Warming-up…It’s More Than Making Them Sweat!

OK- So I stole that title…

But I like the mindset. We are here to do much more than just make people sweat and “get a good workout in”. We are here to be friends, mentors, leaders, and coaches. We want to be the catalyst for positive change in people’s lives.

We’re getting pretty deep here, when really all I want to talk about today was warm-ups. But, I think it’s a good mindset to have when designing and coaching the warm-ups. The typical trainer approach to a warm-up is to tell the client to “jog on the treadmill for 10 minutes and we’ll get going”. Yep- I used to do that too. It is literally what I was taught to do by my employer and all of the “Trainer Certifications” that I had taken. But that isn’t quite good enough for a Coach with “Excellence” as their title.

So I take a few different approaches to the warm up that I want to line out here. I would love to get your input on any other ways of developing our athletes too!

1st approach: A Copy of the WOD:

2nd approach: Skill development opportunities.

3rd approach: Physiological Preparation

Rather that talk about these three approaches in the abstract, let’s take a look at a few real-life examples by applying these to this week’s programming…

Training for the week of 130408:

Monday 130408

“Texas Cardio”

EMOM 20 min:
5 DL@60%

Don’t sit between sets.
Keep grip over-handed as long as possible.

For this workout I see a couple of considerations. First, 100 Deadlifts is going to be taxing on the posterior (probably an under-statement). So I will begin with the approach #3 above (Physiological Preparation). I would like to start activating the posterior chain to maximize the nervous system’s response to each rep, maximizing muscle recruitment. I usually organize the structure of this type of warm-up in the following order:

Isometric (think super-man holds and butt-bridge holds) ,
Eccentric (lowering the body or weight with emphasis on the way down, think slowly lowering into a “Good-morning” stretch) ,
Concentric (Raising back up out of the “Goodmorning” and squeezing the glutes on the way up) then…
Dynamic (Swinging, Jumping, using momentum)
Loading (working up weight to prep the soft tissues for the stress to come)

The second consideration for this WOD is that it’s 20 minutes long and we have a 1 hour class to manage. If we allow 10 minutes to mobilize (foam roll) and get the heart rate up slightly with a short Row, then we need to make sure the rest of the warm up is sufficient activation but efficient time management.

So considering all of the above, a potential warm-up for this workout is as follows:
Foam-Roll and take turns on the rower for 500m. (Elevate heart rate with a pulling movement similar to the Deadlifts)
PVC Pipe Goodmornings, squeeze glutes on the way up. (Eccentric and Concentric Squeeze)
Gentle Torso Rotations w/PVC. (Slightly dynamic)
Golf Swing w/PVC. (More Dynamic)
Back squats w/PVC (Dynamic hip stretch and blood flow to lower extremities)
Barbell Speed Deadlifts (More Dynamic and begin Loading the tissues)
2- Warm-up Sets working up weight on the Deadlift (If WOD was heavier we would take more sets but 60% is not a “heavy” load)

Tuesday 130409

For time:

Row 1000m
100 Sit-ups
Run 400m
40 K2E
100 D.U.

Then… without resting perform 10 Turkish Get-ups (5 each side) 1.5p/1p

Ok, So this one is a body-weight only, “longer/cardio” type pf workout. Also, since we are limited in Rower capacity, we have to feed students through in heats. Even a movement like rowing, should have a warm-up phase because even though we consider all of these movements “unloaded” (forget the Turkish Get-up for now), the intensity applied to the movement is still stressful to the system.

Since time is a major consideration here we want to get people moving as soon as possible. If people take 5 minutes measuring their jump-rope and practicing singles, cross-overs and double-unders, they will be pretty warm systemically. A practice set of Sit-ups and Knees-To-Elbows should be sufficient to establish any need for scaling and modifications. If time allows I would instruct for the Turkish Get-up with lighter weights but this can be done with each student post-wod as well. Had this been a similar workout with a heavy load thrown-in, I would have focused my warm-up primarily on the loaded movement.

Wednesday 130410

“7&7 for 7″

7 Min AMRAP:
7 Wallball 20/14
7 Burpees

Finally a short one! Because we have “lots” of time for this class, we have an opportunity to use all three approaches to the warm-up. (Though for a larger class we may have 2 or more heats with the resting students counting reps for the working students)
This is a great day to look over our Skills & Drils board and see how we can add to the development of our student’s skill level. Since Wall-Ball and Burpees are both sucky- I mean both pressing movements, I would consider using the gymnastics portion of Day 1 as a skills focus session. To keep the group on task, I like to set a count-down timer for 10 or 15 minutes and direct the group together for the first round of movements. After the first round, I would use the remainder of the time to coach individuals to more advanced levels.

After the Gymnastics Skills portion, I think we still have time to practice some Weightlifting skills. Since the Wall-ball is the “loaded” movement and it mimics the front-squat portion of the Clean & Jerk, I would focus on the Day 2 Weightlifting drills for 10 minutes or so. I would allow more advanced students to work up weight a little on the clean (full squat).

At this point we should be 30-40 minutes into the hour and we can take a quick explanation and practice of the two movements of the WOD. Then 3,2,1…GO!

By choosing the specific skills above, we have now used all three approaches: #1: We practiced the movements of the WOD, #2: We had 25 minutes of directed skills development and, because we chose skills that mimic the WOD movements, we have also prepped the system, #3.

Thursday 130411

ME: 3 Front Squats, 1 Jerk

Taken from the rack. Complete all 4 reps before re-racking or dropping the bar.

Ahhh Yes! The Max Effort Day!!!
The good thing about Max Effort days is that they typically only involve 1 or 2 movements. However, because of the extreme stresses on the body, we should be primarily mindful of the physiological preparation aspect of the warm-up.If we follow the order hierarchy lined out above (Isometric, Eccentric, Concentric, Dynamic) we can assemble a warm-up that eases the system from sedentary to max efforts.

One more note before we start on this one: I like to consider common faults in the upcoming movements to address in the warm-ups. For the Front Squat, the most common faults I see are: Poor rack position (bar held in hands instead of resting on shoulders, low elbows), Knees buckling in, and anterior leaning (posture rounded and/or forward, heals coming up). Fixing the Rack Position on the shoulders and keeping the knees driven to the outside fixes 90% of all the problems that we typically see.

Warm-up: Mobilize Hips and Shoulders. Adductor stretch (to get knees out), Shoulder blade roll-outs and mobility drills, wrist extension (to address rack position). Use static stretching, then active, then dynamic.

The most common fault in the Jerk is a shallow landing, not getting under the bar. So we’ll address that when we get the the more dynamic part of the warm-up.

Here’s what it might look like:
Foam-roll and Lacrosse Ball focus on Adductors (to get knees out), shoulder blades, lats, triceps and forearms (for rack position)
Row for smaller class, run for larger. 400-500 meters.
Adductor Stretch from Hell.
“Paleo Squats” holding the bottom of an unloaded squat.
Shoulder protraction and retraction while hanging below the rings (in ring-row position)
Shoulder protraction and retraction standing with pvc out in front.
PVC Pipe Front Squats.
Jump & Land Drill for Jerks (correct landing position for each student)
Jump, Land and Punch the Sky Drill.
PVC 3 Front Squat & 1 Jerk.
Working out of the rack, practice taking the bar from rack and doing all three front squats and one jerk.
To maintain speed, only work in sets of 2-3.
Begin working up weight…

Friday 130412

5 Rounds for time of:

400m Run
40 Box-Jumps
4 Hang Squat Cleans @80%

This workout is a little longer but has such similar movement to yesterday’s that the same warm-up would be appropriate. Substitute the Jerk drills for Hang-Clean Drills. Work up weight to 80% might look like 5 @ 50%, 5 @ 60%, 4 @ 70%, 3 @ 80%.
Box jumps can be particularly traumatizing for the heals and calves so I would also add-in some SMR (foam-roll / lacrosse) for those areas. A good way to stay warm and practice all would be to do 2-4 box jumps between each set of warm-up hang-cleans.

Saturday 130413

2 minute work
30 sec rest
for max total reps:

Sledgehammers 12#/8#
Toes-to-bar
Kettlebell Swings 1.5p/1p
Sit-ups
Back Extensions
Pull-ups
Push-ups
Squats
Box Jumps (tire)
Paralette Jumps (over & back = 1)

Ok, it’s a fricking chipper. It’s going to take all the time we have just to explain the damn thing. Warm-up should just be a practice run of the WOD. Do 5 reps each and play with various scaling, substitutions and weights. (Just to keep everyone rotating correctly, I then have people stand in the starting station and practice rotating through in order upon my call of “rotate”)

Whew! I’m about done typing for today. Study this and re-read. It might be a good idea to study the first part of this article and then one of the above days. Then, the next day, re-read the first section and study the next day etc…

Another good exercise would be to use this post as a reference and practice writing your own warm-ups based on what I’ve lined out here.

Let me know in the comments what you are doing to develop your Coaching skills in helping your students prepare for success!

Seeing Is Believing : An Open Letter To Our Coaches, August 8th, 2012

Seeing is believing.

I have developed an interesting habit over the years. This habit, like most habits, I often take for granted. It has helped me through many hard situations and it has also gotten me into trouble from time to time. I’m really not even sure what to call this habit; faith? vision? hope? fantasy? – so I’ll just describe it for you…

When I walk in to our new location from the garage, I notice the look and the smell of the dingy carpet and walls of the stairway- but only for a split second. Almost the moment that I perceive this ugliness, I begin to see the potential of what it could be. New paint – new light fixtures – granite tile flooring?

When I walk into the restrooms, I do notice the trashed flooring and the dated fixtures – but again – only for a moment. I automatically picture the new flooring, the modern fixtures and what the showers are going to look like when we knock out the walls.

I do this with people too…

This habit of mine to always see the potential of what could be is probably what has kept me interested in coaching for so long. With most things I really need a lot of variety and change to keep my interest. I get bored and want to move on if there is not continual development. Coaching (and owning a coaching gym) constantly presents me with opportunities for growth, change and impacting other people’s lives. With almost every person I meet, I see potential. I see people more capable than they are. I see in them improvements that have not yet taken place. I see more potential in people than they ever see in themselves.

The downside…

There are three aspects to this that get me into trouble from time to time. The first is the one I’m trying to address in this letter: failure to communicate. Because I take this habit for granted, I often forget to share with other people what’s going on in my head. This is like winking in the dark – you may think you’re flirting but the other person hasn’t got a clue! As I work to make my vision a reality, I forget that the people around me don’t always see what I see. This can be tough for the people who are sharing a journey with me, from my wife and kids, to the coaches, to the students. It appears we are jumping off a cliff, but I know we are attempting to fly.

A second problem with seeing all of this potential is that sometimes reality hits like a ton of bricks. I stay motivated toward progress all of the time, but frustration sets in when I work a 12 hour day and get home to a red power bill with a 5-day shut-off notice. Paying your bills by color is no fun. Sometimes it seems that the work we put in is disproportionate to the progress obtained.

The third aspect that has been a problem for me is seeing potential that is just not there. This does not apply to things so much. Physical objects can always be manipulated, it’s usually just a matter of resources. No, where this really gets me in trouble is with people. I never want to give up on people. I have high hopes for people (including myself). I sometimes see potential that never comes. I have held on to friends, family, students and coaches long past the point when I should have cut ties. I have put up with rudeness, abuse, apathy and gossip because I see qualities in people before they have developed them, and hold out hope that I can be a positive influence. Once in a while (not very often) I am simply let down.

The upside to holding on to these images of what can be is that it gives me direction, motivation and persistence. I believe this habit is also the reason I have always coached more of the “older” generations than most of my peers. I still see potential in people regardless of age. Where other trainers and students are satisfied with trying to “maintain what fitness they have”, I choose to see the potential for improvement beyond accepted norms. This is why we have 50-somethings of both genders who are knocking out pull-ups, handstands and push-ups while setting new lifetime personal records on heavy lifts.

My mistake.

In many ways our students, our coaches and our gym (as a business) are all going through similar processes. At various times we may be faced with setbacks, disappointments, injuries as well as progress. The worst of all though is stagnation (Friday Coaches meeting anyone?). Giving in to the status quo leads to stagnation- no, worse than stagnation, rotting.

Diving in over my head is the only way I’ve ever learned to swim. It always works out eventually but this time as I’ve been treading water, I’ve allowed certain things to float on their own and consequentially, those things have begun the process of stagnation – of rotting. I’ve made some mistakes. In fact I keep making mistakes, and I apologize. I still have a big vision for us, I’ve just been laboring too hard to stay above water to be able to share it. So this letter is my re-commitment to you, our Coaches. My commitment is to provide you with all of the tools you need to thrive.

PXT is providing workouts. It is a place to have fun and work hard. It is a place of community and learning. Most of all though- it is an opportunity to change lives. To lift the individual to a potential they didn’t know existed. This is no more true for our students than for you, our coaches. In fact for me, it’s all about you. You are the vision I see. After all, even if I were the best coach on the planet, I can only train a limited number of students. But if I can somehow empower each one of you, to be a better coach than me…then our potential is limitless!

Sincerely,

Cody

P.S.
I’m really putting myself out there with this next part, but I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes from John Maxwell, “I would rather lead 1 person, than try to drag 20…”.

So I’m going to risk.

I’m going to ask you to do one thing. After all, I would rather lead 1 than try to drag 10. So I just need to know if you are willing to catch a vision. Are you willing to see our potential? Are you ready for the next step? Are you open to being excited and stretched for growth? I need you to let me know in the comments below. Are you in?

Be There

You know how sometimes we treat strangers better than our own family?

I think we’re all guilty of this from time to time. It’s not a matter of priorities so much as it is a comfort zone. We know that our family who loves us will be more understanding of our “bad day” than a stranger or acquaintance. We are comfortable enough with our family to not have to put on a happy face, or make eye contact when we are talking. We can even walk in and out of the room from time-to-time without saying anything. A stranger might think it’s rude but our family knows better.

The problem with our gym being an “extended family” is that the same thing can happen here too!

Our students are my best friends. Sometimes it’s easy to get so comfortable with everyone that I slip…

I’ll be there to coach a class but it’s early, I’m cold and sleepy and I keep my hands in my pockets, tell people to “roll-out” then come see me…

I’ll say, “Get through two rounds of Day 1 Skills and then grab a bar!”…

“3,2,1…GO!”, then walk off and start fiddling with the ipod music.

wrong

I realize that my best friends are in that class and they may not care- but I DO!

We are better than that. Excellence demands it of us.

Every time I coach I should be there. 100% there.

I should be there to coach mobility.

I should be there to lead the student through a warm-up.

I should be there to share some new information on how to improve a skill.

I should be there with focus on them through the wod.
Pushing toward the edge.
Pulling back to safety.
Balancing the efficacy of the student’s training.

I should bring them back down from that ledge of intensity so that they walk out in recovery mode.

After all of that, then we can be friends again – family even!

In the mean time-
Be there!

Coaching Points : Bench Press

Form follows function.  Most of the fitness community teaches the opposite, that function follows form. What do I mean by this?

Most Trainer Certifications right now teach movements from a theory of anatomy, where they study innervation and direction of muscle activation in an isolated view. (The same problem occurs in nutrition studies where a single chemical reaction is studied while ignoring the concurrent reactions that happen elsewhere in the body.) The flaw with these theories is that they fail to take into account the premise that we are a single organism, and each part of our body works in conjunction with all other parts. There is not a piece of our body that works as a solo act, we are made up of a symphony of instruments that work together to produce the music of our movements.

The faulty notion that function follows form results in obsessions with things like toe-forward parallel leg squats, bicep curls and other low-function isolation movements as well as the shoulder issues described in the following video.

With the philosophy of “form follows function” we learn how the body works through efficiency of movements. If the movement produces more power with less injury, then it MUST be better- regardless of our preconceived notions of proper form.

When a gym is producing 500-900 pound bench-presses with little to no injury rates, they must know what they are talking about!

“Or” or “And”?

First, watch this…

“If you’ve got that, actually- I think everything is do-able.”

Ya think?

That’s kind of like saying “If you’ve got it all, you can have whatever you want!”

I get what he’s saying. It’s a classic concept of business. You must GET clients, then you must KEEP clients. If you can’t do both, you won’t last long.

I am definitely guilty of the imbalance he describes in the video. When I first started training, the majority of my efforts went in to finding new students. But after a lot of wasted hard work and resources, I eventually shifted my focus to providing the best possible product I could, and let my students do the marketing for me. Marketing is dead. There is even a book by that title, but I didn’t read it. I didn’t need to. I already knew marketing was dead.

Advertisement  in the paper- ZERO results.

Door-hangers- ZERO results.

Fliers on billboards- Zilch.

I’ve even tried an on-line coupon with Tipper (a smaller version of Groupon)…

GOOSE EGG!

Chris Cooper runs a very informative blog called “Don’t Buy Adds- Grow Your CrossFit Box”.  I agree. Buying adds for a CrossFit box up to this point has been utterly useless. But that leaves us with a big question in regards to the above video…

If we focus on only the second “moment of truth”, excellence in coaching, how will we ever have the opportunity to expose new people to this great product? What will prompt a stranger to come in and learn about us? After almost 8 years, how can we finally be put on the map? You would think after 8 years (4 in our current building) that everyone in Lake Oswego would know we are here. The reality is that there are people who live and work on the same block who do not know we exist.

Face time:

Earlier this year I joined a networking group: BNI.  I have met some great business owners, some of which have already become students here at PXT. Many in the group are adamant about the above topics, that traditional marketing is dead and that personal referrals are the most effective form of marketing, that social networking is ok, but face-to-face is the only viable way to thrive today. We are bombarded with so much marketing today that we all have developed a defense mechanism of dismissal any time we are confronted with an ad or sales pitch. But we are all very likely to go see a movie if a friend or two recommends it.

Word-of-mouth marketing is obviously not a big epiphany. I have a book on the subject that is almost 20 years old. Even then we were being told that traditional marketing is useless if you can’t generate a personal army of proponents that bring in people through relationships.

So finally to the point…

Everything in this post so far is probably old news to you. The question now is: how do we generate a spark to light the word-of-mouth fire? Our students talk us up all the time, but that doesn’t necessarily result in more intro appointments. What can we do differently that will result in more people actually coming in the door?

Let’s focus on two aspects of that first moment of truth:

1- Referrals (internal marketing through relationships)

2- Strangers (getting the local population to know about our existence and become curious enough to actually show up)

What are your thoughts?

What Makes Us Different? Part 1. Other CrossFit Affiliates

CrossFit is exploding in the local region. Bootcamps are all the rage (and one just moved in upstairs). Personal Training brings up all sorts of impressions with people. Kettlebells, MMA, Parkour and other specialized boutique gyms are popping up all over. Small to mid-sized local gyms are offering “High Intensity Functional Training” and some are even housing CrossFit Affiliates within them. Then of course you have your monster Globo-Gyms.

From a marketing standpoint it is important to separate yourself from your competition, but I’ve always thought that being different just to be different was not only lame, it’s also a trap. I’ve seen quite a few odd-ball fitness concepts over the last 10 years and I think a lot of the stupid, ineffective and dangerous things you see out there are just a pathetic attempt to be different, just for the sake of being different.

Interestingly, in the work of striving for excellence, we have managed to create some major distinctions between us and our “competition”. These differences have arisen naturally, as an effect of our search for quality, personality and innovation. I would like us to explore what separates us from others, so that we can have a clear conception of those differences and therefore more effectively communicate to prospects, just what it is about us that removes PXT from “competitor”, to a “class of our own”. See, I don’t look at any of these other places as competition except in people’s perceptions. If we can convey an accurate picture of who we are, then all who fit in here should see that we really have no competition.

So to that end, this post will be the first in a series that will discuss each of the above models and what makes us different…

Us vs. Them…

CrossFit:

I’m going to cover this one first because it can be the most politically dangerous distinction, and I like to dive head-long into challenges. I would like to preemptively say; much of what distinguishes us from other CrossFit Gyms is not necessarily saying “we are better than them”. In many cases, we are simply different because of a style, personality or business concept difference. We are looking for Students that fit well with the concepts that we offer, we are not looking for everyone on the planet to become members.

  • Class Size: Sometimes size actually does matter! Many people can probably do well and thrive in a big class of 15,20 , 30 or more…but they will never receive the same level of coaching that we can offer by capping our classes at 12 people.
  • Hands-on: Keeping our class sizes smaller does not automatically result in better coaching, but our commitment to continual improvement does! This is one difference I hate to point out but it’s true- not all Affiliates focus on coaching during classes. I have heard (unfortunately quite often) from many visitors that we offer much more detailed coaching than they are used to at their home Affiliate. To me, effective Coaching is our primary product and objective. It’s what we are charging people for. And it’s the one distinguishing aspect that I always want to be striving for.
  • Experience: This one is quite variable. You might have CF Affiliates with amazing histories like CF San Francisco- they have Dr. Kelly Starrett, DPT, Adrian Bozman from CFHQ, Carl Paoli Gymnastics Instructor as well as other great  Coaches. Added together, they have an impressive cumulative knowledge base! On the other end of the spectrum you might have the newest L1 Coach that just recently started training friends out of his garage. Both of these Affiliates are legitimate, but it’s obvious that the cumulative experience of all the coaches does add value to the Coaching that Students receive. I am proud of our level of experience here at PXT. Jen and I have been training for a living for almost 10 years now, and many of you have come to us with extensive backgrounds in various training domains. We are assembling an impressive team! The shared experiences do offer a difference in our Coaching.
  • Pre-CrossFit experience: In addition to the size and scope of experience I mentioned above, there is value in the fact that most of our Coaches were Trainers of some sort before finding CrossFit. I have seen this go both ways, with some old bad training mixed in with new CrossFit methods, but in our case I think we have managed to keep what was working and discard a lot of what wasn’t. For example: We were one of very few Affiliates that was incorporating foam-rollers and similar mobility tools long before Kelly Starrett brought it to the broader CF community. Again, I’m not dismissing a Coach that only has experience in CrossFit, but I do believe we offer a deeper level of understanding in a more varied approach to getting results.
  • Culture: This one is easy. Every Affiliate has their own “vibe” and it is determined by each and every individual that makes up our community. It is ever-changing and dynamic and will always distinguish all gyms from one another. We have an awesome “CrossFit Family” here and I’m grateful!
  • Demographics: This one is perhaps a consequence of all of the above points, but we tent to have a much more varied demographic than most other CrossFit Gyms. We have a little of almost every segment but the majority of CrossFit Excellence is  women,  30-50 years old. Why? I think most CrossFit Affiliates trend younger and towards males because of the coaching styles (again I said styles- not quality). I recently even read a blog by a long-respected Affiliate owner who said,” For those of you older folks who are thinking about starting CrossFit, but you have bad knees, or shoulders, or back pain, or whatever…. please consider a different training program. ” -pretty much the opposite message I try to get across. Instead, I say if you are older and have these issues, please come see us before it gets worse! Let us help you in a safe and gradual approach toward increasing your fitness.
  • A few bad apples: I have heard countless stories about other Affiliates that I have to assume do not accurately reflect the overall CrossFit Community. Stories of “Coaches” who don’t coach at all during class, offer NO modifications or scaling and some who don’t even say a word after 3,2,1…go!  Also a few who just have bad attitudes. I hate to even mention this topic but in any large basket, there’s likely a few bad apples!
  • The Pursuit of Excellence: Perhaps most of the distinction between us and most others, is our relentless pursuit of excellence. It is not enough to be good, or even great coaches…we must be better than we were yesterday! This constant search for progress sets us apart from many for whom Coaching takes on a day-to-day habit that can result in boredom and even regression in the quality of Coaching.  There are many awesome Affiliates out there who are doing amazing work, and I love to see and learn from them! But perhaps there are just as many who are just going through the motions. It’s up to us to always be in the former category, and hopefully we might even inspire other Affiliates toward excellence!
  • We are slightly more expensive than most other Affiliates. (for the above reasons)

Final thoughts on other CrossFit Affiliates…

I would like to say that I rarely speak negatively to any prospect about any competitors and particularly other Affiliates. Many local Affiliates are my friends and I know they are good. Frankly, even some of the local Affiliates that are “not as good IMHO”, are still going to be a far better option than the Globo-Gym or other Personal Trainers. I think that in general, CrossFit draws in good people, who truly want the best for their students, and caring about your student is probably the single best quality to have as a Coach. Overall I believe in the quality of the CrossFit community and I feel it is our responsibility to represent the quality that we wish every affiliate to have.

A Sticky Situation

OK, say it’s cheesy if you want to. Maybe you’re not a fan or whatever, but the Rocky movies send a message that is too often overlooked by most people in their day-to-day lives:

First, that you are responsible for you.

Second, the fortitude to keep trying through failure has more to do with success than any other single factor.

Lack of talent, money, genes, opportunity, time, love, knowledge, support, experience – whatever the obstacles are, the only way to overcome is to stick it out.

Pain is temporary, quitting is forever.

In the last few years I’ve decided that when it comes to the first lesson above, I have absolutely no ability to help anyone  – outside of education. I’ve beat myself to a pulp trying to help people that are unwilling to help themselves and it is a no-win situation. In fact, it seems if someone refuses to take responsibility for their self, the more help you try to give them, the worse it gets. By educating people to be responsible for themselves, we can empower them. But we have to be careful to spend our time where it is productive. If a student isn’t ready for that lesson, we need to move on and allow them time to grow. Like John Maxwell says; “I would rather lead 1 than try to drag 20!”

So I would like to spend the rest of this post discussing the second lesson, and how we might create a sticky situation for people. It seems if we can get people to stick through a few obstacles up front and help them realize some victories, they are much more likely to absorb the lesson and develop the habit of stick-to-it-iveness. (probably not a real word but I’m keeping it)

The following process may seem “business-ey” but getting new people to stick to it, is not only good for the bottom line, it is in fact, the only way they will succeed! Everything they were hoping to achieve when they sought us out requires a consistent effort, and nothing worthwhile can be achieved without it. Getting people to stay with us really is in their best interest!

I would like to think of these processes as an incubation period, in which we take the immature student and develop them into a self-possessed, driven and confident member of our community.

For our students at PXT, it all starts with booking the intro…

I have never been accused of being an over-communicative person, especially one-on-one communication. I despise the telephone. I’m not a natural extrovert. I am however pretty good at painting myself into a corner- forcing myself into situations where I have no choice but to get done what needs to be done. This is one reason I work strictly by appointments. If I didn’t have an appointment to see someone I would probably be sitting in a quite room somewhere reading philosophy or drawing or some other shut-in hobby! Of course once I show up to the appointment I have a great time. I really do love people- it’s just the ice-breaker stage that sucks for me.

With the last couple of intro appointments I have booked, I have attempted to have multiple contacts with the prospect before the appointment. This is not an attempt to “sell” them on PXT. I am simply wanting to build a rapport with the person before the intro. My goals:

  • Break the ice before we ever meet,
  • Learn about their needs to better service them,
  • Prove to them right away that we are different than other places
  • Improve the likely-hood that they will show up for the intro and take it seriously

Since I hate the phone I have been emailing those prospects that schedule on-line and calling back the ones who call to schedule over the phone. Either way, once they schedule they receive an automated appointment confirmation, then within 24 hours they receive a second email from me, personally introducing myself. This is an essential step I would like to see implemented for every intro we book from here on out. When you get an intro booked, please email them as soon as possible and include the following:

  1. Your personal introduction
  2. Your direct contact info
  3. Offer to discuss the intro, their needs,  or answer questions before the appointment
  4. Confirm the Day, Date and Time and that you are looking forward to it!

The last two times I have done this has resulted in a back & forth exchange of emails that resulted in me knowing the student’s goals and concerns before we even met face-to-face. It also built excitement for the new experience and solidified the importance of showing up.

Our intro is a topic for a whole other series of posts, but once they sign up- this is the process we will be implementing

from here on:

  • Every new Student is obligated to sign up for three months before their contract reverts to a month-to-month. They can still pay as usual, on a monthly basis but they are not allowed to cancel in the first 90 days.
  • Every new Student is required to complete 6 Personal Training Sessions with a Coach before attending classes. These sessions will be based on our previous On-Ramp curriculum. The servicing Coach will be compensated by receiving 100% of the new Student’s first-month dues.
  • Once the 6 sessions are successfully completed, the new Student is required to sign-up for a specific class. We cannot allow anyone to “fall-through-the-cracks”. If we require a specific class registration, we will know when to expect them and follow-up if they no-show. So they are not yet “turned loose” to attend any class until they have scheduled and attended their first 3 group classes.
  • Weekly personal contact regardless of attendance. Whether they seem to be on track or not, we will be following-up with each new Student every week for their first 12 weeks. This can be a simple text, email or phone call. A good way to do this without nagging- ask if they are sore, how they feel, discuss recovery or just give them an atta-boy! Let them know that we will be watching for their next visit and like to be updated if they will be out for any reason.
  • I am setting up an auto-generated email for all new Students that will help guide them through the first 100 days. This will include expectations, resources and tips/education. Once this is finalized I will have all Coaches sign-up for the email so you will know what your students are receiving.  I want to get the point across that what makes us different is not only the personal/community aspect, but also that we are a school of fitness. They will be expected to be a Student, to check the blog, attend workshops and social events, etc…
  • We will contact each Student that comes up on our attendance report if they are absent for 7, 14, or 30 days.
  • I am ordering some PXT Postcards that we will have available at the gym. We will write a personal congratulations for each PR that is reported.
  • Each PXT event we hold will have a guest-book or scrap-book page that all attendees can sign. I will use a picture from the event to create a postcard that will go out to all members. Those who attend will be reminded of the good times we had and those who didn’t make it will be encouraged to attend the next get-together!

Existing Students will be “assigned” a Coach and new Students will be “assigned” to the Coach who serviced their intro-6 sessions. All of the above contacting may sound like a lot of work but if we stay organized I think it should only take each Coach about 10-15 minutes once per week for most of it.

No One Left Behind…

If someone refuses to take responsibility for themselves, there may not be much we can do about it. But I believe if we overwhelm people in showing them how much we truly want them to succeed, how much we really do care, we may be able to empower them with the fortitude to “get up and keep moving forward!”