5 Things I’ve Learned in the Last 14 Days

5 Things I’ve Learned in the Last 14 Days

by Dan Ritchie, PhD

These times are challenging to say the least. Over the past few weeks we’ve had an unbelievable amount of information coming our way, some challenging and some downright scary. But, I’ve tried to find what is also helpful. Here is a list of five things I’ve learned over the last couple weeks:

Your staff/team needs to hear from you and hear from you often. Leadership matters, even if it is as simple as sending email updates, having Zoom video check-in calls, and texting regularly. Your staff is used to training clients in person, and they miss it. Shifting to online training is a new challenge, so be patient and OVER communicate.

Have a business banker! I am so happy to have a business banker who I have known for years; he knows me, my business, and my needs. Currently, he is updating me on SBA disaster loans and the new PPP options available this Friday. If you have not talked to your business banker yet, send him or her an email and call.

Take care of yourself. You cannot save your business in 24 hours, so pace yourself, get plenty of rest, and as my good friend Martin Pazzani says, “Get Outside.” I love what Paul Holbrook shared on our panel, too. Paul is taking a few days to reset, sit back, rest, and reflect before jumping and shifting to online training.

Do not do this alone! Reach out to us for help. We have plenty of educational opportunities from free webinars to tips on our Facebook page and our FAI membership for $1. Reach out to other owners and other trainers, connect on zoom, and support one another.

Embrace the new normal. I had 160 people on live for a recent webinar. Due to some technical difficulties, I jumped in with a presentation in place of our guest whose internet was down, and people stayed on, listened, and engaged. I would almost swear you could feel the energy from the extroverts in the room coming through the Q&A and chat fields! The appreciation was real and the questions from around the world were engaging. As we embrace our new world, let’s look for the good, look for innovation, find the small things you’ve been missing again, and reach out to other humans. We are going to need each other.

Know your Ideal Client

Know your Ideal Client

by Dr. Dan Ritchie

Do you know who your ideal client is? I mean really know them? What gives them joy? What is their biggest pain point? What keeps them up at night? One of the fundamental starting points for any successful trainer or training studio is to know who your ideal client is and where they live.

Here are some things to consider that will get you on the road to knowing your clients better:  

  • Name
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • Kids, how many
  • Grandkids, how many and how old
  • Do they love to travel?
  • Retired, working, or somewhere in between
  • Favorite restaurant, coffee shop, winery, caterer, etc. 
  • Clothing shop
  • Massage therapist
  • Nail salon (if they pay for pedicures/manicures they can pay for training)
  • Hair stylist
  • Favorite charities – where do they volunteer? 
  • Clubs (Rotary, Kiwanis, etc.)
  • Country club
  • Activities – tennis, horseback riding, pickleball, bridge, golf, hiking, biking, etc. 
  • Hobbies – photography, art, music, events, concerts, bird-watching, camping, dogs, etc. 

In other words, ask yourself: what do they love to do that I can enhance? Because in reality, if you don’t really know your ideal client, how can you realistically begin to market to find more of them and how can you make a difference? We challenge you to take some time this week and think about this. Make a plan and serve your clients to the best of your ability so that you can reach more clients and help more people. 


8 Elements of Functional Aging Training Program Design

8 Elements of Functional Aging Training Program Design

When it comes to program design, there are many factors to consider. As we say, program design is an art and a science. Here are 8 elements to consider when creating programs for your mature clients using our Functional Training model:

1. Focus on Functional Tasks your clients need to do on a daily or weekly basis. For example, movements could include tasks like carrying groceries, laundry, or household items; picking up items; climbing stairs; putting something on a shelf; or looking under the couch for the darn remote.

2. Think about What your Client Can Do and less about what they can’t do. Focus on strengths and abilities not just limitations. Design your sessions for success.

3. Focus on Balance Challenges your client might face on a weekly or monthly basis: navigating a parking lot, stops, starts, turns, stepping over a parking block, stepping up or down a curb, changing terrains from grass to dirt to pavement. Tasks inside could include stairs at home, stepping over pets, changing flooring from hardwood to carpet, or catching your foot on something.

4. Ask yourself, “What can we do that is fun?” Be sure your session has some fun activities; give everyone a reason to smile at some point. Exercise should be enjoyed!

5. Include an obstacle course or balance game. Maybe play red light/green light or get out the agility ladder. You could set up a pretend creek with various colored stones to get across without getting wet. Play with balloons or Nerf balls. The possibilities are endless!

6. Do get down on the floor. Whether it is for push-ups, bird-dogs, or planks, be sure to incorporate some floor training.

7. Remember to think about all 6 Domains of Human Function from the Functional Aging Training Model: Musculoskeltal, Cardiovascular, Balance, Mobility, NeuroMuscular, and Cognitive/Emotional.

8. Lastly and most importantly, Care about your Clients: call them by name, ask them about their lives, or give them high fives and hugs. Be the best part of their day. Enjoy being with them and appreciate them . . . you might be the only one that does all day.

Tips to Help Your Clients Keep Away the Winter Blues

Tips to Help Your Clients Keep Away the Winter Blues

by Dan Ritchie

Let’s face it, some of us are experiencing long, gloomy days this season, and sometimes they can bring on sadness, fatigue, and even seasonal depression. We know that eating smart, helping others, exercising, and getting outside are a few things that can help. A Harvard study in 2005 showed that getting outside for a brisk walk can help improve symptoms. But what if it’s not easy to exercise outdoors? What can we do in our facilities to boost mood and change things up until spring? Here are 6 ideas to try:

Set New Goals Yes, it’s time for New Year’s resolutions, but help your clients make new, achievable goals.Chunk them into mini milestones so that clients can see progress and feel encouraged. By the time spring is here, they will feel stronger and more confident, and remember, your support is vital.

Get Together Many times we find ourselves isolated when it’s cold or snowy outside, so encourage your clients to try group training. The camaraderie and socialization aspect of exercise is valuable.

Try Something New Introduce a cognitive fitness game, a new balance circuit, set up an obstacle course, create an indoor hiking challenge – the possibilities are endless!

Mix Charity with Movement Have a fundraiser for a local charity and incorporate an exercise challenge. For example, at my studio Miracles Fitness in West Lafayette, Indiana, we’ve done a Fitness for Food Finders challenge, which raised $2000 and equaled 6000 meals for our community.

Turn it Up! Music can boost mood, so switch up the tunes you play in the gym and put on some summer songs. Try some Beach Boys, Jimmy Buffet, The Go Go’s, or DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince – nothing speaks summer like some of their songs! For ideas, search for the top 50 best summer songs.

Most Importantly, Check In!Take a moment to look your clients in the eye and see how they are doing. Kindness goes a long way, especially for some of our mature clients who may be more socially isolated.

A Healthy Eating Strategy that Stimulates Weight Loss and Improves Health

A Healthy Eating Strategy that Stimulates Weight Loss and Improves Health

By: Mitch Kahn – Plant Fueled Trainers


What if I told you that there is an easy way to lose weight and get healthier?

And you don’t have to purchase any expensive foods, shakes, supplements, or pills.


You might be a little skeptical – right?

Let Me Share My Experience

I know I was a little skeptical at first.  But a couple of years ago, when I was diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer, I was guided to the works and research of Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr., Dr. Michael Greger, and Dr. Colin Campbell. I learned about the overwhelming scientific evidence that showed eating a whole-food plant-based diet led to tremendous wide-ranging health benefits from weight loss to reversing heart disease. And all I had to do was eat delicious and filling vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grain carbs!

​I know what you might be thinking – there’s no way this works – especially if you have been lured by the fad diets that promote low carb intake. Well, I’ve seen it work firsthand, not just on me, but on other folks as well. For me personally, I lost about 12 pounds fairly quickly and have seen no further progression of the cancer.

I can’t emphasize enough how powerful a tool this way of eating is. Hopefully by now I have at least piqued your curiosity. If so, read on to learn how a whole-food plant-based diet might help you lose weight, help you feel better, and even help you live a longer life.

What is a Whole-Food Plant-Based (“WFPB”) diet?

A WFPB diet is more of a lifestyle than a diet.  It is centered around eating minimally processed vegetables, fruits, legumes (beans and peas), whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

Meat, chicken, fish, dairy, eggs, and refined grains (e.g., white bread, white rice, white flour, etc.) should be avoided altogether.  Junk foods like soda, candy and fast food are eliminated. Refined foods like sugars and oils are also minimized. Personally, I avoid all oils, even olive oil. My wife and I use vegetable broth or water to sauté and we always avoid eating fried foods. The only sweeteners we use are either date sugar (which is made from pulverized dates) or Grade A organic maple syrup (but we use this sparingly).

​You’ll find this way of eating to be filling, satisfying, and most importantly, a powerful weight loss tool.

A WFPB Diet Not Only Helps You Lose Weight, It Can Improve a Number of Health Conditions

When you transition to a WFPB diet, you are positioning yourself for weight loss and better health. There is an abundance of scientific studies that show this type of eating lifestyle is beneficial for weight loss, keeping weight off long term, and lowering your risk for certain chronic health conditions.

You can avoid obsessing over calorie counting by eating a WFPB diet. You just need to focus on the quality of the food you are eating rather than the quantity. When you focus on quality plant-based whole foods, you’ll be eating a balanced and nutritionally sound diet. Plus, you’ll get the benefits from eating foods that are high in fiber (fiber fills you up and makes you regular) and contain important vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients, while for the most part being low in cholesterol and fat (keep in mind that avocados, nuts and seeds will have higher fat content).

Eating a WFPB diet helps reduce inflammation, promotes the healing process within the body, and helps improve blood glucose levels (important if you are either prediabetic or diabetic). Additionally, because these foods are full of fiber, they help with digestion and gut microbiome issues.

​Research has shown that by eating this way, you can positively impact health conditions like:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Improved immune function
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Irritable bowel diseases
  • Some forms of cancer

Are You Ready to Improve Your Health?

All you have to do is take the next step. And, it’s okay if you want to gradually transition to a whole-food plant-based diet. The results will be well worth it!

Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Opportunities to Learn

Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Opportunities to Learn

As the annual Breast Cancer Awareness Month gets underway this October, FAI wants you to know about about a great learning opportunity from the Cancer Exercise Training Institute (CETI).

The organization is presenting three dates in coming weeks for trainers to take Cancer Exercise Specialist Advanced Qualifications. The program was developed for health and fitness professionals who work with cancer patients in post-operative exercise and quality-of-life programs.

“This program was developed for fitness professionals who want to help someone dealing with breast cancer and need proper information and training,” says Andrea Leonard, CETI president and founder. “Every patient is different in their response to treatment, their surgery, and their prognosis. If you don’t know how to put it all together, you can do more harm than good.” Andrea wants people to succeed, to make a difference in people’s lives, but at the same time, increase their clientele.

So what are the CETI workshops like? The workshops provide a day of specialized training and access to the latest materials from the organization. CETI provides cancer exercise programming on twenty-seven types of cancer, including pediatrics, with an emphasis on breast cancer and breast reconstruction.

“Exercise can play a role in lowering our risk for cancer, and it is important after surgery,” Andrea says. “People are much more likely to survive cancer who exercise. That’s just a fact. There is no argument for not exercising.”

Exercise is also helpful in restoring self-esteem and a sense of control. “Teaching cancer patients to regain control empowers them, increases esteem and confidence, and takes them from victim to survivor,” Andrea shared.

Also, CEUs are available for ACE, AFAA, NASM, and other organizations.

The workshops are scheduled for:

  • West Palm Beach, Florida, American Cancer Society, October 20, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • San Francisco, Jewish Community Center, October 26, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Chantilly, Virginia, Nova Medical Exercise, November 2, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.


You can register for a workshop here.


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