Coaches Corner

Adapt or die. How to stay on top of a fast-paced sports coaching industry.

4 Nov 2022

Q&A - Sam from SPORTSESSION x Aaron Lauder Calisthenics Trainer Interview

Sam Eyre - To start, tell me a little bit about yourself. Where you from? What type of coach are you? Just a bit of an introduction please.  


Aaron Lauder - Yeah, no worries at all. So I'm Aaron Lauder, based in the Midlands, near Birmingham. So pretty much I covered most of the Midlands with online coaching. I do some in person coaching within the local area of Wolverhampton. I've been a personal trainer for around 15 years now. I didn't realise that until the other day when I looked at the certificate, it's been about 15 years. I've loved every minute in the industry to be fair for the last four years though, I've been a little bit more specialist. 


Sort of more into a niche now in terms of calisthenics and body weight training, which is similar to gymnastics and parkour, or a combination of both. So more of the movement based sort of strength, focus stuff. So I've been doing that really for the last four years, teaching people how to, you know, do hand stands, pull-ups, all those kind of stuff and also how to compete as well because there's actually a lot of calisthenics competitions now. So I'm actually building a squad of people to go and compete, which has been really cool. 


I'm actually an athlete as well. I go and compete myself in calisthenics. Uh, so I get to travel the world and and do bits and pieces there, which is really, really cool. So in terms of my ethos around fitness, it is just to help people become as strong as they can and to build body confidence and just to feel good about themselves. And then from that point, if they want to go on and do amazing things or if they're happy with the way they are, then that's great for me. You know, because I just want everybody to have that opportunity to be the best they can be. 


Sam Eyre - Nice thank you, how did you get into the fitness industry and into your niche? 


Aaron Launder - To be honest, I started training in the gym from when I was 16. 


And you know, and I played a lot of sports like football, athletics, various different things like that. And I think if I'm honest, gym training, like lifting weights and stuff, I've done it for a long time and I got to a point where I'll be honest, I I got bored, I got bored of it. Personally, you know, it's not for everyone. For some people it is. But for me, I got really bored. So I started researching different ways of training and exercising and came across like functional fitness. So started learning how to sort of do functional fitness and implementing that into my PT sessions and then from that you know just constantly researching I found calisthenics. I couldn't even say the word at first, but I clicked on a link and I was sold. I saw guys doing some insane things like muscle ups and things like that which I never thought was ever gonna be possible. So from that point you know I I made a point of trying to learn this and even hired a coach, got taught as much as I could, and then went away and continued my journey on my own. You know, self-taught and researched and you know this is where we are now at this point. 


And so sort of giving back to others who are open to learning something a bit different or who are bored or want to do functional fitness in a different way. 


Sam Eyre - Was it sort of like an inspiration for you to be coached and then go into coaching? 


Aaron Lauder - Absolutely. Umm, I've always thought about having a coach and I think as a personal trainer, you know, you're very much open to that because obviously you're coaching people and you want people to invest in you in order for you to sort of provide services that actually help them to achieve goals and feel better about themselves because that's ultimately what everybody wants to feel good about themselves. And so for me, it made perfect sense that this was a whole new way of training which I didn't understand. I didn't know how to get started. I didn't know where to start. 


What to do? How long I should do it for, etcetera. So it was a case of I had to find a coach and I happened to find one of the best who taught me pretty much as he could and it gave me a solid foundation for me to then go away and progress and learn from. And I'm still in touch with that coach now anyway. From time to time to check in. But it's made a massive difference to myself in terms of just understanding what I needed to do. 


Sam Eyre - Do you have any, like, general kind of principles as a coach like that you always try to sort of implement into every session.  


Aaron Lauder - Yeah, I always focus on mindset first and foremost with anyone that I work with in any session. I want to make sure that first and foremost, I know how the day's been, how they're feeling in that moment, before we start the workout, because that just allows me to tailor the session around. Obviously, they're current feelings because, let's be honest, we don't know how people are feeling on a day-to-day basis and we don't know what's happened. Say 15 minutes before the workout or even an hour before, etcetera. So I just tried to get into their minds and sort of understand where they're at and then that will gauge from me then whether I can push them a little bit more or whether they need a bit more of a slightly different approach, just so that we can get the best out of them in that session and I also always make sure that I focus on mobility and flexibility before and at the end of the session and always explain to the client in great detail why we're doing that, because in terms of the stretching and flexibility, it might be different depending on what kind of workout we're doing. It won't always be the same. So I always like to make sure that they're fully educated and have all the sort of knowledge as to why we're doing these things and then they can take that away. 


And you know, sometimes it might be too much knowledge, but they can take it away generally and sort of have a better understanding as to why they're doing those things. And then they're much more likely to repeat that sort of stuff because they understand it. 


Sam Eyre - What kind of like drives you as a coach to do your coaching day-to-day. What's your key motivation? 


Aaron Lauder - So my key motivation, I'll be honest, having been in the skinny kid for a very, very long time in most of sports that I did, you know, especially in football, I often got pushed off the ball and things of that nature and the coaches then they never work keen on that back in the day. You know if you got pushed off the ball, it was always like you know you need to be stronger, you need to be stronger. So that was pretty much drilled into me from such a young age. So I think as I got older like I said, we've weight training, it was very much a case of I was literally just doing it just because I think I'd suffered A bit of psychological trauma, so to speak, because I I thought I always had to be stronger. And so, you know, lifting as much weight as possible to do that. But then, like I said, I've found a different route with the functional aspect, which for me worked better because it was more relevant to sport and more relevant to everyday life. So my sort of ethos there is to help people. Just like I said, be as strong as possible and fit for everyday life, fit for purpose. And but at the same time, to feel good about themselves because, you know, having confidence. 


In yourself and feeling good about your body is is crucial nowadays, you know so many people are suffering with mental health and I think fitness is such a massive key for that. You know, if if people can get into the gym, doesn't matter how they train, whether it's with weights or body weight and get a workout in, you know, nine times out of 10, they're going to feel better about themselves and and sort of able to cope better with the day and the challenges ahead. 


Sam Eyre - Yeah. And I think as well with mental health, a lot of people just sort of go to the gym on their own, you know, in isolation. And, you know, they're not necessarily there might be sort of making effort to go, which is fantastic. It's hard enough to get yourself to the gym sometimes, but I think having that kind of 1 to one contact with the coach who's making you train better and obviously become better at the activity, but also some of that you can kind of speak to about life and get on well with and just sort of offload things that are going on in your own busy life is just so, so important. 


And so that's that's very much something we're kind of echoing at sport session as well, just the benefits of just having just someone to talk to especially during sort of hybrid working where you're working a lot at home, just working at your desk and then you might be going to gym on your own, you end up not really speaking to anyone and you can just get more and more kind of caught up in your own thoughts and it's detrimental to mental health. So yeah, there is so many benefits just seeing a coach and I think obviously you're you're really I'm echoing that and the way that you operate your business. 


Aaron Lauder - Yeah, absolutely. Fully agree with everything you're saying. It's so important that people have contact with others. You know, we we've been for a period of several lockdowns, haven't we were for some people, they didn't really have much contact. They were cut off or it was kind of like these, which is still good, you know, virtually. But at the same time actually being in somebody else's space. And that person actually being able to support you and actually listen to everything you're saying and see your facial expressions and your body language. That person will then be able to adapt to the things that you're saying and support you that little bit better. 


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Sam Eyre - Yeah, 100%. I just wanted to ask as well, just how do you how do you kind of operate your business? 


Aaron Lauder - Yeah. So I've, I've got my own business. Basically it's it's all pretty much for Instagram, if I'm honest. It's all on social media. I tend to post workouts on there and give out tips and things like that. And then I've also got a coaching page. So in the coaching page, it sort of showcases the client progresses in terms of the skills that they've achieved, the strengths and also the change in body shape as well. So yeah, I sort of promote myself that way and I'm trying to think what else do I do and sort of word of mouth to be fair because. 


I've been doing it for a long time, so in the local area people are quite familiar with who I am and I've I've worked in most of the gyms within the local area as well, so you know it, it tends to just sort of get around that. You know, this guy teaches calisthenics or he can help you get stronger and sort of people will e-mail me or DM me and go from there. 


Sam Eyre - Yeah, it seems very much like you used that kind of value driven content on social media. People kind of learning the fact from you and then thinking, OK, this is seems like a good coach. I wanna do a do a session that we found that works the best. 


Aaron Lauder - Yeah, definitely. I think you know one thing I would say over the years, especially experimenting with social media, the more sort of value you can give people, the better sort of lead you get and responses you get because ultimately there's so much information out there for people to sort of Google and and and learn and research. But if they've got somebody who they kind of like resonate with or who kind of has a report with them or they like what you're doing and you're giving them that value, then they're much more likely to sort of reach out to you at some point, not necessarily. 


Straight away, but at some point they will reach out or, you know, they'll see something that resonates with them. Like, for instance, I'm. I'm a dad. So I've got an 8 year old. So a lot of the times I'll do like a sort of workout with him as well and post that and stories and people see that and they love that because there's other dads out there or mums who have got kids and they want to exercise. So they'll ask me, what can I do to sort of work out with, say, little Timmy, and then I'll just give them some ideas of partner workouts to do with their kids. So, yeah, I think social media is very powerful. If it's used the right way. 


Sam Eyre - Yeah. And it becomes very much more human when people can, I guess, see aspects of your life that they can sort of see that's relevant to theirs. And I think that's so important. And social media is really powerful for that. Have you been able to kind of take advantage of TikTok and the trends on there? 


Aaron Lauder - It's funny enough, you should say that actually. I have got a tick tock account. The last post I did on there had 10K views and for some reason I don't know I just fell off as you do. It happens when you're trying to manage all these different social media accounts, but I actually made a decision that I will go back on Tik Tok at the weekend. So funny enough you saying that I was like yeah actually cause I've seen there's been a lot of trends and those trends do actually make a difference. If you can sort of tap into it again it gets you in front of so many different people. 


And your message, obviously if it's a strong message and it's it's clear and it's offering good value, people will obviously see that it will resonate with some people. And yeah, you're again you'll get leads or or opportunities to speak to people. 


Sam Eyre - Yeah, and I suppose is as well you can if you've got sort of a video that you could put on Instagram reel, there's no harm in also putting you on TikTok. And I think TikTok reward you as well because they're still relatively new in there in their social media life. I think they do a lot more than a lot of other platforms and just help post blow up organically without necessarily paid methods. 


Aaron Lauder - Fully agree. No, I fully agree. I think TikTok is definitely the way forward. I think Instagram personally has had it. I won't say it's had its time, but I think it's had a really good period. But I think TikTok is rivalling it really well because I've noticed we've Instagram a lot of the views tend to be quite low. 


So I think it's going through one of those periods or the algorithms doing whatever it needs to do. But I think TikTok is definitely it's looking like the place to be at the moment. 

  Gymnastic training with Aaron

Sam Eyre - Yeah. Nice. Do you ever invest in paid social media methods? 


Aaron Lauder - Yeah. So Umm, I actually learned how to do Facebook ads during the first lockdown, which was actually really, really handy. I invested in again a coach or mentor, if you like, to teach me how to do Facebook ads. And I actually did an ad campaign, which was actually really, really effective for me because it allowed me to basically launch an online coaching program during lockdown, which helped a lot of people and obviously provided me with some much needed income, being very honest because it was a period whereas an in-person coach, you couldn't actually do any in person coaching. 


And so everything had to transition pretty quick. So yeah, paid ads are really, really powerful and they're very, very effective if done the right way. And I think Facebook is probably one of the most powerful, best ways to do that because it allows you to target so many people and be very specific. But I also know that TikTok ads are also very powerful as well. So I'll be looking into sort of learning a little bit more about how TikTok works in terms of AD promo. 


Sam Eyre - Yeah, it's all about, I think in any aspect of your job, there's always sort of more to learn than you're definitely sort of putting time towards your kind of research and development as well as obviously just being on the ground coach. And it's always important to just sort of open your mind up and in such a world that's moving. You have to keep on top of the trends that are going on and keep keep on top of it because that's ultimately where customers are going to be and you just have to evolve, it's adapt or die, isn't it in this situation. 


Aaron Lauder - Absolutely, mate. You. You hit the nail on the head there you adapt or die. And I think you know it's it. It's one thing sort of saying as coaches that we should encourage people to invest in themselves or in their health and pay us money to coach them. But we've got to do the same. You know, there's no point in putting that message out there if we're not prepared to do the same and learn from others who actually know what they're doing or have a wealth of knowledge that's gonna help us in educate us. So yeah. If we're taking this business seriously, then we have to. 


Sam Eyre - Yeah, of course. I was gonna ask as well. And what's the hardest thing that you find about being a coach? 


Aaron Lauder - And I think the hardest thing for me personally is sometimes it doesn't feel like there's enough time to to help or to reach everybody. And you know, you could easily find yourself doing. And I've done it before in the past, like 40 plus sessions a week. That's in person. And I think, you know, it's that life versus work balance which sometimes can be quite difficult, particularly if you do have children or a child. So for me personally, I think it's always a bit of a difficult thing trying to make sure that I have the right balance where I'm not doing too much work. But I feel like I want to help as many people as possible. So there's always a temptation to take more clients on. But then I'm always very mindful from those days when I was doing 40 plus sessions about the quality of the sessions. You know, in the morning great. Everything was on point. But as the day went on probably the session quality dipped a bit because of concentration and energy levels. And of course, now is an athlete as well. I need time for myself to train as well. So I think it's just for me. That's always the difficult thing. I always wrestle with that as much as I can to sort of give the best to everyone else as well as myself. So that's always gonna be the main challenge. But I think you know, being true to yourself, you have to look after your own health and well-being first and foremost. And once you've done that, you can still give to others. You also have to make sure that you're not giving from an empty cup as well. 


Sam Eyre - Yeah. How much time would you say you spend between sort of actually coaching and then, you know, having to deal with like the personal admin, the administration, you know, the promotion on Instagram, if you could split it into percentages, how would you say your times allocated? 


Aaron Lauder - And well, the actual in person coaching now isn't as much it's more online. So it in person's probably around say 20% online is quite high is probably around sort of the 40% mark I'd probably say. So that's 60% already and I'll be honest, the rest of the time is pretty much spent doing the social media and the sort of bookkeeping and all the other bits of admin that goes alongside it. So you probably looking at 5% away from that where it's just sort of your own downtime. 


That’s been my own personal choice recently, just to do a bit more if I'm honest. Umm, because of the time of year. But as you know probably yourself, there are periods throughout the year where we actually get more time to ourselves and and then that sort of percentage shift goes the other way where you actually have some probably 40% time to yourself and other bits and pieces reduce elsewhere. 


Sam Eyre - Yeah, I think what you need to do, which is the big problem in the coaching industry is just the fact that a lot of the time with coaches, you can only earn as much time as you put into doing sessions and that's something we're really trying to change at sport session. We want to take a lot of kind of the administration and sort of promotional and sort of like all the business stresses just away from coaches. So we're very much trying to build a business hub here. We've already got a great foundation for it. 


As you see when you log into your account, you've got your own dashboard. You can have your bookings processed, you can set your own schedule and hourly rate, set your own images. We've got an integrated video system as well. So we're just adding, we're just adding to our business hub feature by feature. And coaches tend to only earning as much as you as you put into sessions where sort of adding ways in which coaches can actually earn more. So we're adding insurance on to our website. So coaches can sort of sell insurance and get Commission on it. 


Also referral scheme, where coaches can get paid and upfront fee for introducing coaches and other clients onto the platform and really just building such a hub where as I said it just takes the stress away and coaches, I mean coaches do coaching because they love coaching right. A lot of the admin and doing invoices and things like that just isn't what you want to be doing. And we want to take that stress away. And what you said resonates well with me because that's what we're trying to change here at sportsession and just make it more organized and just help coaches. The coaching industry is so scattered, and there's not really too much organization. Is that something you agree with?  


Aaron Lauder - Yeah, definitely. And you know, and when you speak to new coaches or new personal trainers who come into the industry, they they don't actually know where to begin, you know, with what to do or how to set up. And then suddenly they've got all these, like, sort of bookkeeping to do and should they get an accountant or should they do it themselves and staying on top of it. So you are absolutely, 100% right, you know, invoicing all that stuff. You know, if there's a platform that can do all that, which is what you're describing and actually add. On add-ons as well in extra bonuses and really just limit sort of the the manual labour you have to do so that you can actually focus on the thing that you qualified to do, which is Coach and work with people. Then it's perfect. Yeah. It's the way forward. 


Sam Eyre - We are predominantly, a SAS tech product, and what we're great at is technological innovations and being able to, you know integrate, with accountancy. Using Xero Quick books and integrations like that. We can add them to the website and that’s another subscription away from coaches. So yeah, just anything that we can do to help. And I think what we're great at as well is because we've got these coach community coaches, we're talking to us and we can be very adaptable and flexible with our in House Tech development team. So now it's good to hear. And as I said, we're doing everything we can to add more and more features. 


Aaron Lauder - Yeah, those features sound pretty cool to be honest.  


Sam Eyre - Last couple. What piece of advice would you give to someone who's, thinking about starting a new sport or sporting activity? 


Aaron Lauder - Generally, yeah, having worked with a lot of people who do sports or who are athletes, I would always recommend investing in a coach. If you're taking that sport seriously or if it's a passion of yours and you want to be the very best that you can be whatever the sport I would say try and find the relevant coach that is sort of qualified or knowledgeable to, to work with you. You don't necessarily have to pick the first person that you see. 


But you should definitely have a conversation with several people and sort of gauge, you know if they're going to be the person that's gonna get you to that next level. Because in sport as we know it's very competitive and to be the best you have to push yourself and nine times that attend in order to push yourself, you need somebody behind you who's going to do that for you. And it just makes life easier, doesn't it? Because they're specifically telling you what to do and you've just got to push yourself through that and if you like level up as a result of that. 


Sam Eyre - Yeah, yeah, totally agree. And that's why we're here for sports coaching. And I think you just need that person that pushes you. I think it's quite hard sometimes for example thinking away from sportsession. I might watch something on Instagram and think, OK, what if this person's done that I'm gonna get into it. And at that point, your motivation levels are high. Then the next day I might be in a bad mood or it might be raining or there will be some kind of variable that's made me just feel unmotivated, and then there's no one there to kind of say actually, you know, snap out of it. Yesterday that's what you wanted. And that's what a coach is there for. You know, they can be your worst enemy at times. They can be really annoying. They're going to be up in your grill. They can be telling you what you don't want to hear. The end of the day. That's what's right for you. 


And it benefits to all aspects of your life, mentally, physically, and with work as well. And if you're doing sport and feeling good about yourself, you're just gonna be just being a better professional and just better with your family and just all aspects of life. So it's just so, so important to have a sports coach. 


Aaron Lauder - Yeah, no, you, you're absolutely spot on. And I think what you're alluding to is really, really key. And I meant to mention that it actually kind of went out of my head motivation. You know, motivation doesn't really last as we know you're quite right. It's something that changes on a daily basis depending on what we're dealing with or how we're feeling, whereas having a coach there who provides you with accountability and discipline because it's a discipline that gets you from A to B, it's not the motivation. Motivation comes once you are consistently disciplined. So you are absolutely spot on, you know. 


If if people are willing to invest in a coach, they will get results because the coach will hold them accountable. 


Sam Eyre - Brilliant. And yeah, that's it for the interview. Thank you so much. I really enjoyed the conversation. It's been it's been brilliant. It's been lovely to meet you. 


Aaron Lauder - Yeah. No, it's been a pleasure. Thank you for the invite. And no, I only say I'm. I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do on this platform, to be honest. It sounds great. 

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