Each member trainers are exposed to will benefit from that relationship only if trainers are open to who the members are, what they are doing and what their wants and needs really are. If personal trainers show a genuine interest in their clients and the members around them, they will find a boundless source of clients to feed your personal training business.

Managers must instill the necessary skills to do this by encouraging — notice the word is encourage not demand — them to watch the members, trainers and management to determine whether your membership's needs are carefully addressed. If trainers are careful and systematic about meeting with the members and clients they will discover a font of information that will simplify their life in designing exercise programs for the client base and strengthen the relationships they have with clients.

MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Take a minute to observe how people in your fitness center work out. How intense are their workouts? How appropriate are their routines for their bodies? Are they accomplishing their objectives, progressing with time and doing so safely? Are they working out enough?

If you teach your staff to observe and assist the members of your gym you will find a large pool of people willing to partake of your personal training services. Teach your staff to take advantage of any openings in their schedule to arrange appointments with as many people as possible. The more active your personal trainers are, the busier they will become.

DESIGN FOR SUCCESS

When your trainers sit down with clients to interview and test them it is important that they fully understand who they are working with. Your trainers need to follow four simple steps and employ this paradigm for the interview process called S.O.A.P. This acronym will guide your staff and enable them to best understand how to interview, test, interpret the information and design a safe and effective program for the client.

Subjective: Interview phase

This is the most critical phase of the first session with clients. This is where clients will bond with the trainer and begin to trust in them and in their judgment. Trainers should use this time to learn everything possible about their clients. Trainers should listen to them and learn about who they are, what their lifestyle is like and what motivates them. This process will become easier with time and the personal trainers will develop a polished bedside manner. Be sure the personal trainers ask questions about their clients' cardiovascular risk factors, cardiovascular signs and symptoms, metabolic disorders, pregnancy, musculoskeletal disorders and current lifestyle.

Objective: Test phase

This is the phase where trainers document the clients' results of actual physical tests and measurements that have been made. The testing of flexibility, strength and endurance are at the core of this phase.

Assessment: Judgment phase

This phase is critical for deciding what the clients can and cannot do. Trainers should note strengths and weakness in flexibility, strength and cardiovascular endurance and diet.

Plan: Design phase

This phase establishes short- and long-term goals for the clients. In addition, a program card is developed to encourage clients to exercise even when they can't spend time with the trainer — consistency brings results and results bring referrals.

Through the power of understanding and influence your trainers will master the art of exercise program promotion, development, design and implementation. Teach these simple ideals and principals and you will create a training staff and program a cut above the rest.

Frank Bentkowski is manager of Exude Inc. He can be reached at frank@exude.com or on the Web at www.exude.com.