Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Me? A Fitness Expert?!?!

The day that you open the doors of your gym location is the day that you become a fitness expert. What?!? A fitness expert, you say?!? But I just opened……..I’m not ready………I need more time!

Scary as it may seem, a gym owner is considered to be an expert in health and fitness. Your members will start asking you questions right away. Perhaps they want to know if a crunch is better than a sit-up. Or maybe they want to know if they should start supplementing with creatine now that they’re exercising. Whatever the question may be, you’ll get it!

Although you may not yet be an expert, there’s no reason why you can’t start learning today! In the meantime, the most important thing you can do is to simply be honest with your members. If you don’t know the answer, don’t fake it. More often than not, the member will eventually find out the real answer, and then you’ve lost all credibility. So be honest. Say that you’re not sure of the answer, but you’ll do some research and get back to them with a response.

Some practical things you can do to become a fitness expert:
1) Subscribe to ‘muscle’ and health magazines. Read each copy cover-to-cover.
2) Become a certified personal trainer.
3) Subscribe to a health and/or fitness news clipper service.
4) Take physiology classes at the local college or university.
5) Talk with other gym owners.

Subscribe to ‘muscle’ and health magazines. Read each copy cover-to-cover.
One of the best ways to learn about any topic is to read the trade publications. Reading the Wall Street Journal® front-to-back every day for a year, for example, would teach you everything you ever wanted to know about finance. In much the same way, you can go a long ways towards becoming a fitness expert by reading the trade publications. Some recommended magazines to read are:
Muscle & Fitness ®
Muscle & Fitness Hers ®
Fitness ®
Shape ®
Health ®
Prevention ®
Fitness Rx ®

An added bonus to subscribing to these magazines is that, when you’re done with them, you can add them to your gym library for your members to read.

Become a certified personal trainer.
Becoming a certified personal trainer is not as frightening as it may sound. On the contrary, you should be excited about the new opportunities that will open up for you once you’re certified by a national organization!

While there are many groups out there that offer fitness certification, the old rule of thumb that ‘you get what you pay for’ is very true in this area. Be wary of internet-only certification, where you don’t receive any hard-copy materials. You should also stay away from any business offering certification for less than $100. You get what you pay for.

The two best national fitness certification organizations are ACE (American Council on Exercise) and ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association). ISSA, for example, charges about $600 for their first level certification. The training materials you’ll receive include a textbook, a video, a CD, unlimited access to their website, unlimited telephone support, and admittance to a two-day conference. The ISSA certification exam is quite lengthy, but well worth the effort in terms of the knowledge you’ll acquire.

Not only will the certification process provide you with a solid education in health and fitness, but most organizations also provide you with unlimited resources for asking questions and continued learning.

Subscribe to a health and/or fitness news clipper service.
Subscribing to a health and/or fitness news clipper service is easy, free, and effective. One of the best on the market today is the YaHoo ® home page service. Simply set up your YaHoo ® home page to post all health and fitness related articles as ‘My Front Page Headlines’. Then, every morning, you have immediate access to the latest health news! Rest assured, when a news story breaks that impacts fitness, you will have members asking you about it. If you’ve already read it on the internet that morning, then you’re prepared!

Another benefit to the health and fitness news clipper service is that it allows you to print pertinent articles immediately. So, if the AMA (American Medical Association) issues a press release about the hazards of trans-fats, then you can quickly print off some copies to distribute to your members. You might even consider putting up a small brochure rack solely for this purpose; you could title it “Breaking Fitness News”.

Whatever course of action you decide to take, it’s vital that you stay on top of the newest and latest health news. That way, anytime a member asks you about new fitness developments, you’ve already heard about it even have additional materials for them to read! After a period of time, this will help to establish you as a fitness expert in your community.

Take physiology classes at the local college or university.
Depending on how much time you have, you may consider taking some basic physiology or sports nutrition classes at the local college or university. Where you live will, of course, have an impact on how much this costs. Another possible drawback is that, with a class, you are time-bound in your education efforts: the professor will not re-schedule the class just for you! On the positive side, classroom learning allows you to interact with other students and ask pointed questions of the instructor.

Talk with other gym owners.
Finally, one of the best ways to become a fitness expert is to frequently talk with other gym owners. Whether you discuss marketing, sales, operations, or just plain old ‘health’, the information you can glean from this group will be invaluable.

No matter which of these methods you use to become a fitness expert, it is vital that you do something. Word-of-mouth advertising is the best kind of advertising in the world, and when you are recognized as a fitness expert in the community your word-of-mouth advertising will multiply tenfold! Your goal in this area is to become knowledgeable, so that your members will always refer to you as their source of information. Comments like “I’ll ask Jane at ABC Gym.. She always knows about this stuff” are golden! This is exactly the kind of publicity you should be seeking!

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