SCW Spotlite: Issue 55

February 18, 2023
Enjoy the monthly buzz about all things fitness. Fitness Pros are always on the go, so we’ll leave the “Lite” on!

SCW Fitness Education & IHRSA Announce Strategic Partnership

SCW Fitness and IHRSA aim to exchange knowledge and expertise to strengthen professional relationships that will benefit the entire fitness industry.  In Mid-January of this year, SCW Fitness Education, the leading provider of continuing education for fitness professionals, and IHRSA, The Global Health & Fitness Association, announce a strategic partnership for 2023. 

Through this strategic partnership, SCW Fitness aims to expand the business, leadership, and management skill sets of business owners and managers through educational offerings at the Health and Fitness Business Summits (HFBS) at the upcoming 2023, DC MANIA®, California MANIA®, Florida MANIA®, Atlanta MANIA®, Dallas MANIA®, Midwest MANIA®, and Boston MANIA® Fitness Conventions. Through the exchange of knowledge and expertise, this partnership will strengthen professional relationships to benefit the entire fitness industry. In addition, the SCW community will learn about the many benefits of IHRSA membership for their businesses and career development while supporting important industry initiatives such as the PHIT Act and other health, fitness, and pro-small business policy efforts.

“SCW is thrilled to be partnering with IHRSA and building a solid relationship with the world’s largest leading health club organization,” announced Sara Kooperman, CEO of SCW Fitness Education. “This partnership provides resources and education for exercise and wellness professionals globally, which is a silver lining that will help benefit consumers and the industry after the stresses caused from a terrible pandemic year.”

Liz Clark, President, and CEO of IHRSA said, “this agreement builds on our strong relationship and will enable IHRSA to educate the SCW community about the many benefits of the new IHRSA membership for studio owners and fitness professionals. We are looking forward to again working with Sara and the whole SCW team this coming year.”

The Health and Fitness Business Summit (HFBS) is a unique business track offered at each of SCW’s seven, regional MANIA Conferences. HFBS sessions are specifically geared toward addressing the concerns of owners, managers, and directors, of both nonprofit and for-profit facilities, with sessions exclusively dedicated to marketing, technology, trends, sales retention, programming, finance, and leadership.

About SCW Fitness Education

SCW Fitness Education has been in business for 40 years and is the largest provider of continuing education conferences in the world, focusing on Group Fitness and Personal Training with an emphasis on leadership and management. With seven (7) regional live shows spanning 38 years, MANIA® Conferences are held in Washington D.C., California (San Francisco), Florida (Orlando), Atlanta, Dallas, Midwest (Chicago), and Boston annually. SCW reaches over 8,000 fitness professionals in face-to-face contacts, 70K via email, and another 300,000+ in virtual connections. MANIA® Conventions offers 150+ sessions on all aspects of the fitness/wellness industry (HIIT, Functional Training, Active Aging, Strength, Cycling, Mind/Body, Barre, Dance, Aqua, Nutrition, Recovery, Business & Leadership.) SCW is unparalleled in its provision of certifications, continuing education courses and conventions to fitness professionals in multiple disciplines both live and online.


IHRSA, The Global Health & Fitness Association, is a not-for-profit trade association representing the global fitness industry of over 200,000 health and fitness facilities and their suppliers. IHRSA maintains a leadership role in advancing physical activity, which is critical for peak health and to fight the battle against obesity and chronic lifestyle disease. As the world’s leading authority on the commercial health club industry, IHRSA’s mission is to grow, promote, and protect the health and fitness industry, while providing its members with benefits and resources. IHRSA and its members are devoted to making the world happier, healthier, and more prosperous through regular exercise and activity promotion. IHRSA is the publisher of Club Business International, the leading monthly magazine for the global fitness industry. Founded in 1981, IHRSA will be hosting IHRSA 2023, March 20-22 in San Diego. Learn more at Register with code SCW23 for $50 OFF!


5 Questions to Discover Your Clients “Why”

by Kevin Mullins

Close your eyes and put yourself in the seat of any prospective training client in any fitness facility anywhere in the world. Imagine meeting this new trainer, buff as they are, and feeling equal parts excited and terrified.

Visualize being taken toward some chairs that are tucked away from the main gym floor, maybe even into a special “assessment room”. Your trainer makes small talk as you settle into your seat and sit curious as to why you are here. But hey, at least you aren’t holding a plank, right?

Your newly introduced trainer does their best to make you feel like home while asking questions regarding your medical history, injury history, and general readiness to exercise. You share the intimate details of your background, highlight any concerns, and even speak to how many glasses of water you drink per day and how often you exercise.

Your trainer smiles as they alternate between tapping on their tablet and making eye contact. You cannot help but wonder what is being typed by their rapidly moving fingers. And then comes the question you were expecting all along…

“So, what are your training goals and why did you choose “insert brand that trainer works for”?

Oh sh*t, why are you here? Well, this gym is super close to your house and your best friend already works out here, so there is that. And as far as goals go – weight loss…duh, and I guess some muscle mass in the right places of your body. You just want to look good in the mirror as you wait for the water to warm in your morning shower.

But then again, you’ve always felt like sh*t about your body. In fact, you have never felt like you had a great body, especially since your high school crush left you for someone who looks a little too much like everyone’s favorite movie star. And then there was college – where Tequila and pizza on Wednesday nights was normal, but then again, so too was dressing as though every day was a brisk Fall evening to prevent anyone from seeing the real shape of your body.

Since then, you’ve dieted and failed, signed up for Class Pass but rarely attend your bookings, fell in love, and had your heartbroken, developed an addiction to NETFLIX in the place where sleep used to be, and found yourself walking away from the very bathroom mirror you initially thought of while you brush your teeth or comb your hair.

But you look at your potential trainer in all their fitness and perfectly assembled vanity and feel completely incapable of telling the truth. So, with the same false bravado that a sixteen-year-old takes to the Prom you exclaim, “I’d like to lose ten, maybe fifteen pounds, and tone up my body”.

As though they have been waiting for another chance to speak and get you to the gym floor, your newly acquainted neighborhood fitness professional stands up and declares, “Well I have the PERFECT plan for you – let’s get to work”.

And yet another workout begins, and you don’t know why…

Above represents an all-too-common scenario in gyms and health clubs around the world. Every day a prospective client is sat down by their assigned trainer and run the battery of questions typically associated with a 1st session, or assessment.

There is the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q) that highlights medical, injury, and diagnosed issues that might require attention or special care. Then there is the “get to know your client” section that illuminates training history and preferences, nutrition and lifestyle factors, and other client-specific information that provides some level of story to the individual in front of the trainer. Depending on where the trainer works there will be some sort of screen (like our Plan-Smarter-Strategy Session), advanced assessment, or body measurements (such as body fat, circumference, strength, or endurance).

And then, of course, is the question about “WHY” the client is there in the first place. In most places, the “WHY” is asked in two specific ways to grab information that can be acted upon by the trainer and the gym itself.

Why did you choose “insert facility name/location?”

This question is meant to discover why a new member/prospect has chosen a specific facility. Unlike the early days of the fitness industry, there truly seems to be a place to exercise everywhere you look. As such, a gym brand is always curious as to what amenities “sealed the deal”.

Was it the equipment? The group class schedule? The locker rooms? The type of people who attend the gym?

Unfortunately, as we’ll soon discuss – this information typically does nothing but sit on a form somewhere in an office or Cloud storage system. In the right hands, though, this question provides insight into how to shape a client’s experience and make the gym feel their second home.

Why do you want to train/what are your training goals?

The classic, and overwhelmingly necessary, question of every fitness interview. Without an answer to this basic inquiry a trainer is left throwing proverbial spaghetti at the wall until they, and their client, figure out that they like.

Yet, most trainers treat this question like a Police Interrogation – purely focused on the facts and logic and completely ignorant of emotions, circumstance, and personality. They might as well ask “who’s your Daddy and what does he do?” in hopes that their Detective John Kimball impersonation creates some laughter in the client.

As a result, every client says some variation of the same sentiments:

  • I’d like to lose “X” pounds by “Y” date
  • I’d like to put on muscle without getting too bulky
  • I’d like to feel stronger without getting too bulky
  • I’d like to fix “insert problem” while also improving my appearance

And as expected, most trainers settle for this piece of objective information completely unaware, or inconsiderate of, the subjective information that drives it. Satisfied with the sort of number that fits into a spreadsheet – the typical trainer will proclaim their capacity to deliver results and get to work.

On one hand, getting to work is important and necessary. Yet, without a greater understanding of “WHY” a client wants to lose 10 pounds or gain muscle a trainer is left using hollow motivation and generalized programming to get the job done.

Why “why” matters

There is a theory in psychology that anger is not an emotion. It’s the product of other emotions; a sort of manifestation of other feelings that have boiled under the surface of consciousness.
Anger could be a product of the sadness you feel when you aren’t being validated in a conversation, or respected by your peers, and as a result you lash out in a way that feels like, and looks like, anger.

The web of emotions is complex, but the presentation is simple. Although this viewpoint on anger is accepted by some and rejected by others – it points to the depths of the human spirit, and in particular, the human mind when it comes to our emotions and actions. Often, there is more to the story than what is stated. A person’s life and goals, unlike Twitter, does not fit neatly into 140 characters.

Flash back to earlier when you were in the body of a prospective training client. The outwardly expressed training goal was “lose 10 to 15 pounds and tone up the body”. Easy enough to understand for even the greenest personal trainer.

Yet, the internal monologue about high school, college, and life as a young adult point to flashpoint moments in which this individual felt overwhelmed by their physical condition (or lack thereof). Then there is adulthood – the 2nd big breakup, the inability to sleep or be alone with their thoughts, and the constant desire to be in better shape without the ability follow through. Maybe this individual lost their identity after college, lost their emotional rock when the last breakup occurred, and skips the workouts they’ve paid for because they are afraid to realize just how “unfit” they are.

Depending on the client, and the trainer, these events could be unpacked further. There could be scars and underlying thought processes that inhibit the client from having any self-esteem. There could be unresolved turmoil that boils to the surface and causes a cascade of destructive actions whenever the going truly gets tough.

A personal training intake assessment could easily turn into a mock therapy session if the client is in need of a nonjudgmental ear and the trainer is in a place to professionally, and respectfully, handle the burden.

To be clear: You aren’t expected to be anyone’s therapist.

To be clear: No client is expected to open up as though they are in their therapist’s office.

To be clear: This is still enough information.

Regardless of whether a client opens completely, opens up a little, or remains guarded – a good fitness professional tries to understand “WHY” a person wants the things they say they want (goals). Without asking better questions – no trainer can receive better answers, and no program can deliver better results.

Asking better questions

The goal for any trainer during an introduction to a prospective client should be to get to the individual in front of them as best as possible, understand and screen their movements, and generate a challenging, but doable training program that moves them towards their goals.

That first step, getting to know the individual, is heavily reliant upon the questions that are asked during an introductory session. Without the proper questions the typical trainer is left accumulating objective data to fill out forms such as the PAR-Q (which is necessary) and general goals/lifestyle questionnaires.

General data always generates general results. To deliver unparalleled results, and an unforgettable experience – a personal trainer must ask better questions in search of better, more meaningful answers. The goal is to figure out what weights in their life are “heavy” so that you empower them to make them feel “light”. 

The Follow 5 Questions are the Go-To for Discovering your Client’s Why:

1) What about our brand/facility did you find most appealing and how do you feel when you walk through our doors?

This question might seem like the “bad” version from earlier, but with a deep breathe a bit more focus you’ll soon see that this inquiry begs to know WHY the customer voted YES for your brand. Of course, we want to know “the what” …AKA scented towels, cutting edge equipment, attractive members, etc.

This conversation goes one step further by trying to understand the emotion that runs through the member as they enter the facility. Is it unbridled excitement? Tepid realism? Paralysis by analysis?

By capturing an individual’s emotional state AND their favorite part of your facility you’ll be better equipped to fill their training sessions with the things that support their state of mind (if it’s positive) or put them at ease (if it is negative).

2) What are your expectations for a fitness professional (trainer) and what type of personality do you work best with?

When you are dating someone new (that you like) everything is fun and easy. That is until it’s time to get serious and decide whether or not you are going to commit to a monogamous relationship with the other individual.

At that point in time, it’s imperative that you have conversation about expectations, life goals, and a vision of where “this thing” might go. Skipping this step is a recipe for disaster at worst and headache at best.

Training is not much different. Think of the complimentary sessions that you or your brand offer as “first dates” with whomever you meet.  These first sessions are fun and easy and generally smooth. But at the time of purchase – the client needs to know if you are the type of professional that they can commit to long-term. (Even you, the professional must screen your clients to see if they are a personality/energy fit).

If you haven’t asked them about their expectations of you – the professional, then don’t be surprised when your behavior or your approach wasn’t “ideal” at the time of sale.

Avoid this hassle all together by asking a prospective client what they imagine a trainer to be like. Do they have any coaches, parents, or mentors that they’ve leaned on? What do they need from you in order to feel as though the commitment is worth it?

This information can help you adjust your personality and turn up or down various aspects of yourself to meet their needs.

Tiring as it is – building a personal training client book requires a bit of a chameleon skill set.

3) What are the 2 most important changes you would like to make using the gym?

This is a simple twist of a classic “what are your goals” question. There is no need to overthink this one in particular, but it is important to notice the key different.

The shift from “goals” to “changes” makes the declaration a bit more active (and less passive) and therefore removes some of the abstract nature of “goals”. It was once said that “goals exist only in the mind and never in reality”. Put simply, we all have countless goals that swirl in our head but the ones we start acting upon are ultimately the only ones that become changes.

This sort of ownership empowers your client to start immediately. This empowers buy-in.

4) How do you think you will feel when you have achieved your goals?

Asking someone to peer into their future can be hit or miss if we are being honest.  Some individuals completely lack the ability to see what their weekend will look like, let alone a year from now. For most others though, this question gives an opportunity to capture the emotional state a person will be in when they achieve the “thing” they’ve hired you for. Losing 20 pounds might make one client cry tears of pride and joy while losing 20 pounds to another might make them throw a house party.

The key is to listen, and truly understand, the depth in which their goal sits within them. Typically, the more emotional and more profound a person thinks they’ll feel upon success – the more their goal means to them.

This doesn’t mean that those who aren’t verbose or fluent in emotional states won’t care. To the contrary, those who provide one-word answers are often the ones who give you massive bursts of energy upon completion because they’ve sort of surprised themselves.

5) Is there anyone you can’t wait to share your “New You” with?

The 2nd most important question in this entire article…we MUST discover if they are motivated by others or themselves. For some clients, the act of putting themselves through the ringer and surviving is enough. These people are said to be “intrinsically motivated”. They don’t care about what other people think – the act of setting a goal, struggling and overcoming obstacles, and ultimately achieving the desired outcome is exactly what butters their biscuit.

For others though (especially those who’ve grown up using social media), nearly all efforts are in the name of being noticed and acknowledged. The act of simply doing the thing is not enough for those who are “extrinsically motivated”. Instead, they want an audience and the satisfaction that comes from being applauded and congratulated by people. (Please note that extrinsic motivation is not entirely bad. It certainly can lead to behaviors that are unwanted and ultimately destructive to a person’s efforts and psyche, but nearly all humans enjoy the surge of dopamine that comes from applause.)

Thus, asking this question provides us an insight to WHO might be motivating them to finally act.

BONUS: What Is the one thing you would like to change in your life right now to make it easier to workout, get in-shape, and achieve your goals?

In typical writer fashion, we’ve saved the BEST question for last and named it a BONUS. The truth is, the most powerful question you can ask someone is “what challenges have kept you from your goals in the past or will keep you from them now?”

This sort of inquiry will highlight if a client doesn’t know how to eat well, doesn’t have the time to food prep, has no discipline with alcohol or snack foods, feels pressured at work, has an unsupportive spouse, if their kids have busy schedules, or if they’re ability to time manage needs work. Of course, there are hundreds of other answers too.

But by in large – we want to know “WHY” a client isn’t already where they want to be… Yet, we don’t want to ask them about “challenges” because of the negative connotation of the word itself. Prideful people don’t like admitting they have challenge. Less prideful people hate knowing that they have challenges and are insecure that they aren’t “strong” enough to overcome them. Everyone dislikes the idea of being-less-than-good-enough.

We give our clients a magic wand – straight out of Disney – with no rules or stipulations. We ask them to wave it and make their lives easier. (This works extra well when you pantomime the entire thing.)

Guess what they’ll do… They’ll eliminate their biggest challenge. Which reveals to you the “problem” and gives them the burst of optimism that comes from daydreaming for just a moment. Now you’ll be capable of writing a better program and coaching on a deeper level without ever making them feel like they have problems or challenges.

Digesting it all

As you see with each question, we provide open-ended opportunities for this newly introduced individual to reveal parts of themselves that better make sense of their training goals and needs.

Our goal, above all else, is to learn enough to be able to deliver life-changing EXPERIENCES to everyone we meet. This even applies to those who don’t choose to train with you…

That one prospect who said she really couldn’t afford your rate – well it’s true. But the way you talked to her using open-ended questions and expressed genuine care for her well-being motivated her to keep showing up to the gym just to see your smiling face and hear you say her name. With every workout and positive experience, she built confidence. That confidence finally gave her the power to walk away from the horrible marriage she had been in and find a new path without her ex-husband holding her back. Your check-ins, your smile, and your engagement showed her that there were good people out there and that she could start over, no matter how scary it might be. You may not have trained her. But you changed her life.

For those that do train with you, it builds an unforgettable relationship founded upon true care, optimism, and a connectiveness behind a common goal. It creates the sort of client-trainer relationship that changes the course of BOTH individuals’ lives. All because you invested more time and energy into knowing the PERSON you were about to TRAIN.

Discovering a person’s REAL why is the most important part of the job and you can’t find out how to do it with your favorite peer reviewed journal. It comes from the heart, and it must be authentic. Use this guide to give you better questions, but remember this…

We are here to change our client’s lives…not just burn calories and build muscle.

You can find the complete original article published here.

If you are interested in meeting me and learning more training tips and creative resources, register for SCW DC MANIA®, February 24-26 at the Hyatt Regency Dulles. I am presenting a variety of workshops and lectures over the 3-day conference.  Click here for more information or go to


About the Author: Kevin Mullins, CSCS

Kevin Mullins, CSCS, is a fitness professional, educator, and author who has coached over twenty-thousand personal training sessions and group fitness classes in the last decade. He is the author of best-selling Personal Training book – Day by Day: The Personal Trainer’s Blueprint. The creator of SCW’s Functional Training Certification, Kevin holds a degree in Kinesiology from the University of Maryland as well as accreditation through the PPSC, USAW, Precision Nutrition, EQUINOX, NSCA, Trigger Point Therapy, ISSA, and Schwinn Cycle.

Pressure Point Techniques:

Unlock Physical, Emotional and Cognitive Potential for Teenagers Well-Being

by Christine Conti, MEd

Navigating a post-pandemic world can be difficult. 

After years of living in isolation from family and friends, and without the social stimulation from in-person interactions, teenagers are suffering. This severely affected demographic is in crisis after lacking the social, emotional, and physical growth that would have otherwise occurred inside the classroom due to remote learning. 

A sedentary lifestyle has become the norm, and the need for belonging is being fulfilled by addictive and oftentimes destructive social media platforms. Chronic diseases such as depression, eating disorders, and drug and alcohol addiction have led to an unprecedented number of suicide rates in teenagers across the United States. Stress levels are on the rise, and this steadily growing demographic needs our help.

In a recent double-blind study of over 100 young adults ages 13-19, 48.5% reported that they experience high levels of stress a few times each week, while 39.6% reported they experience high levels of stress on a daily basis.

As the world opens up, so does the need to educate teachers, coaches, parents, counselors, and teens that there are tools available to help overcome feelings of loneliness, isolation, depression, and anxiety! Learning the most innovative and evidence-based methods to improve both the physical and mental health of our future generations is paramount. It is time to learn the power of pressure point techniques to unlock physical, emotional, and cognitive potential both in and out of the school environment.

In another double-blind study, over 100 young adults ages 13-19 were asked if they would be open to learning about pressure point techniques if they knew it could help improve concentration and mood. A resounding 90.1% said, YES! Let’s start to better understand and educate this demographic on the tools to not only survive but thrive in the post-pandemic world.

In addition, by learning the most effective pressure points in the body, it is possible to help manage “the most important stress hormones…cortisol, glucagon, and prolactin. However, it’s cortisol that has the greatest impact on the physical and mental health of our mind and body” (Vihande, 2022). There are tremendous benefits to infusing pressure point techniques into physical education and academic classes that have been shown to improve concentration and memory, increase blood flow and circulation, as well as decrease stress and anxiety. Hence, fostering social and emotional health and wellness for everyone!

But that’s not all…

According to New York University neuroscientist, Wendy Suzuki, “exercise stimulates growth factors and stores up cells in both parts of the brain… protecting your brain from aging and neurodegenerative diseases.” Therefore, your brain will function at a higher level for more years as you age.

Research shows that exercise enhances short-term brain function by stimulating “…the release of a wide range of neurochemicals and neurotransmitters and growth factors…. They include serotonin, dopamine, endorphins. (Suzuki & Horton, 2020).  In addition, long-term effects of exercise impact the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for problem solving and decision making, and the hippocampus, the part of the brain critical for memory and highly susceptible to aging. 

Now, you may be wondering how using pressure point techniques is related to the effects of exercise on the brain and the answer is quite simple. Once you learn the locations and purpose of major pressure points throughout the body, you will be able to emulate its effects. Fascinatingly enough, it IS possible to replicate the physiological effects of exercise on various regions of the brain. 



About the Author, Christine Conti MEd

Christine Conti, M.Ed. is a former investment banker and English teacher who reinvented herself after a life-altering diagnosis at the age of 30. She has since become a best-selling author, international chronic disease and fitness educator, motivational speaker, podcaster, and ultra-endurance athlete. Christine has spent over two decades researching and studying alongside leading doctors, exercise scientists, and nutritionists to prevent and battle disease through healthy lifestyles. She is a 3x Ironman, 100 Miler, and her signature best-selling book, SPLIT-SECOND COURAGE, was released in January 2022. [email protected],

How to Win Over Clients with Highly Effective Social Proof

by Detric Smith

Here are my favorite strategies for acquiring effective social proof that draws in clients.

1. Ask for testimonials. Have systems to encourage reviews, such as making it a part of your announcement board and newsletter and offering rewards such as gift cards. Reviews can go on Google, Facebook, Yelp, or anywhere else people might look.

The best time to ask is when your clients reach a milestone, such as a certain number of sessions or a specific goal. Reach out when they’re happy, and don’t be afraid to ask early on in your relationship! They’re usually excited to do it.

When you ask for a review, mention that it would be great for them to leave a few sentences about what they like about the gym and your sessions. Ideally, you don’t just want them to leave some stars and a couple of words.

2. Make it easy! Streamline the process of finding and sharing your social media and leaving reviews. Have QR codes up around the studio with direct links to your pages. Make writing a testimonial even easier by preparing a form with questions on your website.

3. Show people who resemble your target audience. Unless you’re targeting fitness models, a social media page or flyer dominated by model-esque physiques will push away other clients. They might worry your services are too intense for them, or that they’ll feel out of place at your studio.

Don’t forget to ask clients for permission to post videos of their workouts, especially if you’re celebrating progress! Prospective clients want to see what your gym feels like in reality, not just a staged photo shoot.

4. Highlight testimonials that describe why someone chose you over a competing gym, their results, or other details about your services. Differentiate yourself from the competition. What makes your services more valuable than a big box gym or group fitness franchise?

Whether it’s your training style, additional coaching services, specialized facility, or something else, make sure your consultation sessions, social media, and marketing touch on your unique advantage. 

5. Schedule consultations at the same time as training sessions or group classes. Let potential clients see your studio in action! Plus, it shows them they’re buying into a community, not just a workout method. A totally empty gym might cast some doubt if it feels like people don’t want to train there.

Simple enough, right? Stay true to your mission, zone in on your target audience, and approach social proof with the same intention you’d give to the rest of your marketing tactics. You’ll give your potential clients the confidence they need to trust your service, and most importantly, get excited to train with you!

Looking for more tips for strategizing sales or being a boss? Join me at DC MANIA®, Jan. 24-26, at the Hyatt Regency Dulles.  I will be presenting several sessions throughout the 3-day convention.  Registration starts at $119 (was $179), with the option of adding session recordings in case you want to review what you learned or missed. 


About the Author, Detric Smith

Detric Smith is the owner of Results Performance Training studio, he has dedicated over two decades of experience to help trainers cultivate fulfilling, lucrative, lifetime careers in fitness. He works as a mentor and consultant for trainers and fitness brands. He’s also written for several well-respected fitness publications. Detric’s credentials include B.S. in Kinesiology, NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, American College of Sports Medicine Exercise Physiologist, NSCA Certified Personal Trainer.

The Athlete’s Guide to Caffeine Detox

by Kristen Arnold MS, RDN, CSSD

Nailing a workout starts with nailing pre-workout fueling. While many athletes turn to caffeine from energy drinks, coffee, and tea to give them a boost, these forms of energy may not be serving them long-term. Let’s discuss the downsides of habitual caffeine use, how to wean yourself off caffeine, and finding alternative energy sources to make sure you have a great workout.

What are the benefits of caffeine?

Caffeine has been shown to enhance athletic performance by positively affecting aerobic endurance, high-intensity efforts, muscular endurance, sprint performance, and maximum strength. This is relevant for short events like sprint training, long events like ultra-distance mountain biking, and even team sports like soccer and basketball. Athletic performance has been proposed to be enhanced by caffeine’s effect on alertness, energy, and concentration. 

What are the downsides of caffeine?

Caffeine’s effects on the sympathetic nervous system have profound influences on the body and mind and can lead to unwanted side effects including jitters, having trouble falling asleep, or increased heart rate, when training or competing in the heat, and increased nerves. Some of these effects are dose-dependent and may be more pronounced in some athletes more than others. High amounts of caffeine could possibly have more negative effects than positive ones with the side effects outweighing the positive performance-enhancing effects. When an athlete regularly consumes caffeine, whether on a daily or weekly basis, their body’s tolerance for it goes up. Therefore, higher, and higher doses are required to gain the positive effects.

Why you should stop using caffeine habitually for training and exercise

Studies show, athletes who don’t consume caffeine on a regular basis will gain more benefits from caffeine’s performance enhancing effects on comp day. As mentioned earlier, the body builds up tolerance to caffeine with habitual use, and therefore you get more bang for your buck if you only take caffeine for select workouts or competition day. 

Cutting down or cutting out caffeine from your training regimen may enhance your sleep quality and quantity and therefore overall recovery and performance. As many athletes know, great training requires great recovery. The potential risk for disturbed sleep and insomnia can inhibit the body to fully recover for the next day’s training and have a compounding effect over time, leading to injury and illness. This may be especially true if you typically take caffeine in the late afternoon or close to the evening. 

Alternative energy-boosting methods to caffeine

Carbohydrates are the rocket fuel the body craves for performance. The body loves burning carbohydrates, especially during high intensity exercise. Enjoy a carb-rich meal 2-4 hours before with foods like oatmeal, fruit, rice, or toast, and a carb-rich snack close to the start of your workout. This pre-workout carb-rich snack is key to providing that energy boost you’re looking for to finish strong. Chargel™, a banana, or a handful of raisins are ideal pre-workout snacks.

Tips for weaning off caffeine 

1.Don’t go cold turkey, start slow.

Start by cutting down on the quantities of caffeine-containing drinks and products. If you typically drink two cups of coffee a day, drink one cup of regular coffee and one cup of decaf. After a few days or a week, switch to two cups of decaf coffee. After another few days or a week, cut out the coffee completely as even decaf coffee contains some caffeine. 

2. Make sure to fuel well going into training.

You might not miss caffeine as much as you think if you remember to fuel well going into training. Enjoy a carb-rich snack which is easy to digest close to the start of your workout.  Chargel™, a banana, or a few medjool dates will give you that energy boost you’re looking for. You may find this energy is even longer-lasting and performance-enhancing than caffeine.

3. Choose caffeine-free alternatives.

If you are someone who loves their morning brew, consider first switching to decaf coffee, and then switching to caffeine-free alternatives. Chicory coffee is a common alternative to coffee in parts of the southern United States. Herbal teas, which are caffeine-free, may satisfy the hot beverage kick in the mornings or mid-afternoon. 

4. Only use caffeine for select workouts or comp days.

Remember that you don’t have to never have caffeine again. The key is to only have caffeine on select days. This will enhance the effects caffeine will have on your performance and therefore contribute to better performance overall.

Start your workouts with fuel in the tank from easy to digest carb-rich snacks, like Chargel™, to provide the sustained energy you need to finish your workouts strong. By avoiding caffeine during regular training and using alternative energy sources like carb-rich foods and products, the caffeine you do use on comp day will be even more beneficial.

To learn more about Chargel™ and caffeine intake, register today for SCW California MANIA®, March 31-April 2.  This 3-day convention is packed with over 130 fitness & business workshops and lectures, an incredible expo with lots of shopping, networking, and of course tons of fun. Registration begins at only $119 (reg. $179). Don’t miss out.


About the Author, Kristen Arnold MS, RDN, CSSD

Kristen is a registered sports dietitian along with being a cycling coach and team sport director in Fort Collins, CO. She specializes in women’s nutrition.  To learn more about Kristen, visit her website at She can also be found on Instagram @kristenknarnold or by texting or calling her 614.218.4702.

Interested in Running a Virtual Fitness Studio?

Six Tips to Get Started

by Reen Vokoun

According to Global Newswire, the virtual fitness market is expected to reach $80 billion by 2026, with a growth rate of almost 50%. While many fitness enthusiasts have been enjoying being back at gyms and studios for in-person classes, the hybrid model seems to be here to stay, creating continued growth opportunities in the virtual fitness space.

If you’re a fitness entrepreneur and want to tap into this growing market, here are six tips to start running a virtual fitness studio, based on my experiences as a health, wellness and fitness entrepreneur, business professional, certified fitness, yoga, and dance instructor and having my own virtual fitness studio.

  1. Create a motivating and inviting space in your home or another location.

Having a nice space to exercise and livestream your fitness classes is important. Find a dedicated place in your home or another location with lots of natural light and a good amount of space, and add personal touches to the area, such as a plant, motivating artwork or posters, a sign, workout equipment and more. Be sure to keep it clean, and create a space that’s inviting and pleasing to the eye, both in person and through the camera.

  1. Make sure you have the right technical equipment and set-up.

Invest in a high-quality portable microphone, transmitter, speakers and camera, ideally through your laptop computer, if you want to teach your classes on Zoom or another platform. You’ll want to test out the sound of your music against your voice on the microphone, and ensure one doesn’t overpower the other, in order to maximize the online learning experience for your students.

  1. Stock up on fitness equipment and exercise mats.

Depending on what types of virtual fitness classes you teach or want to teach, it’s important that you have the right equipment, so you can advise your students on what they need to bring to class, and you can properly model for them online how to perform various exercises using that equipment. Whether it’s a yoga mat, dumbbells, elasticity bands, exercise balls, or other items, having them organized and ready to use, along with a solid class plan, will help make your virtual classes more successful.

  1. Create your music playlist.

Whether you want to use Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music or another streaming music platform, set up your playlists with fun and motivating music for each class, and ideally play them on your computer. In Zoom, there’s an advanced sharing option where you can share your computer audio out to your students, so they’ll be able to hear your music clearly against your microphone.  It’s also important to purchase royalty-free music or invest in a digital use contract with a music licensing company such as ASCAP, BMI or another reputable organization, if you want to use original artists’ music.

  1. Develop pricing tiers for your classes, and partner with a scheduling and payment software company.

Create pricing tiers, packages and memberships for your classes. Usually, virtual classes are less expensive than in-person classes, since there’s less overhead, so think about how to price your classes in a way that will be reasonable for your students, and profitable for your business. You’ll also want to partner with a scheduling and payment software company such as MINDBODY, Recess, or another organization, to automate those tasks for your business and your clients.

  1. Market your classes to your target audience.

Leverage social media channels such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and TikTok, paid digital advertising via display and search ads on Google and Facebook and email marketing via Mailchimp or Constant Contact, to reach your target audience. Leverage analytics to understand which marketing tools are working and which one aren’t, by looking at impressions, click-through rates, open rates, sales conversions and more.

There’s a great deal of opportunity in the virtual fitness space, so do your research, come up with a business plan, execute and go for it!

If you want to learn more about Virtual and Hybrid Fitness along with other helpful tips, join me at California MANIA®, March 31-April 2, for 3 days of specialized workshops and lectures, expo shopping, networking, and of course FUN. Registration begins at $119 (reg. $179) for over 130 sessions.


About the Author, Reena Vokoun, MS

Reena Vokoun is the Founder and CEO of Passion Fit, an author, and a TEDx speaker. She’s a certified health coach, fitness instructor, and nutrition and behavior change specialist. Reena graduated with a Bachelor of Business Degree in marketing and an MS in advertising. She spent years in marketing and sales for Google, Yahoo and Reebok. Reena is a TV health contributor on NBC and FOX, and the author of an award-winning book, The Wellness-Empowered Woman.

Eating Right in the New Year – A Non-Diet Perspective

by Dr. Erin Nitschke

It’s that time of year again. Our clients are inundated with flashy messages that promise to help them “get shredded quick”, “build a summer body”, “lose weight fast”, and “detox your way to your slimmest self.” These messages promote different outcomes but are underpinned and promoted by the same thing two things – diet culture and insta-influencers.

This is not to say that we, as legitimate, practiced, and credentialed exercise professionals do not help our clients achieve weight loss, gain strength, and build muscle. We simply help our clients do this through strategic, evidence-based methods and tailored approaches. Oh, and without expensive “detox” teas.  

What Does Eating “Right” Mean?

Simply stated, it means different things to different individuals. While we have national dietary guidelines, they are just that – guidelines, not a specific dietary prescription. There’s room in those guidelines to tailor the eating style to the needs, goals, and preferences of each individual person. In truth, there’s not “right” or “wrong” about eating – nutrition is not a black and white dichotomy. In fact, eating the occasional pastry or enjoying a calorie-laden beverage here and there is far less dangerous than under-fueling and deprivation.

Helping Clients Shift Perspectives

So much of life is about perspective. So, how do we, as health and exercise professionals, help clients shift from a mindset of eating “right” to a mindset of eating with purpose and intention to support personal goals?

We know that diet culture is persistent and pervasive. We also know that clients are bombarded with this dogma. A necessary first step is to help clients recognize these messages when they appear. One approach I take with clients is to provide them with a diet culture reminders checklist. In this checklist, I share messages such as the following:

  • I do not ever need to earn my food. Food is functional fuel.
  • In moderation, sugar is an enjoyable ingredient.
  • Food is not “good” or “bad” or “dirty” or “clean”.
  • My worth has nothing to do with my food choices.
  • “Detox” supplements are not valuable. My skin, liver, and kidneys do the detoxifying for my body.
  • Weight is not an indicator of wholistic health and fitness.
  • Eliminating food groups is not necessary to achieve dietary balance.

I encourage clients to add to this list and post it in a place of high visibility – on the fridge, in their day planners, electronically on their desktops – wherever it suits them and their needs and lifestyle. As a bonus, you can encourage clients to add personal body image resilience messages. Diet culture and poor body image are interconnected. Including messages of body image resilience can and does empower clients to take control of the messages they consume. Some personal favorites include:

  • The size of my body has nothing to do with my value as a human.
  • I will choose clothes that make me feel confident versus trendy.
  • My body is not the problem. Diet culture messaging is.

Promoting Balance

Healthy eating is about striking a balance between what you enjoy consuming and what functionally fuels your body for optimal performance. I take the approach of encouraging clients to build each meal or snack in a way that promotes blood sugar balance. In other words, calories aren’t king – and there’s a reason why.

Blood sugar monitoring and management are important for all of us – not just those with metabolic disorders. When blood sugar drastically spikes and drops continuously, insulin (the fat storing hormone) remains on the front lines. When this occurs, glucagon (the fat burning hormone) is put in timeout. If we could paint a picture of blood sugar, we would want it to resemble a gentle wave – not a roller coaster ride. While a calorie deficit is important for weight reduction, it is only one component. However, if clients are eating and operating in a deficit, their hormones will not be as efficient at supporting the loss they really want – which is fat (not weight).

Here’s what to encourage from your professional lens. The number one priority is to refer to a registered dietitian if your clients have specific needs that are beyond your scope. Outside of that, you can encourage general balance practices that include:

  • Focus on combining protein, healthy fats, and fiber at each meal (and snack)
  • Limit eating carbohydrates “naked” or by themselves. Carbs function better when they have friends such as healthy fats or proteins.
  • Focus on highest-fiber options like quinoa, whole grains, lentil or chickpea pastas, oat, etc.

Sharing these guidelines and encouraging clients to eat for balance rather than only achieving a caloric deficit promotes a more positive message – eating to fuel and nourish so we can meet the many demands of a busy lifestyle.

I have so much more to share.  Join me online at the upcoming Active Aging Summit, March 11-12.  These two days are filled with 72 workshops and lectures of vital information for your 50+ clients, students, and members. Registration starts at $149 (reg. $249) or for only $40 more register for All-Access which includes recordings of all the sessions for 40 days.


About the Author, Dr. Erin Nitschke

Dr. Erin Nitschke, NFPT-CPT, NSCA-CPT, ACE Health Coach, Fitness Nutrition Specialist, Therapeutic Exercise Specialist, and Pn1. She is also a health and human performance college professor, fitness writer, mother, and passionate fitness professional. Erin has been in the health and exercise industry since 2003 and believes in the power of a holistic approach to healthy living. She loves encouraging her clients and students to develop body harmony by teaching focused skill development and lifestyle balance. Erin serves as a subject matter expert and content creator for ACE. Erin is also an editorial author for IDEA,, Fitness Education Online, and NFPT where she writes on topics related to personal training, health coaching, behavior change, and career success. Email her at [email protected].

Looking to Hire? SCW Can Help!

In Need of Teachers, Trainers, Directors, or Managers? SCW’s new FREE JOB BOARD is supporting the industry’s need for qualified fitness pros.

Best of all there is NO COST to you. We will post your openings in all three of our monthly e-newsletters: Spotlite, Health & Fitness Business News, and Tidal Waves which are emailed out to tens of thousands of fitness professionals teaching and training in all formats along with managers and directors at all fitness facilities: big box, gyms, boutique, studios, not for profits and independent centers. 

We’re always looking for great content highlighting the newest things in the world of fitness. Please submit your article directly to [email protected] for immediate consideration!
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