"How important is it to be approachable?"
Thanks to Josh for sending in this question via Instagram.
Back to the question.
Essentially, being approachable as a PT is very important.
You need to be both approachable in person and online if you are to build a solid business that doesn't crumble as soon as a couple of clients drop off the radar.
What does being approachable mean?
An approachable PT will demonstrate the following:
Open body language
A positive attitude
An eagerness to help and communicate
Time away from their phone to connect with people on the gym floor
Will know the name of many of the members of the gym they work in
Will be polite
Won't just go home between sessions
Won't spend their entire life behind a laptop instead of connecting with people
Will never be late
Will constantly work on improving on old methods and honing their coaching craft
Will actually enjoy spending time around people
Won't just lurk around reception chatting to the other PT's and reception staff
Being approachable means people will want to come to you for advice, with questions and eventually for training. Someone who is approachable will be trusted with people's time and money. Someone who is approachable is great to be around.
Let's explore these points in a little more detail.
Open Body Language
Using open body language where you appear relaxed, without your arms crossed and a smile on your face (or at least not a frown if you have one of those creepy smiles) makes you seem like you'd be happy to answer someone's questions.
So more people will ask you questions!
You need to demonstrate value to someone numerous times before they are likely to pay you. So by using open body language more people will offer you the opportunity to show value!
Then once you've made that first contact you then can learn all the information from someone you need to be even more approachable.
Once you've been approachable in someone's eyes they are more likely to come to you than anyone else because barriers have already been broken down.
Be open. To all.
Be happy to help
Why would you become a PT?
Speaking personally, it was to help people. Which is why I've accidentally trained people for 6 weeks without checking they've paid me.
Not the best practice if I am to be a millionaire but at least it makes me realise just how much I enjoy helping people.
You should too. And you shouldn't always expect money for helping people for free but many times it can lead to a sale. Mostly it doesn't but still enhances your reputation.
If someone looks nervous on the gym floor, GO AND HELP THEM!
Be the first person to reach out to them.
If someone has poor technique subtly help them out without making them feel like the centre of everyone's attention.
If someone is suffering with knee pain give them the contact details of your physio or send them some reading material that helped you or someone you know at some point.
The same can be said about online interactions. Help people where you can and where appropriate and your business will be so much stronger because of it.
Time Away From The Phone/Laptop
If you are always buried in your phone then you are never interacting with anyone on the gym floor. If you aren't interacting with people on the gym floor then your business is suffering. So have a time hopefully each day where you just go and talk to members (not the gym staff) interact with your clients who are training and make new friends on the gym floor.
Those who do spend time without their phone will often replace their phone time with laptop time.
Yes, work is important and plans have to get done, but you need to spend time away from the screen.
You need to spend time talking to people.
Presenting, mentoring, helping, communicating.
Learn people's names.
Learn interesting things about people.
Enjoy your job.
Don't just be approachable. Approach people.
If you know names you get to know people.
If you know names you can communicate with someone on a deeper level.
You can ask Karen about how her bad back is and whether the rehab exercises you suggested are working or whether she struggled to do them.
And you can consistently make people feel special because you took the time to remember their name and few other people have done the same.
It's a big impact that I want you to focus on making.
You will also feel like a slightly better human for making someone smile because you remembered their name.
A PT Shouldn't Only Be In The Gym For Sessions With A Client
If a PT or coach wants more clients he or she has to interact with more people. A PT can only interact meaningfully with his client during the time they have paid for, time with a client is spent with them not other people on the gym floor.
So if a PT just goes home between sessions and doesn't spend at least some time learning names and meeting people on the gym floor how the hell can they expect to build a good client base?
Unless they are an absolute masterclass online it's going to be tough.
Don't just do your sessions and leave. Do a session, spend a minimum amount of time on the gym floor then maybe you can go home and smash 4 hours of Fallout 76 (even though it's terrible.)
But not before.
Put the work in and put yourself in a place where people can actually approach you.
NEVER BE LATE
Come on. Sort your time management out. Never be late or clumsy with your time. Otherwise your business is doomed.
There are people out there who insist they are just the late type of person.
I don't accept that. Be better.
If you are late no-one will want to approach you or stay working with you for very long.
Being late shows a lack of caring and diminishes the possibility you'll be approached by people.
Being consistently late makes it less likely that staff in your gym will refer you people because they will not want to refer to someone who will make them look uncaring/stupid/insertyourfavouriteword.
Work On Your Craft
You can always be better at your job. You can coach better, communicate better and help people achieve greater consistency.
Eventually you'll be ready to mentor other coaches. Then you can gradually work on that too until you are crowned as MASTER PT OF THE UNIVERSE.
Every Personal Trainer I've met that has worked on their craft by reading, watching and being mentored for a number of years has always had a strong business, always has a large number of clients and more-often-than-not has a great reputation.
That's what every PT wants right?
The more research you do the more you can simplify your language and help people wade through the confusion and help them towards their goals with as little stress as possible which is the very essence of coaching.
Helping people is incredibly gratifying. Work on enhancing your ability to help people. Work on being more approachable and work on being better at approaching people. It's not just your business that will thank you for this work but it will carryover to your everyday life in a huge way.
Enjoy Spending Time Around Your Clients
I've lost count of the amount of times I've heard PT's moan about their clients and how they have to motivate them and hold their hand and actually expend emotional energy dealing with a particular client.
It drives me up the fucking wall.
You most likely don't know how hard it was for that person to get to the gym.
You don't know what their situation is behind closed doors or behind their eyes.
You don't know how training feels for them.
For all you know they have a genetic disposition to hate training yet they turn up every single week, warmed up and ready to go when their time to train rolls around.
And they pay you on time, all the time.
It should be a privilege to spend time with people who put in a great amount of effort to see you.
And so what if they late cancel all the time? Their contract will end eventually and you should have a plan of what to do when someone does late cancel (like write this article for example.)
You can learn amazing things from every single one of your clients and every single interaction can be used to make you a slightly better PT. Look for that positive experience. Learn from your interactions and learn to love it.
Seeing it like this can make an already incredible job even more enjoyable which makes you more approachable.
And being approachable is about as important as being a good communicator.
Stop Flirting With The Receptionist
So many PT's ruin their chances of success by not being productive. When they could be writing content and pursuing leads or talking to members they are either scrolling Instagram far too much, are chatting away in a big intimidating group of trainers or are trying to nail at least one other member of staff.
This isn't exactly going to make you approachable.
If someone on the gym floor has a concern or a question but are shy they probably won't approach a group of five PT's, interrupt their loud conversation, choose one of the PT's and proceed to speak to them.
As a rule if there are more than 2 members of staff at the reception or somewhere on the gym floor I will make sure I am separate from that group to be more approachable.
I know you might really like some of the people you work with but if you need to spend time chatting in a group do it behind closed doors in a way that's isn't effecting your business negatively.
Coach Brett Bartholomew recently said:
"No skill will separate a coach, or any other professional, more-so than the ability to communicate effectively."
I would change this slightly to the following:
The ability to be approachable and communicate effectively will separate a coach, or any other professional, more-so than any other set of skills.
Being approachable gives you more business opportunity.
Being approachable opens doors.
Being approachable makes you a better human.
Be approachable, communicate well, deliver more value than any other Personal Trainer and you will set yourself far above the rest.
Thanks again to Josh for the question!
Chris is a Personal Trainer, Strength Coach, writer, man of small stature and reader of The Discworld Series with a decade in the industry.
He trains everyone from beginners to high level athletes. His favourite clients are people getting into the gym for the first time because they can make the biggest changes in their lives.
You can reach me through the email address Chris@kershawstrength.com
My Instagram is Chris_Kershaw_Strength.
Thank you for reading!