In my first article for CoachMePlus, we started a conversation about honing our craft. We talked about creating value and stepping into this profession with purpose and reverence. To recap, we covered two key pieces that help establish a foundation for coaching and business success. One was diving into what fitness really means to you personally, and the other was discovering what matters to the people you serve with it. This becomes and grows into your fitness identity and as an extension your brand standard and culture.
One of the most effective ways I’ve found to anchor it is how you present yourself to the people around you. At Activprayer (my personal brand) we’ve adopted a concept my friend Paul Theodore from FitMeUP Fitness shared. That concept is “it’s what’s in your walls, on your walls and around (outside) your walls.” The blogs, exercises, education, stories and branding material you share should be fueled by your personal fitness identity. That identity is what you believe about fitness and what you can move toward delivering with excellence.
As the belief in your vision for fitness and the principles and methods you use to bring it to life becomes more authentic and automatic, you begin to speak from that place with genuine confidence and it becomes compelling and contagious. You don’t try to sell all the people, you begin to compel the right people. YOUR people. The bottom line is: Are you saying what you really want to say to the people who want and need to hear it? Most of us aren’t. And I’ve seen this first hand with hundreds of people I’ve coached around the topic. What we believe and what we’re actually sharing to others hasn’t quite aligned yet, and there’s a cost associated with that disunity.
Building Your Coaching Identity
First, the true identity of who you are and what you believe is not communicated to the people waiting to connect with it. So you’re not reaching and connecting with YOUR audience, or “tribe” as Seth Godin refers to it as powerfully as you can. Secondly, whatever you ARE choosing to say, do or share attracts people who are interested in THOSE things. And since they’re not REALLY your core people, you might not be the best coach for them right now. As a result, they don’t get served in a way that authentically meets their needs, and you wind up pouring out time, energy and effort on an identity and brand platform that’s not core to WHO you are. Exhausting. I know because I’ve been there.
So what do you do? You revisit your vision, mission, values and fitness identity, and create from there. You refine it. Revise it. Challenge it. You back it up. You step out bold and real and share your truth. Talk about your own challenges and successes with the things you believe. Create front end offers and core offerings based on them and what moves you. And if this is new, don’t expect to get flooded with inquiries, likes, shares, trials, and assessments up front. Remember, if you haven’t been doing this yet, the people you’re talking to will regard these new messages from you as strange and unfamiliar. They’ve come to know and follow you as someone else. Therefore, you may be reaching new people, and that takes time, patience and consistency to show results (just like good fitness).
This is where the concept of what’s in, on and around your walls can be extremely effective in helping express your revised vision bit by bit. Or it can deeply anchor the vision you’re already pursuing.
WHAT’S IN YOUR WALLS?
This is where the rubber meets the road. The coaches you have and how they’ve been led, fed and empowered by you. The equipment you choose to use. The way you care for your place. The type of clients you attract. And make no mistake, you give people more than that fitness session. What you really give people are deep relationships with other awesome people in your community. Those relationships are PRICELESS to your community. It’s still one of the highest rated reasons why people like going to a gym or a fitness professional. If you think about your people and your brand like this, bigger than yourself and themselves as individuals, and you manage to create this type of family, you will have built a special business.
Let’s get a bit more practical with the concept of what’s IN and ON your walls
1. What language do (or don’t) you use?
2. What music do you play?
3. Do you speak life and belief to your people every day? Your clients, your staff, yourself?
4. Do you greet them at the door with a high five, their personal handshake, a hug when appropriate, a towel, fresh water, etc.?
5. Is your gym clean, safe, protected (insured enough, etc.)?
6. Do you offer things like gum or lifesavers, spare gloves for bar or bag work, (and Lysol when done for the next client?)
7. Do you have spare socks, a first aid kit, empty bags people can put sweaty clothes in if they get stuck and have to go somewhere instead of home?
8. Do you have spare snacks they don’t have to purchase if they authentically just forgot food and are bonking?
10. Do you have a swag bag or a blessing bag?
11. Do you attend athletes’ games, charity events, run events, go to gatherings, etc.?
12. Does your staff? Encourage them and reward them if they do. You and your team are rockstars to the people you train, and your presence is a huge gift to the client and their families and you.
13. Do you follow up with thank you notes or connect with clients at home after they did something great in a session that day? (I used to call coaches and parents on behalf of my athletes that did exceptional things, especially based on effort; and wow did it go a LONG way…I asked permission first of course. That’s key.)
Have you not only decided what’s in, but also what’s OUT? Is anything out for you?
1. People being unsafe?
2. People distracting or taking away from others’ experience?
3. People rolling into your gym with open wounds, coughing, and a fever?
4. People with bad attitudes?
5. People who gossip? Are you gossiping with your coaches about your clients or other coaches and peers?
6. People who judge others? Are you condemning, judging, shaming or controlling people or do you truly coach?
By the way, you set the stage for success (another method I love is called set, guide, and anchor which we’ll go over another time) with this type of stuff during your intake/assessment/trial.
You set the stage for success with this by what you share outside of (around) your walls. This is your culture. Either YOU BUILD IT, OR THEY WILL. And you don’t want to run that business. I promise you. If you are right now, it’s your story, edit it fast.
WHAT’S ON YOUR WALLS?
Your walls are a frame for your art. So much real estate to be used to inspire, educate, share, tell stories, engage. Have you thought about the possibilities for the walls of your training space?
Do you have a PR wall, a picture wall, a story wall, a dedication wall, a prayer wall, a house games wall, a StrengthToServe™ wall, an anything wall? Do you have T-shirts, pictures, posters, quotes, prayers, education, information? Why? Is there a story connected to each item that you or others can share? Do you have flyers, community resources, and health and wellness news and offerings? How about awesome places to eat and stores to visit? What about walking trails or parks that would be fun for them and their families?
WHAT’S OUTSIDE YOUR WALLS?
As you develop what’s IN and ON your walls, you shape what’s shared outside of them. What’s outside, really becomes the outcome of your process. And at the same time, it becomes the beginning of it as well. You begin to set the stage for success by sharing the real DNA of your brand with people who will relate to it. They’ll see a message, or an offer and it will resonate enough for them to inquire. Once they do, the touchpoint you shared outside, is anchored by everything you offer inside. And it becomes a circle of life if you will. This is your culture. And either YOU BUILD IT, OR THEY WILL. And you don’t really want to run they did (built it) business. I promise you. If you are right now, it’s your story and you can edit it fast.
You have a canvas! You are the creator. It’s YOUR art. Paint, repaint and redo as you choose to guide and anchor your vision and mission and include and celebrate your people. These are the little things, when done consistently over time, create something really valuable. And once you set the foundation for everything (with input from your people) let them have a hand in growing and shaping it. That’s when a business becomes magical. Because it starts with you (and it should), but it’s not about you.
“You can have results or excuses. You can’t have both.” – @bretcontreras
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I’ve shared a few examples of how you might create authentic, consistent and meaningful touchpoints of excellence to reveal the fingerprints of your authentic identity and brand. Offer as many as possible that you can manage and maintain with relative ease (I’m not saying it will be easy). Create your own. And please share some of your strategies with the rest of us so we can discover ways to get better. Because ‘together we rise’ is really the most effective way to grow personally and make our profession better.
HERE’S THE BOTTOM LINE
Build and grow your base fitness identity, values, and beliefs and be intentional, consistent and honest in how you share them. Consider being a people first business. Do everything you can to make them the center of your world and have an experience that’s one of their best that day. Seek to bless and serve, not convert, capture, sell, eft, upsell, front end, back end, blah, blah, blah…all that stuff matters, but not if your people don’t. You can do this. It’s not easy. It’s thankless at times and the fruit comes late. But it will last. And you’ll be satisfied. So get after those walls, build some up, and break some down!