[In part I and part II of this series, I discussed 5 things I do everyday to level up my coaching. I recommend reading these before progressing on to part III, where I discuss my final two suggestions for becoming a successful coach.]
6. Finding Your Niche
For a trainer’s long-term business success and job satisfaction, there may not be a more important task than identifying and finding your niche. By ‘niche’, I’m referring to your specialty – this could be a specific population you want to work with (such as post-natal women aged 25-45), a specific type of training you want to offer (such as Olympic Lifting or, my personal favorite, MovNat), or even just the the personal twist you use to communicate your fitness views (such as superheroes, warlocks, and video games @Nerdfitness). The important thing is to set yourself apart from the competition, while at the same time finding something that gets you fired-up to train.
This isn’t a decision to make lightly, nor does it have to be made before you begin coaching. Indeed, when you first start out, you’ll feel like you can’t turn a client down because you need the experience/income (I know I feel that way!). But moving forward, it is important for you to note WHAT types of training you like, WHAT kind of people you get the most satisfaction working with, and WHAT personality you bring to the table.
My belief is that as you narrow your focus, your product becomes better. Your expertise and excitement will draw in clients with similar interests to yours. It might feel strange to refuse clients who don’t fit into your field, but you’ll be doing both you and your client a favor. You can focus on what your good at, and your client can find a trainer more suited to their personal goals.
As I work with clients, I keep track of things that interest me or give me job satisfaction. For example, I’m really interested in evolutionary fitness (bodyweight training + skill acquisition + having fun) and helping people regain their health/discover their inner-athlete. Also, my personal training style is focused on positive reinforcement and encouragement – looking to make small, positive changes everyday. A possible niche-market for my services might be older, overweight individuals with less-than-stellar results from traditional training methods looking to improve their health without the pressures of a gym atmosphere.
7. Building a support network.
Building a support network is the final piece of the puzzle. Just because you are a trainer (#selfmotivated) doesn’t mean you need to do everything alone. Finding and joining a group of peers who will support and encourage you during your struggles (much like you will support and encourage your clients), is vital to your growth as a personal trainer.
This network can take many forms: other trainers in your area, friends, family, or even an online community. Just be sure to include people who provide you with positive reinforcement and constructive criticism – confiding in someone who just puts you down is no bueno.
I’m exceedingly lucky in that I have a loving and supportive group of family and friends that I can always turn to for advice and encouragement. However, I’ve also found that it’s nice to find a group of peers to share experiences with (you don’t want to drive your family nuts, after all!) Living in Japan makes this rather difficult, so I decided to try joining several fitness forums with mixed results. Finally, I read this article that led me to join the Nerd Fitness forums, and I’m so glad I did. Everyone has been welcoming, and intelligent discussions on health/fitness take place everyday. Even if people disagree, there is no name-calling or finger-pointing (it actually happens on other forums).
Nerd Fitness might not be your cup of coffee, but I’m sure there’s a group out there that is. These are some of the forums that I’ve had good experiences with in the realm of health/fitness/and personal training.
- Nerd Fitness Forum
- MDA Forum
- Catalyst Athletics Forum
- CrossFit Discussion Board
- Bodybuilding Forum
- Staring a Personal Training Business “Mini-Discussion” Forum
That ends this series about what I’m doing to level up my coaching everyday. I hope this gives you an idea about how much work goes in to each and every client, and to working towards being the best.
What’s your niche? Where can you go for support? What are you doing everyday to be the best?
-Stay healthy everybody.