On this week’s episode we welcome Alex Cartmill from the Personal Trainer Development Center to the show to talk about how they help trainers transition into building more successful businesses. We talk about imposter syndrome, the importance of providing value, selling and understanding your customer, how to avoid getting lost in the weeds as an online trainer, and why you need to launch before you’re ready.
Alex is currently the head coach of the Online Trainer Academy, which is a business development program for personal trainers. He helps coaches, gym owners, and nutrition consultants transition their business online while also overseeing his team of 8 other coaches. Alex developed this program with Jon Goodman, the founder of the PTDC, in 2016. Just two years prior to that, Alex was a personal trainer who was interning under Jon - starting with odd jobs and then getting paid as the company’s social media director before getting the opportunity to develop the Online Trainer Academy.
We first get into talking about the fear of putting your product to market and the importance of getting out of your own way. Alex uses failure as a lesson in finding what didn’t work and as an opportunity for growth as opposed to sitting on the sidelines and speculating if something will resonate. A lot of his job is helping trainers transition from doing nothing to crossing the barrier to doing something. Alex talks to his students about considering the worst case scenario when looking to ship, and most of the time it’s not nearly as bad as people think. Failure, he says, is a necessary part of the process and if you’re in constant fear of it, you’re limiting your upside.
Next we discuss what those first conversations look like when Alex is talking to new students in terms of how they’re going to get started and how he helps them overcome the hurdle of putting themselves out there. The first thing he instills is that you need to understand the real value of what you’re offering and that you’re not just giving away a fitness program. You need to uncover who you are working with, their current situation when they come to you, what version of themselves do they want to become, and how you are going to help them get there.
We then transition into positioning yourself in the market and finding the right audience. Alex talks about how if you get more specific with who you want to work with, you can begin to eliminate having to pitch to people who just aren’t a good fit for your services. This includes being clear on who your service isn’t for and avoiding being in the middle attempting to be everything for everyone. Alex goes on to use testimonials as an example of how you can tell a story about someone who went from point A to point B while demonstrating that you laid out the steps to help them get there and that you’re capable of helping others do the same. This can be extremely powerful in highlighting exactly what you do, who you help, and what the process looks like for them.
Next we talk about Alex’s experience using John Berardi’s customer research project featured in his book Change Maker. You essentially interview 15 of your customers for an hour and get into their life before working with you, what led them to the point where they bought your service, and what were you competing with. Alex mentions how a lot of times, you might not actually be competing with who you think you are and that why people buy from you might be different than why someone might buy from another business. He illustrates the point with an example of Snickers and Milky Way and how even though they are both candy bars and both have similar ingredients, they are really not competing with each other. People buy Snickers for different reasons than why they buy Milk Way. Understanding your audience takes time, but it is the foundation for which you can market, sell, and build your business.
This leads us into Alex’s pillars for new students, starting with answering the simple question “Why are you here and what do you want to accomplish?” and then getting into who they want to work with. The answer to the latter question depends on how far along a trainer is in terms of putting themselves out there and asking people what kind of services they actually want. Alex goes on to emphasize that coaches need to do a great job with their clients, let everyone know about their services, and most importantly genuinely care about helping people if they want a long term sustainable business.
When discussing how to avoid focusing on the minutiae of running your own business, Alex reminds us that people buy from humans and not necessarily because you have an amazing looking website. It’s easy in the beginning of building your business to put your energy towards things that may not matter much in the big picture, but if you have a little bit of foresight and put your energy towards delivering a really quality service you can save yourself from getting lost in the weeds. So when it comes to designing a website or deciding which coaching platform to use, always ask yourself what you’re looking to get from those things and focus on what matters most. Alex wants you to figure out what the bare minimum you need is in terms of how you deliver your service, how you communicate, and how you accept payments. Then you need to get started.
We then dive into the subject of online training and some of the misconceptions around it. Although quickly growing in popularity, there is still some confusion as to what online training entails. Online Training is not a ticket towards making millions of dollars and living on a beach, and there are significant differences between in person training and remote. One of which is the need to be proactive when working online and the need to understand programming to a high level in order to effectively communicate. Another consideration is understanding who is going to benefit from online training, who isn’t, and when it’s more appropriate to refer out. That aside, there’s still a lot of flexibility when working online. There are zero scheduling conflicts, you can work with more people and it’s more cost effective for the client. By knowing the advantages and disadvantages of working online, you can provide clients with the best solution and better articulate what online training actually is.
Enjoy and be sure to hit that subscribe button if you learned a thing or two!
9:40 - Getting Out of Your Own Way
15:25 - How Alex Talks to New Students and Helps overcome fear of selling
23:09 - Positioning Yourself in the Market
28: 09 - The Change Maker Customer Research Project
30:09 - Alex’s Pillars When Starting With New Students
36:53 - How Alex Helps Coaches Avoid Getting Stuck in the Minutiae
46:50 - The Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Training
Links and Stuff
- Alex Cartmill - @alexcartmill
- Personal Trainer Development Center -@theptdc
- James Cerbie - @jamescerbie
- Personal Trainer Development Center
- Apex Athlete Training Team
- Program Shop
- Austin Kleon (Steal Like an Artist)
- John Berardi (Change Maker)