Roundtable #6 – Business


Roundtable #6 – Business

Feature Photo by Garrhet Sampson on Unsplash.



How do you find people to work with?  Have you done any seminars?  Does online training appeal to you?



I have relied entirely on referral to build my clientele. I charge a rate that allows me to live in the area I live in with a comparable quality of life to the average wage. I am interested primarily in clients who are managing chronic pain or solving decades old postural issues as they provide the most stable business for me and also happen to be much more interesting to work with than people who have relatively few problems. Basically I treat my fitness business like any blue collar job… if you do good work your reputation will improve and your customers will return. A plumber doesn’t need videos of him/herself plumbing to attract clients… they just need to be there ready to do a good job when the toilet breaks.
My niche is in one on one or small groups – I have not run any retreats or seminars yet.
Online training does not appeal to me at this time. For me the art form is in the personal connection and listening abilities. To listen and meet a client where they are at – at that moment on that day – is something that cannot be recreated online. It’s not about program design or information anymore.  — Kyle Pringle


First of all, I have tried giving lessons for free in the past or offer scholarships to people in my school. It just doesn’t work! Nobody takes it seriously and eventually they stop coming. I think as people we have come to a very interesting place in our lifetime that we don’t value things that have no price anymore. The more you pay, the more you believe it is going to work. So, who am I to strip that person from their weird placebo boost? A lot of people need to believe that what they are doing is worthwhile. Sadly, paying a stupid piece of paper that has numbers and faces on it seems to be the only way to do so!
I generally put prices in my school according to the income of a general white collar population. A+ can easily afford it and students or lower income people can still try a little hard and squeeze it out of their budget. Having one less coffee every day never hurts anyone :). I also have discounts for students and daytime classes for cheaper. I really want everyone to be able to come, but that is why my business isn’t making billions with the amount of students we have. That is the chioce that I make however, I am happy with more people and less money. For my privates I have a very high class, because of my background and competitions won/judging etc, I value my own time a lot. Also, only the people who take their improvement really seriously and want to compete come to me for privates. This is how I want it to be.
FRC and mobility clients are a different story, for those I charge very little for the first 10 sessions. I want people to learn as much as they can to help themselves and have autonomy. It is a little bit tiring, but I don’t mind. After 10 sessions if the person still wants me to work on them instead of putting the effort themselves, then I increase the price.
All in all, I guess I have a very emotional method to put price on the services that I offer . I have learned the hard way not to make anything free here (maybe it is about my country’s culture). Still, when someone asks me a question and I take the time to explain everything, they take it for granted, but when they go to a specialist to hear the same answer, they will pay hundreds of dollars.  It is sad that stupid pieces of papers (certificates, money, diploma) are the only thing that makes people valuable nowadays.  — Sev Gurmen


On Money — Nick Konow


How do you find people to work with?
I’ve been pretty lucky in the past where I’ve met most of my collaborators, mentors, students, and teachers very organically through classes or events I am interested in.  I usually talk about my work when folks ask and invite them to my training sessions or classes. Most of my students I’ve found from the very unlikely of places — coffee shops, from someone else’s class, or a festival / event I’m performing at.
When all you want to do is help people, how do you go about figuring out what to charge and targeting potential clientele?  Do you own your own facility or rent space from someone else?  What made you make the jump?
A great example I can give here is Trybe. Given that is was my own facility, there was an economic imperative to good targeting and bringing in clientele.  With Trybe we ran a series of experiments on classes and put out a ton of videos and social media posts on our offerings. We then tweaked the classes and especially the names of the classes to bring more people in. I’ve found that a serious name like “Strength Training” actually attracts less people than a name like “Superhero Flex”. Folks want something to live up to, something inspirational.
So it is important that the content of the gym reflects that. Our motto is “Be your Own Hero” or “it’s not what you have, it’s what you leave here with”. Having a very strong call to action helps when you are targeting clients.  It might be slower to get the content out there, but it pays off in the long run.
So, how to target clients? Aim to get long term students and truly put something out there that you truly believe they want and need.  Focus on inspiration and curiosity rather than ambition and metrics — in my opinion, the latter tends to put people in FOMO mode.
I rent space but am on a 3 year lease. So it’s a long term commitment. I do co-run the facility and teach 15-20 hours of classes a week, along with admin work. I made this jump to having my own space instead of working for another gym/movement training space because I wanted to move away from certain values/training methods and run a space that was dedicated to my ‘experiments’! Haha. It’s just about having more control over how you teach, and by that extension, more responsibility too. I am lucky to have such amazing business and teaching partners.
For those of you who have run retreats and seminars, how do you go about booking these?  Does online training appeal to you?  Why or why not?  Have any horror or success stories about any of the above to share?  
I’ve taught workshops pretty extensively in the past but usually just reached out to professional dance schools and sent them my resume (they would do all the marketing, booking students, and I’d just show up and teach).
I actually prefer going through the leg work of hosting your own seminar because you get to interact better with the organizer and folks who are coming and really get make your teaching material ‘suitable’ for them. It’s harder when you don’t have an idea of who is coming and thus, how relevant your information might be.  You tend to make your material more succinct when you teach workshops instead of regular weekly students so I think of it as a very good practice for teaching. Also, I do enjoy teaching workshops because I can offer and share another side of my training/practice. Having both the experience of teaching weekly students and workshops has made me a better teacher. I’ve not ventured into online training much because that is another beast and specialty skill in of itself! I do have great respect for people who offer online training as it is a lot of accountability at sake.  — Steph Lee



I’ve made it a personal policy that I want to be so good that people find me. I believe traditional “marketing/advertising” is a dying field, if not already dead. I believe in creating compelling stories with the people that I work with that get begged to be shared. As well as share what I believe to be of value on social media and email. Soon, I do plan on hosting courses where I plan on word of mouth, email, and social media to fill the course.  — Austin Einhorn



Previously I worked at a sports rehab clinic, and we would do a number of different forms of community outreach.  This included workshops on a variety of topics pertaining to sport-specific training or mobility and recovery.  Now, I have people reach out to me via word of mouth because of my previous work and online presence.
To run a workshop or seminar, the biggest part of it being successful is becoming involved and immersed in your target community.  You have to understand their pain points, and provide them with what they need and more.
As far as online training goes, there is a lot of benefit to it.  In-person training will rank #1 because of the irreplaceable benefits of human to human connection and chemistry.  That being said, the internet provides us with a tremendous platform to connect with those not in our locale.  There are plenty of sham IG “trainers” out there who market hard and sell cookie-cutter programs, but at least it gets people moving.  — Tyler Wall



 I rely wholly on my job as a physical education teacher to support myself.  Luckily, I work with a great team who allow me to teach the way I wish, and carve a niche for a more mindful, expansive form of PE.  In a sense, I teach six workshops a day and am gifted a salary to do so.  Participants choose to be here (for the most part) and I do not make any more or less by how many students are in my class.
I get all my one-on-ones through the chiropractic clinic I have part time employment with.   I make $33.90 (pre-tax) for one 45-minute session.  My boss makes $78.31  off that same session, as I take in 30% of what insurance pays and he takes 70% (established in 2011 — he likely makes more than this with inflation).  One might assume that because folks who see me don’t pay anything out of pocket that I could easily find clients (termed ‘patients’ by the clinic), but I only see one gal once a week.  This ebbs and flows a bit, but I haven’t seen more than two people a week for over a year.  If I ever branched out on my own and/ or become dependent on training, I would think I would have to earn at least $100 an hour, with either individual or small group sessions.  How I would find those people, though, is a mystery to me.  I’d likely try to utilize an already established network and incentivize referrals, but this in no way sounds like an enjoyable endeavor.
Online training doesn’t appeal to me because I am very protective of my free time.  I like to keep my schedule open to do what I wish with.  (It’s why I don’t mind having very few personal training clients.)  If I’m going to play/ problem solve with someone, I want to be able to interact with them in a shared environment, as this is what is most appealing about the job to me.  — Chris Ruffolo



I live and work in the heart of Silicon Valley, where EVERYTHING is expensive. It is difficult to find a price point that your average person won’t cringe at, but also keeping in mind cost of living and expenses for personal life. In my ten years of living in the area, I have been most fortuitous being hired at an Equinox in Palo Alto where I met other coaches who are now dear friends and got to work in this weird bubble of elite workforce of clientele. Some being CEOs of Apple, people working for Facebook, Amazon, Google, huge hedge funds firms, lawyers, house wives, I can go on and on. Like I said, it’s an odd bubble that takes getting used to. Being around the coaches I loved we made each other better and pushed each other. We did continuing education together and grew into what we are today. Now I am an independent contractor, still in the area and have several clients that are in their tenth and eleventh year with me. In 2017 I increased my rates. I have never been a salesman and never will be, however, I can show you value and get buy in if given the chance. When increasing the rates, I wrote a very personal letter to each of my clients letting them know more about me as a person, the direction I’m heading, education I’ve done and will be doing and here is the new rate. I was very well supported and didn’t lose any clients in doing so. My target clientele is anyone who is willing to be patient and put in the work that needs to be done to get what they truly want and I will reciprocate. I don’t work with the “quick fix” population because I stay true to who I am and my philosophy as a coach and practitioner.
Last summer I did a seminar at my gym educating the staff on FRC specifically and gave a glimpse into how I work with people and how the system works. Later in the summer I did a seminar open to the public and had over 35 people attend which was awesome. This was huge for me in that I HATE public speaking and had great feedback. With the support of coworkers and the gym owner, we publicized the events on Facebook, Instagram, around the gym, podcasts and word of mouth.
I have done some online training and had great success. It is a lot of work and tricky in that I can’t be there when the client is training. Cueing is different, safety is different, anxiety is different and a lot of trial and error is key.  — Brian Fox



That is a very simple question, with a very simple answer. I do not find them, I never did. They find me. That is why I went public with the webpage. On this webpage I let people know what exactly I do, for which kind of populations and which kind of ailments. I even did try to do some advertisement with flyers and the like with no real benefit at the end. They find me.
Referring to the pricing, I do an analysis of what the typical prices are in a certain location for certain practitioners. There we go. I was running workshops from time to time. Going about these is pretty simple, which means, figuring out what I want to teach, making it public, maybe do some advertisement and wait. There we go again.
Referring the online training. I am basically against it, both for strength training/mobility and for Feldenkrais. It really might work for people who are naturally talented and who are already on a certain level of expertise, so that they will understand what is told in the online session and thus being able to apply it. All other people I prefer to teach from person to person. There are just too many subtleties and too many variables which need to be taken into consideration.  — Christian Rabhansl



The answer to, “How do you find clientele?” is complicated.  The two hats I wear most whilst educating, are swim instructor and therapy aide. In both of these positions, I work for an institution which is an entry point of sorts, for all of the humans I potentially get to teach.
As a Swim Instructor, I have built my reputation and position through the school I work for, which feeds my schedule. I am (one of) the goods, the institution sells to all potential students/families. I have a little freedom to add space for drop ins, but my schedule is generally uniform.
As an aide, the people I teach are all patients of the practitioner I work for. Generally, the people who come to us, have worked with my “Boss” and I over the years, had successful results with us and seek to do so again. Or that handy dandy “word of mouth” hops in and our successful patients recommend us to their injured or pained friends and family members.
I have only a small handful of private clients that I train, but I get to do so by the same mechanism that drives client flow in the other positions, Reputation. The clients I have,  sought me out or were recommended to me, because I have poised myself as someone people can trust about movement. For now, that is good enough for me.  — Gary Stockdale



Those are questions I’ve been struggling with,  especially because  I have only about a year until the end of my Feldenkrais training. Once I’m done, it’ll be a different ball game. Won’t have to pay for tuition and it will free up time for work related projects. Till now I’ve mostly for dance studios or gyms so finding clients was not so much a matter of my own doing but mostly throughout their publicity. Over the years I’ve then started to create a list or befriend people on fb. Now, because I’ve changed partly what I’m teaching and because I like the workshop formula, I rent space from time to time. And post an event on FB. For pricing I checked how much are similar classes, and calculate cost of rent and expenses versus potential revenue. Always considering how many people I think I’ll be able to recruit and the room capacity.  I have a lot of questions about marketing. I recently started my own newsletter which is a new approach for me. I don’t have my own website but now I think it’ll be an important step for the future as I want to do more Feldenkrais, and individual and private coaching. But all of this is not my strong suit and I find it quite vertiginous and stressful. But it’s also exciting because I’m investing more and more in a kind of practice and work I enjoy and believe in. For now, I do baby steps, slowly change my approach to get ready for the jump I want. I always find I have a slow rhythm, I have to remind myself that being in action and working through the process is the most important part to be who I am. — Nadia Genois



I don’t have really good answers here, and I find myself stumbling in the dark in a lot of ways.  Mostly, I make myself visible by teaching lots of group classes and posting regularly on social media.  That’s not a great, specific strategy, but it’s certainly better than relying on studios or gyms to promote me.  My work situation is quite unstable as well, as fitness is a competitive field, places open and close constantly, and small businesses can be extremely quirky and not somewhere to just settle in comfortably with a “job”.  Sooo… I maintain an email list that I send announcements to, I post my own practice regularly, and I’m always experimenting with different ways to run classes and workshops.  I don’t own a facility, and the real estate market in my city puts that out of reach right now.  There’s the chicken-and-egg problem of working enough to scale a business up, while often getting too bogged down with work to scale up effectively.  Not to complain, but I am struggling a bit with what I do.  I’ve been fortunate in that people from my classes have come to me and presented me with enough opportunities to keep things afloat, but I don’t feel like I have things figured out enough to offer specifics to anyone else about what to do.  — Chris Davis


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