How to get senior citizen training clients (Interview with Ronnie Loaiza)

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Highlights from the interview

[08:35] – What website apps are working and not working to get new clients

[08:35] – A unique NON-social media method to get new clients calling you – especially senior clients

[08:35] – The sales technique she uses to close clients over the phone and eventually get them to be long-term clients

[08:35] – And how she leverages this technique so effectively she doesn’t even have to give out comps!

About our Guest

Sudden impairing back pain that motivated her to become a senior trainer

At the age of 41, Ronnie was very healthy working in the corporate world as a publicist. However, one day she started to experience back pain that got increasingly worse.

She ended up seeing multiple specialists that told her only options were surgery, pain pills and stretching. Finally through a recommendation, she started training with a personal trainer that was a corrective exercise specialist and she eventually found her pain gone!

That was her turning point where she became fascinated with health and fitness. 

After some encouragement from her trainer, she decided leave her corporate job and became a personal trainer herself at the age of 46!

From her experience she was naturally interested in the older population and working around injuries. She’s built a strong personal training business in the competitive LA market with a strong niche in the senior citizen market.

From doing chair classes, silver sneakers and privates with seniors, she has become very familiar with converting them to clients and keeping them as customers for a very long time.

I’m excited to have Ronnie on the show because she can help any listeners who are interested in working with the growing senior population.

Edited transcription of Fitness Business Secrets Podcast, Episode 3

Kristy: Ronnie, I love to know more about you and your fitness business.

Ronnie: Great! My name is Ronnie and I’m a senior fitness specialist. Although I’ve been training in general from ages 14 to about 104, and I’m not kidding, my oldest one was a hundred and four, all kinds of people, women, men, but I really realized that there was a need for the growing population.

I became a personal trainer when I was turning 46. I mean, I woke up one morning and thought,

What am I going to do the next 20 years of my life? I’ll become a personal trainer.

Finding her passion and training various ages

That was a really long story behind that, but it was because I was starting to discover that after 40, the issue starts changing just for normal, regular people like me.

And so I happened. Well, just what normally happens to a lot of people. I started aching a little here, a little tennis elbow there. My hip, the same, you know, and in my generation we did a lot of, I don’t know if you remember the word aerobics? It’s cardio, but it used to be aerobics.

I used to run as well. I used to jog. Well, all of that just came onto my body like a lot of people. Running was bad for my knees, but I didn’t realize it in my twenties. Things start happening as you age.

I was in really good shape, I’m a dancer before, but once your body starts feeling the impacts literally.

After going to several doctors and my hip started hurting and my back started hurting, I finally met with a personal trainer.

And this is like after five care chiropractors to Western medical doctors. I tried acupuncture. I tried everything to help my elbow, to help my hip, to help my knees.

So a chiropractor actually put me with a personal trainer or certified corrective exercise specialist. I don’t hurt anymore and I weight train and I do my cardio. I don’t hurt.

I just had to learn how to work out properly and that’s how I became a personal trainer.

When everybody else was personal trainers in their twenties I was becoming a personal trainer in my forties.

That’s because my personal trainer and I used to read these research and she started telling me — you need to become a personal trainer, because I had such an interest in it.

Different people train differently. That’s what’s called personal. It’s not cookie cutter.

Different people train differently. That’s what’s called personal. It’s not cookie cutter.

It’s not something you read in a magazine and you know that one kind of workout works for everybody.

You have to modify and adapt and the trainer really focuses on watching you and monitoring you and asking you how you feel from the inside out.

So I took such an interest in it. I decided to study and get my certification. I’m with NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association), and since I was growing older, I just saw that a lot of people at the gym, especially the older people were doing the same thing.

If I’m my own walking billboard, if I look good and more importantly I feel good and I’m strong, the people that are my age and older are going to trust me.

That’s how I got into the senior fitness and NSCA happens to have a certification in it.

Changing her career and reinventing herself

Kristy: Your story is very fascinating to me and really inspiring. I always love it when someone changes their career despite whether they’re in their forties, fifties, or sixties.

What were you doing before you became a trainer?

Ronnie: I was in public relations and writing. It was a lot of cubicle work and all that.

And I was doing a little bit of acting, but not much.

I was doing mostly commercials and a lot of voiceovers because I speak Spanish and I live in Los Angeles, there was a need for it.

When I became a personal trainer, that kind of went out the window because I couldn’t take off all my clients to go.

I totally reinvented myself. I was not in the fitness industry at all.

Kristy: Just making that leap, for someone who decides they want to become a personal trainer, is scary because you don’t know if you have customers yet, and you have to build it up.

Overcoming self-doubt and worries

Kristy: Did you have any doubt? Or worried about what your family or friends will say?

Ronnie: Not really. It’s funny because people just giggled and said, Okay.

I think, cause they know me and I’m very, if nothing else, tenacious, not the best of a certain thing, but I’m tenacious.

I don’t give up until I find the right way to do it or what’s going to work for me.

I don’t give up until I find the right way to do it or what’s going to work for me.

I felt like I see the need for good trainers because I had trainers before, and I’m sorry, I’m not trying to put anybody down, but I think you have a good trainer until you have a good trainer because they’re unfortunately are just repetition counters.

And I’ve had those before. You get free training at a gym for like three and then they try to sign you up and you see, you can tell the difference.

But once I had a really good personal trainer, it’s like the light went on.

So I wanted to be a good trainer the best I could. And really help people.

And I know people say that, but it was the truth. A lot of people become personal trainers, especially in LA, only because they think it’s a great side job and those who think that way start falling by the wayside.

If I can become a personal trainer at my age, women my age and older will trust me because they know that I know what they’re talking about, especially a premenopausal, menopausal, and going through the aches and pains and challenges just like them.

This town is not just being a waiter anymore. It’s, Oh, I’ll be a personal trainer. I can make money on the side.

So, to answer your question, yes, I was in my forties and I thought, if I can become a personal trainer at my age, women my age and older will trust me because they know that I know what they’re talking about, especially a premenopausal, menopausal, and going through the aches and pains and challenges just like them.

Our hormones start changing. Our metabolism starts changing. Our bones start to lose bone mass. After 40, everybody starts losing muscle mass. So, they know that I know what I’m talking about.

Kristy: Yeah. Okay. So it sounds like you knew you could relate with them, so you’re confident you could get clients that related with you.

The senior citizen market and different fitness levels

Kristy: How many clients do you have who you’d consider senior citizens?

Ronnie: Well, it goes up and down. As you know, in our industry, it ebbs and flows. I never call them senior citizens. I happen and be in senior fitness because the bulk of my clientele right now are women.

I would think from 40 to 55 but again, this time last year I had a lot more men. Then on my roster, sometimes I only have two. Right now, I have two.

But not just senior citizens because I also train in silver sneakers, which is giving classes at gyms and they’re given people work out using chairs.

We don’t get up unless we really want to, but we really don’t do anything running around or cardio. We do everything with the chair sitting down. You can stand up, but we’re not doing anything that runs around the room.

I also teach classes at senior centers, so these clients are completely different. And I am answering your question in a way because at the senior facilities, a lot of them can’t move.

They have walkers, they have wheelchairs. But a 67-year old person in a senior care center is probably there because their adult kids can’t take care of them very well at home. That’s why they go to a center.

But I have clients who live on their own and their fitness level is completely different, and they’re over 70 years old, and you would think they’re younger than me.

So, that’s what I mean by “Fitness levels are completely different.” You don’t go by age now. My roster is mostly what we would call middle age or baby boomers, but these changes and I have all types of fitness levels.

I don’t know if you just read about the guy, I think he’s 71 who did a three hour — the plank guy. I think it was eight hours or something. Crazy. Yeah. I think it was eight hours. And I know 20-year olds, they can’t do a plank for even 30 seconds.

Kristy: All right. Well, would you say then, I’m kind of thinking of senior citizens in the way of these are the types of people who would take a silver sneakers and maybe they have special needs because they’re older.

Ronnie: Maybe not, we’re not going to talking about the super fit senior seniors, which we’ve all seen them and thought Well, if we can be like them one day, that’s great. But I’m talking about the ones who we have to be gentle with, in multiple ways, because their fitness is also kind of older.

Health is something to keep in mind.

Kristy: How would you describe that market for you? Would you say that’s the market that you’re going to do group classes with mostly at the senior centers? Do they do actually sign up for private lessons, private sessions, one-on-one?

Do they do private group classes and one at home? I was just curious what you would shoot for if you’re trying to target this market.

3 Locations Where to Train the Senior Market

1: Training seniors at home

Ronnie: I think you’re going to shoot for, again, the wide range. I have people who train more comfortably that they’re at their own home. They don’t want to leave their house.

But let’s say their adult kids contact me. Their adult kids are in their thirties and forties and 50s and they want somebody to come and train their mom or dad at home who doesn’t like go into the gym like a lot of people.

They’re not frail by any means. You just have to know what their issues are, what their concerns are.

2: Training seniors at a senior care facility

And then there’s the second market where you’re contracted by a senior care facility. And that’s very easy. You use like one pound, two pound dumbbells. They’re the ones with the dementia, the Alzheimer’s, the breathing problems or those who can’t walk.

3: Training seniors at a gym or private studio

And then you have the bulk of my clientele who just call themselves women and men of a certain age. And they got that tendonitis, they got that hip surgery, they’ve got that knee replacement, but they’re out and about, they want to lose some weight and they want to stay in shape.

They go to the gym, or I train them at a private studio, or I train them at their home just like everybody else.

They want to know that you’re not some kid putting them to bootcamp and can’t relate to what they’re going through.

But I have to know what’s going on with them and relate to them. So most of my clientele is in that. A lot of people over 50 and 60 still work. They’re still in the workforce.

I know a guy who is an attorney. I think he’s 74 now. He goes to work every day. I guess my clientele is from middle-aged to baby boomers. They want to know that you’re not some kid putting them to bootcamp and can’t relate to what they’re going through.

Kristy: I see. So they need a very personal approach because they probably have some type of injury or some type of thing we’re working around or just normal.

Ronnie: That’s just it. Your knees give out or you started having the hip problem or the back problems and you have to be able to relate to that because that’s not necessarily an injury.

My clients tell me that a lot of younger trainers just did not relate. They just didn’t get it. They just kept pushing.

These seniors don’t want to be treated with kid gloves, but they also don’t want to be pushed to do things they just can’t do or will hurt them.

How to find clients in the senior market

Kristy: How do you usually get your clients? How do they find you?

Ronnie: I’ve asked people how to find me, and the answer is mostly through the sites that you bid as a trainer, like YourTrainer and Thumbtack. People are really going to those. Also from Yelp.

I’ve gotten a few from my website, but once you get a few, it’s really word of mouth, referrals, referrals, referrals.

Most of the women are just really big advocates of mine because they want to feel like they’re empowered and that I relate them.

For example, this one lady, she knew of me for about three years, but it takes some time for people to just move on it. Like they see an ad on TV but they don’t move on it until finally they do.

She is 68 years old going on 69 and she just lost 20 pounds. She really wanted to just feel sexier. Yes. Because 68 is the new 48. I dunno. Yeah.

So much energy and she looks great, but she just got her confidence back. Her knees had been bothering her for quite a few years. But then she said when she started getting a little fat, and her clothes were a little snug, so she finally decided to contact me for a few sessions.

Well, she’s been with me since June. She keeps re-signing for packages. She’s lost 20 pounds, and her knees don’t hurt anymore. And when you think about it, 20 pounds is a lot of those little pieces.

She was not overweight. She was just more than her body really needed and she is stronger now, way stronger.

All she was doing was the same old, same old going Zumba here and there; going for walks and just the same old routine. And that’s the thing. A lot of people also just don’t have variety, especially in your 50s and 60s.

You’re used to playing tennis twice a week, or golf, I you walk the dog. But your body needs variety as you age.

They’re just afraid to try something new because they look into the window of their gym, they see these new classes that are going on, and they’re like, I can’t do that.

They see these people doing the athletic stuff and the bootcamp stuff or the CrossFits. They’re not going to try that. Just your normal, average Joe, is not going to try that.

Kristy: Yeah. I’m curious, you mentioned this person, I don’t remember her name is, and she knew about you for three years and then she reached out. Do you do anything in particular to stay on top of their mind because everyone is thinking about someone.

Marketing in the senior market

Kristy: Do you do newsletters, blog posts, how do you stay in touch with them?

Ronnie: Well, I know I should be better at social media. I really should. For a while, I was doing a blog and the last blog I did was Thanksgiving, so I gotta get on top of that again.

But I do find that the older clientele don’t find me through social media as much as through referrals.

But I do find that the older clientele don’t find me through social media as much as through referrals.

So just mostly health and also networking. It’s the other people, or like their adult kids who find me on social media.

My seniors do not find me on Instagram. They do Facebook, or they’ll do a Google search, basic Google search and keeping my name up there in the interest of the normal Google and Bing.

That’s how I get that sort of clientele.

Kristy: Oh, okay. So, you’re saying if the senior is looking for someone, they’ll probably do a Google search and then network and referral.

Growing your network in the senior market

Kristy: When you said network, do you do anything particular like going to a networking event or a fitness event? Or do you mean just your network?

Ronnie: Well, I do go to networking events. I was going to this woman’s network for a while and that sorta did word of mouth.

Then once in a while, like right now I’m getting ready to do another postcard.

The senior market loves postcards

Ronnie: I did a postcard thing where I did five different postcards. I sent it out every other month, different postcards, but to the same people. I also handed them out because like I said, repetition is key. You’re not going to get them on the first round.

They will start to thing that, Okay, I got a postcard from the same trainer in 10 months. Every other month and every postcard was different, but it’s the same trainer and maybe a different kind of workout or discount. And it’ll stick.

Then it’s going to hit them at the right time and they will feel like, Yeah, Okay. I’ll call it. Just like when people watch commercials, rarely do people respond to the first time they see a commercial.

It’s usually about the seventh or 10th time they see a commercial. It’s like, Oh yeah, that looks good. Oh yeah, that sounds good.

It does take persistence and it takes a long time to get to somebody or get to their psyche.

When I have my clients, they’re so enthusiastic about their training and people say, Oh, you look so good. What are you doing?

And then they’ll tell them about me. And then I’ll hear from that friend like almost a year later. People take time to act on it. So the personal referrals, even though my clients say, Oh, I referred you to a friend, you might hear from her, or you might hear from him after a year or so. It takes a while till they finally do call me or act on it.

Kristy: Yeah. And I’m actually really interested in this postcard thing because I get it. We all talk about newsletters, but then maybe this certain clientele, postcards is something the physical resounds with them more.

The magic of postcards for the senior market

Kristy: Would you say that you actually mail the postcard?

Ronnie: Yeah. Because seniors still check their mailbox way more than go on blogs or go on the computer.

Kristy: Wow. Okay. And we did ValPack twice, and then we did EDDM mail. but it wasn’t as targeted and we only did it once. I didn’t find like any response from that. So I’m just curious, what was your response rate?

How did you get these, addresses to mail and how many people whenever you do one mailing, I’m sure it costs bunch of money. How many customers do you get from that or re-signups?

Ronnie: I forgot the name because this was about two years ago. There’s a company that looks up, not socioeconomic, but more age range or by gender. Or just geographic locations.

So I picked certain geographic locations. They got me those and they even made the mailing labels for me, and I put them on the postcards. I forgot the name but there’s several companies that do this.

Just like when you get voting things. Well, how did they know you’re a Democrat? How did they know you’re a Republican? How did they know you’re a Libertarian? Because they went to one of these companies and they find out what or who’s registered where.

So, you can do just a little bit of homework. Now, these are mostly for the audience and I’m talking 50 and over who checks their mail.

And once they see a postcard several times, they’ll act on it.

But younger generation, it’s really gotta be social media. I mean, most of my contemporaries, my colleagues who I see at the private training studios, he’s in thirties and they’re getting their clients through Instagram or through tweeting.

I totally get that. So you have to see where you’re going to get your client. Mine is more word of mouth. It’s just good. All girls talking at lunch, I mean, my seniors.

Kristy: Yeah. And well, I’m interested in this postcard thing and I’m going to talk a little bit more because I’m thinking about, let’s say the personal trainer who doesn’t have that group of people they’ve been training for a while to create the referrals.

So they’re starting from almost scratch. They have maybe two clients. This postcard thing could be an interesting way, assuming they have the funds, because I know it costs money to print, sounds like you’re buying a mailing list and then you also have to mail it.

Marketing costs in the senior market

Kristy: How much money do you usually put into a mailer, how many cards do you send out and what are the costs of that?

Ronnie: Last one, I think was about 500. It was some time. I’d sit in front of the TV together with my husband and start labeling mails I already made. The hardest part for me was keeping it organized because you’re sending it to the same people.

Kristy: So, you buy five sets of mailing lists. Same exact people. I see.

Ronnie: Yeah. And you just got to remember who you mail it to and not get it all mixed up.

You buy marketing lists. I think it was called Info USA or USA something, But they do targeted marketing lists and you know what it is you’re looking for and you can really pin it down to even just age. It’s amazing.

Kristy: That is amazing. So, how much was that again? How much was the mailing list itself? You said you got 500?

Ronnie: Honestly, I do not remember, and it was two years ago. So, prices are probably changed, but I think even the US post office does it. They get certain mailing lists with certain demographics.

You can just go by zip codes as well. You need to know what zip codes you’re targeting. If you don’t want to drive far or you know which ones have a little bit more money or who’s more affluent.

Or maybe you want to offer your services with lower costs to college kids. So, you would go around the college campus area where college kids are living in apartments, you know what I mean?

So you just do a search and there are companies that do mailing lists and then you kind of work with them on what it is you’re looking for and who you’re targeting.

Kristy: Okay. How many cards did you say do you usually send out? Did you say 500 or was it $500?

Ronnie: I believe it was $500 at the time. I haven’t done it in two years though, and I still have many clients from that.

I tried the whole flyers at different places where you put flyers, but people can rip them off. That didn’t work. Yeah. That didn’t work at all for me.

So, you gotta find what’s gonna work in your area.

Kristy: Yeah. Okay. what do you also think about senior citizens? Do you target a certain market? Because I think the idea is senior citizens aren’t willing to pay for personal training or they don’t have the money.

How do you see the senior market

Kristy: How do you you see them when you possibly sign up a new senior or do you look at them just the same as everybody else?

If you are really good at what you do, you just have to stay confident with it.

Ronnie: Middle-class has some money, some don’t. There are people with a lot of money and there are a lot of people that don’t.

So, you have to set your price, and if people can afford you, they can afford you. You can’t be afraid of that. I used to be really afraid of that. And it still bothers me. It’s like, Oh gosh, I want to cut you a deal and I want a budget.

But you got to stick to what you know and compare with other trainers in your area and what services they offer. And if you are really good at what you do, you just have to stay confident with it.

What services to offer for the senior market

Kristy: What would you suggest regarding services to offer?

I would imagine LA might be a good example. I would imagine it might be also a little bit more affluent than maybe other less major cities, but how much about do you usually charge for your common packages?

Ronnie: Well, I give a senior discount, which they love. You have to be 65 or older.

To live in a retirement community, you only have to be 55, which I was really surprised. so I do give a senior discount.

But I think I would have to look at my website. I don’t remember my prices, but let’s say it’s 75 a session for seniors if you buy three sessions.

It’s less if you buy a five packets, less per session.

If you buy 15 packets less per session or the value pack, which is 25 it’s way less, especially with the senior discount.

And like I was saying before, you just have to be confident and I charge way less.

And I asked them, compare me. Be my guest. Do your due diligence. I want you to compare, because I myself, I’m a customer. I’m a client, I’m a shopper, and I compare.

I tell them, please do compare me with other trainers. Look them up, look up there what they have to offer, and they see that I’m really middle of the road.

I’m not the cheapest, and I’m not the costliest, so they see that they’ll get their value.

I also do the three pack intro pack with everybody no matter what. It’s $189 no matter what age, what fitness level, and I tell them, why don’t we just start with the intro pack? That way I get to know your fitness level.

You get to know my style a little bit. We get to know each other and feel each other out. And then after three, I’ve always found that to be the magic number.

The first one is more of a necessity. The next it’s a good training and then you find, you feel if you’re a good fit or not. You really do.

More than that, you really don’t need. I tell them, that way you’re sure that I’m the right trainer for you. And I’m sure you’re the proper client for me. And that always gets them.

They trust you more and that you’re not just trying to snag them for a huge pack

They trust you more and that you’re not just trying to snag them for a huge pack and they trust you more and that you really want to make sure that you’re the right fit and it’s not a longterm commitment.

So, they’re not scared. That’s a good intro. So I do suggest people offer an intro pack with no commitment, no upsell.

Kristy: Yeah, I like that actually. And it sounds like it makes the buying choices simple.

Ronnie: You don’t have to choose between five pack, 10 pack, 15 pack. So, and I always tell them, go ahead and go to my website and look at all the packages. That way they see the list.

I have different prices if I go train you at your home. I have different prices if I train you at a fitness studio. The pricing is right there in front of them, like a menu.

  • Let’s say I train them at a private gym, a session is $82; for seniors, it’s $78.
  • If I train them at home, a session is $80; for seniors, it’s $75.

But let’s say they buy the 25-pack, it’s $72 a session. For seniors, it’s less, I think it’s $65 a session.

But they get 25 and they get a personal workout plan and they get a calorie count plan as they need. So I just keep doing this added value in and it’s right there in black and white on my website.

If they’re going to haggle and ask me for more of a discount, we’ll go back and forth and I’ll work with them on a budget. I tell them, because you asked a lot, maybe we can work out some kind of deal.

And after you do the one $189, let’s say the common situation is that they’re new, they do the three-pack.

Upgrading a senior package

Kristy: Where do they usually fall from there? You mentioned someone who’s with you since June, what’s the common package they move up to?

Ronnie: She keeps my 25-pack. I used to do 12 packs and then everybody just kept re-signing and re-signing.

Most people, even though they start out with three or four sessions a week, they’ll wean down to twice a week because they’re finally starting to learn how to do it on their own.

Look, if you want to do it once a week, that’s great. But when you start, do it two or three times a week, just for a month, just so you learn how to work out properly.

So finally, I started offering the 24-pack. I just upped it to 15 and 25. Most people do get the 15 and 25 because they use them up. If you think about it, 15 sessions in three months, it’s great. They’re working out with you twice a week.

Paying upfront vs installments

Kristy: Do you do a payment plan for the larger packs? Do they usually pay you upfront?

Ronnie: I asked them to pay at least half, and then the rest when they can. Some people pay totally upfront. Most people pay three times, they’ll do third, third, third, or they’ll pay half of it and then pay every two weeks.

I have one lady, I’m not kidding, she, how old is she? She’s 77. She pays me every session. That’s just her old school way around. Like I don’t know if I’m going to be living so I pay per session.

And she still skis and runs upstairs and she likes to pay me every package, just like she likes to pay everything in cash. She does groceries with cash. I mean, who does that personally?

So as long as I get at least half down or third down, once they become regular customers and you know, we totally trust each other. And with me.

Kristy: Okay. Yeah, that’s really interesting. So there’s a good process for the payment plan or packages, and you can really actually still sell larger packages.

That would be interesting for a lot of people. And I think everyone could kind of feel like they’re almost training their parents and it could resonate with them. How difficult is it to learn how to train them?

How do you treat them differently?

Kristy: I know you mentioned the certification, but it sounds like there’s so many different injuries they could have had that it could make anyone nervous. How do you treat them differently?

Ronnie: Well, here’s the thing. I truly believe in being a team, being part of a team. I’m always asking my clients and I keep up with them. I know what’s going on with them.

So, what did your eye doctor say? So, what did your chiropractor say? So, what did your whoever, because they’re usually being seen for one thing or another, and I’m just one of the team.

I truly believe in being a team, being part of a team. I’m always asking my clients and I keep up with them. I know what’s going on with them.

Or if they’re getting physical therapy for something, I ask them, Oh, if you want your doctor to talk to me, or are there any restrictions?

I have spoken to doctors, I have spoken to my clients just so that they can tell me what they recommend or what they restrict.

My clients will realize that I’m not competing with their physical therapist.

I’m not competing with their nutritionist. I’m not competing with their nurse or their kid or anybody.

I’m one of your team.

I also advocate my clients and I push them. I’m a cheerleader. Ask your doctor this and that.

And all of a sudden I have found a lot of people don’t ask their doctors, they just kind of go in. They get seen, the doctor tells them something and they’re out of there. They don’t remember half of it and like write it down, record it. Take somebody with you. Four ears are better than two, you know, two brains than one.

So, I become sort of like their advocate to ask questions and keep on top of things. That’s the main thing.

Kristy: So, it sounds like you show a lot of concern about their overall wellbeing and invested interests, and they see that.

Ronnie: For example, tomorrow I’m training this gentleman who just had cataract surgery and I said, Oh, you’re not going to be able to lift anything, not even your cat.

He’s like, how do you know? I’m like, well your cat weighs probably 14 pounds. You’re not supposed to lift anything over 10. He called me up, he goes, my doctor said I’m not supposed to lift anything over 10 pounds. How’d you know?

Because I know. But I work with their doctors so they feel like we’re all really taking care of him.

So he just texted me tonight, he said, I think I can train tomorrow just very lightly. I’m like, you got it. But I know what’s going on in his life. I know what’s going on. And I also research, I read a lot. I know, okay, this person has tendonitis, or this person has had hip surgery. What should I do?

What should I know? You gotta be interested in what you’re doing. You can’t just count repetitions and say, my plans are the same for everybody.

Getting a certification

Kristy: What about that certification? How ready did you feel from that?

Ronnie: Oh, not at all. You’re always scared, but you know, you got to do your first class and you gotta get your first client.

But I knew my stuff because I read the book and I took the exam.

But then, I had to audition for my silver sneakers class. And so I went to the silver sneakers workshop. They trained me how to give a class, and then when I had to audition for it for big gym, I knew maybe half of it.

I looked so ridiculous, but the guy who hired me was laughing because he knows you’re nervous and you can’t remember everything you were taught in a big class.

I got to my first class in the seniors who were in front of me and they’re all ready to work out. I got into it and I got better by the second class. I knew my stuff. Now, I consider myself an expert. It’s just practice.

And maybe you have to refer to the things you learned for your certification, like anything, but you just gotta get in there and do it and just be yourself.

Kristy: Okay. So I see, so it sounds like, there’s a combination of things.

Ronnie: There’s definitely a lot of reading. And then the third thing is talking to, if you’re doing one-on-one, talking to their doctors to know what the doctor recommends and they’ll kind of guide you.

Like anything else, you have to do your homework. Plus, there are a lot of articles written and a lot of blogs. I’m not the only senior fitness specialist in the country.

So, you’ve got to find where people are going to talk about this and just go up there and say, Hey, I have this lady who’s undergoing this, blah, blah, blah, blah. Or somebody who has cancer and people will answer each other.

I think personal trainers, good ones, are really open to sharing their experiences or what they found or what they think.

I think personal trainers, good ones, are really open to sharing their experiences or what they found or what they think.

I do not feel like if I help somebody or I give them my advice or my take or my experience with the client, if I’m talking to another personal client, I don’t feel like they’re my competition.

Either client’s going to hire me or they’re not. They’re going to hire you or they’re not. They’re going to choose who they feel the most comfortable with, and that’s fine.

Help each other out because I think the more you help each other, I don’t want to say karma, but the more they’re going to help you in return.

I’ve had people or older men who want to be a bodybuilder, they’re older but they want to be a bodybuilder. I can’t spot you with 600 pounds. So, I’m like, you know what? I got the perfect trainer for you. Well then, they’re going to remember that I referred them and referred somebody to meet.

Do seniors have strength class?

Kristy: Absolutely. What about your senior strength class? I know you do one in LA, do you still do that?

Ronnie: Yeah, I had a senior strength class that I just started for myself because they, it was pretty funny, they didn’t want to go to the silver sneakers classes cause they thought it was just too easy.

So, we started this thing at a lady’s rec room, but it was downstairs in a basement and it was always the same four to six ladies that showed up.

One or two inevitably don’t show up during the week, but it’s still going. We’ve been doing it for four years. We go to the rec room in her condo and we love it.

And in the summer we go to one of their homes because she has a heated swimming pool and we do Aqua Aerobics and we do strength training in the pool.

They’re my core group. I love them. And you just have to really keep an eye on them and make sure that they’re doing everything right.

For me, it’s about form. Everything is about form and core strength and balance. I do a lot of balance and a lot of you got to do it in the proper form. Keep your eye on them.

That’s why I don’t like the big classes as much. Because a fitness instructor can’t keep her eye on everybody since the classes have more than 23 or 24 or 25 people.

Payment for individual or group

Kristy: You’ve said you have about six people who show up. Do they each pay individually to you for that class?

Ronnie: I’m really cheap because I’ve priced other senior classes less than other classes in the area and they charge from 22 to 25 per class or 36 if you pay for upfront.

I charge $10 a class, especially since I’m not paying overhead. The classes I’ve found, they’ve got to pay overhead, so I totally get it.

And I do teach silver sneakers, but at big box gyms and the gym pays me. I don’t make a lot of money off of that.

As you know, teachers don’t make as much as private sessions. But it keeps me going, keeps me relevant, and it keeps me in practice.

Small group classes

Kristy: I was curious about the larger gym, for the small group classes, how do you get clients for that?

Ronnie: It’s only that one small group that I keep going. At the gyms, I don’t want to focus too much on the smaller groups, but other people, I think it’s great if you want to market it because you can charge more.

People say you really should hold classes cause you make more money because that’s an hour with 12 people as opposed to an hour with one person.

That will make you more money and if you can charge it and market it and do it, that’s great. My style and my taste is to be with people one-on-one. I just prefer that.

For me, I like to really pay attention to a client. This small senior fitness class I like because they’re just loyal to me and I know them.

That’s even challenging for me because out of all of them, three of them are of different fitness levels and each one has their own challenges.

But because I know them so well, I can run around kind of.

Specific types of exercises for the senior market

Kristy: I see. Okay. Is there any specific types of exercises that you usually do? Is this a very low impact?

Ronnie: I really focus on the muscles, training with resistance bands, loop kind, as well as the one with the handles.

I use balls that you can buy at the dollar store. They’re like beach balls. By squeezing it really hard and contracting different muscles, you can work at your chest, your back, your bicep, your tricep, a lot of stuff, even your inner thighs, things like that.

So I use a ball, I use this bands and I use a light dumbbells. Easy, really work standing up for a little bit more core strength and sitting down.

I don’t do the cardio because I feel like you can do cardio on your own or there are senior cardio classes.

I really want to focus on the muscle because a lot of people over 55 and 60 they didn’t grow up working their muscles because a lot of women really thought strength training was for bodybuilding. I don’t want to look like a man.

No, you’re not. There’s no way you’re ever going to look like a man unless you become a bodybuilder. That’s impossible.

So they still have to start discovering how to do it. And you know they’re walking, they’re wandering around the gym. They really don’t know how to use those machines properly.

So, I try to focus on the muscle because that’s something older people, their generation didn’t grow up doing for the most part, and I know I’m generalizing, mostly it’s the men that did the muscle groups.

They can do cardio on their own. They can go get on the recumbent bike, they can get on on the rower. They can take a Zumba class or a cardio class. I like to really focus on the form and how to do your muscles properly.

Kristy: I like that. I actually see the same thing. My mom, who is probably 75, she just started taking some type of weight class and I was very excited. Yes, she does cardio.

And I do see that as a thing for the older group and I could also see how that creates a lot of value for what you’re doing because that’s so different from anything they can get anywhere else.

So, that brings me into maybe my final question about the senior market. It sounds like you do the takeaway when you talk to them about the packages, but do you have any specific recommendations or words?

Positioning a sale with a senior

Kristy: How do you position things when you sit down with a new client who is considering buying a package? And you do need to kind of talk them through things.

Ronnie: Basically the sales pitch for, let’s say someone who’s seventy years old, is What do you often do, what works for you?

I have found that for the older people, the more set in their ways they are, you’re not going to convince them of anything. In fact, most of the older people are trying to tell me what they want.

Well, I have found that for the older people, the more set in their ways they are, you’re not going to convince them of anything. In fact, most of the older people are trying to tell me what they want.

You have to be very respectful. The main thing is struggling to open up about what they’ve done and what their issues are. And then that just leads into a regular normal conversation.

Like you’re having coffee, or you’re in their kitchen and you start finding out what their ailments are, what their ills are, what they really want.

And most older people just want to feel a little bit stronger and more confident that they’re not gonna fall, they’re not going to trip that they’re not going to hurt, that they can get out of bed without their back aching after they’ve worked out.

A lot of those classes at the big box gyms, they started taking a toll on them and they don’t know why.

Or they’re wandering around the gym and they don’t know how to use those weights. So they end up using just the machines. Well, machines are great, but they’re a compliment. They do 80% of the work.

You have to get them to trust that you’re going to show them how you use free weights properly and assure them they won’t hurt themselves.

So, I guess my sales pitch is more of you talk to me, tell me what you want, tell me what bothers you the most, what concerns you the most? And then we go from there.

A lot of them really want a lot more flexibility and balance as well. And you know, it all goes back to why I became a personal trainer.

And the key was when I told you when I got a good personal trainer, I didn’t hurt anymore.

What matters to a senior market

Kristy: I like it. Okay. So it’s interesting because from my gym, we had a wider range, but we knew that the person who came in between 22 to 40 probably wanted to lose weight and that was their hot button.

What you’re saying with this group, first listen to them. Listen, listen, listen. And have them talk about what their issues are. And then the second thing is the things that maybe mattered to them are to get stronger, more confident, flexibility, balance, and they don’t want to hurt.

Ronnie: So, maybe they want to be able to travel. A lot of them are retired. They’re not tired. They’ve got more time and money to travel.

They want to be able to travel. They want to be able to go visit their grandchildren and their children. They want to be able to do a lot of the things that they’re starting to feel like they can’t.

Bottom line, they want to keep playing golf. They want to keep playing tennis and not hurt. They want to keep going up even Aqua classes or swimming and not hurt.

They just want a good quality of life, quality that I want to look great in a bikini or I want to look great when I go clubbing.

They couldn’t care less. They’ve lived that, so you’re not going to tell them to stop eating ice cream. Forget about it. They earned that ice cream. For God’s sake, eat your ice cream at night. Just don’t overeat and let’s work out. Let’s work out properly.

Kristy: Yeah. I like that. Yeah. Those are really good words.

I think if you want success in the senior market, it sounds like just really make sure you’re refocusing on the different things. if you want to be successful in that, that post comp sales pitch.

Well I think those were some of the biggest things.

I wanted to do a fun question at the end. And I wanted to ask you, so you’ve been training for 10 years, and you’ve also had another life in doing public relations.

What would you tell, I don’t know if it sounds like you were really confident when you decided to change over to being a trainer, but I mean, maybe there’s some self doubt.

Advice to a younger self

Kristy: If you could go back in time and as you’re starting your new training business, what would you tell yourself? Anything whether it’s advice or tips.

Ronnie: Yes, I would tell myself not to be so afraid of being turned down and because to me, the sales part and the marketing part, which you are great at, Kristy, is what I dread.

Oh, I got to make this phone call. Oh, I get to do the sales pitch. It’s like, don’t be so afraid of it. You’re going to get rejection. You’re going to get all “Call you when I’m ready”, or, “Okay, sounds good. I’ll give you a call.” You’re going to get a lot of those. Move on. Move on. Because at first you take it personally, you can’t.

People are shopping. Put yourself in their positions. I’m a shopper too. I’m a customer too of certain things and I’ll move on it when I’m ready.

Now, you’ve got to present your best part, but I guess the tip is be confident in what you do, even though everybody tells you that. Be ready with that one minute elevator pitch, you’ve got to tell them what you have to offer right away.

There are no tricks. You’re not gonna hook them there. No, you can’t trick people. It’s just tell them what you do with confidence and then move on from there.

Start a conversation. People don’t want to be sold. They just want something that will help them.

Kristy: Hmm. Yeah, that’s good. I like that. And one last question I forgot to ask you is, we talked about your intro three-pack, for seniors, do you do a free comp session?

How do you usually do that first session?

Kristy: Let’s say someone just reached out to you. How do you usually do that first session?

Ronnie: Well, the first session of the three pack, I never know what we’re going to do exactly. And they just look at me. I’m like, because I’m assessing you and everybody’s different.

You’re unique, so I don’t have a cookie cutter way of doing this. I really start seeing what they can do, certain exercises like the split squat.

Can you do a plank? Can you do this? I see how much weight, the maximum amount of weight that they feel comfortable.

I do a lot of listening. I do a lot of observing and a lot of people do things wrong or they really are not as strong as they thought or they’re stronger than they thought.

I do a lot of listening. I do a lot of observing and a lot of people do things wrong or they really are not as strong as they thought or they’re stronger than they thought.

So, I always tell them this is more of an assessment, but it’s part of their three-pack now.

I used to give free consultations. But lately I like to talk on the phone more than the people will take advantage of the free consultations as a freebie. A free session.

Let’s talk it out. See if you’re serious. So trainers do have to be wary of that, I think.

And I drive to people, that’s a lot of gas and a lot of time, so they have my time as well. So it’s like, let’s just do a nice casual chat on the phone first, if they’re really serious.

Kristy: Yeah. I like that. That’s a good in between. I mean, you’re still giving your time and then you’re kind of assessing them and then you kind of are able to see if they’re serious buyers for your personal training business.

Because then they’ll either at that point buy or not buy the three pack.

Ronnie: Or at least they’ll, you can tell them they’re serious and Okay, let’s meet, can we meet? And usually they do the three pack.

I always say, why don’t we meet, I feel like over the phone I’ve answered a lot of their questions and they’re really interested.

Kristy: Okay. So, it’s sort of like a trust. Do you ask, do they agree to buy the three pack over the phone?

Ronnie: Some do, some don’t because I was offering, they’re like, yeah, that sounds good. So then you show up and they pay.

I take checks or I take cash. They don’t do the PayPal or anything like that with other people I use mostly Zelle and Venmo, but that’s just a personal thing. I’ve just seen too much hacking and things. I like to sell but a lot of people still like writing the old checks, believe it or not.

Kristy: All right. So you’d definitely make sure you’re not someone who loses checks when you work with seniors because you’ll be getting a lot of them.

Well this has been really awesome. I learned a lot and I think you kind of outlined a really helpful marketing funnel in getting seniors into your client base.

It sounds like you’re doing postcards and social media. You’re doing a lot here. You’ve got your website, you’ve got your blog, and then once they’re interested, they reach out to you and then you’ll do that intro phone call consultation over the phone.

And then you know if the intro pack works and you’ll meet with them and from there, hopefully they’ll get one of the larger packages.

Yeah, that sounds awesome. Well, thank you so much for your time. I know it’s towards the end of your day and I’m sure you’re tired. So, I learned a lot and I’m sure the listeners learned a lot.

If anyone wants to reach out to you, what’s your social media and website?

Ronnie Loiza

Facebook: Hey Ronnie Personal Training
Instagram: ronnieloa
Website: Hey, Ronnie

Kristy: Well, this has been awesome. I learned a lot and I think you shared so much value, so thank you so much for being a guest.

Ronnie: Absolutely. And thank you for talking to me. I loved it.

Kristy: All right. Thanks so much, Ronnie. Take care.

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