Monday, 14 September 2015

How to Find and Grow Your Niche in the Fitness Industry

In today’s fitness industry, there are countless trainers and endless fitness blogs. So how to do you make a name for yourself? How do you get clients to train with you? How do you get people to your website? How to you make a comfortable living and still have time to take care of your personal health and fitness? While many different strategies have been tried, I believe the best way for both lasting success and the ability to impact the lives of many is to find and develop your niche.
Image courtesy of  cooldesign.at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
When I first started as a trainer, I mistakenly wanted to be the one-stop-shop fitness trainer. General fitness, fat loss, athletes, bodybuilders, rehab, young, old – I’ll take them all! While a desire to help every gym-goer in the world is a noble quest, it is doesn’t work well. If you want to be successful in the fitness industry, you have to have a niche for the following four reasons:

Why You Must Specialize
1. You cannot be an expert on everything
If you are familiar with books such as Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success, you will know that it takes about 10,000 hours of experience to develop expertise in one area. To truly be an expert takes lots of time studying and practicing your trade. You do not have the time it takes to learn everything about training everyone.

2. You cannot appeal to everyone
Not everyone is going to like you. Not everyone will connect with you. As much as you try to be a likable trainer, you will not appeal to everyone – and that is okay. 

3. Your marketing will not appeal to everyone
When you have niche you can target your marketing to that niche. What appeals to a hard-core powerlifter will not appeal to a soccer mom trying to lose those few extra pounds. When you know your niche you can adjust your training and marketing style to what will appeal most to your niche.

4. It allows you to focus your writing
Writing (both your own blog and other popular websites) is one of the best ways to get your name out there. When you write to everyone, you write to no one. When you know your niche, you can write specifically to those people in their language using examples and stories they can relate to.

5. People pay top dollar for specialists
Think for a moment of the medical profession. Who is it that gets paid the most – the GP (general practitioner) or the specialist? It is the specialist. People pay for expertise. If you needed open heart surgery, you want the best of the best operating on you. When it comes to clients’ results and their bodies, they want the best – they want the person who can deliver results. Having a niche in the industry allows you to make more money. Now, if you are like me, you did not get into this profession to get rich, but being able to make a comfortable living is important so you have time to still enjoy life and take care of your own personal health and fitness.

How to Find Your Niche
Now that I have laid out my case for why you should have a niche market, the next big question is how do you find your niche? Here are six reflective questions that will help you to your niche market in the fitness industry:

1. Who do you enjoy training?
Reflect back on the different people you have trained in the past – who did you enjoy working with the most and why? Also, note that sometimes who you thought you would like to train may be different that who you actually found you wanted to train. For example, many of my male interns thought they just wanted to train males. Then, when they got some experience training females, they found that they really enjoy how coachable, teachable and fun to train most ladies are.

2. Who do you naturally connect with?
You may find that some people are easier for you to connect with than others. How are you wired? What is your personality? What types of people have you naturally been able to connect well with?

3. What are your passions?
What are the things that you really enjoy about fitness? What gets you excited? What topic would you be willing to read about on your vacation?

4. What are your opportunities?
Perhaps you are good friends with a prominent person in a sporting organization who has access to numerous coaches and athletes. Perhaps you have connections with a moms group. Who do you know or what affiliations do you have that could present great opportunities for training?

5. What are your life experiences?
Often other life experiences can be a great help for finding a niche. Did you play a particular sport? Where you a skinny hardgainer who had great success building muscle? Are you a mom who was able to get back into great shape after having four kids? 

6. What are you best training successes?
Of all the people you have trained, who did you have the most success getting great results with? 

Growing Your Niche
As you discover your niche, the next big task is to grow and develop your niche marketing and to hone your skills at training people in this niche. Here are eight practical steps you can take to grow your niche

1. Start training whoever you can
I know this seems completely contradictory to what I just wrote, but when you are getting started, you need to pay the bills. Also, training a wide variety of people can help you in being able to better answer the reflective questions above. Another benefit to training a variety of people initially is that it gives you better perspective on training and working with people.

2. Look for experts in your niche
Ask around and do some investigating online to find out who also specializes in your niche. Read their blogs, study their websites, buy their books and DVD’s. Also, try if possible to connect with them in person. Follow people who are successfully going where you want to go.

3. Plan your professional development
As you get to know colleagues in your area, find out what are the must-read books, the must-get information products and the must-attend conferences. Bonus tip: when you are reading articles, pay attention to the references at the end of the article. If you see the same book or article being referenced repeatedly, that is one you want to get your hands on.

4. Study broad, but focus narrow
In addition to studying material that is directly related to your niche market, it is also important to study material outside, but complimentary to your niche market. For example, I specialize in training athletes and people who want to look and feel like an athlete. However, I study not only athlete training but also Powerlifting, Weightlifting, Bodybuilding, Gymnastics, Track & Field, Strongman and Physiotherapy. I do not claim to be an expert in any of these areas. However, by studying these complimentary areas I gain perspective and find many helpful tools and strategies that I can apply to my niche. I study broad, but apply with a narrow focus. 

5. Make your marketing appeal to your niche market
Start by studying the people in your niche. Who are these people? Where do they spend their time? How do they talk? What things do they like? What do they watch on TV? What is their educational background? What social media do they use? What do they read? What music do they listen to? Once you have studied your niche market, ask yourself how you can better appeal to that group. How should you dress? How should you talk? What pictures, color and overall look of your website would appeal to them? How can you show them that you can provide the training they want? If you get stuck with this, go to websites that also cater to your niche market and study their look and style.

6. Get training people
Get out there and train people in your niche. There is so much about training that you can only learn through doing it. When you are successful with clients, always ask them for a testimonial to use on your website and other marketing material. When you are not successful, try to figure out why and what you need to do differently next time. Pay attention to both what you do and how you do it.

7. Write and speak about how you get great results in your niche market
Once you gain some experience and success with training clients in your niche market, start to look for opportunities to write for online and print publications that target your niche. Also, look for opportunities to speak to groups of people in your niche and to trainers who train in your niche. Speaking and writing are both excellent ways to get your name out and to establish credibility. 

8. Be patient and keep doing what you do best
As with anything in life, there are no real short-cuts. Once you have got the ball rolling and start applying these steps, be patient and keep doing what you are doing. Success will follow.

How about you? Another other tips you have? Comments? Questions? I welcome you to leave them below or at my FaceBook Page.

Trainers, if you are looking for more courses and workshops to help you develop in your niche, check out my Workshops and Courses Page.

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