Interview with Heidi Axelrod
Watch PocketSuite CEO, Chinwe Oyeagoro and Managing Editor, Sean Litteljohn interview Over 40 Personal Trainer, Heidi Axelrod about her weight loss journey, Yoga, running a successful Wellness Retreat and finding a unique niche that benefits her older clients.
How did you find your niche?
I work with a specific demographic 40 and up. I owned a gym for seven years and then we decided to go out on our own. I was primarily attracted to that group. I’m 52, I just have the patience to work with that demographic. I serve as an inspiration. I’ve changed my life. I was overweight by a hundred pounds and lost that weight. Being inspirational in that manner. That’s the group I attracted. I was trying to find my business name, I read somewhere, they said don’t make it what you aren’t. I train people over 40, so over 40 personal training it is and that’s just how it came about.
How do you get your clients?
Usually by the time you get to the age of 40 that results in pains and aches in the bodies. When people come to me, they say, I can’t exercise because my knees are bad and I can’t do this and my back hurts. Usually I say, well, if you give it some time and we strengthen those muscles, you will be in less pain. Just give me about six to eight weeks. And everyone ends up saying, “my back doesn’t hurt anymore.” Then they’re sold, sold on exercise, sold on strength training, sold on how important it is and how it’ll make you feel better.
I have some clients say I’m cheaper than a therapist. That’s why they come to me, they share everything and that’s what I’m there for too
How did you support your clients during Covid?
Communication, we do a call, we have a little sharing session, ask questions: Did we work out that week? How many workouts did we get in?, what did our eating look like? Maybe a group of five or six of them sharing this, just like we would workout in the gym.
How is your approach different?
I’m not a big kind of ra-ra kind of person, so there are wonderful instructors that are, but that’s not me. I’m more of a softer, caring touch. We’ll just talk some more about why they aren’t motivated or why, you know, just what the pitfalls are and what we can do to solve problems.
How is training different with an aging population?
In the end it doesn’t differ. It’s just getting them to a strength position. It’s really starting with lighter weights and bands and things like that if they’ve been inactive. Then with the over forties, I don’t put weight on their back so much because usually their spine has degenerated over the years. We don’t put a lot of weight on the back and I can work around squatting as well. There’s a lot of other exercises we can find if their knees are really bad too. So there’s just different ways to kind of go about things.
Winning marketing strategies?
I do a newsletter every month so that I can give my clients tips and at home things, just to show I am concerned for their health. That’s why we all do this. We’re doing it to help other people.
Just keep in the forefront of their minds via newsletter, Instagram or Facebook or wherever you are postings and reach out.
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Why do people come to you?
I have some clients say I’m cheaper than a therapist. That’s why they come to me, they share everything and that’s what I’m there for too. It’s to unload some of their stress and help them walk through that because so many times a trainer is involved in their eating habits and so much of that is embroiled around how their psyche is, are they eating to relieve something? Are they eating because they’re stressed or they’re eating because they’re unhappy? Most people are coming to a trainer, not only for the fitness part because they want to lose some weight or things like that. You really are having to delve into more of what’s going on in their life and causing these things.
What would you tell an aspiring personal trainer?
I would say definitely, make sure you’re certified. Lots of people want to call themselves trainers because they know their way around the gym or they’ve helped their friends lose weight. There are so many problems that people have physically that you have to work around and you have to know about. First and foremost get your education and then continuing education is super important. I’m just continuing to learn cause you can’t learn it all just in your little certification class.
What are some things that have helped you in your profession?
I feel like my yoga certification has kind of helped me as well, with the having to work around people’s injuries and ailments. I’ve learned a lot through that there too. So, I advocate continuing education certification, even a mentoring program. We have one in my gym, the owner, he mentors people who are studying to be certified or he helps them find a great mentor, that’s always a plus too.
Words of wisdom?
Stay flexible. Don’t get too entrenched in certain ways of doing things, being open to change.
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