I still remember the first time I asked the woman, who would soon become my first personal training client, for $650 for 10 personal training sessions.
I couldn’t even look her in the eye as I mumbled the price. Her response:
“Cool. Can I pay cash?”
I almost ate my hat.
There I was, fresh off a Master’s degree, not in exercise physiology but in journalism, and my education as a trainer so far was a weekend course and spending three months shadowing a more senior coach. I didn’t know what I was doing, I knew I didn’t know what I was doing, and I was shocked someone would fork out $650 to train with me. Of course, at that point in my life, I considered $650 a lot of money (all I had known was what it was like to be a broke student).
“Fake it til you make it,” I remember my sister telling me. She was a physiotherapist, so it surprised me that this was her advice, but she admitted even after six years of schooling and a master’s degree in physiotherapy, she, too, felt incompetent doing her job for the first year.
10 years later, when I talk to new trainers, they often report the same feelings: An overarching lack of self-worth and self-confidence when asking for money.
And while nothing beats experience when it comes to building confidence, there are definitely tips I wish I had been told in my first two years of coaching that would have helped me progress through the coaching ranks a lot quicker than I did.
There’s no doubt, when you feel educated in a particular area, you’re going to speak about that subject a lot more confidently.
When it comes to coaching, there is no better education available today than the OPEX Coach Certificate Program (CCP). Even experienced fitness coaches who have been coaching for 10 years and then did CCP say they finished the course feeling 10 times more confident in their coaching than when they went in.
“(The) CCP definitely gave me a ton more confidence as a coach,” he said. Much of this came down to the fact that he now felt he had the tools to better serve his clients, so asking them for money became easier.
“Getting the knowledge from CCP allowed me to be able to better help my clients reach their goals.”
CCP coach Tyler Villarreal, who is only 20 years old added this: “CCP, along with pure experience in the trenches, has definitely allowed me to develop the confidence to ask individuals to pay $299/month for my services,” he said. “I’m beginning to realize the differentiation that CCP gives coaches from the rest of the market. (CCP) truly has not only improved my knowledge and ability to be a coach, but my marketability as a coach in this industry as well.”
In short, relevant education lessons reduce the amount that you have to fake it until you make it. Instead, you can just start making it. Get an introduction to the OPEX System of Coaching and get the education you need to improve your confidence here.
That first client of mine—Tara was her name—was a young, attractive blond girl in her 20s. I assumed the moment I told her she owed me $650 for 10 personal training sessions would be the moment she’d walk out the door. I assumed she didn’t have the cash. (Turns out she was a stripper and had plenty of cash, as well as incentive to tone up so she’d look good naked at the strip club.)
Another time, a prospect walked in who looked homeless. He was literally carrying a black garbage bag, his hair was in dreadlocks, and he smelled far from fresh. I almost didn’t bother trying to sell him. Turns out, he had just come back from five months of tree planting with $30,000 cash and was prepared to drop $2,000 on improving his fitness that year.
CCP coach Todd Nief, who owns a gym in Chicago, offered similar advice.
“It’s easy to make assumptions about other people’s spending habits based upon your own financial situation. But most people living downtown in Chicago …are often making $200,000-plus per year,” he said.
While some people will think $300 a month for fitness is expensive, many, even ones who don’t look the part, are more than prepared to pay for a service they deem incredibly valuable to their life.
I know when I used to sell high-intensity workouts for everyone, all the time (aka CrossFit), I had a hard time always feeling like I was doing the right thing for them.
Why am I teaching this person a handstand? I’m scared they might crash on their head!
Why does this person need to know how to snatch? He winces every time he puts his hands over his head.
This is no longer the case today. Now I know how to better assess clients and prescribe movements and intensities that are appropriate for them. It goes a long way in being able to look them in the eye and believe I can truly help them.
El Fateh said a similar thing now that he’s selling individual program design: “The fact that I know (clients will) enjoy this experience better than other models makes it easier for me to sell.”
Coaches often get scared of charging more or raising rates. But CCP coach Todd Nief explained when you’re expensive people only take you more seriously, not less, and often you start to attract a higher quality client. Learn how to improve the rest of your business skills in this free course.
“By not competing on price and purposefully setting yourself near the high end of the fitness market, you attract people who want to work with the best, which are often much more enjoyable clients to work with,” Nief said.
No matter how educated you become and how much you believe in what you’re selling, there’s still a practical experience component to the job that takes time and requires being humble, patient and open-minded.
As fast as Villarreal is progressing in his coaching career at his young age, he knows he is never done learning and is constantly looking for ways and people to learn from. He explained getting feedback from others doesn’t hurt his confidence; it only helps it grow stronger, because it gives him peace of mind knowing he’s growing even more.
“Constantly receiving feedback from my fellow coaches, my coach, and constantly learning through the process with each of my clients has improved my ability to sell my services,” he said.
He added: “Practice makes perfect. It’s a principle that applies to every single skill, and selling this service is definitely one of those skills.”
Overcoming the self-worth limitation is not easy, but it is something you will have to tackle eventually. Get the education you need in order to value yourself higher now before the coach down the street does by signing up for the Free Coach’s Toolkit.