An Interview With Cressey, Robertson, and Rigsby

By August 11, 2011 Products

I would like to inform my readers about an awesome new product put together by Eric Cressey, Mike Robertson, and Pat Rigsby. It’s called The Fitness Business Blueprint and I really wanted to interview these guys for several reasons.

First, I’ve learned a lot from them over the years and would like for my readers to glean some of the same insight I was fortunate enough to receive.

Second, I get tons of emails from aspiring business owners wondering how they can break into their own facility without going bankrupt. This product is of utmost value to folks in this position.

And third, these guys put a ton of effort into this product which I applaud (not to mention the considerable years of experience and success these guys have achieved). Trust me, I know how hard it is to come out with high-quality products when you’ve got tons of other stuff going on, but these guys consistently pull it off year after year. So kudos to these gentlemen.

Without further ado, here’s the interview:

BC: This first question is for Mike and Eric. You guys have become very popular in the fitness industry for a myriad of reasons; one of them being the fact that you have stressed assessment and corrective exercise. Having used many of your methods from over the years, I can’t imagine not performing any assessments on my clients. What sayeth you to the trainers who may not recognize the value of assessments, and how will implementing assessments lead to increased revenue?

MR: I always use the following saying with my clients. It’s quite simple and easy to understand:

“If you’re not assessing, you’re guessing.”

We use the assessment to drive everything we do. The assessment tells us what they do (and don’t do) well, so we can develop a program that specifically caters to not only their goals, but their needs as well. Some people may think we take too much time assessing people, but I think the 45 minutes to an hour we spend is incredibly valuable. Not only does it give us tools to write better programs and be more effective coaches, but it really shows our clients early on that we care about them and their results.

Furthermore, I think when you build that rapport early on, it’s a lot easier to “Sell” your services without selling. People already know you care, and that you’re serious about getting them results. When you have that trust and rapport established early on, selling is actually incredibly easy and natural – they want to work with you.

Bret’s notes: I’m completely on board with this. Assessments make clients feel special; like you’re taking extra time to learn about their bodies.

EC: I agree completely with Mike.  The only thing I’d add is that every single exercise one does is also an assessment “on the fly.”  As a coach, you need to be constantly evaluating where people stand on the progression/regression continuum.

All of the clients at CP get a 75-90 minute “assessment” on Day 1 – but in reality, the “assessment” component only lasts 15-20 minutes.  The remaining time is used to teach them foam rolling, warm-ups, and strength training technique.  If we really coach thoroughly on day 1, it sets the stage for them learning quickly and easily.

Bret’s notes: I can’t emphasize this enough. This was true when I was a high school math teacher and it’s true for any personal trainer or strength coach. Make extra effort up front and it paves the way for the rest of the year.  

To that end, even if a trainer opts not to do an organized assessment (a decision I feel is a mistake), he or she is still doing assessments just by making observations when someone is learning technique.  Showing someone how to perform a lunge or a push-up, for instance, can be both an assessment and an actual training exercise.

Finally, it’s important to realize the difference between “intake” and “assessment.”  Intake, to me, involves reviewing a health history and discussing one’s goals and previous injury and exercise experiences.  If you’re not doing that, you’re just waiting for the day someone has an injury that could have been prevented – or some medical emergency – on your watch.  It’s not just irresponsible to overlook those things; it’s absolutely negligent.

Bret’s notes: Agree! Research shows that previous injury is the best predictor of future injury.

BC: This next one is for Pat. Since you’ve become well known for your ability to turn out successful businesses, please tell my readers three reasons why most personal training business owners fail.

PR:  Reason #1 – Thinking that being good at either coaching or business is enough to be successful.  A successful fitness business requires both a quality service being provided (your coaching) and sound business systems.  So many trainers that open up their own businesses are sound on the coaching side, but have no systems in place to get prospective clients, to convert prospects into actual paying clients and to retain them long term.  Without those things in place it’s almost impossible to run a business that succeeds over the long haul.

Reason #2 – Being unwilling to step out of their comfort zone.  Trainers and coaches get into this field because it’s what they love.  They don’t love marketing or selling.  Once they start to understand that being a great coach doesn’t matter too much if you’ve got zero clients, far too many guys bury their head in the sand and instead of starting to do some marketing to get people in the door, they just read more blogs and watch more videos about training since it’s what they enjoy.  They’re really missing the point though because all marketing should be (or at least the way I teach it) is getting people to come in and experience your coaching first hand.  If you’re really a solid coach, why wouldn’t you want to let more people experience why you’re better than the kid training at the local globo gym or the guy telling people to go run around the tree in the park and then do some jumping jacks and calling it a bootcamp?

Bret’s notes: Pat just described me to a “T”! Journal article on intervertebral disc biomechanics? No problem. Learning some SEO techniques? Snore.

Reason #3 – Trying to figure this out alone.  Let’s face it, like I mentioned before, most trainers got into this because they love it.  They didn’t have a business background or an MBA to hang on their wall.  And honestly, business is too tough to go it alone.  Every successful fitness business owner I know has leaned on mentors, joined Mastermind Groups, attended workshops or seminars and invested in products so they could avoid having to ‘reinvent the wheel’ when it came to building a business.  A lot of trainers and coaches are funny that way though.  They’ll invest thousands of dollars in books, DVDs and Certifications to learn from other trainers about how to train, but they’ll try to figure out the side of things they don’t really love (business) on their own.  It’s unfortunate though, because the industry needs more of the guys that love the coaching side to run solid businesses if we’re going to keep advancing as a profession.


BC: Here’s a question for Eric. Tell me a couple of things you’d do differently with your business if you could do it all over again.

EC: Wow, where to begin?  I’m proud to say that I think we did a lot of things correctly – and we have those decisions to thank for the fact that we’re thriving when most small businesses have gone under by this point.  That said, there are definitely some areas in which I would have done things differently.

First, I would have been willing to delegate to my staff sooner.  Before opening our facility, I was a one-man show, attending to billing, scheduling, handling inquiries, and giving sales pitches/tours on top of doing all the programming and training.  It was absolutely exhausting.  When we opened CP, though, I delegated all the business responsibilities to my business partner, Pete.   It made my life immeasurably easier – and it would have been even better if I hadn’t spent so much time checking up on him in the first few months because I was worried that he wouldn’t do it exactly as I did.  As it turns out, he handles all the business tasks far better than I ever did!

Second – and this is one on which I’m still up in the air – I might not have put my last name on the business.  Having it be “Cressey” Performance is flattering when things are going well, but it also means a lot more responsibility than if we had simply named the business something else.  Most people think that the problem with having your name on the business is that you won’t have a good “exit strategy” when you want to sell or retire.  However, in my eyes, the bigger problem is that everyone assumes that they will automatically work with me (and me only) when we actually have several qualified coaches, each with unique skill sets to help them achieve their goals.  Having my name off the facility would have made it easier to establish instant credibility for these already talented coaches.

Bret’s notes: I never thought of that! Great point.

There are dozens of other ways in which I could have improved, but these were the big two.


BC: Mike, your turn. With so many fitness professionals out there trying to establish themselves, you’re pretty well-respected by almost everyone. What do you attribute this to, and what are some necessary traits for continued success?

MR: Maybe I’m just not abrasive enough yet? 🙂

In all seriousness, I always strive to be humble and down to Earth. There’s nothing inherently special about me, and I feel like almost anyone can attain the same level of success that I’ve enjoyed by simply working their butt off and taking the time necessary to learn their craft.

Second, I think I do a fairly good job of removing my biases (or at least understanding them) when working with people. I, personally, enjoy powerlifting – but I realize that a huge squat or deadlift may not be appropriate for my high school athletes, or my fat loss clients. What’s appropriate and good for me may not be appropriate and good for them, given their goals.

And finally, I always try to take a step back and see the big picture. As Alwyn Cosgrove always says, we tend to over-react in the short term and under-react in the long term. Whether it’s core training, cardio, diets, or anything in between, taking a moment to step back and see the big picture helps keep you more focused on the middle, where most of the truth lies anyway.

BC: Last question for Pat. This isn’t some $30 product. It’s a more elaborate product with a higher sales price. Why should an asporing business owner not blink an eye when it comes to purchasing this product?

PR: I think it’s all a matter of perspective.  $197 is the low end of what one new client would be worth to you for one month.  So, if Fitness Business Blueprint can help you get a single new client on board, you’ve made your money back in month one.  But really, it’s going to help you do a lot more than that. Let’s say you have 20 clients and they each pay you $200 a month.  If you get better at doing assessments or at program design, you’ll keep your clients longer and get more referrals. So let’s say that you get your client to stay with you for one additional month because of what you’ve learned.  You’ve now added $4,000 to your income.

So it’s really just an investment.  An investment that will bring you in more qualified prospects and help you convert them to clients.  An investment that will make you better at your craft and make your staff better, too – and this will lead to better retention and more referrals.  So sure it’s not $30, but if you spend $30 and it doesn’t improve your business, you didn’t invest it.  You wasted it.  We’ve covered every aspect of running a successful training business, so no matter what your business currently looks like or what stage you’re in, there is something that will make you better.  Then you can get a very substantial return on the $197.  Plus, to eliminate any risk, we are offering a 12 month, 100% money back guarantee.  If investing in Fitness Business Blueprint doesn’t pay you back 10 fold, just let us know and we’ll give you your money back. Sound fair?

Bret’s notes: It’s taken me a decade to realize that paying some money up front can make an enormous impact down the road.

BC:  Thank guys! Click on The Fitness Business Blueprint to learn more about these guys’ comprehensive new product.

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