My wife and I just recently bought a home. Anyone who has been through this process knows that before you decide to sign on the dotted line, you go through a home inspection. Their job is to point out the problems, both potential and existing, so that you can make an educated decision on whether to buy this home.
Arguably the biggest check-up is done on the foundation of the home. After all, this is the part on which the entire house resides. A poor air conditioner or other dilapidated appliances can be replaced. Even walls, flooring, and plumbing can be fixed relatively easily. A compromised foundation on the other hand is grounds for moving on to another property.
In the fitness business, the foundation that you set with a client is of vital importance. Like a home, it forms the basis from which everything else is built. This is why all great gyms put new clients through some sort of On-Ramp program – to build a solid, reliable foundation. If nutrition and mobility are fundamental in your gym, they need to be present in your on-ramp program. If nutrition is a core service that you offer, it needs to be addressed right away. The initial interactions with your service in an on-ramp setting will set the client up for success and get them to buy-in that what you are selling (coaching) will deliver the results they desire.
The make-up of an on-ramp program is as varied and individual as each gym that runs one, but the great gyms have 3 goals with their On-Ramp Programs:
- Introduction to your services: in your on-ramp, the client should come away with a clear understanding of what private training, group training, and nutrition coaching are all about and the value that each service brings. At the very least, they need to be aware that you offer all of these things!
- Build relationships: after your initial consult, what we refer to as the ‘No-Sweat Intro’, your job is to cultivate trust with your clients. They need to believe that your facility has their best interests at heart, that what you are delivering to them is one thing: the result that they are looking for.
- Teach the client there is always more to learn. This is the toughest for owners to wrap their heads around. Many say that they want to ensure that clients are ready and moving well enough to enter the group classes. But what does that mean; does everyone receive a pass/fail grade? Do they have to go from moving like a ‘D’ to moving like an ‘A’? Do they have to be proficient in the 9 fundamental CrossFit movements? Should they be able to do a muscle-up? Our goal here should be simple: show them a few things that are important (for instance: how to hip hinge, squat, press, pull, and carry), give them a big win, and then teach them that things within movement build upon one another over time.
This is also the time to get out in front of the common questions you might hear once a client enters group classes. Here’s an abbreviated list we came up with at our gym:
- Where do my keys go?
- How do I sign in?
- Why should I log my workouts?
- Why is strength training important?
- But all I want to do is lose weight – should I still lift heavy?
- What does RX mean?
- What is this mobility stuff everyone talks about?
- How much weight should I be lifting?
- How will I know what movements I should be doing?
- What should I be eating before my workout? After?
- How many days should I work out each week?
- Is it ok to workout if I’m sore?
- No…like I’m realllllly sore…should I take something?
- What this Kill Cliff stuff? Do I need it?
- Are all Canadian babies really wrapped in flannel from birth?
Ok, so this list can seem overwhelming. Put yourself in your clients shoes and try to imagine how they must feel. Your job is to make them feel comfortable, right at home. And remember, a good home starts with a solid foundation. In the fitness industry, that foundation is a well done On-Ramp Program.