Positioning is a concept responsible for the success of leaders in every industry. NyQuil, originally released as a daytime cough suppressant, made people drowsy. Re-positioned as “the night time, coughing, sniffling, sneezing so you can rest” medicine, it has become the leader in the nighttime cold remedy market.

Positioning is what drives people to BMW dealerships. Customers pay for German engineering. Interestingly, if you buy into the value of German engineering and elect to drive a Z3, your car was produced in South Carolina. Positioning, combined with efficacy and value, made BMW a success and gave NyQuil command of its market.

Personal trainers have failed to take responsibility for positioning. The personal training paradigm evolved out of “health club convention.” A trainer is hired and an arrangement established. The trainer may pay what amounts to rent, or the trainer receives a small hourly wage for floor hours and is responsible for generating revenue for which he or she receives a piece. Management presents the trainer with an opportunity to meet every new member. Free workouts or a free consultation are included in the price of membership and the trainer is expected to sell members on paying training fees when free sessions are completed.

Convention has worked to enhance the membership offering, yet the paradigm positions trainers as valueless.

After conducting seminars for trainers and membership salespeople, I've identified differences in their views. Trainers are not driven by money, but by a passion for fitness and desire to help others. The idea of selling doesn't sit well with trainers and for years they've accepted the “train for free” paradigm as law.

When I ask qualified personal fitness trainers who they perceive to be their competition, the answer is often health clubs.

As the health club industry matures and becomes adept at not only selling memberships, but at thrilling people, personal training can offer the pivotal profit center, the key to retention and an instrument that encourages members to spend. In a competitive field, what better way to prosper than by finding ongoing compensation for member usage.

Trainers are recognizing entrepreneurial possibility. If they perceive clubs as competition they have two options. The first is to grab a “position” their competitors can't touch. As a rift develops, trainers can emerge as the most capable of thrilling the fitness-wanting public. It's time for the paradigm to shift and for trainers to be positioned as experts.

The second option for eliminating competition is to create an alliance where both entities prosper. Health clubs can recognize the value of trainers, position them as professionals and help them to command professional fees.

Allowing trainers to publish and distribute articles, conduct paid mini-seminars and display testimonials feeds the expert positioning. Setting up vehicles by which trainers can represent the facility on local television and radio further establishes that position.

The Fitness 21 Team in Weston, FL can stand as the model of the ideal club-trainer relationship. Personal training revenue amounts to 35 percent of gross. Trainers are paid for their time, regardless of whether it is in an office, performing an assessment or on the workout floor. Their fees are standardized and they share personal training revenue 50-50 with the club. Clients are billed on a per session basis with a retainer guaranteeing the trainer will be paid in the event of a no-show. Continuing education takes place on a weekly basis, trainers are held accountable for production commitments, and the training team works to compel, capture and empower members.

Recognize the value and profit potential of the professional that has too long been neglected and create a profit center that rivals membership sales, one that leads to exponential growth and clearly positions the health club as the most valuable fitness option for anyone seeking positive physical change.

Phil Kaplan is a fitness professional, author and speaker and works to escalate the positioning capabilities of fitness professionals worldwide. He conceptualized and has helped to create and structure the Fitness 21 Team. Visit www.philkaplan.com.