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How Unique Are You?

How unique are you?

So, you want to be a fitness nurse or you call yourself one now.  How unique are you?  Here are 3 questions to ask yourself if you wonder, “Why am I not getting paid for my nursing expertise in fitness?:

1.  How are you different than the personal trainers/ fitness professionals, your competition, when it comes to bringing in clients?

2.  What industry/market are you in? 

3.  Do you find yourself taking other people’s re-hashed diet and exercise information then re-hashing it yourself?
Here are my responses, in my business and my life:

1.  How are you different than personal trainers / fitness professionals, your competition, when it comes to bringing in clients?
    As much as I don’t like to say this, “Exercise is overrated”.  Especially when it comes to the population of people who I want to help.     Even though I personally like to exercise, my clients don’t.  So, I actually take the emphasis off exercise and use it as a way to help with blood sugar regulation, fat-burning hormone production and increased strength and energy.  And this only requires about 15 minutes 2X a week.  Of course, I give them the exercises and the timing and intensity of these exercises. I also believe an overweight person who physically exerts themselves and is physically active daily is better than a normal weight or underweight person who is sedentary.  I know this better than you may think.  This was largely part of my mother’s demise.  Your mind and body needs to know that bone and muscle is needed for survival.  Remember the old adage, “Use it or Lose it”.
However, I try to avoid personal trainer related lingo like, “butt-burning bootcamp, burn 1,000 calories in 1 hour, etc.”, when I talk exercise and in my marketing.  (What happens when your client or you get injured and you have to take away the calorie burn?) I also charge by packages; not by the session or hour. I create independence and empowerment; not dependency and PIA (Pains In Ass) cling-ons. (You know who I mean) I actually have heard personal trainers say, “I can’t tell my clients all my best secrets, I need to pay my rent, you know.”  They want their clients to be ‘dependent’ on them, so they keep coming back.  In my world of fitness nursing, we know that an excellent, professional Fitness Nurse works themselves out of a job.  The return and referrals from giving that client the total package and confidence they need to do to keep their waist size down, forever, on their own, is priceless. Not only do I give my clients my best stuff to move towards a fat-burning state, I use a fitness nursing assessment that a personal trainer wouldn’t touch and am in conjuction with my Nurse Practice Act. I am confident and am functioning as a nurse first and involving other health care professionals (HCP’s) in collaboration, if necessary.  Finally, I do my group coaching over the internet/phone, so I can work from anywhere and can have clients from anywhere.  Is that enough for now?  ‘Cause I can go on and on.  If you are working in a gym/club setting or want to work in a gym or club setting and calling yourself a Fitness Nurse, how do clients easily know the difference between you and the other personal trainers?  How do the other staff members describe you when asked by other customers what you do?  How do you describe them?  Is it the same description? 

2.  What industry/market are you in?
I’m in the healthcare industry/ pre-diabetic market.  Not interested in managing diabetes.  There are professionals who already do that.  Besides diabetics (Type 2) are notoriously non-compliant. I only help people who want to help themselves not to get sicker; not because they have a wedding in 4-5 weeks and she wants to fit into a dress.  If someone wants that, I actually will refer her to a personal trainer and/or a gym or an exercise class or tape.  (As fitness nurses’ we’re not going to be stupid though; we know that people want to slim down quick)  And we help them do that to, when appropriate for motivational purposes.

I target physicians (you only need 1 or 2) and nurse practitioners and even other HCP’s when looking for clients.  Sometimes, I target individulas who meet my ‘ideal client’ criteria.  I turn away people if they don’t meet this criteria.  So I work with only who I know/feel I can actually help, not just anyone who will pay. I DO NOT try to get clients from gyms, clubs, and exercise classes – it’s very crowded there.  To be honest many are finding me, are attracted to me, because they have injured themselves in the past or don’t have the time and/or can’t keep up the grueling “Biggest-Loser” type exercise sessions.  They are looking for some compassion to their barriers to a total picture of health (yet they do admit to liking the vanity part) The fitness industry is well-established as to who they want (people who are already in decent shape, not the 79 million pre-diabetics) and what credentials you need to work, minimally, in their industry…
Most personal trainer certifications, even the “so-called” gold standard ones, are only a full weekend.  Many without a practical and only require fitness experience to take it.  There are lots of them out there…hence, there are lots of personal trainers out there.  As a nurse, you could easily qualify to take any of these certifications.  But remember, when you practice as a nurse, (like calling yourself a fitness nurse) you have more to lose and are held to a higher standard in the eyes of the law than someone who just has a weekend certification or even a college degree in an exercise science.  They don’t have to worry about a license like you (we) do. 
So, if you want to be a personal trainer, I recommend you put your nursing license on hold and go for it in the adult/child/sports training/senior/fitness market.  You must love oversaturation and not being unique.  So I feel that you should stop calling yourself a fitness nurse,  think about it… are you really a personal trainer who takes blood pressures? You can’t just rename yourself and emerge in an established market, with lots of competition, and expect people to respect that name when they don’t know how you are different than them.  You must create a new market or work in one that already exists and understands/sees your potential for greatness in their industry.  Start slowly with just 1 or 2 clients.  Think more holistic (nursing assessment), embrace the client’s physician; don’t alienate them like other fitness professionals do because they don’t want to lose the sale.  Talk “fitness nurse” to those people who “get” the nurse piece.  They will not likely be in the body pump class.  I know that’s a strong opinion, but it is my experience and my blog.

3.  Do you find yourself taking other people’s re-hashed diet and exercise information then re-hashing it yourself?
Hey, it’s o.k.  I’ve done it.  Everybody does it.  Remember in health and fitness there’s “nothing new under the sun”.  I was talking to a newbie, Master’s prepared, Registered Dietitian last week who was describing a very low fat diet she was developing.  I said, “Oh that sounds like Pritikin.”  To my amazement, she never heard of Pritikin.  Too young?  I didn’t mean to deflate her entreprenial idea.  But I did tell her that there is no copyright on “low-fat” diet, so just change some things around, add your own ideas/principles and rewrite a low-fat diet that will resemble who you are, not Nathan Pritikin, MD.  Basically, do more research. And give credit where credit is due.  Even if you think you’ve thought of it first.
Some of you may say, “Well Lori, aren’t you just re-hashing the idea of positioning yourself between the physician and the fitness professsional with your Certified Fitness Nurse™ course?”  Not exactly.  What’s been done before and continues to be done today, is more the place where the client was seeing the physical therapist and they need/want to continue exercising.  Then, the personal trainer would serve this client.  Not very popular.  Hasn’t taken off.  Why?  Many PT’s don’t trust personal trainers.  It’s confusing to physicians and other healthcare professionals to work with personal trainers/gyms.  They (HCP’s) have no idea of what actually the personal trainers/fitness people are going to do with their patients. 
Many personal trainers recommend nutritional advice.  The HCP worries about interactions with their patients meds, how much does this personal trainer at the gym up the street know about, comfortable with pharmacology, physician protocols and long term holistic goals that are client/patient centered… many are just anxious to show off their latest kettle bell workshop certification moves on Aunt Mary.
A physician actually said to me, “I’d much rather send my pre-diabetic patients to you than the gym up the street from my office… I don’t know what the hell they are doing there.  Are my patients even going?  I never hear from anyone until there’s a crisis.  I get calls from patients who actually want me to write prescriptions for them as to why they medically can’t exercise anymore so they can give to the gym so they can get a refund”.
If you’re like me, you’ve probably got shelves of diet, exercise books, periodicals, specialty trade journal and tapes, downloads of 100’s of teleseminars at your disposal.
There is nothing wrong with re-hashing what someone else has just re-hashed themselves.  But don’t just outright copy it.  Read it, study it and learn from it.  How would you do things differently?  Quote the source.  Create your own fitness nursing program.  That’s what I’ve done and it’s called “Certified Fitness Nurse™”  and the program I’m using to model in this course is my personal FN program called, WeightlossPRN.  A 12-week (minimum) waist reduction program for pre-diabetics that I market to physicians and targeted consumers. 
If you want to learn my blueprint, you have to wait until Spring 2012, anticipated time CFN course will be ready or if you need assistance in creating your own fitness nurse identity you can sign up for one of my mentoring classes in November, for a day, actually 90min. – 2 hours or for 3 days and a more intensive mentoring class in January 2012.

Whatever you decide, remember to be unique as you can, to stand out and ask yourself, “What does a being fitness nurse mean to me?” “Who will it allow me to be/to do?” and “How can I be different than everybody else?”

Til next time,
Yours in Fitness & Nursing,
P.S.  Please leave a comment below…


About fitnessnurse

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

4 responses »

  1. This is a great write up Lori. I like your straight forwardness and looking at ways to pick our own brain and define our own fitness nursing practice.

  2. Great post Lori.

    This is something along the lines that I try to tell other nurses about innovating. There are plenty of professionals out there that take a product or service that’s already being offered, break it down, and re-package it into their own format. We don’t necessarily need to invent something brand new, but I feel that rebuilding something from the ground can be innovative. We each have our own “flavor” to add, so get out there and let your potential clients see what you’re offering.


    • Yes Kevin,
      Innovation can start small. Bur if it’s unique enough and you can get certain people’s attention, it will grow to
      something grand. Your words are so right… all nurses have an “innovative streak” in them. Just put your own
      twist on it. This has been going on in the fitness industry since before Jack Lalanne. Nobody can trademark
      the biceps curl. That’s why I wanted future fitness nurses to listen to the interview with Thom Zawa and John
      Spencer Ellis (on this blog). Thom didn’t “invent tasty cooking for busy people trying to lose weight”, but what he
      did do was add his experience, passion and flair and now is about to make 100 million with Walmart.
      Don’t limit yourself and keep plugging. If it were easy, everybody would be doing it. We’re trying to create
      a “new field”, that takes some confidence and passion. Thank you for commenting. Keep in touch.

  3. Thanks Lori for the insights for you truly have given me something to ponder as far as identifying my skills as a nurse in the fitness world. As Kevin commented I need to be innovative with a touch of my unique flavor.


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