What We Can Learn About IP Consulting in the Gym

WeightsOne of the best ways to gain insight about your profession is to compare it to another profession as an objective observer and then see if the same rules you identify apply.  We often do this with our clients when we benchmark IP practices in other industries or strategic actions from entirely different professions.  It’s a useful practice because it is easier in the analysis to be an impartial observer to other people and then relate those observations to your own work experiences.  In business, we often see cross-professional comparisons in sports analogies where we can make observations about player and coach performances that others can relate to with the understanding that the principles behind those observations probably also apply to us.

I have been working out at gyms like Gold’s, Bally’s and D.C.’s Sport & Health club since Ronald Reagan was president, going upscale once with the Vertical Club in NYC.  The personal trainers at all these gyms are, when you get right to the core, consultant’s, and the good ones may deliver far more health value to their clients than doctors who are paid five to ten times more per client.  This latter, of course, depends upon the willingness of clients to budget good health for the long-term rather than set themselves up for unnecessary health crises further down the road.

My observations follow:

  1. The personal trainers who are in the best shape themselves do not necessarily have the most clients.
  2. An exception to the above often appears where a trainer in phenomenal shape does also have the most clients, and it will usually turn out that he or she is also a manager or in some other way a leader in the field.
  3. Most clients, even with a trainer, will not make a noticeable difference in their appearance or performance…although maintaining a present state through the influence of a trainer may still be a positive outcome versus the alternative.
  4. Maybe one in ten clients will make a noticeable difference in his or her appearance or performance, and it can be striking.
  5. There is always at least one member in the gym who is beyond help from any trainer, and will think he (it’s almost always a he who runs his own company) is lifting the whole stack like the “big boys,” but in reality is only moving his head.
  6. With the exception of #5 above, most people older than maybe 30 actually lift too little weight, and their trainers don’t seem to have a problem with this.
  7. Even when there is a perfectly good indoor track available, most people will choose to run on treadmills, and most trainers won’t have a problem with this either.
  8.  When I have queried trainers about #6 and #7 above, I have found between the lines that their driving interest is to keep clients for the long-term, which might be difficult to do if they push them too hard.  An exception to this is the type of trainer in #2 above who has learned how to push clients harder without losing them.
  9. The trainer in #2 above often seems to get better still as he or she studies the latest in the industry and learns from his or her own clients.
  10. The working life expectancy of a new trainer at a gym is usually measured in months.

Does the same pattern hold in IP consulting?  Given the tendency for patterns in strategy to be universal across professional disciplines, we think it likely.

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