Build a team of rockstar trainers that will grow your fitness business for you (Part 1) (Interview with Dani Singer)

Highlights from the interview

[13:56] – 4 Key Things that got Dani’s in-home training business off the ground

[23:27] – How paying double to trainers AND not requiring them to do sales paid off for Dani 

[30:36] – The free-rent apartment-gym business model that can skyrocket your business 

[35:32] – How to manage Trainers to feel like a team 

[41:52] – How Dani designs his programs to build up to 100 recurring clients per week! 

 

About our Guest

Today on the show is Dani Singer. He’s the president and founder of Fit2Go, a top Baltimore, Maryland in-home training company. They train about a hundred clients every week. 

His business is impressive! After starting out in his college apartment at the age of 21, in just a few years, it is now one of the top in-home training companies in his area, and with a team of full time trainers. 

He even has business relationships with national property management companies to train for free at these apartment complexes in his area. 

In addition, he has been featured regularly on his local news channel through his regular health segment. There’s so much to learn from what he’s made work for his in-home training business.

 

Edited transcription of Fitness Business Secrets Podcast, Episode 31

Career change from computer science major to personal training business owner

[13:56] Kristy: It’s great to have you today, Dani. I know we have a lot to talk about with what’s been happening.   

And so I’m really curious first to start off.  

How did you get into in-home personal training? What’s your story that  got you started and kind of really grew it to being one of the top PT companies there.

Dani: Sure. So entrepreneurially, I’ve always been very entrepreneurial by nature. When I was a kid, when I was five, I was buying packs of Hershey kisses. And then, I would take three of them, put them in a little paper bag and sell them for 50 cents a piece to my friends and family.

And my little business was called Happy Chocolate Place. And then when I grew out of that, I eventually knew I was going to start some other business. And so with personal training, basically my plan in college was to go into Computer Science and that was my major. And then I was going to be a personal trainer through college just because I liked it.

It would be good. I got my own hours. Ended up being with the first client I trained, it was an amazing success story. He lost over 70 pounds. He got over his high blood pressure, his cholesterol, his sleep apnea, like every aspect of his life, like radically improved to the point that he was just doing it because he had to do it for a job. 

And he ended up like he still, to this day, he maintains it. He’s running six days a week. He’s cooking all of his own food. And, like that high of helping somebody make such a drastic change, I knew I wasn’t gonna get them in Computer Science. So basically I was like, “I gotta figure out a way to make this a real lucrative career.”

So, that’s when I decided to start Fit2Go. And then that origin story is a big part of what Fit2Go is about because we really have two main missions of Fit2Go. 

The philosophy That differentiates Dani’s business

Dani: The first is with the clients. So the whole point is that I always wanted a trainer who would take responsibility for my results.

So important for them to get me in shape versus most trainers where they just give work out sessions and then it doesn’t really work. And that’s what I was seeing in the gym — I was getting workouts, scripting, great workouts but clients weren’t seeing results. 

For personal trainers, that’s one of my long term missions, to really raise the standard of personal training, what it means to be a personal trainer for what a quality personal training service is.

So, the first part of Fit2Go is to actually take responsibility for client results and the nutrition coaching, the daily accountability, everything that actually makes change.

But the second part is that for personal trainers. That’s one of my long term missions, to really raise the standard of personal training, what it means to be a personal trainer for what a quality personal training service is.

And then the education level of a personal trainer. And then by doing all that, the public perception of personal training and the amount of money that a personal trainer can really earn.

I want it to be the case that personal trainers, just like physical therapy, you know, physical therapists are getting to their job and their employer tells them “Cool, now go spend all day on the floor, trying to sign up patients and you’ll get a small percentage of that.” Which is the percentage set up for most personal trainers.

So those two things are really what we’re all about. 

4 Key things that got Dani’s in home training business off the ground

Kristy: Hmm. Nice. So, that’s really an inspiring origin story. I think for a lot of trainers, that sounds familiar to them. 

Now the next big question is how did you make that jump?  How did you get so much traction? I don’t know what year this was and how much staff you have now. 

Dani: So, I started Fit2Go in the summer of 2013. I was 21 at the time and I only was in, I got certified in 2012. So, I’m going to train for a year, but I basically started it.

I think that my ignorance, my lack of knowledge about business and my lack of knowledge about any formal business training ended up being a huge benefit for me because I didn’t overthink things. 

At that moment, what matters is the specific result I’m trying to get. It doesn’t matter about the right way. What matters is what will work in this specific situation. And so that was my approach to all of it.

And I figured everything out as I went. 

  • Learning how to create his own website (despite the time investment)

The biggest case of that is with WordPress. I had a very  good idea of what I wanted for the website. So, everybody thought it was crazy. And I was stupid enough to waste all my time, learning WordPress, for like three months. And it was like the main thing I was doing all day, because now I own my site and I can change it as much as I want any quick update I wanna make, I can do. And it’s been so, it’s a huge asset. 

But the question was about how I made that jump. The way I modeled it was that I couldn’t really get hurt because it was set up on just like most gyms are set up on a commission basis originally. So, it was basically when clients came in, I would pass them off to trainers.

  • Trainers don’t have to do sales

The whole idea for trainers, I didn’t want to train staff to be salesmen. So I signed the clients and then I passed them off to the trainers to be a good fit for them. And so the trainers just get clients, they don’t do any sales.

  • Higher compensation to trainers than gyms

And I was paying them better than gyms are paying commission, but it was also a risk to me because I have no clients who came in. 

  • No overhead fixed costs

Well, we’re an in-home personal training business. I have almost no overhead. And when I started, I couldn’t afford, I didn’t have a phone. I had my cell phone, but I didn’t have a company phone. I didn’t have a website. 

But after the first few clients, I could afford the website and then I got the phone and then stuff like that and kind of just gradually built up from there.

Overcoming business owner imposter syndrome

Kristy: Nice. So you started in 2013. It sounds like you were signing people up,  whenever you had a new prospect, you’d go out, you’d do the sign up and then you’d kind of repeat the process.

At what point did it feel like it was starting to really pick up or running truly being a business. 

Dani: It’s funny because I’ve had that moment so many times, I think probably every year I say to somebody, “Okay, now it’s like a real business.” It always felt like it, especially because I dropped out of college, but I was still living in a college apartment.

My friends were still in frat. I felt like I was playing dress up every day. And that’s what a lot of it is. I was honestly too scared, I hid my age. I wasn’t the face of the company for the first couple of years. 

And so, I didn’t even meet the trainers I was hiring specifically because I was nervous about going into an interview and then them being like, “Oh, this chap is the person that’s hiring?” So, I would talk to them over the phone, just out of fear. And then eventually as I went and just started getting my feet wet a little bit more, I got more comfortable with more and more things.

And yeah, it’s crazy looking at that though, scared to talk to the trainers I was interviewing. Transitioning to now where I’m regularly doing TV, but it’s the same thing with TV. I was very scared to do it the first time and I just got my feet wet. And you just, you get acclimated to whatever you force yourself to do.

How he used a professional look to make Craiglist become a lead goldmine for him

Kristy: For that first year, it sounds like you were self-conscious that you looked really young, and you know, it didn’t feel like it was real business yet. How many interesting leads were you getting every week? 

Dani: Alright, so this is a funny story. So, at first, again, I didn’t even have a website. What I was doing, this was 2013, this was already when Craigslist was getting pretty shady, but not like it is now, but it was already less and less people were using it. 

I was posting to Craigslist every single day. I had a set ad and I just looked at that and I went all in on that. So like with Craigslist, the way it worked is like, after you post your ad, then there’ll be 20 other people that post that day.

And then in a couple hours and for the rest of the day, people can’t see your ad, but you can post as many as you want. So, I just kept posting the same ad every single day. So that it’s always at the top. 

And then I was shocked and it still doesn’t make sense to this day. For the first year at least of Fit2Go (2015, 2014), the vast majority of our clients have one steady lead source we had was Craigslist. 

And we specifically, we got a brain surgeon from Craigslist, so they weren’t like shady people. I don’t know why these people were looking for personal trainers on Craigslist. 

But what I understand from it is just that, of those people that were looking for them out of all those ads — most of them are random shirtless people taking selfies, really not with a professional company. So for whatever reason, the people that were looking at Craigslist, I think they would be most likely to go to us. I think that’s why that works.

Kristy: Wow. Nice. All right. So Craigslist, I love it. I love that it was free.

How many leads were you getting a week? 

Dani: I don’t remember exactly, but it’s been gradually picking up ever since then. So, I remember like the first three leads we got was so clear in my mind but I don’t remember the exact progression after that. 

Kristy: Yeah. And I can relate a lot.

When I first moved to New York city, I started a tennis school and I had to get a lot of remote locations. And so, in essence, I relate because I had a lot of teachers who went to remote locations. And I would just post on Craigslist for: Do you need a tennis coach?

And I wait for people like, “Oh my God, no one called today.” And so I relate.

Dani: What year ago? 

Kristy: Yeah, that was, I just moved to New York. I just graduated college. So, I was pretty young, I was 23 . I think it was 2007.

Dani: Oh, Craigslist was popular back then.

How he changed his

Kristy: Yeah, it was still kind of going in different directions. So, when did you hire your first trainer? And when did you get them to actually have a real income?

Dani: Right away. I started hiring trainers the day after I founded the business. I started advertising, answered many trainers and I hired them within that month. 

And again, it worked because I didn’t owe them anything, when clients came in, I was giving them a much better percentage, like double of what most trainers were getting at gyms. And they don’t have to do any sales, that was the biggest thing for them. 

So the original setup was in theory it could be if you had a full time schedule, you could make a good amount of money. But as a personal trainer will know, it doesn’t work that way, right? You may have random sporadic clients here and there and they get out of town they cancel, they don’t show off, they flake. You don’t have sessions back to back. So they were all back then part time. 

And it was in 2016 I think when I realized, “Oh, I don’t want part-time trainers. I want people to know that this is their only thing.” This is the main company focus on every single day and really giving everything to the clients because that’s the kind of service we want to create.

And that was actually I didn’t know, my plan was I thought it was going to be like what everybody else does, there’s a million of these out there, create a website and get leads and then have a trainer sign up and then pass them to the trainer to take a small commission. But I realized very, very soon after that, that’s not what I wanted.

Even if it wouldn’t be lucrative, what I wanted was to build a real, elite personal training service that I was proud of. And so then that’s what I started doing from there. And there’s been a lot of iterations in the type of trainer we hire, the way that we structured things since then, but it’s just been figuring it out.

 

How Paying double to trainers AND not requiring them to do sales paid off for Dani

[23:27] Kristy: Yeah, that actually is a question that was on my mind, for when we ran bumblebee  tennis, which was what I ran in New York city. And, it was a ball with a little bumblebee on it. I mean, the ball was the bumblebee, and there was a head, it was great.  

But what was hard about it for me was I literally was so stressed every day because of the 24/7 business. I was stressed because my trainers were mostly college kids who just got to college, who were looking for real jobs, that’s why they would work for me because everyone comes to New York City for their dream, whether they’re going to become on Broadway or something.

So, they weren’t super dedicated and that was a challenge. And even if they were kind of dedicated, they still weren’t really super dedicated because for me, we had load times. So, even if I wanted to give them full time hours, it was hard because everyone needed all the classes, maybe an afternoon for the kids and then in the evening for the adults. And it was just, I just found it really hard. 

So, my big question, and it sounds like you really started thinking about how to solve some of this, is how did you do staffing? What was your commission structure? How did you filter them and how did you attract them to work for you so that you could offer the level of service you wanted?

Dani: So, the biggest thing was just the fact that the first sentence of any ads you put it in on indeed or anywhere would say: Personal trainers should be trainers, not salesmen. And just being very clear because that’s the biggest thing.

For most personal trainers they go through, they get their exercise science or kinesiology, they’ll get their national recognized certification, they get everything, they don’t find out until after they finally land their job at the gym that, “Oh, my job is not to be a trainer whatsoever.” Nobody cares about that.

My job is to sell people on personal training and it wasn’t a very, very different job. And most trainers are naturally not good at it. And so, most fitness business advisors will tell you to get good at sales and push for that. But I want to push towards a person who doesn’t need to be a salesman.

My job is to sell people on personal training and it wasn’t a very, very different job. And most trainers are naturally not good at it. But I want to push towards a personal trainer who doesn’t need to be a salesman.

And if a trainer wants to themselves, that’s great, but it should not be intertwined. It should not be that in order to be a trainer you have to be able to sell people. 

Kristy: Hmm. Okay. So you attracted them because you let them know they don’t have to be salespeople.

 You mentioned that you gave them almost double. So, is that like instead of 25, 50%? What was the percentage that worked for your business? 

Dani: I don’t remember the exact ones that were back then, but it was whatever the normal starting rate was around gyms. It was double that. 

Another 360 change to his business model – why he pays all trainers $40k full time!

Kristy: Okay. All right.  So, you offered more. 

In 2016, you mentioned, you really started to think about whether you wanted this full time trainer.

I’m assuming you, you kind of had a steady stream of clients now, so you could kind of mold the schedule more. Still, this was three years after you’ve been going at it. What were the main five things, or if there’s more or less that you started to hone it to adjust, to keep this trainer that you wanted?

Dani: To keep the trainer or to keep enough clients coming in?

 Kristy: More on the trainer side, the staffing side, maybe not to keep, but how did you design your staffing and HR so that you would attract the top trainers who were dedicated full time to you? How did you design the schedule? How did you do design? Was it ever hard to attract good talent to your company?

Dani: Yeah. So, what I did I just got us on Google and then we got a lot of  Google reviews. So, when you Google: Personal Trainer Baltimore, we usually come up as one of the top because we have the most reviews out of any personal training services in Baltimore. And also, because of a lot of the media I’ve done, our site ranks highly.

So most of our clients would come from Google. They look for a personal trainer, they see us, they like what they see and then they apply. And so that was steady.

And then in terms of the structuring for the trainers, it’s been a big learning process. One of the biggest things I’ve learned is how to manage people.

What is realistic? What works? And the biggest thing is the way I try to structure it now is that there’s an NDA and a cultural jig where the idea is that rather than setting up a system that you need a really good person that needs to be super self-motivated and dedicated to whatever to be able to do it, you want to create the system that even the dumbest person possible could do it so that it doesn’t require any extra effort and have the person put their focus on other things that matter. 

For example, don’t have a complicated system for tracking notes. Make that as simple as possible so they can do a good job and focus their attention on the clients, things like that. 

So, that’s been one of the biggest things we optimize over the years. But most recently last year in 2019, officially started paying trainers to basically create a full time position where we pay a salary of 40K a year and that’s guaranteed for the trainer.

If we have enough clients coming in, we tell the trainers the risk is on us now. So even before it was, “Yeah, we’ll give you clients to get a good commission.” And now it’s, “You don’t even have to worry about that. Doesn’t make a difference. You’re just gonna have a full time schedule.”

If they miss a couple of clients, they’ll do something else too, complimentary sessions, whatever, but you’re going to have a set schedule, set amount of money every semi-monthly, so it’s on these dates every month. And that is huge because that doesn’t exist. 

Kristy: Yeah. Wow. All right. So when were you able to jump to full time salary trainers?

Dani: Last year 2019.

Kristy: Okay. How many clients do they see a week to make a full time person? 

 Dani: I don’t know the number of clients because it depends. The answer is 30 sessions, so that’s the max. And then we factor in the amount of times.

So, our main thing is not sessions. Our main thing is program design and holding them accountable every single day, coaching our clients, and teaching them. We do a lot of that remotely through our apps. So, 10 office hours and 30 training sessions. 

Kristy: Oh, I see. So, the office hours are messaging their clients and checking in with them. 

Dani: Overseeing their programs, designing them, tweaking them. Yes. 

Kristy: Do they do the office hours literally in an office near you or at their own at home?

Dani: They did until March.

Solving the home training businesses’ biggest dilemma: Getting trainers to their next client efficiently and on time.

Kristy: Okay. So, 30 sessions. What about travel time? How did you figure that to make sure they have enough time between clients? 

Dani: That’s one of the trickiest things. I think that’s probably why there’s been no real in-home personal training company that’s really, really scaled nationally. There’s a couple of trying to right now, but I think that that piece is what nobody’s quite figured out.

So, one example early on, because I kept having people like, “Oh, well this area is great. Go here. This area is great, go here.” And especially again, I had no business experience, I have no business knowledge or anything. So, when you’re getting so much advice from so many people who generally know a lot more than you, it’s hard to choose what to go with.

But one of the things I was very confident about is that I needed to choose one area and get as dense as possible in that area for that exact reason. Right? Like if I have a client in one city and if I have one in another city that’s half an hour away, that’s going to be chaos and then rush hour and an unexpected traffic and things like that.

So, the system that we’ve set up and it’s still not perfect, but as we grow and as we kind of fine tune our systems more, it’s set up to be 45-minute sessions, 15-minute drive time. So, it’s a session still with a client every hour, like you would at a gym, it’s just structured very well like that.

And now as we’re growing, we’re able to kind of pinpoint clients to more trainers, to more specific areas. And now we have a lot of relationships with property management companies. So, in apartment complexes or office buildings that have gyms there, we can just station a trainer there, like all day.

And that’s beautiful.

 

The free-rent-apartment-gym business model that can skyrocket your business

[30:36] Kristy: When did you start doing apartment complexes? 

Dani: So, we always had clients from apartment complexes from the beginning, but we started really setting up these partnerships with apartment complexes 2018, 2019, the most last year. 

Kristy: Yeah. I love that because they can just kind of be stationed there and then you still don’t really have to pay rent.

If someone, if a trainer was interested in doing that in their area, how would they set up that relationship? 

Dani: It’s seemingly tougher for sure if you’re just an independent trainer. Mine was more thorough, I set it up with high up on the corporate. So, my biggest partnership is with Bozzuto, who’s like a very big property company all up and down the East Coast. 

So, then through there I learned a lot. And then I took that model and then I didn’t technically do it. So, I sent our director to go to another apartment complex and basically explained to them what we’d offer. 

So, for the apartment complex, and this is the biggest piece for personal trainers to understand how it’s pitched, the apartment complex wants to have trainers because they constantly get asked that by the residents, “Oh, do you guys have trainers?” And they have to say “No.” 

And the reason they say no is because they don’t want to, even if they are told, or there are great recognitions for some personal trainer, once they say, “Yeah, here, I recommend this person.” Then whatever happens, that person is going to be coming back and they’re going to be liable for it.

So, that’s what they want to avoid. It’s just policy amongst most apartment complexes is: “We don’t have personal trainers, we don’t recommend them. You can bring in your own, but that’s it.”

And so we solve this for them by saying that, “Hey, we provide personal training services.” They can say that we have onsite, nationally certified personal trainers. We have our own liability insurance. We signed waivers and set it up so that they have no liability. So, it’s perfect for them. 

And so we solve this for them by saying that, “Hey, we provide personal training services.” They can say that we have onsite, nationally certified personal trainers. We have our own liability insurance. We signed waivers and set it up so that they have no liability. So, it’s perfect for them.  

And so they have this awesome amenity. And then what we do is we give a free a week to every single resident that wants to sign up. And a lot of those clients and residents start becoming clients.

But a lot of those residents just want to take advantage of the free week and we can do that because we have full time trainers, right. So, we’re paying them either way so we can fill up a session. And then, for the apartment complexes, that’s just amazing. Like you’re going to give every single one of my residents and they’ll often ask this question, like, what’s the cost?

This is for us, we can grow our business this way, but for you, it’s a free amenity. It’s just a win all around. 

Payroll Cost Changes with full time trainers

Kristy: Wow. Yeah, that sounds like a really big win.

And you’ve mentioned more times about how really it doesn’t feel like a cost in a sense, because maybe you were already paying them to train or anyways. Overall, specifically on that question, since it’s a recent change, has your per session price in a sense, gone down?

And has your overall payroll gone down or has it really gone up? Or has it stayed the same with  full time salaries? Well, let’s just start off with overall payroll, has it gone down or has it gone up?

Dani: When we switched from part time to full time? 

Kristy: Yeah. 

Dani: We’re paying them more for sure, because, even if, basically we’re spending the same amount every single week. Most trainers will know this, if you run your own business or even if you don’t, if you’re in a gym, you only get paid per session. 

So, you know, your payment is so sporadic and in theory, all of these sessions scheduled, if they all happen, I would make X amount of money, but I’m really gonna make half of that because they cancel, or they show up but their payment doesn’t go through and all this stuff happens.

So, it really doesn’t even matter what the technical setup was before. The difference is just that now we are paying them no matter what, a good amount of money, every two or twice a month. So, it ends up being a good amount more. 

Kristy:  So I’m imagining payroll is the highest. You’re always in a way trying to manage that for your net profit. 

It sounds like you’re saying your payroll essentially went up, like that number as a percentage of revenue went up, is that what’s happened?

And assuming you’ve justified that in a way, whether it’s going to become a return in the future and that you plan on your revenue going up, because now you can do more comps or you’re retaining customers better. I’m just curious how you mentally process, “I’m okay with additional payroll costs.”

Dani: Well, it was not really like that for me, because this is like I told you in the beginning, this is my mission. From the beginning, I wanted to create careers for personal trainers, not random part-time salesmen and make some money here and there on the side. While you’re also a lifeguard and a DJ, I want you to get real careers. 

I don’t have a lot of expenses either. I don’t spend too much on myself personally, because I’m always working. So, any expenses will have some correlation to the business. And this is like, the overhead was it’s gone up now as we’ve grown.

But at the beginning it was so, “Oh, what do I need? I need a phone, I need a website.” That’s pretty much it in the beginning. 

Weekly Key Performance Indicators (KPI) – Goals vs Actuals for full time trainers

Kristy: Right, right. Okay. So for the 30 sessions, you mentioned that a full time personal trainer does a week. Do they always do 30?

Do they pretty much always meet that? And if so, what percentage of the 30 sessions is paid sessions? 

Dani: Most weeks trainers don’t have exactly 30. They are most likely to be around like 25 to 30 and then some weeks, it will be like, “Oh, they rescheduled some things.” So then they have like 31 some week. 

But it used to be 30 is the maximum.  Our goal is to keep them at 30, but it’s constantly changing, right? Clients are always probing, programs are starting, people are moving. And so it’s constantly around, but we aim to shoot for them at 30.

 

How to manage Trainers to feel like a team

[35:32] Kristy: Yeah. Talking about staffing, because that’s the trick, your staff is your biggest asset, what do you do to maintain like a team feeling?

Even though we won’t assume it’s during quarantine times, but usual times, what did you do to help people feel the Fit2Go culture and the brand? And they felt like a team. 

Dani: So it’s a good question. And this is something that  I had to learn a lot over the years. The best way to put it is that I don’t start off trying to be a boss. And then as years went on, I started understanding more of what it means to be a leader and basically to be able to get people to do something in a way that they want to do it versus in a way that they are doing resentfully.

And so I did for a year, last year 2019, we were doing these monthly team events where I’d pay we would all go out to dinner or we would go bowling. We would do whatever just for the team building there. We’ve stopped those since but our team is much closer than it was then.

 Because (A) it just comes down to hiring the right people, right? And every time we hire, we get a little bit better, learn a little bit. But then (B) it comes down to how you manage or lead them. And that’s the biggest thing. Doing those team building events, it’s a nice thing on paper, but if you’re doing that in the context of bad management, it does not matter, nobody cares.

So it’s more on the relationship and the way we approach managing the trainers where I don’t want to be your boss. I want as much as possible for this to be a partnership where we’re both treating this as mature adults. It’s very clear what our responsibilities are.

We come to our meetings ready to roll and we both have this joint common goal of helping Sally lose 50 pounds or whoever it is. And then, we’re just working on that common goal together. And so, I think that approach makes the biggest difference, just like treating them as a mature adult but expecting that they can hit it.

How to ensure top performance from trainers who train out of sight

Kristy: Okay. It sounds like it created a foundation or at least a cohesion. 

I guess my next question is, since a lot of the sessions are happening not under your supervision at other places and maybe the trainer shows up in time and communicates with you well. What do you do to make sure that they’re staying on top of their game at the client’s home? 

Dani: So, what we do is every single week, the director, who was me until last year now I have another director, every Monday, the whole day is blocked off for we can check in with every trainer.

And so we go for an hour, each trainer goes through, usually sits down in the office and we talk about every single client’s program. Exactly what our goal was with them this past week, and how it played out. So for example, we had John who was supposed to do a workout on Monday, had a session on Wednesday and he was supposed to log his nutrition over the weekend.

Cool. That was the plan. Did he do it? And what we’re looking at mostly is fine tuning. How do we help them adhere? Because that’s the entire game. It’s not hard to develop a plan for somebody. It’s hard to be a coach and to get them to actually want to follow through. And in many  ways, there’s a lot of correlation between coach and client and managing a trainer.

It’s the same thing. You’re just trying to get somebody to do what they already want themselves to do, but need help, they need leadership. So, we go through all those, every single client on every single trainer and we go through that. And so there’s a lot of accountability there. And, what we’re starting to do more now is to standardize the check ins with the clients, standardized like surveys being sent to us in those check ins.

But for the most part, yeah, it’s just the trainer they’re on their own with the client. 

Kristy: Yeah, I love that. I think that speaks words. So, you’re saying weekly, your director meets with every trainer and talks to them about every client and goes over their notes and their progress.

And the trainer is able to kind of process if they’re doing well or what they need to change. 

Dani: Right. And so that’s the difference. It’s like when I worked at a gym, the only meetings we ever had were about sales. It was about how many sales you make to make that better. Nobody ever asked me or cared once what I was doing with any client, what, who the clients were, what results we’re getting, it didn’t matter.

And so, the difference is that we’re focused on results and the trainers are not involved in sales. So, all we’re doing with them is we’re very detailed with the exact thing for every single client, every single week. And we track everything. 

And so, the difference is that we’re focused on results and the trainers are not involved in sales. So, all we’re doing with them is we’re very detailed with the exact thing for every single client, every single week. And we track everything. 

We have an assessment that says, “Okay, this is our goal for the month, here’s our plan to hit it.

These weekly habits we’re doing. And then we’re constantly getting better every single week because every week we’re getting more data of, “Okay, that works for this person, that might apply in this situation with this other person.” And so that’s how we’ll see that we’re getting better each week.

Kristy: Yeah, I like that. And I think that’s really brilliant and it shows a lot of love because I think any type of coaching company, there’s business coaching companies and stuff, and they can all fall into the same trap of just focusing on sales but is the client really improving?

And I think that there’s a lot of not just personal training, coaching, but general coaching companies that don’t even know, don’t necessarily do that. So, I liked that a lot. 

For retaining your trainers, it sounds like that was a big change to move over to full time. How many trainers do you currently have full time and how long have they been with you or on average?

 Dani: Right now, we have five full time trainers and in the process of hiring several more before COVID, but then COVID messed with that. And then the average I’d say is about a year, most of them around that. That’s when we started making the change for the full time trainers.

Kristy: when you made the move to full time trainers, how many trainers did you have then? I guess some of them were part time or a bunch of them were part time. 

Dani: We had the same amount, but some of them were more full time schedules, some of them were part time. It wasn’t like a set. It was a completely different system. So, the way we operate is completely different now. And so it’s different people.

People came in that were coming into a full time job, giving it their everything. 

How to attract and retain top trainers

Kristy: Yeah. You said you on average, the trainer sticks around one year and I get that you just started full time, so it’s kind of hard to gauge, but let’s just say not thinking about full time or part time, do your top trainers generally stay with you for about a year or longer? 

Dani: My top trainers would stay longer. And, it’s very hard to find top trainers. So, that’s been true for most of Fit2Go’s existence. We didn’t have an issue getting clients, because we had a good reputation. We had an issue finding good trainers to uphold that reputation.

And so, that’s what a lot of us started doing. I started doing guest lectures at local universities just to get word out there more. I wrote an article,  it was originally called 5 Ways Gyms Screw Over Personal Trainers. For whatever reason I just checked it and actually, I changed it to 5 Ways Gyms Take Advantage of Personal Trainers. 

And, that’s the number one article on the site right now. Like if you Google “take advantage of personal trainers” that will come up and that’s the most hits I’ve got. So, it just shows how big the problem is in the personal training industry.

 

How Dani designs his programs to build up to 100 recurring clients per week!

[41:52] Kristy: Yeah. It’s interesting. Well going into this, I thought that we might talk about a number of different things, but really you’ve done well here. And your business has really transitioned,  it’s how you treat and manage your  onsite personal trainers.

So, that’s really cool. How many clients do you have assuming that most of them come in once or twice a week? 

Dani: We have about a hundred. 

Kristy: Okay. And if you don’t mind me asking, about  how often do they usually come in?

Dani: It ranges from one to three times per week. 

Kristy:  I know that there’s a range of goals, some want to lose weight for their wedding and some are maintenance. Would you say more of your clients are maintenance or they’re done with their program or do most of them just stay with you?

Dani: So, we do 12-month programs usually. The idea is that over the next year, we’ll clients will start coming to us after having seen all the BS out there. 

They’ve already done Medifast, they’ve already done a Nutrisystem, they’ve done the juice cleanse and fast and all of the bootcamps or whatever, the challenges. And they realized, “Cool. Even if I can do something insane and lose 30 pounds in a month, I’m just going to gain 50 pounds back next month.”

And so, they usually come to us ready and they read our site, they thought of it for a while, they know, and they’ve applied and they’re ready to go. 

The idea is it’s really an investment like nobody can work for them. It’s also really important that we explain the point is to not only hit your goals, but to develop the knowledge, experience and habits. To make sure that this is not a one time thing, this is not something you’re gonna do again, next year.

The idea is it’s really an investment like nobody can work for them. It’s also really important that we explain the point is to not only hit your goals, but to develop the knowledge, experience and habits. To make sure that this is not a one time thing, this is not something you’re gonna do again, next year.

You’re going to do it. And for the next decade, that should stick until there’s a radical, radical change in your life. And even then, ideally it should stick. But you should develop the habits and skills necessary to cope with different things that come your way after working through with the coach for a year, you should be set for whatever comes your way, you know, how to handle it, to make, to keep fitness.

It’s all about adapting your approach to keep fitness a part of your lifestyle. So, you’re still going out with friends, you’re going about it or whatever, and still making it work. 

Kristy: Yeah. I love that you just told them the program. I think that I imagine people doing maybe like three months minimum, six months, but 12 months, that’s solid.

Oh, so about how much do they pay for a session? 

Dani: So, we don’t sell per session because we don’t do per session, but the biggest part of our programs is what’s happening outside of the session. 

So again, we’re doing the daily coaching where we’re coaching in their habits. We’re sending the exact workouts you can do on their own. And we teach them in the session how to work out so that they can then repeat that on their own. 

That’s why we have clients who even if they’re doing one session a week, so they’re only paying for that lower rate, but they’re still going to be coached every single day of the week.

And so they’re not working out once per week, they just have it with their trainer once a week. And then they have the rest planned for Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, or whatever, and the nutrition.  So, the rates range from $79 to $195 a week. 

In the current global environment what opportunities does Dani see for his remote training business?

Kristy: Okay. My next question is, you mentioned that that’s why there’s no nationwide in-home personal training company, or there’s some trying to go, but you’re doing well.

And it sounds like you’re also saying that it’s really important to get dense in a certain area because of the travel thing. So, being in fitness, this specific business, honing in and management, it’s been about seven years since you first started, what do you see in your current position as how you want to grow?

Are you going to grow more densely? Go more after apartment buildings? What’s your opportunity in general?

Dani: So, if you’d asked me this three months ago, it would have been the property management companies because we’ve developed continually every month. We need relationships with not individual properties, but the property management. So that’s huge. Once we get one relationship there, then they might have 10 buildings in Baltimore that we’re then going into.

And it’s not just Baltimore. Most of these companies are in 30 States. Whenever you’re ready to expand here, we can go there also. So, that will still be a push for sure.

Actually, I just got back right before this podcast. We just stopped off at one of our apartment partnerships and we were filming where they have a nice courtyard. We’re filming workout sessions out there, let them know, “Hey, even if the gym is closed, you can work out with the trainer right now.” 

I don’t know about online yet. I play with it a couple of times. I play with it again now. I know that it can be done. I know that we could do it. I don’t know how effective it will be for our clientele because for our clientele, they’re usually very highly educated. They’re very, very driven, disciplined, but they have so much else that is driving them with family and careers. A lot of them are entrepreneurs, lawyers, doctors, a lot of medical professionals, a lot of doctors. And for them, for a lot of them, they know what to do. They need a person, it’s not about a plan or whatever, they need a person. 

Virtual has worked well, surprisingly well, like with all of our clients they’ve done really, really well. So, that’s changed my mind a little bit. My answer to that is I’m kind of thinking it through as I’m answering you. I’m more open to the idea with a virtual but I don’t think our move is going to be the other kind of online training where you’re really just sending people a program.

Kristy: I see. That’s really interesting since you have so much experience in this.

Stay tuned for the Part 2 of this interview with Dani!

Dani Singer

Facebook: Dani Singer
Facebook Page: Fit2GoPersonalTraining
Website: Fit2GoPT

 

 

 

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