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Finding Your Niche

If you’re new to the fitness industry, there’s a good chance you’re a generalist. You probably haven’t had the chance to build up a clientele base loaded with people wanting to train with you for one specific purpose. When I first started, I had clients there for back pain management, fat loss, sports performance (all sports, not just one), and people trying to bulk up to look good for the ladies. I didn’t really care honestly. I needed money, so any client wanting to work with me…I worked with.

I’m all for doing this initially. It’s not always easy to fill your books with clients and make a good living initially. It took me months before I was able to count on training alone to pay my bills, but after awhile, I had more clients than I could handle. I was working from dusk til dawn training people from all walks of life. One hour I would be working with an elderly individual wanting to enhance their life by feeling better, and then the next hour I could be working with a 16 year old football player.

Being a generalist, I got pretty good at helping people no matter what their goal was. However, I was never the go-to trainer for any one specific trait. There was someone out there better than me at just about everything. Basically, I took the Crossfit approach. I was good at a lot, but not great at anything. After being in the fitness industry for a few years, I really started to find out what I really liked in regards to training. Personally, I fell in love with the FMS and clients that wanted to not only look better, but also feel better, and move better as well. After some careful thought, I decided to slowly weed out the clients that were there only for looks. If you were the type that wanted to stare at yourself in the mirror, odds are your days training with me any longer were slim to none. Slowly but surely, I weeded out the clients I didn’t want to work with any longer and I had a calendar loaded with people that actually cared about performance and doing things the right way.

Finding Your Niche

The Canadian Journey to Smarter Group Training and the “Better Jar”

Johnny Fukumoto

A guest post by Johnny Fukumoto

In the quest for “better” group fitness training (meaning to us: safer, smarter, more effective and fun), our ‘fit family’ as we like to call them has kept an open mind over the past few years as we’ve thrust upon them many new concepts, that at times have gone against the grain.

Around 4 years ago, we taught people how to foam roll and it has become a staple at our gym that now carries with it, a sense of necessity in terms of preparing the body’s tissue for work or recovery. And people loved it! (in a love-hate sort of way that many of you will understand).

3 years ago, we started really digging into proper progressions (and more importantly in my opinion, regressions) for our group program so that every participant had a movement level that was appropriate for them. None of this, “Ok, everyone do 100 burpees with tuck jumps and pushups and then 100 squats…” kind of thing where the only guarantee is that someone would eventually get hurt. I actually became friends with Steve at a small event that was dedicated to this philosophy.  At this time, he was really digging into the stuff that the SGT guys are known for today.

Getting Your Clients To “Buy In” to the System

One question that we often get asked is “how do you deal with the clients that don’t buy in to the system?”  There are two major things that I feel contribute to us hearing this question.

1)   You haven’t bought in yourself

2)   It’s hard for you to explain in ways that clients “get it”

My goal with this article is to give you a few reasons, explanations, and metaphors that will help you and your clients understand why they can’t ‘smash it” on certain exercises.

It’s Temporary – It’s extremely important that after you screen a client, find dysfunction, and tell them there are certain things that they can’t do, that you let them know this is temporary.  Screening and following the FMS Hierarchy will almost always point you to the right place when it comes to corrective strategy.  If this is the case, which means you screened correctly, and chose an appropriate exercise, your corrective strategy should work very quickly. Most cases the corrective strategy should work in as little as one session to a week. If not, you are most likely in the wrong place or using the wrong strategy. If you are having a hard time correcting a movement on the FMS, you may consider dropping down a level in the hierarchy, or referring to an SFMA clinician.

This Road Block Has Been Holding You Back – You have to give them some hope at this point because telling then it’s temporary isn’t going to get them pumped to train with you. Letting them know that you found something that has been holding them back from getting the results they have been working for is a great way to reassure them that the corrective exercises are a good idea.  Basically, let them know that when they remove the roadblock, they will get better results.


Everyone is familiar with hitting a plateau, and dysfunction is major contributor to plateau. Remove the dysfunction and decrease the plateau effect.  Let them know that if they have been “stuck” then corrective exercise can get them “unstuck”, as long as they don’t do anything that will cause them more harm than good.