Personal training is competitive. How are you going stand out?
Stu has taught personal trainers at both the Australian Institute of Fitness and Sage Institute not only how to become great trainers, but build thriving, successful businesses.
But you’re statistically unlikely to succeed. Sorry.
Have you been in the industry for more than 12 months? Well done for making it this far; on average you’ve outlasted 90% of the people you studied with. Maybe you’re new enough to this business that you’re still wondering where to hang your freshly framed Cert IV? Either way, you’re in the right place.
Becoming a fitness professional is like opening a single origin, vegan coffee roasting shop on Brunswick Street. There are a lot of them, and only the best can make a viable living out of it in the long run. Only one in every 10 fitness grads is still working in the industry 12 months after graduating. The average PT lasts less than six months before giving up. Why? Because it’s a shit industry – if you don’t know what you’re doing.
If you do know what you’re doing, it can be butterflies and rainbows. You choose your own hours, set your own price, work in a location that suits you, do what you love and sometimes people will even pay you to yell at them. Sweet.
But it’s not always that easy.
The fitness industry can be a bitch.
Hi I'm Stu, The Squat Mechanic
I got my first job as a gym instructor at Melbourne University Sport Centre in 2005. Back then, there were no private contractors; we were all employees which meant we weren’t competing for clients. We were a team of people working together to help everyone and anyone who walked through the turnstiles. I was a novice among a crew of super experienced staff. From my very first day I was surrounded by experts who reminded me how much I had to learn. And I was like a sponge.
Unfortunately, nowadays an environment like that is rare.
In 2023, most personal trainers are private contractors. This means that in any commercial gym the other personal trainers, although you may chat to them, become Facebook friends and occasionally grab a drink together, are your competition. They’re the other sharks in your tank all circling for a bite of the client who just waded in.
When I chat to a recently qualified PT who has started contracting at a commercial gym, my first thought is who will this person learn from? Who can they go to for advice? Who is impartial and has their best interests at heart? Are the more experienced trainers working alongside them really going to share their hard-earned trade secrets with somebody who is quite literally their business competitor?
In any field where your direct competitors are increasing at a rate of hundreds per month,
Competition for work is fierce!
Personal trainers right across Melbourne are practically lining up at the entrance of every commercial gym in the city ready to fight tooth and nail over every gym patron who walks through the door. Some commercial gyms have as many as 30 or more contracted personal trainers each angling to increase their client-base. Rising above the rest and making a successful business in the fitness industry is not an easy task and motivation, while very important, is only one of the traits required.
You want a mentor. You need to know more.
WHO AM I?
Here's what you need to know about me
I don’t cook my own food. I don’t wash my own car or clean my own house. My business allows me to outsource that stuff so I can focus on doing what I'm good at: training people. And teaching people to train people.
I got into the latter after up-skilling new employees as a supervisor at Melbourne University Sport. That taught me two things: first, I quite enjoy teaching. And second, new PTs have about as much basic fitness knowledge as I did when I started – not much and not nearly enough to survive in this highly competitive industry without a little support.
So after nearly a decade developing elite athletes as a strength coach, plus a stint at a wellness clinic doing rehab work, I got itchy feet. I wanted to help people. People like you. I was horrified by the lack of knowledge of the new PT's I saw in the industry and wanted to do something positive to change it. I got a gig teaching Cert III & IV in Fitness at the Australian Institute of Fitness, and later was invited to teach the Diploma of Fitness Coaching at the Sage Institute which I enjoyed immensely.
Since then I've redesigned entire Cert IV curriculums, including creating all of the assessments (sorry to my former students) and writing multiple chapters for textbooks on topics like Postural Screening, Movement Assessment, and Applied Biomechanics in Exercise.
I love teaching, but the real learning as a personal trainer happens on the job. Many of my students keep in touch after they qualify and usually have more questions for me after their first week working in the industry than they did during their entire course. After a few classes came and went I started to notice that more and more of my clients were former students; personal trainers booking sessions with me for professional, rather than personal, development.
I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that right now you have empty spaces in your appointment book, are working sporadic hours, stressing about sales and would love to ramp up your price per session. That’s a reality of life for most personal trainers.
Why? Because you know a lot but not enough. You can pick an exercise that works for most people but don’t know how to fine tune it when it doesn’t. You aren’t yet getting those va-va-voom transformations people are looking for.
You need knowledge that goes far above and beyond what you learned at [insert your fitness institute here], because the average PT course gives you just enough information to get started but nowhere near enough to ensure your success. Trust me – I’ve taught it.
You want to be in demand. You want people to rearrange their corporate meetings so they can slot themselves into a 10:30 appointment on a Monday morning with you. You want to charge a three-figure-per-session rate without clients blinking an eye. You want your appointment book bursting and your ego backstroking in serotonin. You want to make it in this industry.
'...from the first day of my mentor program with Stu I was able to implement strategies and movement patterns with clients that helped them improve significantly after even one session.'
- Skye W, Docklands
I have been learning from Stu on and off for about 18 months and in November 2018 completed an intensive 3 month mentorship with him. My goals were around learning and skill development. I wanted to build my confidence as a trainer through learning how to diagnose and identify faulty movement patterns, linking movements to anatomy and physiology, discussing specific client’s needs and unique presentations and exploring different exercises and movements and how they may or may not be appropriate for particular clients. Basically I wanted to become a better trainer for my clients.
I had just finished my cert iii/iv so was a little lost with how to proceed. The internet is overwhelming and there’s a lot of misinformation that can be spread. I needed someone I could trust to help me filter through all the noise. I knew Stu was going to be a major player in that role for me.
From the start I found Stu really accessible; he was friendly, empathic and approachable. His knowledge was amazing, and the way he explained what he knew made the information accessible too. The difference between Stu and other trainers that makes the difference for me I think, really comes down to one thing - regress to progress. Stu is not afraid to strip down the movement to it’s parts and make sure everything’s working properly before putting it back together. His approach is about quality of life and longevity, for everyone. This is for the general population as well as the trained athlete. His approach is about moving well everywhere, not just in the gym.
What really sold me on Stu we’re two words - “it depends”. These words can be frustrating as hell, but for me they are a symbol of everything that makes The Squat Mechanic Approach so special. They signify the individualised approach Stu takes to training his clients - no two people are the same so no two approaches should be exactly the same; the curiosity with which he approaches his work (every client has something to teach him) and his commitment to continued learning. He just won’t stop evolving! I’ve watched him grow and expand his knowledge so much over the short time I’ve known him, and generously share that journey with as many people as possible. It’s inspiring, and that’s the kind of trainer and person I want to be so it made sense to learn from Stu, because that’s exactly the kind of trainer and person that he is.
When I was making the decision to start training with Stu, I had to do some financial juggling which was made easy by the option to come on as exchange client and a flexible payment plan. Aside from death or severe personal tragedy there was nothing that was going to deter me from working with Stu, and from the first day of my mentor program with Stu I was able to implement strategies and movement patterns with clients that helped them improve significantly after even one session.
My confidence in my ability has been increasing steadily with every session with Stu and I’m looking at movement with more curiosity and discernment. Every time I learn something new it means I can help people more effectively. My clients walk away knowing a little bit more about themselves and what they are actually capable of doing, which brings out an amazing confidence and vibrancy in them!
Being able to help facilitate a process by which people can get to know themselves better by paying attention to their bodies is just the nicest feeling. It fuels my drive to be better and makes the work I do incredibly rewarding and fulfilling.
How can I help you?
I’m an elite-level Strength Coach who specialises in correcting movement patterns. My passion is biomechanics; the science of optimising human movement. My job is to analyse and correct the movement patterns of my clients so that the right muscles engage in any given exercise every single time. If you're a personal trainer you will understand immediately how critical this is. Unfortunately, however, very few PT's I see in the industry understand the subtle nuances of movement, posture and alignment.
Did you know most people suck at squatting? They do. Even people who pay for PT sessions suck at squatting. Why? Because their trainer sucks at squatting. They haven’t learnt the finer points of technique correction to ensure optimal engagement of glutes, hamstrings and abdominals, so they can’t pass it on to their client and earn that stellar reputation for delivering the J-Lo booty. Then, when their client doesn't build the perky buttocks for which they signed up, the PT has them do some glute-specific assistance exercises in an attempt - if you'll pardon the pun - to cover their own ass. Problem with that is the chosen assistance exercises are also performed without the necessary fine-tuning, which means the client's glutes still aren't engaging properly.
I see this on a daily basis. The PT has their clients best interests at heart, but they don't know what they don't know. Two days ago a PT was telling me about the lat pulldown variation they'd implemented to strengthen their lower trapezius, however when they demonstrated the movement I could tell at a glance that their lower traps were completely disengaged the entire time. Zero engagement. Zilch. Why?
They'd selected a great exercise but performed it poorly... and they didn't know it. My biggest concern in this situation - and believe me it's a very common one - is what will this personal trainer do for all those clients who desperately need stronger lower traps?
Fortunately, after a quick discussion with the trainer I had them demonstrate the exercise again in such a way that lower trapezius could fire optimally. Less than 20 seconds of instruction and I was rewarded with "Wow that feels much different... I can really feel it working." Uh huh. Thanks. That's what I do.
Unfortunately there's a lot more at stake here than a simple lat pulldown. Deadlift, bench press, kettlebell swings… the list of poorly performed and poorly understood exercises is endless. And it breeds failure - failure to deliver results, failure to ensure safety, failure to maintain a full client roster, failure to succeed as a fitness professional.
That's where I come in. I teach movement analysis and technique correction to personal trainers just like you. We discuss common technique errors and their causes. We troubleshoot solutions for clients with unusual movement patterns. We work together to ensure that you can deliver extraordinary results to the clients who are putting their trust in you.
I just wanted to thank you for your coaching last year at Australian Institute of Fitness. I've taken on board a lot of your teachings from class as well as the PT sessions we did together.
I signed my 20th client this week, and though I have many mentors and surrounded by people wanting to help me, I feel much of this is due to the solid foundation laid in place by you. I've implemented many of your technique ques as well as applying the casual/relatable demeanour to coaching which I appreciated in training with you.
All in All, just wanted to give you a big thank you and let you know your efforts are appreciated.
But there's more to it than just movement. If you're not good at the stuff that happens off the gym floor, you won't even get a chance to show the world how good you are on it. Success in this industry requires good marketing if you're ever going be in demand.
And most PT’s suck at marketing. Why? Because they were never taught the most effective ways of getting clients, and just do the same shit they see every other PT do because if other PT's are doing it it must be the best way, right? Right?? Remember what happens to 90% of PT’s in their first year on the job? Do you really want to follow the herd with this stuff?
Anatomy, biomechanics, physiology, programming, technique correction, progression, regression, marketing, business management. These are skills you need to be developing daily if you're going to succeed in this industry, and you need to be learning from trusted, reputable sources.
Let's work together to place you in demand. This is your chance to learn from one of Melbourne's leading fitness professionals and become a master of your industry.
How good do you really want to be?
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