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Boot Camps to Rise or Fall?

If you listen to some of the top fitness marketing and business education guru’s, they say there will be a dramatic fall in boot camps in 2016.  Basing your business solely on boot camp will make it tough to continue growing your business and the amount of people training with you on a regular basis.  In order to survive and continue growing your training business, you should be doing several things proactively over the course of 2016.  Creating training and screening systems that separate your gym from the rest should be a top priority.  After that is in place, something as simple as a class name change may help keep your training program separate from some of the trash boot camp training programs out there.
So why do some of the top fitness business pros feel that boot camps are dying?

IMG_0073With the quick rise in bootcamps over the past few years, competition has become very saturated for “boot camp” training.  Two years ago, there were far less boot camps around.  However, since then…boot camp programs have been popping up left and right.  I’m sure you have several boot camps within your own community.  I personally live in a town with 25,000 people and we have a minimum of 6 different boot camp programs to choose from within a 2-3 mile radius.  Honestly, that’s probably less than what many of you reading this are dealing with on a daily basis.

It really makes a lot of sense to run boot camps or large group training.  This form of training allows the coach to maximize their time, help more people, and make more money per hour worked.  Those are all good things, so it’s no surprise that group training has been taking off recently.  We’re all about working smarter, not harder…so group training allows a favorable environment for both the coach and person participating in the training.  The coach gets to help more people and make more money, and the client gets to pay less for quality training.

Since there was such a huge rise in bootcamps, the top pros are predicting a big fall in the upcoming years.  This too makes lots of sense.  I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but….”All good things must come to an end.”  We’re not saying that your group training classes or boot camps are going to suffer.  However, this prediction should not be ignored.  Your clients have a saturated market filled with several low cost providers to choose from.  Why should they choose you?

The answer I hear all the time is….because my program is better.  Why?  Do your clients know why?  Is it painstakingly obvious that you are different?  It should be, otherwise you will to fall victim to your clients leaving to save a few bucks by switching to a lower cost provider in your area.  We make it painstakingly obvious by using our Smart Group Training methods.  We screen on day one.  We rescreen again in 45 days.  After that, we will continue to rescreen every 45 days. This method not only allows us to keep a constant eye on movement efficiency, it also helps keep our program separated from the rest of the crowd.  By the time they may forget that we’re different, we’re rescreening them again.  The screen/rescreen method helps keep your clients constantly informed that your program is different, along with over delivering with great programs and service along the way.

SmartGroupTraining_LogoThis is one thing that separates us from the crowd, but we’ve even taken it a step further.  We have both changed our class names from “boot camps” to “large group personal training”.  We’ve banned the word “boot camp” from our facilities.  We’ve updated our online scheduler, we’re updating all of our online offerings to banish the term from the site, and we have even been taking it as far as getting our clients to quit using the term.  If they know we don’t like the term, it helps us create the mindset that we ARE different.

We’re all about being proactive rather than reactive.  We are setting our businesses and training programs different.  The boot camp era will come to an end.  With a huge rise comes a huge fall.  So, don’t take the reactive approach and risk losing your clients to the low cost providers in your area.  Start taking the action steps necessary to set yourself apart.  Remember…when you are thinking of ways to set your program apart, it needs to be blatantly obvious that your program is different.  It’s easy for us, as fitness professionals, to see the difference.  However, it needs to be obvious to the average person that has little to no knowledge of training that you’re different.  Think about what you’re currently doing and what your action plan will be to keep your gym, business, or training program at the top.

Be sure to reply below.  Do you think boot camps will survive and continue to rise in 2016?  Let us know your thoughts

Jared Woolever

Red Light! – How to Tell a Client They Can’t Do An Exercise Anymore

Why can’t I do this exercise?

I used to do it before.

I’ve even done it at your gym…and was fine.

This is probably one of the most common questions we get.  Why did we red light someone?  Why are we not allowing them to do certain exercises?  Why are we telling them they can’t do something anymore…even though they used to have that in their program?

When it comes to the red light, the answer is simple.  The reason we red light exercises is to minimize risk while maximizing results.  The screening process allows us to identify potential markers that dramatically increase the likelihood of an injury.  If we identify those weaknesses, imbalances, or dysfunctions, we can program around them.  We can minimize the risk by using corrective strategies for those dysfunctional patterns rather than training them.  After the corrective startegies are used and the dysfunction is cleared, then by all means, we’ll start to train that pattern hard.  If we like something, we load it.  We want the resistance to reinforce a movement we like.

The big question to be prepared for is not necessarily the red lighting when someone initially comes in for training.  The big question comes from applying red lights to your current clients after a re-screen.  Here’s a good example of a scenario that happened in one of our gyms recently…One of our clients has been training with us for over two years.  She’s an awesome client and really respects what we’re doing, and she appreciates all the effort we put into the programming.  To keep our client anonymous, we’re going to call her Jane.

Like we said earlier, Jane has been training with us for over two full years.  She’s been swinging a kettlebell for the majority of her time with us.  However, after a recent screen, we decided to red light the swing from her program for the time being.  Jane isn’t the type to argue, but she was curious as to why we would take something out that she’s been doing for years.  Why can’t Jane swing a kettlebell anymore?

Active Straight Leg Raise
Active Straight Leg Raise

Jane has had an acceptable straight leg raise (symmetrical 2’s) since she came in for her initial screen and orientation.  We’ve screened her at least 10x prior to this last screen with no dysfunction.  However, the last time we screened Jane, she lost the ability to get to the acceptable range that we’re looking for.  Why did this happen?  Was it from the training?  Was it from her life outside of the gym?  We would be pretty confident to say that the dysfunction was formed on the 160+ hours away from the gym on a weekly basis rather than the 3 hours she’s with us, but that’s beside the point.  The point is that Jane has a dysfunctional straight leg raise today.  She may have not had a dysfunction for over two years, but that’s was then and this is now.  Jane now has a pattern we need to watch a little closer.

When Jane asked why we took them out of her program, we had to explain the reasoning behind the red light, and that we’ll be applying a strategy to fix the dysfunction rather than keep training on it.  So that’s what we did.  We took those exercises out of her program until the screen changes.  We simply followed our red light rules and implemented a strategy to fix it.  Jane worked her correctives and cleaned up her dysfunction in less than 2 weeks.  She was right back into swinging before she knew it.  We did our job as a coach, and Jane was thrilled.  She was extremely impressed that we take the time, analyze what’s going on with each client, and ensure that they fix their dysfunctions.  Needless to say, she became a raving fan.  She trained with us for almost two years and maybe has given one referral over that time period.  After this little scenario happened, she’s referred three of her co-workers in the past month and a half.  Pretty sure our Smart Group Training system did its job.  Followed properly, the Smart Group Training system will create raving fans ready to tell everyone they know about your program.

Improving Clients with No Restrictions During Group Corrective Exercise

After lots of discussions, I’ve realized that there needs to be a progressive way to improve our clients with no restrictions.  Basically, we give our clients the green light to train all patterns if they score a 14 or greater on the FMS with symettrical 2’s in each movement pattern.  So, what do we do with our clients during our “corrective work” time we have laid out for each workout?

Steve and I have been going over some stuff lately, and I have to tell you….I love it.  Following the heirarchy, if a person has symettrical 2’s in each pattern, we should refer back to Pod 1 (mobility) for continued improvements.  If the mobility pod is clear, we then move to Pod 2 (stability) for improvements.  This is a perfect system, and we use it with excellent results that are replicatable with anyone of our staff members.  Follow the system and get results.

Since these clients need something to do during our corrective time period, we had to come up with a solution to continue their progress and keep things interesting for them.  After some good discussion, we came up with a pretty good solution that keeps the non-restricted and higher skilled clients challenged and still improving during our corrective time period.  What do we do during our corrective time period with these clients?  Turkish Get Up’s!

Each one of our clients will begin to learn this movement while training with us.  We LOVE the Turkish Get Up!  This movement will challenge the best of the best, while improving their FMS scores.  It’s not that hard to teach if you have a system and process to follow.  Check out a previous blog post done about teaching Turkish Get Up’s in group format

After our clients begin to really understand the Get Up, we begin to progess them and really let them explore the movement to it’s fullest potential.  After watching Kettlebells From the Ground Up 2, we knew we had to get some of this stuff into our group training classes for our advanced clientele.  Both DVD’s are solid.  After watching them and practicing what you will learn in them, you will immediately see the potential it will have at improving movement within your clients.  You can get both DVD’s at  We highly recommend them and will be a great addition to your collection.

Our clients begin by learning the movement in phases.  After they begin to own the Get Up and are successful with the movement, we begin to incorporate what we learned from the Kettlebells from the Ground Up 2.  In this DVD, there are some amazing variations of the Get Up designed to improve hip mobility, shoulder mobility, and stability within the body.  The hip openers will begin to improve Active Straight Leg Raise scores.  The Shoulder openers do the trick for the shoulder mobility screen.  After working both of these, stability dramatically increases as well.  We have had some good success with incorporating these patterns with our more advanced clients, or our clients with limited restrictions.  The Get Up will challenge any one of your clients, improve their scores, and keep them coming back for more.  Give it shot and let us know what you think.  However, as with anything, you must first own this movement yourself before having your clients do it.  So, if you don’t already know the Get Up by heart, start to toy around with the movement and explore its capabilities.   You’ll love it, and your clients will too 🙂

Jared Woolever – MS, CSCS, TPI, YFS