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Will picking a FN specialty limit my income?

Hi fitness nurses,

Over the weekend I received an e-mail that I wanted to share with you.  Well,  just one paragraph of it anyway:

“I noticed on your website that you talk of choosing a specialty as a fitness nurse.  Do you find that you limit yourself too much (and the income) by focusing just on your specialty?  In the past, I’ve thought of targeting clients who are in the “at-risk” categories; for example, pre-diabetic or pre-hypertensive.  I also saw your list of examples and the “Fitness Nurse specializing in Chronic Disease” really appeals to me.  Part of my conflict is that I’m also still interested in working with “healthy” individuals whose main goal is weight loss or increasing overall fitness.  Do you think it is possible to do both and have two distinct parts of my business where I market my skills in caring for those with disease and also training healthy individuals?  Is it possible to do this type of work full-time and bring in a decent salary?”

As nurses we need to think "HEALTHIER", 'cause 'healthy' doesn't exist.

As nurses we need to think "HEALTHIER", 'cause 'healthy' doesn't exist.

What a great question/statement by this nurse who is probably thinking like many of you.  Well let’s break it down.  As far as limiting yourself goes with your specialty… This is one of the first mistakes people make when trying to market themselves and services, believe me I know, ’cause I’ve done it… We want to let everyone know who we are and what we offer.  The problem is everyone doesn’t care.  Only those people who will benefit directly and precisely from what you offer will care.  You simply cannot market to everyone.  More clients doesn’t necessarily mean more money.  It could actually mean more problems, more headaches and more burnout.  You also reach a ‘ceiling’, because there are only so many hours you can train in a day.  Remember, people are only available to workout certain times of the day and on weekends.  Do you really want to mimic a nurses schedule again?  By marketing to an ‘ideal client’, you can have fewer, but more quality clients who will pay for what you have to offer in amounts that make your life more enjoyable without grief.  So, NO I don’t think picking a specialty will limit your income.  It will increase your income because your best customers are the ones you already have and their referrals and they will pay more for your ‘special’ services that they can only get with you.  If you find a collaborator, that likes your package, like a physician, a dietitian, a social worker, you may have more work (clients) than you can handle.  YOU set your parameters for who you will work with.  I actually say “No” to people weekly because we’re just not a good fit. 

Second statement…Put in exercise for healthy individuals in google and look what you come up with, there’s tv ads, gyms all over, very competitive.  Also calling yourself a Fitness Nurse in a ‘healthy’ market confuses people.  If you want to be a personal trainer, then be that with pride.  But once you establish yourself as a bonafide Fitness Nurse with a specialty, you very well may get clients who are ‘potentially healthy’.  I must admit this word “healthy” gives me (agita) because it implies that people are healthy simply because they exercise, working out 5-6 days a week and they simply are not.  (Just because you can physically workout 5-6 days a week, as a so-called ‘healthy individual’, doesn’t mean you should)  I have more casualties of exercise who are my clients now because of misguided exercise plans and their obsession with weight.   How are their joints?  Are they stiff?  Do they constantly worry about food and diet?  Are they ‘stuck’ in their weight loss efforts and this determines their mood on a daily basis?  You know a 57 y.o. woman on HTN medication (even if she is apparently healthy) is recommended by ASCM (American College of Sports Medicine) to have a physician’s clearance to exercise.  So, here’s my stance on ‘healthy’… I don’t believe that there are any healthy people.  Healthy does not equal low-fat diets and exercising 5-6 days a week.  So that’s my soap box, I’ll get back to the e-mail now. 

If you want to work with ‘healthy people’ towards the goal of increasing their fitness, you can do that, but I think you’ll find that your marketing will suffer.  You need to pick one or the other when it comes to your position in the fitness market.  I think a group that can recognize your training as a nurse, who want to get into shape and get healthier (I like healthier better than healthy) will value you more.  Which is a lot more people than you think in this category. People who do P90X don’t need us.  But in 10-15 years they might.  You just can’t maintain that level of training.  What happens at day 91?  Just like the Biggest Loser…EVERYBODY gains their weight back.  Not realistic and even dangerous. 

Remember this is my opinion, you can go out there any way you want, but I do know that once you start ‘training healthy people’ in the fitness world, no one will care that you are a nurse (especially financially).  And maybe that doesn’t matter if you enjoy what you’re doing and you’re making money.  As I always said to nurses who are working or want to work in fitness… I wish you well and good luck with your fitness professional career.  This site is looking for nurses who want to stay valued as a nursing professional first, fitness second, so healthcare businesses and clients with concerns about exercising (not bedridden or in wheelchairs, they look like our neighbors, regular people) are the markets I’m trying to dwelve into.  You can do this also with your fitness nursing specialty.  People need to be able to find you. So, LABEL YOURSELF!  Tell people what you do; not who you are.  Tell them about the transformation you’ll provide not just that you’re a Osteo-Care Fitness Nurse or Pilates instructor.

When people ask me what I do, I say, “I help minority women reduce their waist size and increase their bone health through natural ways of Vitamin D absorption and proper, sustainable exercise”.  The they may say, are you a trainer? THEN, I emphatically say, “No. I’m a Osteo-Care Fitness Nurse”.  The conversation almost always continues on.

This is what they (potential clients) want to hear.  Also, other healthcare workers want to hear this too, including physicians.  Be different.  Be bold.  Be a nurse with a fitness specialty.  Sorry I went off on a tangent again.  As for the last question, I know what you mean by full time.  But some weeks I literally only work 20 hours a week and other weeks I work 60-70 hours per week.  I charge by the package; not by the hour, so my hours do fluctuate.  I believe you can design a package that you can offer that equals the amount of time that you want to put in weekly.  For example, I know that if I want to make a certain amount of money per month; I know that I have to sell so many packages.  The hours are what they are.  The hours I put in for Restorative Fitness Nursing Services are usually less than a 30 hours week (not counting the writing of this blog and other work I do for FitnessNursing.com)

I hope this helps.  Thank you for that e-mail.  Keep ’em coming!
Yours in Fitness & Nursing,
Lori
P.S.  Everybody, so-called ‘healthy’ or not, “wants to lose weight” or keep it off.  Just about everbody.

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About fitnessnurse

President & Founder, FitnessNursing.com and Creator of Certified Fitness Nurse Academy, Paleo Fitness Nurse

2 responses »

  1. Great post, Lori! Thank you so much for answering my e-mail! I have a lot to think about with developing my fitness nursing business. I am so excited that you are bringing other like-minded nurses together and I hope that we can learn together and from each other!

    Reply
  2. Well written article, Lori! I always learn new, valuable, ready-to-use info from your articles. Thanks for pioneering this specialty and truly wanting it to blossom into something amazing that will help millions of patients/clients now and in the future. Sending hugs your way!

    Reply

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