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The Phil Ross Interview

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Q & A with Dragon Door Author, Phil Ross about his upcoming presentation at the 2016 Dragon Door Health and Strength Conference

How to Attract Your Optimal Client Mix—and Retain Them Year After Year…

Dragon Door: What is the biggest mistake you see most personal trainers make when they target potential clients?

Phil Ross: One of the biggest mistakes they make is to go for the "sexy". What I mean by the "sexy" clients are the athletes, celebrities, and so forth. And you know what? You can waste a lot of cycles just trying to get in with that group of people. You want people to come to you, as opposed to you really going to them. Building a referral base is a much better way to spend time, instead of chasing after these highfalutin type clients.

Dragon Door: What is the biggest secret for keeping your clients loyal to you in the long-term?

Phil Ross: Some of my people have been with me for more than 25 years—that’s longer than most marriages! I have some people who are pretty loyal to me. One of the major things is that you pay attention to them. Pay Attention to their development, where they need work, and listen to them. You want to really listen to them. Listen to the trouble they're having—not saying on a psychological level, although sometimes we do get there—with a specific technique or that they are having trouble getting to a certain weight, or whatever the case may be.

But, listen to them, it’s a relationship. You want to build that relationship, you plan on being with these people for a long time. And again as with any relationship, you have to pay attention and you have to listen.

Dragon Door: In terms of observable, sustainable results for your clients what would you say are your five favorite exercises that have most contributed to those results?

Phil Ross: That's a really tough question considering that I know and use anywhere from 350 to 400 different movements, and have to narrow it down to five!

The first one would be the swing. The swing is the mother of all kettlebell exercises. "If you ain't got a good swing, then you ain't got anything!" We really work on getting the swing down, and people have great results. As far as the ballistics go, everything comes from the swing. Cleans, high-pulls, snatches, anything along those lines is rooted in the swing. And, the swing can be used in many different ways: dead start, dual, speed, power—there's a lot of versatility. People really enjoy doing the swing a lot as well.

The next one is the get-up. And I will be the first to tell you that when I first started doing get-ups I hated them. Then, when I saw how much I could improve, I just embraced it. Now I love doing get-ups, and my people do get-ups all the time. The cool thing is that you can really see great results not only from using different weights, but general conditioning, shoulder strength, and overall mobility all improve dramatically with the get-up.

Moving on to the press, because what’s cooler than hoisting a heavy weight above your head? The press is pretty measurable as well, because people can say, "Hey I was using a 16, and now I'm using an 18!" And some people are pushing up the beast! The press also has quite a bit of versatility with the bottoms-up variation, the waiter's press, and things of that nature. People really like the press as well, it's something that you can measure and see—and again, it's cool putting heavy stuff over your head!

Next one would be the push-up. The push-up is definitely one of my top exercises. I love doing push-ups, and you can do so much with them. There's such a variety of push-ups and if you have two arms that work, then you can do them. You don’t have to do clapping push-ups in front and behind your back, but you can do a wall push-up.

Phil Ross Push-Up

I actually use push-ups when I have a client who comes in with shoulder issues, or if they're coming back from surgery and have finished their physical therapy and they start working with me. Then we stat working on push-ups to stabilize the joint, access the core. You can do a push-up anywhere, if you have a floor then you can do a push-up. So push ups are an excellent exercise and people love being able to do them. Again it's very measureable, maybe before they couldn't get all the way down with a push-up and now they are getting all the way down. Now they're doing 10 push ups, 20, 30, 50... whatever it is... trying different types of pushups there's more variety in push ups I think than any other exercise. I currently practice probably about 40 or so different pushup types.

Rounding it out at number five would be the pull-up. A pull-up is a great barometer of strength. People come to me just wanting to be able to do one pull-up. They keep working ,working, working, and then they get their one pull-up—then they want to go for five! Then they want to start putting a couple of kettlebells on their feet and to do some weighted pull-ups!

The pull-up is a great barometer for overall strength. It engages everything. Your whole body is involved in the pull-up. It’s an overall exercise and should be included in everyone’s regimen in some form or another. You can do them on rings, or you can just do your plank pull ups. There's such a variety of pull-ups—nothing like the push-up—but they are a great overall strength builder.

Dragon Door: Private lessons or group classes? What’s working for you and why?

Phil Ross: Yes. They’re both working for me. Let’s start with the private lessons. Some people like one-on-ones. Some people have funky schedules—I have surgeons who train me and have weird schedules and wacky hours. Sometimes they’re on their feet for 18 to 20 hours at a clip, so a regular class won’t always work for them. They schedule privates with me, and I fit them in at weird, odd times.

Sometimes people just want to build their confidence and know what they’re doing before they migrate into a regular class setting. One-on-one sessions work for them. Then others just want to work one-on-one with you and don’t want to be in a group—they're not comfortable in a group, or they just don’t want to do it—so, a one-on-one session works best for them.

On the downside, not everyone can afford my hourly prices, so also have the group classes. Both privates and group classes have pluses and minuses. In a group class, I like the energy and competition with the people in the class—and they start pushing each other. That's a lot of fun.

Again, I can't say which I like more—I like both, and both are working for me. The only other thing that’s a downside of a private is if I am not here. If the client doesn’t want to train with one of my other instructors, then we're not making money. With the group classes I can always have one of my people teach. Even though I conduct most of the classes at my studio, I also have some good instructors who lead their own classes and do fill-ins. So, they're both working for me and I love both.

Dragon Door: You have a book coming out soon with Dragon Door called Ferocious Fitness. Sounds intense! What’s it about and who is it for?

Phil Ross: Yes, it is intense. In my mind it's for everyone because I think everyone should know something about fighting. It's geared towards martial artists, combat fighters, or people who just want to train like a fighter. Most of my classes are geared towards strengthening people in the ways of combat movement—explosive power, flexibility, durability, mobility—and address all the different facets it takes to be a successful fighter.

As far as I'm concerned it's for everyone and most people can really learn from it, but it is really going to help fighters, martial artists, wrestlers, and boxers, get to the next level of strength and conditioning in a very concise, time-efficient manner.

Phil Ross will present How to Attract Your Optimal Client Mix—and Retain Them Year After Year… at this year's Health and Strength Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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