I was the worst trainer in my gym…

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I’ve been asked in the past, “what qualifies you to give advice to personal trainers?”.

Other than my experience and qualifications the main reason is this…

I HAVE MADE A SHIT TON OF MISTAKES

I became a self employed personal trainer at the age of 18 AND I WAS THE WORST PT IN MY GYM. I still got my clients results but I wonder at the difference I could make to their lives, health and physiques knowing what I know now.

At the time I didn’t know it because I just purely wasn’t self aware or self critical enough to see my mistakes.

– My clients rarely got given training programs and most were trained session to session
– I took most of my 30-40 sessions per week in cash, which I duly wasted on crap when I could of saved or reinvested thousands
– Nutrition advice for my clients was either poor quality or didn’t consider the individuals needs
– My professional development was nearly non existent because I knew everything and the courses I did go on didn’t really progress my training or my business
– Some clients I took on were WAY outside my scope of practice
– I didn’t expand my professional network outside of the gym I was working in
– When I did market my business I jumped from tactic to tactic and didn’t tailor my message to my target audience (because I didn’t have one!)

But the funny thing is, I still managed to build my PT business (if you can call it that) to a steady 30-40 hours of PT a week at £35 an hour for a few years.

If I could go back and offer all of those clients sessions now, then the difference in service and their results would be unrecognisable.

If you want any help, advice or guidance please drop me an email at Josh@PTtoolbox.co.uk and I can help you out.

Until next time, Josh.

How one email nearly ruined me…

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So…

It’s 0308hrs on Sunday the 6th of August and I’m sitting on the sofa of my girlfriends house thinking about the year that has passed so far.

Yesterday was my 28th birthday and the last year has been CRAZY.

I’m not writing this to blow smoke up your arse and say how I earn £20,000 a day from a beach in Bali…

I’m going to tell you why October 2016 was one of the worst months of my life and why I am SO grateful for that when I look back on it now.

I am a firm believer that every situation can either break you or give you valuable lessons to use in the future.

(Side note – if you haven’t heard of Jocko Wilink, watch the video below to see a summary of this mindset.)

I didn’t quite realise how harsh some of these lessons could be!

The story so far…

As a bit of background in November 2015, myself and my business partner Steve launched Southend Personal Trainer Academy which is a fitness education provider based in Southend-On-Sea in Essex.

We were using advanced learner loans to provide high quality education to students who wanted to become personal trainers or sports therapists and we quickly became quite successful and were generating a monthly income of £10,000-£15,000.

One day in October I received a devastating email.

The short version was this… our funding provider had gone bust and this had three major and potentially business destroying side effects;

1. Our income in one day was going from £10,000-£15,000 to approximately £0

2. The provider hadn’t registered around 90 of our learners with our awarding organisation, Active IQ, as per our agreement (this would later cost us £27,000 in fees alone)

3. All of our outstanding invoices were not going to get paid (totally around £50,000)

 

Me and Steve sat together in our office after reading that email in a state of shock, panic and fear. For about an hour we sat like that in silence, both numb about the ramifications of that one email. However, I’m a fighter by nature and I won’t ever let a situation beat me.

So this is what I said to Steve (and to myself internally!)

– We cannot assume anything, before we panic, give up or react we must get as much factual information as possible

– Making backup plans is an immediate priority to see how we can solve this problem

– The situation is out of our control so let’s just handle the elements that we can control

 

Over the next few days I set about phoning as many people as I could that knew about the situation and learning the truth about what had happened.

I also repeatedly phoned and emailed the Student Finance Association, Student Loans Company and Active IQ to see if I could find a possible solution or at least do some damage control.

After a few weeks Steve’s other half then went into labour and then had a severe brain haemorrhage which meant Steve was in hospital for six weeks with his partner and his new baby girl (thank god both his partner and their beautiful daughter were ok).

At this point I was trying to take as much of the burden as possible because Steve had enough to deal with!

Eventually, we managed to find a solution for our students which meant they still got certified, our unpaid invoices were going to be dealt with by our funding providers insolvency company and we managed to help the business survive and become financially secure again.

This entire situation, starting from one email, was the most stressful time of mine and Steve’s lives but it taught us some HIGHLY valuable lessons.

The lessons…

1. Diversify your income

I cannot overstate how much this could have changed the immediate fallout of this event. Basically as I mentioned above our income went to zero really, really fast! This is because we were depending on one source of income for over 90% of our total turnover. We had little bits and pieces here and there to top up the account but we should have focused more on additional revenue streams to provide some extra security in the case of a gargantuan fuck up like this!

Moving forward we have made sure that our government funding only makes up about 40% of our business as well as running CPD courses and masterminds amongst other things.

As a PT I recommend you sit down with a pen and paper to write down all of the things you could provide to your clients to increase their lifetime value to your business whilst also attracting new customers that maybe your core offering doesn’t cater for.

2. Evaluate all of the information and avoid assumptions

It would of been extremely easy for me to shut down in a panic stricken fight or flight response. You can also get trapped in a cycle of F.E.A.R (False Events Appearing Real) where you guess and assume about the situation without having the full picture.

I bypassed this by making sure I gathered as much information from as many sources as possible to build up an accurate view of what was going on.

3. Take ownership, stay positive & move forward

Another big mistake that I see people making in stressful situations is to instantly blame everyone and anyone but themselves. By taking ownership of the situation and admitting that it was my fault this happened I can choose my route forward and execute the plan.

When I tell people it’s my fault they are instantly confused but let me run this past you. If I had setup the business in a different way or kept a closer eye on our funding provider then this could be avoided. I cannot control other peoples actions but I can definitely control mine! Therefore everything is my problem!

By constantly blaming others all you are doing is giving yourself a way out of not having to find a solution.

4. Make contingency plans

It is essential that throughout your business life cycle you plan for eventualities that could be damaging. It’s very easy to fall into a complacent mindset when everything is going well but if you don’t have backup plans then you will be blindsided when something does hit you.

Some examples you could plan for;

– The facility you use closes or has to shut long term, for renovations for example
– You have a quiet period such as the summer holidays
– You get injured or taken ill
– There is a family emergency

The list could be endless and I think it is a very good idea to write down as many scenarios as possible and then write a brief plan for each one. Normally there will be solutions that solve or prevent multiple problems, for example the list above could easily be solved by having a strong online personal training business.

5. Learn from every mistake and prevent it from happening again

This is the biggest takeaway I’ve had from this whole experience, I will never let someone or something else affect my business as much as this dude did with his negligence.

By no means do I think I can predict everything that’s going to happen (I wish I could!) but I am going to put systems, contigencies, procedures and most importantly people in place to make sure that I am well equipped to deal with ANY future situation.

Thanks for the taking the time to read this article! If you need any advice or help with your business just fire over an email to Josh@PTtoolbox.co.uk and I’ll help out where I can!

Josh

5 Simple (AND FREE) Ways To Get Clients

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In this 20-minute blog post I’m going to discuss some ways that you can help to establish yourself as the go to trainer in your area and in time build a loyal base of clients.

I see loads of trainers obsessing about online lead generation, funnels and Facebook ads but they are usually missing a huge amount of potential by neglecting some fundamental methods they could be using for FREE.

The following five methods have been put in order to show you which of these should be completed first (in my opinion). I’ll explain how each method links to the next method to create an ongoing cycle of personal training leads and hopefully paying clients!

Ok so here they are…

 

  1. Write a lead magnet aimed at your ideal client avatar

 

The importance of a well written lead magnet cannot be understated!

Have you ever visited a website and been prompted to download a free product to help with your specific problem?

If you answered “yes” then you’ve already encountered lead magnets. Typically, they will be a PDF, audio or video file and can also be batched together in a “resource pack” or similar package.

The basic premise of a lead magnet is to provide the lead (the person who has downloaded the file) with loads of valuable content that immediately helps them with their specific problem.

Normally the lead would have been drawn to the site with a Facebook ad or a very specific search on Google. This is your opportunity to wow the client with your knowledge and show them how your service can help them solve their problem.

Obviously in exchange for this world changing, ground breaking information there is a cost! Normally it will be the clients email address or other contact details to allow you to follow up and start building rapport in the eventual hope they become a paying customer.

When you start to think about creating your lead magnet you need to think of your ideal client and try to imagine their biggest problems, once you know their problems you can create highly targeted solutions.

Some examples I or my clients have used in the past…

  • 10 steps to build your fat loss diet
  • 3 simple training tips to maximise muscle growth
  • Rapid 28-day fat loss program

There is one problem with lead magnets. Information is everywhere.

I have over 1,400 e-books on my hard drive and I have read a grand total of 3 of them!

I recommend when you create your lead magnet you finish it by offering a free consultation, skype call or webinar to show the client how you can help them implement the new information they have.

 

“Information is free, implementation is priceless”

 

ACTION POINT – sit down with a large coffee, think about your clients’ top three problems and write down as many solutions as possible to these problems.

For example, if your client is a 30 year old mum with three kids then one of her main problems may be finding family friendly recipes for fat loss, you could easily remedy this with an e-book or video series called “ten minute fat loss recipes for the whole family”.

The content itself doesn’t have to be revolutionary but it does need to be easily digestible and relevant to your customers pain points or problems.

 

  1. Use your top two or three social networks to give loads of value, consistently

 

This point shouldn’t even really need to be made in my opinion.

Most personal trainers that I speak to make one of two major mistakes when using social media.

Firstly, they are spreading themselves across loads of social networks and not committing the time or effort to really grow that networks or use it to its full capability.

Secondly, when they do post on their social networks they are being too pushy, salesy or just plain boring.

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve seen a PT post “Bookings now available, ten sessions for £300” or something similar.

This type of post on its own achieves nothing.

Instead of using social media as a place to post about your prices and how many spaces you have left for clients, focus on delivering content designed for your avatar that they can use and that will add real value to their life.

As time goes by and potential clients are seeing more and more of your usable, relevant content on their feed they will start to know, like and trust you.

Once this happens and they encounter a problem that is big enough for them to seek help who do you think they will go to?

That’s right, the person that’s been helping them for free for ages. (hopefully you!).

 

ACTION TIP – Choose the content format that you find the easiest to produce and you feel most comfortable with. Some of the trainers that I speak to record 30 second to 3 minute videos and love being on camera, others hate being on camera but love writing short articles. Find what works for you and run with it.

 

  1. Launch a closed Facebook group to give loads of value

 

Again, this is a method you can use immediately to gain exposure for your personal training business in a very low barrier way, I always recommend to my mentoring clients and course graduates that as soon as they start their PT business that they create a closed Facebook group for their potential clients.

The main reason we recommend a closed Facebook group is so that all of your followers and prospective clients are in one place where you can maximise engagement and promote a community feel that will help prospective clients feel at ease as well as feeling comfortable rather than being sold to all the time.

One key tip here is to not just add every single one of your contacts to the group, this comes across as spammy, desperate and just plain annoying!

Your best option is to create the group for people that have shown interest in your business as well as past and active clients. I would recommend asking each person before you add them in!

Another benefit of having a closed Facebook group is it will allow you to reward the members with exclusive events, offers and content.

 

ACTION TIP – Stop reading this article right now and go and create your closed group.

Seriously, go now! I’ll be here waiting…

 

  1. Run a free 30, 60 or 90-day online programme or challenge

 

I have used this extensively with a recent mentoring client and he is having amazing success with this method.

We sat down together and planned out a 30-day fat loss blueprint that he could use with his prospective clients over 30 days using only webinars, PDFs, video files and a closed Facebook group (that’s why I told you to do it earlier!)

After two hours, we had managed to plan out a fully automated 30 day online fat loss program using some basic software and then after another eight hours of filming and writing we had all of the content finished.

His next goal was to get AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE onto the program. This is the part where you will need to hustle relentlessly and try to get as many prospective clients as possible committed to using your programme.

After a week, he had thirty people signed up for his programme, 12 of which then became paying clients after 30 days.

Obviously, you can change the timeframe to suit your business but generally speaking the longer your clients are on your free programme the better your conversion rate will be because you would have built up more trust with them. I would also recommend using methods to encourage adherence and mental commitment from your clients such as using daily accountability posts into your Facebook group.

There are two major benefits of using this method;

Firstly, it allows potential clients to try out your services and test your information for free with no long-term commitment. This is a MASSIVE rapport and trust building exercise.

When these clients get awesome results with you for free they will become raving fans about your services and should sign up as well as bringing a ton of referrals your way

Secondly, you can gain a HUGE number of testimonials and social proof to use when selling your services in the future.

This is especially true for PT’s who haven’t yet managed to build up a client base or gather client testimonials.

 

ACTION TIP – Start writing out your blueprint for your programme or challenge immediately and figure out how you can automate it as much as possible whilst giving amazing value and awesome content.

 

  1. Run expert seminars and workshops in your local area

 

This method is awesome for growing your audience and establishing yourself as an expert in your local area.

My favourite approach is to find a venue that you can secure that normally wouldn’t be open in an evening or late afternoon. Normally my clients will choose a healthy café or restaurant and they will approach the owners asking if they can host an event when the venue would typically not be earning money.

In my experience if you can hold multiple events at regular intervals then you can start to build up a really loyal group of followers and gain a substantial number of clients and exposure from each event.

One successful approach I’ve used in the past is to hold an event for a different topic each month, for example;

 

Month 1 – Fat Loss for Beginners

Month 2 – Nutrition Myths

Month 3 – Exercise for Fat Loss; The Basics

 

I would also recommend that you target these events to your avatars main problems. You can also invite guest speakers to help increase the value. For example, for the event “Fat Loss for Beginners” you could invite a local chef to do some demonstrations or tasting of healthy recipes for your guests.

In my opinion, the key element here is to focus on offering high quality, valuable information without coming across as pushy or as a salesperson! Also, don’t forget to capture the details of attendees either during the event or in the sign up process.

I personally use Eventbrite to host our PT Toolbox/UK PT’s events at Bath University, this way I don’t need to worry about handling tickets and also Eventbrite will automatically capture my guests email addresses. This will make it easier to fill your future events.

 

ACTION TIP – Do some research into local venues and reach out to them about holding an event and then write a list of 12 different topics you could talk about (one a month for a year)

 

If you need any help with any of the methods mentioned above just drop me an email at Josh@PTtoolbox.co.uk and I can help you out!

Now go and get it done!

Josh

PT Toolbox; The Beginning

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Welcome to PT Toolbox!

PT Toolbox is the ultimate resource for personal trainers looking to constantly improve their professional practice in all areas. We have been helping personal trainers with their businesses, clients and coaching since September 2013.

Our job is to give you the resources, support and guidance to maximise your potential as a personal trainer.

I launched PT Toolbox in 2013 after leaving my job with a major UK fitness training provider. In my role as a lead tutor I used to run training centres and oversee the qualification of hundreds of students a year.

I saw one problem over and over again with my graduates.

After a week or two of being released into the world of personal training, I would inevitably receive a variation of one of the following emails…

 

“Hey Josh, do you have a new client consultation template pack that I could use please? My gym hasn’t got a copy I can use!”

“Josh! What’s the best way to get more clients? I feel lost!”

“How do I plan a group fat loss session?”

 

Evidently the themes of these emails were all similar, with slight variations from each personal trainer making them slightly different.

I realised that my graduates were starting their PT careers with minimal to zero support and guidance.

This gave me the idea to create PT Toolbox as an educational hub for fitness professionals who wanted to improve their knowledge on…

– Business & Marketing
– Coaching Skills, Mindset and Motivation Strategies
– Anatomy & Physiology
– Nutrition
– Training
– Programming, Exercise Selection and Execution

In 2017 we decided to relaunch, restructure and revamp PT Toolbox to make it easier to navigate and provide information that was easy to digest for our members.

Each piece of content is now available in multiple formats and can be accessed on the move.

As an example, our comprehensive PAR-Q Template is available as a downloadable PDF, it has a video explaining the best way to use the form with a client as well as an article explaining the intricacies of the form and how to use it.

We also run live events every two months for our members at Bath University covering a massive range of topics which our members can choose the themes based on their needs.

 

Who am I?

My name is Josh Mullin and I’ve been involved in the fitness industry since the age of 15 when I qualified as a gym instructor. I started my first official personal training role in 2007 and have worked in every role imaginable including Fitness Instructor, Personal Trainer, PT Manager, Facility Manager, Lead Tutor and Course Assessor.

Every role I’ve had in the fitness industry has given me access to loads of learning opportunities and I’ve been lucky enough to have met hundreds of people who have influenced everything I do from client consultations to social media management.

With the creation of PT Toolbox in 2013 I’ve tried to pool my knowledge and experience in one place alongside the knowledge and experience of our panel of expert contributors.

 

If you would like to have a chat with me over Skype about PT Toolbox or anything else in particular then just drop me an email at Josh@PTtoolbox.co.uk and we can arrange a chat.

Get in touch!