Beginner’s Guide to Defining Your Fitness System
Your fitness system will, of course, take a lot of time to develop into its final form, but that is not an excuse to avoid putting the current version on paper. Change will always happen, but that doesn’t mean you can avoid starting now.
Picture the last time you set a project aside until all your ducks were lined up in a row perfectly; how much more time did that add to the completed project? Even if you finally got the project done, how much easier was it because you avoided starting until the “right time”?
You need to sit down and define your fitness system now, no matter how rough it might seem in its current form. The process will quickly help you identify the holes in your business and put you on your way to defining a complete solution.
While your fitness system will be completely dependent on what you’re offering, be it a coaching service, fitness product, event, etc., I have found some commonalities between all of them.
What is a fitness system?
A fitness system is an individual’s or company’s unique solution for helping people achieve their fitness objectives. It is the summation of every technique and component employed to translate goals into results.
Why You Need a fitness System
A lot of trainers and coaches think that having a variety of certifications, degrees, and other qualifications is enough to warrant all the business, money, and prestige they need to excel in the fitness industry; this is wrong. No one really cares how many different people taught you; they care about how you took all that information and combined it into something new and unique.
The problem with having so much information is that there is no way to apply it effectively. Each piece needs to be integrated into something new, otherwise you risk having wasted your time acquiring it in the first place.
After working with both clients and trainers, I can tell you that each person’s experience is unique. Everyone runs into different issues and challenges, so no two systems can truly be the same. They might look the same in some way, but they can never be delivered and adopted in the same manner.
The fact is that you have everything you need to create a unique system, and chances are that you already have a system, even if you haven’t defined it very well.
In terms of the fitness industry, your fitness system is more than just a guide to coaching clients and getting results. It is your guide to every aspect of the business, including your branding and every aspect of marketing (in the case of my system, that means your content marketing, email marketing, and social media marketing).
It even extends to your operations, especially if you’re managing a facility. You should know exactly what happens when a new potential client walks in the door. Who will greet them? What will that person say? How do you assess their needs and explain how you will help them achieve results? How will the first session be handled? How will you follow up with them? Are there special offers available? Are there incentives to come by a second time or invite their friends? If they become members of your gym, what paperwork will need to be filled out? How will you integrate them into your unique culture? How will you track their results? And on, and on, and on.
Just like every other aspect of your business, you need to be consistent and professional. No one likes wishy-washy solutions and answers. The minute you say “I don’t know, that’s a good question,” you have instantly invalidated your business and have potentially lost a customer. If you don’t have every answer to every question they might ask, you are not prepared and you have not defined your system well enough.
How to Create Your Official Fitness System
The following outline doesn’t include everything, but it will get you on your way to defining your system. It includes your Philosophy, Principles, Assessment/Progression, and Training/Nutrition.
Your Fitness System must have a well defined philosophy that clearly illustrates what and why it achieves what it does. Don’t confuse this with a mission statement; this is an over arching view of how you solve the problem you’re attempting to solve, and a good one won’t budge a bit after you have it set.
An example of a Fitness Philosophy that is extremely targeted would be, “Using three primary implements (kettlebells, sandbags, and barbells) and progressive movement techniques, this system allows overweight individuals to enhance their health and physical performance over a long term period.” A good philosophy will also be able to be simplified into a single, three to eight word line which you’ll then use as your company slogan.
Principles are specific guidelines that could get applied to a variety of situations to make the choice both easy to make and consistent with past decisions.
A good example is how you address the issue of building strength. An okay principle in this regard may be, “We address strength development through the use of low repetition sets.” A better principle would be, “We use barbell deadlifts, back squats, and military presses combined with progressive 4 week workout programs to develop strength.” One is vague while the other is much more specific and actionable.
Whatever your principle is, it should be extremely consistent and every member of your company should be able to recite it from scratch. You should have enough principles to answer any question in regards to your Fitness System.
ASSESSMENT & PROGRESSION
Just as there are no two identical people (even twins have separate life experiences that may influence their fitness levels), there is no such thing as a universal fitness solution. The only way to get someone from Point A to Point B is to find out where Point A is in the first place! Your Fitness System should include some element of Assessment. Something as simple as a Push Up Test could give you all the information you need to integrate custom attributes into your Fitness System for each person, but you need something.
Progression is intimately connected to Assessment; now that you know Point A, you need to find out where Point B is and when your client arrives there. How do they progress?
TRAINING & NUTRITION
Your Fitness System should include training and nutrition, of course. In terms of detail, this section should have the most information. For training, what implements, techniques, exercises, set schemes, and workout schedules do you use? For nutrition, what diet plans, ingredients, recipes, supplements, and eating schedules do you recommend? On top of that, how are each of these aspects modified for specific situations/clients?