Do you find yourself in awe when you're watching someone who's incredibly great at what they do? Maybe it's an amazing musical talent or an athlete who seems to be light years above the competition like one of my personal favorites, Buddy Lee, who may be the most amazing jump roper ever.
Watching someone display his or her love and passion at a high level can be emotionally breathtaking. Is it possible to perform with the same fluency, love and passion in your career as a fitness professional?
I've taken a great interest in understanding why certain individuals, teams and organizations are so successful -- how do they consistently perform at world-class levels?
Let's look at three common traits that the world-class possess and how we can better develop our ability to perform at a level of excellence:
1. Leadership. Developing your skill as a leader will be the bridge between being a good trainer and a great trainer. Leadership is an art, which starts with the development of oneself and becomes manifested with character, integrity, influence, humility and example.
Someone who displays great influence as a leader could be described as having the ability to empower someone to do the things they don't want to do, in order to achieve the things they want to achieve. As you become a more developed leader, you increase your ability to inspire change, elicit emotion and cause a cosmic movement in one's life.
To increase your skills as a leader you can take action in several areas. Start by modeling other great leaders. Success always leaves clues. Try reading autobiographies of leaders you admire. Imagine getting the chance to learn from Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela or Mother Teresa.
Beyond that, attend workshops, join a coaching group and seek out mentors. Learning from others will be one of the quickest ways to increase your skills a world-class Leader.
2. Innovation. The world-class are constantly innovating; they never settle with good enough. In the fitness industry, you often see trainers who constantly have fresh ideas, creative, yet appropriate workouts or a gym that has a blend of fashion, expression and energy as a backdrop to their brick and mortar facility.
When we push our own personal boundaries, our confidence naturally increases; we begin to think more creatively and our ability to innovate greatly improves. Innovation then is a blend of the proven and practical techniques that have worked for years with an ability to expand beyond the tried and true, to the realm of the new.
An example of innovation in business is Steve Jobs and the iPod. Jobs noticed what his customers where asking for, what peoples needs were. At the time, portable music was somewhat archaic. People were carrying around music players that were very large in size and hardly convenient. Having a great sense of innovation, jobs created the first actual portable sound system and the rest is history.
So how can we be more innovative with our businesses or in our training sessions? Start by listening to the needs of your clients and customers. Then develop the habit of creating new and engaging solutions for their problems. Maybe this means when a client has a low back issue, you research what exercises, movements and stretches can help to alleviate their pain. This is a common pattern for the world-class -- listen, educate and then innovate.
3. The Golden Rule. At the end of the day, one thing that the world-class do better than anyone else, is to treat people the way they'd like to be treated -- the golden rule.
It's very important we make our clients and customers feel far greater than a transaction. The best strive to be what I call, "legacy focused." To be "legacy focused" means to be invested in helping others achieve the full potential of their own legacy. In other words, it is not simply about how many pounds they lose or the amount of push-ups they can perform. Training and leadership are instead focused on how to help clients be better fathers, mothers and friends -- simply the best people they can be.
Similarly, when you function from a place of relating to people as nothing more than money transactions, your true colors will eventually show, and you'll never develop the trust that's needed to succeed. Don't get me wrong; I'm not telling you to give away your services for free. In fact, if you treat people with respect, integrity and provide exceptional value, then you can actually charge a great deal more because the value of your service will be second to none.
I recently stayed at a Ritz Carlton Hotel, where room prices can be well over $350 a night. They can justify the price because they are world-renowned for their incredible customer service. In fact, the entire time I was at the Ritz I was made to feel exceptionally well -- they treated me the way I wished to be treated -- something the world-class do with consistency. At the Ritz, guests are made to feel like "Ladies and Gentlemen." Because of this great service, a great deal of people gladly pay a high price to stay there. Ask yourself, how can I create this same effect as a fitness professional?
A view of world-class from the "trenches" of personal training:
According to Webster's online Dictionary, "world-class" is defined as "being the highest caliber in the world." So I spent sometime asking some of the best fitness professionals I know to explain their personal definition of world-class. What better way to get a look at world-class in fitness, than to get it straight from the source?
Kate Deering, owner of Deering Fitness in San Diego, defines world-class as, "Going beyond what is expected. Giving your clients not only what they want, but providing them with things they do not even know they need." From Kate's example, we see that to be considered best in class, we need to make the act of over delivery a consistent practice. The only way to develop this consistency is through repetition. Anything performed repetitively over time will eventually become a habit formed, an instinctual process.
Another Fitness Professional gave me his view from a business standpoint. Chuck Gonzalez owner of Pacific Personal Training and Crossfit Hillsboro in Hillsboro, Oregon says, "World-class is doing everything it takes to not simply produce satisfied customers, but rather raving fans." Ken Blanchard originally introduced the concept of "Raving Fans" in his book, Raving Fans, where he shares that the goal of a business should be to create deep levels of trust and satisfaction with their customers. With an end result that develops passionate fans, customers will follow you anywhere and tell others about their great experience. How can you better refine your business so that it satisfies your customers in such a way that they'll become raving fans?
Years ago, I remember attending my first fitness conference. It was exciting to be surrounded by such passion and energy. What I remember most though, was meeting a World-class Fitness Professional that would forever change my life. Todd Durkin embodied the artistic flow of someone performing at his or her absolute best and I was determined to learn his secrets to success. Luckily, I've had the good fortune to learn under Todd for many years now. So, upon writing this article, I had to seek out this his thoughts on what World-class stands for. After all, not only has Todd trained the last two Super Bowl MVPs and other top professionals, he's also excelled in his professional career as a business owner and fitness professional.
Todd's response was this, "World-class -- world-class is a standard of excellence in all aspects of life. It is congruency between the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of one's being. It is the fulfillment of your maximum potential. The road to 'world-class' often starts as a dirt road that is full of bumps and potholes. But over time and course correction, we pave it smooth and continually upgrade it. We must enjoy the journey on the winding road to the top of the mountain where 'world-class' exists. Most of all, world-class is about creating significance in life, living your purpose, and delivering maximum IMPACT in your daily walk."
World-class starts with a journey from within, transcends self and becomes the act of giving our best to help another. The process of greatness is one of conscious decision and intentional action set forth to assist the betterment of mankind. Here's to you becoming world-class.
Troy Fontana is owner of Fontana Fitness in Sparks, NV and founder of Business for Fitness Professionals, an organization designed to educate, inspire and serve the fitness community. Troy is the author of A Climb to the Top and Time Freedom -- Money Freedom. Visit www.TroyFontana.com to download a FREE Report that reveals why many trainers are experiencing their best year ever.