media settings as well as utilizing simple interactive tools such as a blog and article marketing within their own site. I may be jumping the gun just a bit on this topic for UIW as we are still setting up accounts for them, but I am confident that the long lasting benefits of utilizing social media will pay off great dividends to them.
  • Win-Win partnership situations kick ass. – I bring this obvious point up only because you will be hearing more about some of the opportunities that we are working with UIW on that may directly be of benefit to our fitness professionals. It will be a few weeks before it is sorted out, but partnerships are on the horizon… the simplest of which is up and running now. If you are familiar with affiliate programs and want to utilize some high quality ice wraps go create an account their now. More to follow.
  • When you’re green you are growing, but when you’re ripe you’re rotting. – I am well aware that I have much to learn from fitness to business to web design to internet marketing. I know just enough about each to be dangerous. Overall I believe this is a good thing in that as soon as any one of us thinks we’ve arrived at the finish line, the field passes us by. John, my programming partner has had great opportunity to remind me how much I don’t know about programming and taught me a few things along the way. The organization for site search engine optimization, pay per click advertising, and social media presence is ever evolving and definitely keeps me on my toes. I’m pretty sure I’ll remain green. 🙂

All in all this has been and continues to be a fun project and a learning project. There seems to always be something to learn when you are given the opportunity to interact, problem solve, and build with another.

I hope these points are reminders or even hot buttons for you. I’m sure there will be another list of “things I learned” as we go through the next chapter of Ultimate Ice Wraps development.

If you enjoy these insights, be sure to join our mailing list at Fit Pro Biz

I received an email from Pat Rigsby today that had his 10 fitness business trends for 2009. I would say that several of them are more than likely to take place and several have already begun. We’ve made changes to our local offerings because of these likelihoods, you may want to consider them carefully also… Check it out:

~~
Everyone seems to be making predictions for the new year so I’m jumping on the  bandwagon;)

Here are my Top 10 fitness industry predictions for 2009…

1. There will be more health club closings than
in any previous year.  They have a broken business
model and will suffer because of it.

2. Health clubs will be eliminating the independent
trainer and taking the training in-house to try to
add revenue.

3. Most one-on-one only fitness pros will struggle.
Relying on such a small segment of the population
(the affluent) is risky with a turbulent economy and
the possibility of increased taxes on the wealthy.
If this is your main offering as a trainer you will want
to check out a program called “Clients are Everywhere.”

4. Low overhead facilities will thrive. Trainers &
coaches will trend toward places like Pam MacElree
& Jason Brown’s facility or Zach Even-Esh’s and
Away from the high end studio.

5. Non-traditional training like kettlebell training,
strongman training, band training and other out
of the ordinary methods will gain even more
popularity due to social media making more and
more people aware.

6. Trainers who don’t niche or have a hook will be
left behind.  With the explosion of social media, trends
travel faster than ever before and people are much more
able to find exactly what they’re looking for instead of settling for less.  If a mom wants help specifically
for her, finding a program like Holly’s Fit Yummy Mummy is
easier than ever before so no more settling for the crappy trainer at Gold’s.

7. Trainers will pass health clubs as a preferred
corporate fitness solution. By combining better results,
better service and more convenience trainers will be
able to better serve businesses’ fitness needs.

8. More trainers than ever before will run their
business like a business.  This is an easy one…this
has happened every year that I’ve been in the industry.
Each year trainers are becoming more and more interested
in improving their business education. The changing
economy will only accelerate that. In fact, I’d bet that
more trainers will start retirement planning in 2009 than
in the previous 3 years combined.

9. Youth fitness will once again be the fastest growing
segment of the fitness industry.  Every business mag from
Entrepreneur to Inc. has talked about one of the best
markets to be in is the youth / teen market.  Parents will ALWAYS invest in their kids.

10. Fitness bootcamps will continue to grow are a rapid
pace. The stars are aligned for this one.  The economy
will lead people to try to get more bang for their fitness buck.  Trainers are becoming more business savvy.
Clubs are moving independent trainers out. I predict a
250% increase in the number of fitness bootcamps
worldwide in 2009.

That’s it.  My 10 predictions.  I’m confident enough in these that I’m willing to adjust our businesses accordingly.  Give them some thought and decide if you should do the same.
~~

In fairness to Pat for his thought and effort into compiling this list take a moment to check out some of his offerings at Fitness Consulting Group. Rumor has it he will be opening new slots in his bootcamp blueprint program in the near future. I’ll let you know if I hear. My experience of seeing him in the social media setting is that he’s not only experienced, but also an honest trainer and business coach, so do check them out.

Personal Trainers, there are a number of business and marketing programs available to you. Barry Lovelace has a new one that you can learn more about by going to “Clients are Everywhere“.

Have other trends you see coming? Add them to the comments.

Group fitness, yoga and sport coaches are often left out of these conversations, but many of the same influences will be effecting you. What do you see coming your way in 2009?

TweetIt from HubSpot

Generally speaking, I love my sleep time. I definitely think and feel better throughout the day if I get enough of it and even better if a cat insomnia-tomnap presents itself as well. There are even plenty of research studies that scientifically prove that our mind benefits and much of what is accepted in the fitness industry is based on scientific research… So, what the hell am I doing out of bed so early today???

It’s 5:05am and I’m sitting in a dark home office typing away. It was just a little over an hour ago when I first rolled over in bed and the eyes would no longer stay closed.

No appointments until afternoon, morning basketball not going to run because of the newest delivery of snow that must have started around 1am, and I’m certain the kids will be running at least two hours late for their school schedule. I’m thinning I’m sleeping in… NOT.  (side note, call came in while writing this, school all out canceled)

So now to decide if there is a reason behind this blog post or is it just an opportunity to whine?

I don’t have much whining to do even though I’m not all cozy in bed. With the house quiet and only the cat bitching for a little food I am getting a lot done and there is a lot to do (probably part of the reason there was no going back to sleep).  What I am realizing is that I’m getting quite a bit done and even have time for this blog post. With this new efficiency I am reminded of a program I went through by a guy named Eban Pagan.

Eban spent some time doing a video series on time management and one of the primary keys to getting more done is the elimination of multitasking. I found this hard to believe at the time and even if it were to be true, the day to day activities of a father, husband, business owner, coach, board member, etc. made it impossible to accomplish. I did and do take him at his word and the research that went into making those claims on efficiency. I have and do attempt to block tasks together. I don’t jump at email every-time the little envelop pops up. I let many calls go to voice mail and in the end I am able to stay on task a little more often.

But, if you want to take it to another level, try this insomnia thing out. Having no one else in or around the office, phones off, only you folks on the East Coast to worry about sending emails at this time, or God forbid calling… Well it’s a great benefit to your productivity and it’s getting me one step closer to having the new and improved fitness pro travel site ready for release.

Insomnia – It does your Business Good?

Not only does life seem a little crazy because it’s the holiday season, but with Fit Bodies adding new resorts and positions and the continued building of new features to Fitness Pro Travel, well… lets just say many of my days have run into the evening and night.

Don’t get me wrong. I know that with this or any other businesses, busy is good.

My intent is to stay busy as well, even during a recession.

I think part of the reason for the continued requests for our “business” services is because I/we continue to market our offerings and concentrate on the customer. It’s proving beneficial in attaining more resort positions for Fit Bodies as well as more consulting, training and consulting clients for FIT Launch.

In an article written by Paul Van Erem he pointed out, “…a series of six studies conducted by the research firm of Meldrum & Fewsmith showed conclusively that advertising aggressively during recessions not only increases sales but increases profits. This fact has held true for all post-World War II recessions studied by The American Business Press starting in 1949.”

I intend to run with that 100% track record and with our local training business I have only seen it proving true thus far.

Market aggressively, network continuously, and treat your customers like royalty.

PS – The new FPT features include a number of programs that can be utilized to assist your business development. I’m looking forward to showing you how they work over the next several weeks and you can expect completion of those features and their operation made available within the site very early in January. (just in time for new years resolutions)… You want an early look? Be sure to sign into the mailing list at Fit Pro Biz

"bootcamp" or "session class"?

"BootCamp" OR "Session Class"

Spending quite a bit of time on the business side of fitness (nationally/internationally) and having the ability to watch as my wife implements various programs or marketing tactics within our local operations, gives me an interesting perspective. I see much of what is being offered as business education & programs to the fitness professional and I have the opportunity to create and test our own.

It’s pretty simple to see that within the fitness industry a lot of attention has been paid to the personal trainers while the group fitness instructors seem to be going the opposite direction.

Programs like Mega Marketing, BootCamp Blue Print, or Fitness Business Revolution each are targeted to the Personal Trainer and the list goes on.

These programs can all be made applicable to the group fitness and yoga professionals if you are willing to look at your fitness specialty as more than just a part-time job working for a club. Personal trainers are figuring it out and it might just be time you do as well.

Tell me, which certification is geared toward group training?  I’ll give you the answer; The one that has the word “group” in the title. That being the case, why is it that small group training and “bootcamps” are dominated by the personal trainers?

Trainers are using these formats to generate incomes of well over $100 per hour. They are taking advantage of internet marketing and building lists of participants that they can continue to market to into the future. They are also diversifying their business and offering related fitness products, supplements, information, etc.

Group Session Classes of any Format

Group Session Classes of any Format

I do not see the Group Fitness and Yoga Instruction professionals doing the same thing at all. They seem to be content to work only for the facility and are missing out on many opportunities that are available to them.

You are trained to create group programs, monitor participants of various levels, and to safely provide modifications for all to actively participate.  Because of the focus of these training on groups, YOU are the best qualified to be leading the “bootcamp” (actually, just session classes) styled programs.

There are several reasons personal trainers are utilizing group training tactics outside of the standard gym setting only and you should too:

  1. 85% of the population does not belong to a fitness facility.
  2. 60+% of the population is overweight or obese.
  3. The diet industry is huge. The fitness equipment industry is huge. The anti-aging movement is huge and growing. – bottom line is that people are spending lots of money on things you can actually provide.
  4. Group trainings lowers the per person cost to participants. You will make more dollars per session/class while charging individuals less.

You are leaving money on the table, allowing your brothers & sisters from the personal training side of fitness to eat into what should be primarily your client base.

These programs are not rocket science and will help you reach more people and make a greater amount of income. We are working on a program specifically for group instructors to help you get started as well as others to catch you up to speed on bringing your expertise outside of the group fitness studio.

Your thoughts and feedback are greatly encouraged as these programs are finalized. You know the questions and concerns you have with branching out and I’d like best to ensure they are addressed. Post your thoughts here or send them to me at fitpro@fitprobiz.com.

While I encourage personal trainers to get training to work with larger groups and add these types of programs to their offerings list, you the group fitness instructor have a few advantages right off the bat and I’d love to see you take advantage of them.

  • You are trained specifically to work with groups of various fitness levels.
  • Group fitness instructors generally have the ability to offer multiple formats of classes. BootCamp is only one style that can be performed in a gym, field, or apparently a combat zone. Just because this is the primary format that personal trainers have attached themselves to doesn’t mean you can’t take your other formats outside the standard gym setting or offering structure.
  • I believe it is generally easier for a person who has picked up the principles and abilities important to group fitness to get further training and diversify themselves as personal trainers rather than the other way around. What you do is not the same, but it is similar. A small amount of related training will make you very proficient and capable to run these programs.

I hope you consider what you may have been passing up. You have skills that can be provided in many different locations, can reach many fitness needy lives, and these skills can be utilized to generate a great deal of income for you and your family with minimal extra work.

If you want to learn more about how to start these programs as a group instructor, let me know your interest.

I have a link for you today and it goes from this blog to another blog. This guy, Chris McCombs, I don’t know personally, but have read some of his fitness marketing materials and taken other classes from the same people he has. My impression is that he knows his stuff and is worth checking out.

His post may resonate more with some of you than others, but I’m willing to bet to some extent it does with all. It’s a little kick in the a** with some great thoughts on the perspective of a fitness business owner… any business owner.

Check it out

I read a number of blogs on fitness, business administration, and marketing. I continually head out to different seminars or partake in a webinar or two each month. These keep me informed, but also have helped me realize that there are many out there who are much sharper than I in their respective fields.

So, how do I get by???

This small realization leads me to pass on a few pieces of advice:

  1. Learn from people and business outside your own – the reflection time afterward often shows you how their experiences, programs and business models relate specifically to your own.
  2. Take advantage of partnerships, again with business from within and businesses from without your industry. Joint venturing may create the sharing of profits from a great idea, but it will also increase your reach and make yourself known to a wider audiance.
  3. You must take action! We can attend conference after conference, webinar after webinar, and learn a ton. We can have multiple ideas for reaching new clients. But, unless we take some kind of action, they will never have a chance to know about any of it.

As an already educated and certified fitness professional, I’m going to suggest you go backwards on the above list. Start with point 3. You are already seen as an expert in the eyes of the public and they need to know and benefit from your expertise. Let them know you are there. Actively work the club, actively communicate with local businesses, actively attend and participate in community groups, actively utilize the web and the many vehicles therein to share the benefits you can provide…. Are you catching the theme here yet. It’s all simple small ways to market yourself.

Take action and watch your reach grow and business proper.

We’ve talked here about diversification and automation as two tools to enhance and make more efficient our businesses. EMyth and 4 Hour Work Week are two suggested reads on these subjects.

Healthy Gatherings was our attempt at diversifying our programs back in 2003 and has proven to be a nice fit. It has also proven to be a great value to those consumers who have utilized it.

You’ve probably seen mentioned on one of our sites that just this summer, we began offering the program up for licensing to fitness professionals outside of the North West. Actually, we’ve been relatively quiet about it as there are many details to be handled when bringing something like this to a much larger audience… Well we made one of the steps much easier for us and those interested in operating this business program.

We automated (at least for providing basic information on the program to the fitness professionals)

If you have any interest, you can go to the Healthy Gatherings business opportunity webpage to find out how you can run your own fitness parties, provide products without holding large inventories, and make a difference to the majority of the population who will not becoming to visit you in the facility.

Check it out. No obligation. And, now that it’s automated… it’s easy.
Digg This Post?

I just recently learned of a Harvard Professor, Andrew McAfee via a Hub Spot blog. I spent some time reading through his blogs on Enterprise 2.0 and Web 2.0 (I think I’m turning geek 😉  His post “is this the end” had a quote from Vaclav Havel, whom I remember reading about in his turn from author to politician while in college. Through the ending of the cold war and the political changes to the Eastern Block that followed, Havel became the President of Czechoslovakia.

While I remembered Havel, I did not recall a quote that Professor McAfee utilized. Havel had said, “seek the company of those who search for truth [and] run from those who have found it.”

Then dissident Havel was speaking on a couple levels primarily concerning the politics of the time, the quote holds very true for the many areas of our personal, social, and business lives… Including multiple levels within the fitness industry. We are all human, incapable of perfection, and when any of us think we have all the answers, it’s only a matter of time before it’s proven we do not.

My college football coach Frosty Westering used to say, “when you’re ripe your rotting, but when you’re green you’re growing.” What happens to the ripe fruit? It gets picked and the reign of that fruit on the tree is over.

That same coach used to constantly drill into our heads that football seasons AND life are not about reaching a destination, but enjoying the journey. We would enjoy every battle, learn as we go, and attempt to change and improve for the next battle.

I believe that President Havel and Coach Frosty both taught me a similar lessons, admire those who are green (growing/learning), enjoy the ups and downs of the journey, and realize that as soon as you ‘think’ you’ve reached the destination the glory is fleeting and you are ripe for the picking.

Do you see how this relates to exercise techniques & programming? In your business as a fitness professional are you continuing to develop your offerings? Are you the ripe old expert who knows the only ‘right way to do it’?

Stay green & enjoy the journey.

From an IDEA Fitness Programs & Equipment Survey 7/08
   …58 percent of respondents reported offering small-group personal training, up from 44 percent last year. Forty-three percent of fitness managers say creating a fun environment is a key focus, and two-thirds expect this focus to continue to grow. Many of the surveyed IDEA members, who are fitness facility operators, managers or fitness professionals, mentioned that social activity groups, such as walking or running clubs and organized group activities, help strengthen client retention. 
   Since 1990, personal training has been listed as the most popular type of programming, and it still is, with 89 percent of respondents offering it in their facilities. Personal training for youths 18 years old and younger was offered by 63 percent of respondents, and 36 percent of respondents offered children’s fitness programs. Classes for seniors rose from 39 percent to 51 percent.
   Long-time mind/body favorites, Pilates (offered by 68 percent of the respondents) and yoga (61 percent) continued to climb in popularity. The average number of classes per week offered was 10.
   Nutrition services also grew in popularity. More than half of survey respondents said they offer nutrition assessment and coaching, compared to 44 percent last year.

From an IHRSA member study
   2007 club membership numbers was at 41.7 million. Compare that to 2006 where membership was listed at 42.7 million. While the membership numbers dropped from ’06 to ’07, revenue increased from 17.6 billion to 18.5 billion. The increase in revenue is primarily attributed to facilities adding greater amounts of non membership dues income.

So what?

  • A little FYI.
  • A look at how facilities are learning to diversify their offerings.
  • The realization that as has been the case for many years, the percentage of the US population who belong to clubs is sticking at approximately 15%. Stated another way, 85% of the population must be marked to outside of the fitness facility setting.
  • Mind/Body programming is here to stay in the club setting.
  • Programming is changing to meet the needs of the aging population.
  • Group & community programs are gaining in popularity. (see HG programs)

Are you taking the above into account within your fitness business/career planning?

I was just updated this month that, what I think is THE premier fitness business conference in the country, will be running again this September. I will be having a conference call tomorrow to get the details on place and time and will pass it along. I’m very excited about this one and am trying to move my personal schedule around so that I can attend as well.

The conference isn’t like the “standard” industry conferences. This will be specifically geared toward taking your career/business to an entirely new level. Programs I’ve taken from a couple of these presenters has made a real impact on several of the fitness programs we offer. You won’t want to miss this one.

More details to come by Friday!
Keep your business Healthy, so you can keep your Clients Healthy.

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