So, the first piece of advice for a fitness professional deciding to invest in continuing education is to determine what will best serve you and your clients. If you are a brand new trainer, you may need another course in biomechanics, a basic nutrition course, core conditioning, functional training, flexibility or coaching skills. Once you have the basics under your belt, I would suggest that for every fitness / science course you take that you invest an equal amount of time in a business course. Fitness practitioners lean toward more exercise courses compared to management, marketing, sales, leadership and personal development courses. That's honestly a mistake as you will wind up as the poorest most informed trainer. I don't think anyone has that as a goal. Once you are a competent fitness professional, I suggest focusing a majority of your education on growing your business.
|If you have a bookcase lined with products that were not worth the price of shipping or files filled with e-books that were not worth the time it took you to fill out the purchase form, I honestly feel for you the same way we feel for clients who are scammed into purchasing a fat loss product that does not deliver. The person selling the goods may honestly feel what they are delivering is of value, but too often we are left holding a bag of goods that is worthless to us because the content was poor, the information was regurgitated from someone else who borrowed it from someone else or it simply did not provide what the hyped headlines claimed to do.
If your wallet is slimmer rather than overflowing after your last few continuing education purchases, I caution you to choose wisely. Anyone can self appoint themselves as a guru. They can give themselves self appointed titles, awards and honors without the internet police checking! Anyone can appear to be a hero, a genius or an innovator on the World Wide Web, but as you may have learned the expensive way, buyer beware.
I am all for continuing education. One of the things I promised myself when I began my career was to attain a new certification every year. Twenty-two years later I have 25 certifications. What I have learned is that the more I learn the more I realize I don't know and the more there is to be learned. I am a chronic student and suggest you become one too. The day you think you know it all is the day you will lose your footing in getting to the top of the field. We have all had great and poor experiences from teachers, and you could argue that you learn from both situations; however, I would have preferred to save time, money and resources, had I had the benefit of hindsight. After investing a small fortune in education I've gotten better at choosing quality programs; however, there are more to choose from than ever before.
Look for a certification program with a 100% money back guarantee. Anyone who stands behind their program should be confident in its value.
After you have determined what you would like to learn, go about finding the absolute very best person to deliver that information. That person should be highly regarded, experienced, credentialed, knowledgeable, have a proven track record, have walked the walk (not just talked the talk) and have social proof that what they are preaching is, in fact, effective and worthy of your investment.
Some simple things to look for, if you are taking a fitness course, are the following. Is the person in shape themselves? I am not saying they need to look like they could be on the cover of a fitness magazine, but they should at least look like they work out. This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised at how many fitness leaders cannot do the workouts they are suggesting you bring home to your clients. Would you want to hire a financial planner who pulled up in a rusted car? How about an obese nutritionist?
"Don't get drawn in by free bonuses. "
If the instructor is speaking about anything to do with the business of fitness, thoroughly check out what their experience has been. Have they owned and operated fitness centers, did they lead a team, was it profitable, what kind of growth did they have, do they have a proven system outlined, do they have references and testimonials, how long did they operate a training team / studio, and what credentials do they have to be sharing information with you?
Before you invest a single cent in listening to what someone has to say, make sure it's worthy of your hard-earned dollars. Today anyone can plagiarize - that is, they can completely steal and modify or repackage someone else's work and make it look like their own without giving credit to the originator. There are VERY few innovators and many, many imitators. You want to learn from the innovator who can back up their claims and systems with substantial evidence and who understands the pitfalls and how to fast track your success. Don't wait until you have spent your hard earned dollars to recognize a phony.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! If as you are reading the claims they sound outrageous, they likely are. Just like it's easy for us to recognize a fitness or weight loss scam, you must become savvy to the "fitness guru's" lure. If it's necessary to use over-hyped headlines that prey on your emotions, there is a good chance there is not much substance to the program.
On the other hand, if a program is genuine and will coach you towards getting solid footing in accelerating your career, you will likely have heard of the person before or recognize the people who are giving them testimonials. Take a look at who provided the testimonials. Again, testimonials could be written from their mother or neighbor singing their praises. You want to look for testimonials from presidents of respected fitness organizations and renowned industry leaders.
Look for a program with a 100% money back guarantee. Anyone who stands behind their program should be confident in its value. Read the fine print regarding the terms of reimbursement should you be dissatisfied with the product or seminar.
Determine how you would like to receive the information. Would you prefer a live course, audio program, tele-seminars, webinar, home study material, or some combination? Find out what best meets your learning style and schedule. Some people prefer to travel, leaving their work environment behind, networking with like-minded fitness professionals and being completely immersed in live learning using all of their senses. Others prefer to have the accountability of a weekly meeting, assignments, web or phone-based course, and still others prefer to order the material and absorb it at their leisure.
Don't get drawn in by free bonuses. Again, if a program has substance on its own there is no need to throw in free bonuses doubling, tripling and quadrupling the supposed value of the product. The bonus items may have very little value to you. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the information, you will probably not get through it. If it's more than you need, you will probably never read or listen to it. They are banking that you will make an emotional purchase because they make you feel as if you are crazy to pass this incredible magical opportunity up.
Having some kind of accountability also is important. Just like with your clients, if you don't have someone to respond to with the information you have learned or questions you have, you are less likely to apply what you garnered from the program. As a coach you know the value of having a coach.
Keep in mind that in most cases you are going to get what you pay for. If someone can command higher fees for their seminars, books and programs, they have probably rightfully earned it. And to the counter, if the offering seems like every other offering at about the same price, you can expect a mediocre program.
At a time where there are more "gurus" swimming in the ocean and fishing for a small pool of personal trainers' dollars, you have the right to be picky and be a savvy consumer. You have the right to ask questions before purchasing and possibly even see or hear a sample of what's being sold. As the paying customer who is making a purchase with hard earned after-tax dollars, you should be choosy, do necessary investigating and, ultimately, trust your instinct. You should feel like your return on investment will be at least 10-fold what you paid for the seminar, coaching session or program.
What my great friend Phil Kaplan and I have observed is that there are two very different schools of continuing education. One teaches you how to be a personal training internet guru, focusing on selling products on line, optimizing your website and honing in your skills to get people to buy a product or service. The other, and more rare these days, teaches you how to be a better fitness professional, to better serve your clients so that you can make more money, serve better clients and make even more money doing what you love.
If you started your career in this industry wanting to spend hours learning how to optimize your website, creating affiliate programs, posting electronic banners, obsessing over your Google ranking, writing long copy ads and constantly looking for the next big hit, then the get rich quick programs are going to appeal to you. The only problem is, there are only a tiny handful of fitness professionals who are earning an income they can retire on this way . . . and who knows just how fulfilled they are.
On the other hand, if you became a fitness professional because you loved to have a hand in changing peoples bodies, lives, minds and lifestyles, then I recommend that you focus on aligning with those who have figured out a way to do just that by earning the respect and financial freedom of a professional.
I hope that these two distinct offerings that present themselves to personal trainers are clear to you. It's easy for personal trainers who are struggling to be lured in by the quick, easy, magical way to make a million selling e-books online, but know that like multi level marketing and most new businesses there will be far more failures (by about 80%) than successes. You have a much better chance of positively influencing your customers lives as a live personal trainer (hence, the name personal trainer) and living your ideal day than you do as an internet marketing guru.
There are no limits to your ability to learn or to earn as fitness professional. I caution you and encourage you to choose continuing education programs wisely.
About Kelli Calabrese
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