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Entries in Ann Gilbert (4)


Should trainers give nutrition advice?

Personal trainers do so much good for those who work with them. Oftentimes that includes how to eat healthy in addition to healthy habits.

But, how much is too much and what should or shouldn't a personal trainer be suggesting?

Ann Gilbert weighs in on the subject in this week's Best Practices.

Q: "Is there any industry standard or guideline for what personal trainers can and cannot say when it comes to giving nutrition advice?"

A: The sharing of nutritional suggestions and guidelines encourages healthy habits and can assist clients or students in getting the most from a specific workout. One must remember, though, that the shared information must remain very general and educational in nature. Only licensed health care professionals, such as registered dietitians, can provide specific dietary recommendations and written meal plans. Trainers are encouraged to educate clients as to the Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA), as established by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences in 1997. RDAs are the average daily intake standard for an assumed healthy individual. Most agree that by giving these general suggestions, the client will have the tools necessary to build a healthy plan for daily intake. In 2005, the USDA introduced MyPyramid with its goal of educating clients as to the importance of consuming from all major food groups. MyPyramid also empathies the importance or daily exercise. Teaching clients and or students how to read food labels, how to shop the isles in the local grocery store and how to make healthier choices whole eating out, are all considered standards of conversation between trainer and client.

Ann Gilbert
Executive Director
Shapes Total Fitness for Women


One of the most frequently consulted sections of IHRSA’s Website,, is “Best Practices,” which features answers from industry experts to a wide range of thought-provoking questions. Beginning this month, we’ll highlight some of them in this new CBI column.

Visit to read responses to more than 100 questions such as these or to submit a question of your own to be answered


Personal trainers can bring medical wellness community referrals

Frances Michaelson, Ann Gilbert and Anthony Wall give their expert advice for a question that doesn't always have an easy, straight-forward answer. But, if your facility can get the right combination and balance with personal trainers generating referrals from te medical wllness community then that can mean a lot more business.

Q: "What can personal trainers do to generate referrals from the medical wellness community?"

A: This is such a relevant question! There have been some successes in this area– but these successes are small compared to the opportunity for us to really collaborate with the medical wellness community. In fact collaboration is the first thing we need to recognize. If, collectively our goal is to help everyone live their healthiest life, then collaboration has to be central to our relationship with everyone we work with. 

With that in mind trainers need to be proactive on how they approach the medical wellness community. In talking with the medical community we have found that while the concept of referring to a trainer is a viable option people don’t have the time or the means to do this for the most part. It’s often not from a lack of desire. Given all of the different options available I’m going to propose one method that can be very successful.

Start small - if a trainer is working with a client who goes for a medical checkup and comes back with an improvement in their results – i.e. lower blood pressure, cholesterol, a reduction in body fat, etc., then the trainer should ask the permission of that client to contact their doctor and develop a referral through that avenue. That’s a powerful message. Whomever your clients sees – use them to start the network. Whether it be a therapist, doctor, etc., approaching that individual having already been successful with one of their patients gives the trainer a lot of credibility.

As you prepare your introductory e-mail/ letter be prepared to provide the details of your expertise and background. Do you have a demonstrated history of continuing education? Are you an NCCA accredited Person Training or Health Coach. As you build your profile the more expertise you can gain the better. Don’t stop at being just a trainer – continue to grow and develop your area of expertise. As you collaborate with the medical wellness community you’ll be able to demonstrate your level of professionalism through your demonstrated results with more and more clients.

Anthony Wall
Professional Education, ACE



A: There are four factors that will determine the amount of referrals that a personal trainer will be able to generate from the medical and wellness community. The first factor, and probably the most important, will be the trainer’s credentials. More than the basic knowledge of exercise contraindications, the trainer must display expertise in corrective exercise and post rehab programming. Secondly, it is suggested that the trainer has the time and energy to work directly with a rehab facility. Many, having completed a post rehab certification, will volunteer to assist in the facility in return for shadow or internship experience. Trainers, who are successful in generating a steady flow of referral, have established a habit of consistent communication with the client’s medical supervisor. Most send assessment results on a regular basis and always ask for input from the medical pro. Once the professional relationship has been established, it will be easier for the trainer to ask for the referral. Once the medical professional sends the client to the trainer’s facility, there needs to assurance that the facility is equipped with today’s updated functional resistance equipment. Inviting the medical professional to participate in a one on one workout at the facility is a personal trick used by this trainer over the years in the business. 

Ann Gilbert
Executive Director
Shapes Fitness for Women


A: Generating referrals from the wellness medical community is essential, and can do wonders for your personal training business. But it is not always easy! The key to success for any referral program to work is to first establish a relationship. As a licensed Naturopath and personal trainer, I have had the opportunity to view this situation from both sides.

For years, I made the mistake of sending letters to all my clients' medical doctors. This great intention brought little, if any results. I quickly learnt that the personal visit was what was needed to establish credibility and confirm my knowledge and passion for helping people so these doctors could feel comfortable with their referral. I now send updates of my clients' progress to keep the channels of communication open.

As a Naturopath, I must be absolutely sure that a trainer that I am referring a client to is worthy of training and stays current with the latest research and studies. I am more impressed with a trainer that will call me and ask questions about my practice and background so that he or she can get a better idea of who I am before they refer to me.

I know many trainers who simply send off their business cards to practitioners such as physiotherapists, osteopaths, dieticians, massage therapists, hoping for a referral. This rarely works as well. Why should it? Again, we need to establish the relationship. I suggest going for a massage to any therapist that you would like to get referrals from. Show that you mean business and offer a cross referral opportunity. 

To conclude, I think the focus should be on establishing a working relationship with the medical wellness community . For example, if you have an injured client and refer them to a physio, take the time to go to the appointment with your client. This would be a great opportunity for you to ask the therapist to assist you in designing the patient's rehab exercise program. This could be the start of an ongoing positive referral program!

Frances Michaelson
Muscle Up Inc.


Editor’s Note: One of the most frequently consulted sections of IHRSA’s Website,, is “Best Practices,” which features answers from industry experts to a wide range of thought-provoking questions. Beginning this month, we’ll highlight some of them in this new CBI column.

Visit to read responses to more than 100 questions such as these or to submit a question of your own to be answered.


Experts: Market Your Child Care 

Mike Minton and Ann Gilbert discuss what you need to do when considering offering childcare at your facility, in Best Practices.

Q: "We are thinking of adding a child care center to our club.  From your own experience, what are some tips/program ideas as to how to develop a successful center that members can take advantage of while they work out?  What is the industry standard rate to charge for child care?"

A. Being from a women’s only chain, child care is a branded service. I recommend actually branding your center and making the childcare a standard in list of options that your facility offers.  Plan your childcare’s hours of operation around prime time GF classes, weekend boot camps and special events. Market to daycare facilities, pre-schools and establish a relationship with areas schools and even churches. Make it very well known that your facility offers the service in the club and that your facility is empathic to the challenge parents today have with fitting exercise into the busy day.

Make the childcare the very first stop in the guest’s tour. Focus on the how safe the child will be and note the effectiveness of the check in/out procedure. The child’s assured safety will be of utmost importance to the guest in your facility. Ask for input from parents who use the child care. Create surveys, have evaluations ready and follow up with all who have recommendations for the center. Again, parents will focus on safety, cleanliness and the amount of supervision per child when assessing your child care.

Plan the centers play areas with specificities I mind. Arrange for school aged children to have a place to study and infants a place to sleep. Restrooms must be planned with in the center’s walls, assuring that the attendant will not have to leave children unattended in order to serve the needs of any one child.

Set standard for snacking, diaper changing and time allowances from day one. Add a video surveillance system when planning so parents can actually watch the children at play as they exercise on cardio deck or free weight floor.

Our attendants are paid an hourly wage and are allowed to bring up to two children of their own as a benefit of employment.

Ann Gilbert


Shapes Total Fitness for Women


A. First you must make physical space considerations. For indoor space you need to allocate about 35 square feet per child, and 80 square feet per child for outdoors. Age consideration, capacity, and program options are directly related to your fiscal plant, as well as size, amenities, restrooms, and staff. One example of this would be to limit their length of stay; 1 to 2 hours, another example, limit ages; no infants thru 18 months of age. If you plan to provide infant care you will need a separate space. For school age children 5-12 years of age I would recommend sports and group exercise activities after school from 3:45 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. As far as fees are concerned they vary substantially throughout the industry. Our facility includes nursery services within our parent and family membership structures. To determine paid cost, a projection of expenses should be determined to establish each facilities fee. Holdover and drop-in fees vary. Minton’s fee is $10.00/H\HOUr. or include in membership. Prior to offering child care services a comprehensive list of rules must be established and authorized by participating parents. Rules such as, limit distressed children to 15 minutes, and no sick children allowed. This will ensure a safe experience for the child, your staff, and parents. Minton’s Health and Wellness Pre-School and After School Center are a National Award Winning Children’s Program that focuses on ‘Developing healthy habits that last a lifetime’.

Mike Minton
Minton's Sportsplex


How to Price a Personal Training Business

Q: “I have been running my own personal training business for over a decade with many long-time, loyal clients. I am planning on moving out of the country soon and am considering selling my business. How can I price a business like this?" – Derek

A: The net worth of your business is equal to the net revenue generated from personal training sessions during the previous year.

It goes without saying that your marketing, wage, payroll and operating expenses have been subtracted from the gross procured to get to your net. Many will negotiate a price using numbers that reflect the expected net for 1+ 1/2 years rather than the year’s actual net, when business is as well established as yours, when the business has a branded program option attached, or when the business has a history of high renewal or resign.

Most believe that these figures can be seen as fictitious, though, and can often lead to concerns with breach of contract. Experts will recommend that a buyer sign an open ended contract so it is best not to address estimated numbers during the sales process.

Studies have shown that new owners may be in need of using your services as a consultant when buying. Establishing this relationship at the point of sales is often recommended.

Ann Gilbert, Reg. Dir. of P.T. & Operations
Shapes Total Fitness for Women


A: You may want to rethink simply selling your business. If you have a great accountant or business lawyer, talk to them about the advantages of keeping your business and/or perhaps partnering with someone. If it’s a thriving business, you could still bring in income as a “silent” partner.

Next, consider the following:

Are you the business? In other words, if you’ve built your business by branding yourself and your image as the business, someone may view that as a negative once you’re gone, (thus the advantage of keeping some ownership or all of it and having someone run it). It makes a business tougher to sell.

Take a look at the market demand and perhaps research what similar businesses are selling for in your area. This is something that again, your business expert can help you with.

There are dozens of areas to cover when it comes to selling a business. So my first suggestion is to connect with a solid business resource as I mentioned above, i.e., Accountant or business attorney. They will be able to walk you through the steps and give you an idea on what your business is worth, thus allowing you to make a more educated, profitable decision.

Nicki Anderson, President
Reality Fitness, Inc.