With so many exercise videos, books, magazines, and free group exercise classes to compete with, it is imperative to establish a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) — a marketable competitive edge that separates you from the rest of the marketplace.

Functional (integrated or 3-D) training is the biggest trend in the fitness industry today, and even promoted by some as the training methodology for the new millennium. From a business standpoint, functional training can be the USP that you need to maximize personal training revenue for your club.

By combining popular USP models from other industries with the benefits of functional training, you can capitalize on this trend and multiply personal training profits.

BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE USP (E.G. NORDSTROM)

One of the reasons many people don't hire trainers is that they feel that they already know what to do. With standard machines, this is often true.

Traditional resistance training machines are purposely designed to be user-friendly. In getting started with 3-D training, however, members must have a personal trainer. They simply haven't been taught how to exercise in all three planes of motion yet.

SPECIALIZED KNOWLEDGE USP (E.G. HOME DEPOT)

The fact that your trainers have more specialized knowledge than your members is one of the major reasons members hire trainers.

Because it's obviously different from what most other club members are doing, functional training adds to this knowledge gap and can convince even more members to invest in personal training.

Designing a scientifically based, logical program for 3-D training requires more knowledge from your personal training staff than simply escorting clients down the line of machines.

BROADEST SELECTION USP (E.G. AMAZON.COM.)

No, we are not talking about the broadest selection of products, but the broadest selection of effective exercises. With traditional resistance training machines, one machine equals one exercise.

The choice of 3-D Exercises, however, is as varied as all possible movements of the human body.

PROVIDES WHAT THEY WANT USP (E.G. “TASTES GREAT”)

Most of your members are there to lose weight. A properly constructed 3-D training program can work more muscles and, therefore, burn more calories than traditional strength training.

If you look at functional training as just another protocol or training modality, you're missing out on what could be a great boon to your business. Approach it and promote it just like “real-world” manufacturers deal with their products.

Stephen Holt, BSE, CSCS was named Expert of the Year by AllExperts.com. With over 20 years of fitness industry experience, Holt speaks and consults nationally on several aspects of personal training and business. Contact him at info@stephenholtfitness.com, on the Web at www.StephenHoltFitness.com or by calling (410) 453-6295.