I recently came across this photo and it reminded me just how much apathy there can be in the exercise industry. By this I mean people just can't be bothered. Apathy is defined as lack of interest, enthusiasm or concern. I think if you look at the picture you will see all three right there!!
This made me think further about what it is that makes a great PT. Don't let the title PT restrict your thinking, this could be sports coaches, advisers, health experts - whoever they are, they all live in the same space - appointment based businesses looking to help people with their health and wellbeing.
So I thought I would put together my top 10 rant's which seem to bug me more than most.
RANT #1 - Be Present
As per the picture you can see this guy clearly isn't present. Now you may argue he was looking something up for the client diligently doing leg raises in front of him. Maybe. However, from an outsiders point of view if I was a potential client, i.e. a gym goer looking for a PT for a few sessions to get me moving towards my goals a bit quicker - I don't think I would be inspired to pay this guy for his time. He'd be wasting mine and his! Being present requires your undivided attention for the full duration of the session and beyond if you like sending things to clients between sessions.
RANT #3- Position yourself correctly
This sounds dumb but it's a key to lots of credibility. If you are asking a client to do some rows and you stand in front of them how do you know how well they are engaging mid back/traps. You need to be next to them so they can see you in their peripheral vision but so that you can see the activity going on in their back. A few cue's with a hand in the back, with permission, will add credibility instantly.
RANT #5 - Always be marketing
While talking to clients during a session find out as much as you can about them their family, what they did at the weekend, kids names, kids sports etc etc. This gives you an insight into peoples lives and motivations for exercising. I have started working with kids of clients simply by asking how they are going in their sport, are they happy with their progress? do they need any help with that? You are your own best sales person.
RANT #7- Don't bag the competition
I once had a client that did group training with me but also saw a PT at gym and did a number of other workouts there also. This particular client had a injury which to my knowledge based on what he told me was caused by the poor practice of the other PT. Now I was careful in how I addressed this with the client but indicated that a certain test should have been done before carrying out the exercise that caused the injury. I was my own worst enemy here I should have left well alone and not offered my 10 cents but I knew if this test had been done the injury could have be reduced or avoided all together. It must have come across as though I was bagging the other PT in what they hadn't done. So the moral of the rant - don't bag the competition as people can be fiercely loyal. You cannot assume to know the relationship between two other people.
RANT #9 - Apathy the killer
I went to a PT meeting the other day that all PT's in the area are invited to. The turnout was dismal. Admittedly there hasn't been a meeting for a while so there was no momentum but having been publicised for some time the number of attendees indicated that there is way too much apathy in this industry. You may argue they were all busy working with clients. I could have been but moved them around so I could attend and show my face, do some networking and learn from others. This is what's missing and why people seem to be cruising along without a rudder. If 5 more PT's had attended we may have had a group that could have made a difference. Don't let the apathy set into your day. Keep busy, find a niche work hard and be the best you can be in your niche.
RANT #2-Question Question Question
If you are not asking questions during a session you are not finding out enough information to help you best serve your client during the session and beyond. How about, how does that feel? Where are you feeling that? As we get good at reading clients it's very easy to say less and assume you are reading your clients correctly - never assume!! The quality of the question is more important than the number - you don't want to be in their ear the whole time but asking at the right time the best question, you will learn lots.
RANT #4 - Keep good client notes
Client notes are the key to maintaining a good relationship between sessions. If you don't write down that their left shoulder is giving them some grief and you forget and load up the left instead of the right next session they are going to think you are not 'on the ball' that you don't have your ducks in a row. Simple notes along side your session notes will go a long way to good continuity between sessions. You could even send them an article on rehabbing shoulders if you know whats wrong with it. I use a tablet for clinical notes and exercises performed. Each workout may be different or just the same depending on how they check in on arrival to the session.
RANT #6-Do what you say you'll do
This is critical I think. I sometimes write things on my hand to ensure I don't fail to deliver on this. I think this is one of the most crucial things in any business. So many people say they are going to do something and then fail miserably, by either not doing it all all or doing it later than promised. If you can under promise and over deliver that is the perfect scenario. If you tell a client they can expect their new home programme by 5pm on Tuesday (be this precise!) then send it before 5pm on Tuesday.
RANT #8-Have a policy, don't complain
Going back to the intro, this is an appointment based business. People often cannot make sessions they commit to. You either have them on an auto payment and make a new time or if you cannot do that then you remind them (they will have seen the policy when they signed up right?) of the cancellation policy and that they will need to cover the cost or % of the cost whatever the policy says. This is always a decision to be made at your discretion as a contractor but it will stop the complaining if you enforce it when appropriate. First few times it's hard then you realise it's just a business decision and you are in business to make money as well as serve others - and you can't do one without the other!
RANT #10 - Be Memorable
If you can get a win with a client in the first session - well done. That's a big win. If it takes a little longer, so be it but try. This builds credibility with them and creates that trust that exists between PT and client. They know you get them, you have solved one or more of their issues and will likely solve more. Being memorable is about the little things you do. Don't be a vanilla trainer. Make a difference and you will be memorable. Get to know your clients as well as you would a friend and they may well turn into a friend in the process. I spend time with a number of current and past clients in social situations because we have become a part of the same group. Being memorable sets you apart from the rest.