Fitness Marketing – Conversation with Eric Cressey Part 1

Posted on 23. Jan, 2010 by in Marketing Fitness


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Kaiser Serajuddin: Hey there. Kaiser here. I’m here on another issue of Super-Trainer and today I’ve got an amazing guest who has accomplished just about everything you would want to in the personal training field. He has published a book that you can find in bookstores. He has got his own facility. He has published all over the place on the internet and he has done all this before the age of 27. So there’s a lot we can learn from this guy and I’m talking about Eric Cressey. Thank for coming on, Eric.

Eric Cressey: Thanks a lot for having me. It’s a pleasure.

Kaiser Serajuddin: Yes. So I was just talking about all the things that you’ve done in this business and something that I’ve never gotten the answer I’m looking for from any of the big trainers I’ve had on Super-Trainer that no one has ever said they’ve wanted to come to training as their first choice for a career.

Now looking at what you’ve done in your credentials, I’m thinking you might be the first one to say that. Did you always want to become a personal trainer or how did you start …

Eric Cressey: Believe it or not, no. Actually my senior year of high school, I didn’t even take a science course. I was dead set convinced that I was going to be another one of the accountants in a long line of accountants in my family.

Kaiser Serajuddin: OK.

Eric Cressey: Actually went to Babson College which was something like, 10 years running, the number one entrepreneurial school in the country. So went there to focus on becoming a CPA and crunching numbers and I came to realize during my sophomore year that that wasn’t a good fit for me and I was more interested in watching SportsCenter, lifting weights when I was crunching numbers I guess. So I made the transfer. I was really lucky in that all my management credits from Babson were good to go no matter where I went pretty much.

So I transferred them into a sports management program, declared a double major in Exercise Science, finished a degree with [0:01:47] [Indiscernible] credits in four years with summer courses and all that and [Indiscernible] Exercise Science. So I was not a training guy through and through from day one, believe it or not.

Kaiser Serajuddin: Yes. Damn, I thought you would be my first one but I guess I will have to keep looking. Now that’s good you point that out. Yes, you have one of the strongest backgrounds or credentials that you will see in personal training so I mean that’s real good.

Now one thing I want to talk about based on your background is what is your real job description. I mean personal training is more of a general fitness type of thing but you work with a lot of specialized athletes especially baseball players in your facilities. So what would you say what you do? What is your job?

Eric Cressey: I would say that I’m probably as far from a personal trainer as you can imagine …

Kaiser Serajuddin: Yes, that’s what it sounds like to me. Yes.

Eric Cressey: Right now, I have one one-on-one client and the only reason he’s a one-on-one client is because this guy has been with me for a while. He’s 60 years old and he is pretty much deaf. He has got some really serious hearing impairments. He fixed them up with all his [0:02:51] [Indiscernible] but he really can’t hear when the music is too loud in the facility. So I train him when it’s not too busy around here and I can turn the music off. So he’s my only one-on-one client.

Kaiser Serajuddin: OK.

[Crosstalk]

Eric Cressey: … right now.

Kaiser Serajuddin: I’m sorry. Yes, go ahead.

Eric Cressey: Sorry about that.

Kaiser Serajuddin: Yes.

Eric Cressey: On a simple day right now, I will see anywhere from 20 to 40 athletes, give or take. Basically all we do at our facility is what we call semiprivate training. So our approach is no more than six athletes per coach. It’s my self and two other coaches that work out here. I also have a business guy obviously that takes care of the scheduling and the billing and all that stuff. But for whatever reason, the market that I’ve fallen into has been baseball training. This past off-season, I saw 96 baseball guys from 32 high schools, 16 colleges and 8 Major League organizations.

So obviously it’s a pretty interesting day and to be honest, my day doesn’t really get going usually until 12:01 in the afternoon. I stopped doing basically personal training at the crack of dawn a while ago and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made because I know that I’m burning the candle on both ends if I tried to train athletes at 6:00 AM and 7:00 PM. So it just doesn’t work out. Where I’m lucky is that in addition to training, I have two other revenue streams obviously with the product sales, also with writing. I do a fair amount of online consulting with people everywhere from Singapore to Great Britain to Australia, all around the US and Canada. So that’s a nice little revenue stream. It’s something that I can do on my own time.

So I spend a lot more of my time with program designs, consulting work, writing early on in the day and I come in and I will be working on my athletes all during the afternoon.

Kaiser Serajuddin: All right. That’s good. That sounds real cool. Now you started out as a personal trainer. That’s what you said, right?

Eric Cressey: Yes. I guess to a degree. I mean I think like we all do. While I was at grad school, my grad assistant [0:04:43] [Indiscernible] the Department of Kinesiology at UConn and my GA was basically a research-funded GA by the US Army where I was involved in basically training of study subjects. And alongside that, I was helping out in varsity strength conditioning at UConn and also taking classes and all that but with all that said, it’s still pretty tough to make ends meet as a grad student.

So in order to pay my rent and to stay from getting too far out of debt, I was doing a little personal training on the side of our facility. Heck, I even bartended it at night while I was in grad school, believe it or not.

Kaiser Serajuddin: All right. Yes.

Eric Cressey: So I’ve definitely done it. It’s just not for me. I mean nowadays, I practically fall asleep if I trained somebody one on one because …

[Crosstalk]

Eric Cressey: Sorry?

Kaiser Serajuddin: No, no. Yes, go on. I was just saying I agree with you. I see what you mean.

Eric Cressey: No, I think it’s the direction that the industry is going is simply to – that the semiprivate is taking off more and more and for us, it’s great. I mean my days fly by and I have a blast. I think you talked to Tony or Brian who are the other two trainers that work out of our facility. We coach our butts off. We work hard and things are more concentrated.

We’re seeing a lot more athletes and to be honest, I think the results are better, believe it or not, because the environment is that much better and really what you’re doing is you’re – in a way, I think we’re following [0:06:00] [Inaudible] what you’ve already seen in physical therapy, what you’ve seen in cardiac and pulmonary rehab is that you know what, group training works. When it’s done the right way and with an effective program, it works even better.

I think for whatever reason, the ordinary weekend warrior has been convinced that he needs one-on-one training when in reality I think you do a lot better training with two or three of his buddies at a reduced rate, believe it or not. So they’re training more frequently and to me, that business model feeds in to your training model as well.

Kaiser Serajuddin: Well, that’s some real good info and yes, that is a clear path that we see a lot of trainers taking. They start off one-on-one but then they eventually get into another aspect of the field. Yes, it looks like you’ve taken it pretty far too. So it’s …

Eric Cressey: Yes. And one of the things that helped me, I think the most, was the simple fact that I was involved in college strength conditioning before I have really jumped out into the so-called private sector. I mean I did some stuff obviously when I was in college but when I get to grad school, it was like, you know what, you see anywhere from 10 to 75 athletes at once. You just learn how to roll with it. So when you get to that point where [0:07:05] [Indiscernible] it’s like all right. Do a set and you ask him how their weekend was and you shoot the breeze and it’s just not fun. So …

Kaiser Serajuddin: Yes.

Eric Cressey: When you’re seeing five or six athletes, your head kind of spins a little bit. You got to do a lot more programming in advance and you can’t really roll with the punches quite as much but you just learn to get good at it. And I think ultimately what’s great about that is you set up a system where people are inherently accountable not just to themselves but to their training partners and not just you.

Kaiser Serajuddin: Yes. That’s some real good info and yes, it’s a good point you make. A lot of us as trainers, we come from a small group training background. That’s how we got into shape ourselves and learn most of our information. But when we work with our clients, it’s always one on one just because that’s the way things have been but that’s not what will work for us and a lot of times it’s not going to work for them either.

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