Whether you like it or not, in the fitness world you are always selling. On the broad scope you sell your services. Within the realm of a training session, indoor cycling class or coaching call, you’re selling an exercise, cadence or behavior modification. But how are you selling it?
This morning, keynote speaker and former pro football player Bo Eason emphasized that to be successful you must have a story. He engaged the crowd with the story of his entry into football and how he went from a 140-pound weakling with a dream to a star athlete. The attendees were mesmerized. At the end of the presentation it became clear why he was telling his story.
“Your story is your bread and butter,” he said. “People don’t buy products and services anymore; they buy stories.”
It makes sense. After all, in the fitness world, the number of weight-loss experts is growing like wildfire. But what sets you apart from all of that competition? It’s your story. People want to find a way to relate to you and the human-to-human experience trumps any fancy gadget or gizmo.
The theme of story held true throughout many of the other sessions I attended today. In a departure from traditional forms of storytelling, Michol Dalcourt discussed the story your fascia tells and how those messages impact the way the body moves. Damaged fascia doesn’t speak--or at the very least, it's voice is stifled--significantly hampering the body’s natural rhythms and creating movement dysfunction.
In order to sell his exercisers on the joys of movement, Lawrence Biscontini's story is all about games and interpersonal connection. “It’s never exercises or movements. We always play games.” He finds that these words allow them to find greater engagement in the “games” he facilitates. He also encourages participants to share stories with one another--a tactic he belives keeps them sharp, physically and mentally.
In some cases, your approach might involve helping a client find his story. In a session on understanding whether a client needs a workout or an energy improvement session, presenter Dan Hellman recounted a story of a physical therapy client who was perpetually injured. But rather than lecturing his client, he expressed empathy and offered gentle reminders of how to avoid future injury.
“You can coach your client on the optimal approach and hope they take it,” he said. “If not, you have to let them take the suboptimal approach if that’s their choice. Sometimes it takes making the suboptimal choice for the client to fully embrace the optimal.”
He allowed his own client's story to help him make the better choice.
Bottom line: Stories are everywhere, and stories will become the difference between sinking and swimming. “Your story connects you to who is in front of you better than anything,” Eason remarked. He recalls a quote from Rofl Jensen, chief imagination officer of the Dream Company:
"The highest-paid person in the first half of the next century will be the 'storyteller.' The value of products will depend on the story they tell. Nike and many other gloabal companies are already mainly storytellers. That is where the money is--even today."
What story are you telling?