This is the second in a series of blogs by industry legend Shannan Ponton. Stay tuned in 2014 for the rest!
Where do you see the Fitness Industry heading in the next five years? How can a new PT be prepared for these advances?
Shannan: It’s going to take time to learn all the skills you need to be professional. I’m asked almost daily by freshmen: “What’s the best advice you can give me to get started in my career?” The answer I give is always the same: “learn group fitness”! In every class you have a closed market ready to be captured by YOU. They are in your class for a reason; they like your style, nature, knowledge or your look. That is the perfect place to fill your books as a PT.
Unfortunately, when I give this advice I’m often faced with the same turned down lip and look of despair that I‘ve come to expect, which means ‘isn’t there a quicker or easier way’. It will take time but it that is what will separate you from every other ‘number’ that walks onto the gym floor. Sorry if it sounds harsh, but it’s a reality.
As a trainer, what is going to make you stand out from every other trainer? You are going to be competing against experienced professionals. Teaching classes improves your marketability, employability and flexibility. I’m asked regularly to teach guest classes on and off TV. It wouldn’t be a good look having to tell the producers of The Biggest Loser “sorry, I don’t know how to do that.” Your ability to effectively generate income is enhanced by Group Fitness – plus you can see classes as getting paid to train!
Learn to teach group exercise of any kind. Remember, it doesn’t have to be just aerobics anymore. Work to your strengths! TRX classes, VIPR classes, Boot Camps, Boxing, Circuit or whatever you can make a go of. Rip into it, work, train and study hard. Set yourself apart from the others.
Neither I nor anyone else can predict the future, so however the fitness industry evolves, be ready to roll with it. Stay current, learn daily and evolve as a trainer. The moment you get lazy or complacent is the moment you start to slip. Just as you advise your clients, take your own advice: push your boundaries and get out of your comfort zone. I mean in business, as a trainer and as an athlete yourself.
I know how many keen, aspiring trainers are busting do things better than me in the hope of pinching my job on The Biggest Loser. From the comfort of a lounge chair, they are picking faults. Too much crying, bad technique, too much shouting, it’s not realistic, blah, blah, blah. One problem for them is I’m here and determined to stay. At 40, I’m still up for new challenges and work under as many trainers as I can. No egos involved: I get flogged but I learn new skills and a lot about myself on the way through.