T Nation

Structuring Personal Training Bounty for Results


#1

Hi, new poster, occasional article reader.

I have been lifting and eating in an extremely undisciplined way (30mins, < 1x/week, neglecting squats/deadlifts, often skipping weeks/months) for 2-3 years with results that are modest but probably better than they should be, but I clearly need outside help/guidance to get to the embarrassingly jacked and ripped goal, so instead of say, paying $10-20K on a car, I'd rather pay that for a trainer/gym/cook to more or less guarantee I get to that point.

There's a lot of complications with this, as I'm sure trainers would prefer a guaranteed hourly rate rather than a bounty that depends largely on what the client does. Also, I have no desire to compete, so there would be no "win"-condition. Instead, we'd have to figure something out like, "gain 25 lbs lean mass, lose 10 lbs fat, earn $4K" etc...

How would you, as trainers and trainees, approach/improve this incentive structure?


#2

A tricky one I suppose…

Being a PT and having bills top pay like everyone else, you need to know what casholla is coming in at any given time so the hourly rate and knowing how many hours you’ll do in a given time period is a good way to help sleeping better

On the flip side there is a market for “portal programming” as I think Alwyn Cosgrove termed it a few years back where you pay for a result, not the time it takes it takes to get or not get a result.

I wouldn’t be against it but you’d need to a 2 way contract of sorts for this as I could hit the goals you want if you lived and traveled with me everywhere but obviuosly most of the time you’re on your own so me as a PT and you as a client would need to live up to both sides of the agreement (nutrition, lifestlye changes etc)

You might also set a baseline time for results and anything achieved quicker may jack up the price maybe. So if we agreed on a 10kg wt loss in 8 weeks at $5000 then if it’s reached in 6 weeks it might cost you $5500 but again it would need to be agreed upon.

These agreements also mean that the good pt’s (like me!!) can charge more then some dickhead out of a 6 week course as they won’t be able to acheive anything in that timeframe


#3

Unless you’re going to pay someone to follow you around, I can’t see what’s in it for a trainer. Who is going to work with you for 10 months, then not get paid because you don’t have the discipline to not stuff your face on a Saturday night?

I can tell you right now you’ll never succeed because you’re chasing motivation when you should be focused on discipline.


#4

Why would you expect anyone of any quality to take on YOUR risk? You will fail simply because you are putting responsibility for your outcomes and your success on someone else when it is entirely up to you.


#5

This is from another T-Nation member:

Someone asked a message board poster called “theangryviolinist” on a message board “How do you keep yourself motivated to practice?” His response:
Quote:F##k motivation. It’s a fickle and unreliable little d##kf##k and it isn’t worth your time.

Better to cultivate discipline than to rely on motivation. force yourself to do things. force yourself to get up out of bed and practice. Force yourself to work.

Motivation is fleeting and it’s easy to rely on because it requires no concentrated effort to get. Motivation comes to you, and you don’t have to chase after it. Discipline is reliable, motivation is fleeting. The question isn’t how to keep yourself motivated. It’s how to train yourself to work without it.


#6

[quote]10kchallenge wrote:
Hi, new poster, occasional article reader.

I have been lifting and eating in an extremely undisciplined way (30mins, < 1x/week, neglecting squats/deadlifts, often skipping weeks/months) for 2-3 years with results that are modest but probably better than they should be, but I clearly need outside help/guidance to get to the embarrassingly jacked and ripped goal, so instead of say, paying $10-20K on a car, I’d rather pay that for a trainer/gym/cook to more or less guarantee I get to that point.

There’s a lot of complications with this, as I’m sure trainers would prefer a guaranteed hourly rate rather than a bounty that depends largely on what the client does. Also, I have no desire to compete, so there would be no “win”-condition. Instead, we’d have to figure something out like, “gain 25 lbs lean mass, lose 10 lbs fat, earn $4K” etc…

How would you, as trainers and trainees, approach/improve this incentive structure?[/quote]

No trainer in their right mind would ever take up kind of offer.

For one thing- The goal you set right there would take months, if not years, to achieve. You’d better be offering a fuck-ton more money than 4k.

And not even a guarantee that you’ll see a single penny of it simply because the client failed to meet your recommendations?

Nope.


#7

Just hire a trainer to do your training and nutrition at a monthly rate. You don’t need to drop 20 grand to get into shape lol. You can get a quality trainer for less than $100 a month. Still going to depend on you to stick to what they setup for you if you hope to see your desired results.


#8

For two-sided contract, I would be willing to have penalties built in on my end (like failing to show up and work out would incur immediate $100 penalty etc…) or failing to follow diet (though that would be tougher to enforce). I would also be willing to take on a penalty if I don’t meet my own goals, so both the trainer and I have fiscal incentives not to fail. I’d also be willing to do a bonus structure as well. Thanks for the note on “portal programming” – I’ll look into it.

Re: Risk – If a trainer has a great track record, and a sense to screen clients who aren’t good fits, then his or her risk would be extremely low compared to a bad trainer, and consequently the reward to risk ratio would be quite high. My bigger worry is that really bad trainers who are also bad at assessing risks are not scared away.

Re: motivation and discipline – in some sense I agree, but in my experience it isn’t the most disciplined people who get the optimal results but the people who are the most strategic, and frankly it is far easier to be disciplined about a program that you trust will work the best for the results you want. Of course I understand that few trainers want to put in the work for a client who may not deliver the desired results, because I don’t want to put in the work into a program that may not deliver the desired results either.

Re: monthly trainer – I will be doing that as well in the sense that I’m joining a nearby crossfit gym, but I wouldn’t expect it to be geared to my specific, niche goals (though I think some of the coaches have competed in bodybuilding contests before, which is a plus).


#9

So you are looking for a magical strategy to get big and ripped. Even if such magic exists outside of Hogwarts, how are you going to maintain that physique once you’re obtained it if you have a problem with discipline?


#10

[quote]10kchallenge wrote:
For two-sided contract, I would be willing to have penalties built in on my end (like failing to show up and work out would incur immediate $100 penalty etc…) or failing to follow diet (though that would be tougher to enforce). I would also be willing to take on a penalty if I don’t meet my own goals, so both the trainer and I have fiscal incentives not to fail. I’d also be willing to do a bonus structure as well. Thanks for the note on “portal programming” – I’ll look into it.

Re: Risk – If a trainer has a great track record, and a sense to screen clients who aren’t good fits, then his or her risk would be extremely low compared to a bad trainer, and consequently the reward to risk ratio would be quite high. My bigger worry is that really bad trainers who are also bad at assessing risks are not scared away.

Re: motivation and discipline – in some sense I agree, but in my experience it isn’t the most disciplined people who get the optimal results but the people who are the most strategic, and frankly it is far easier to be disciplined about a program that you trust will work the best for the results you want. Of course I understand that few trainers want to put in the work for a client who may not deliver the desired results, because I don’t want to put in the work into a program that may not deliver the desired results either.

Re: monthly trainer – I will be doing that as well in the sense that I’m joining a nearby crossfit gym, but I wouldn’t expect it to be geared to my specific, niche goals (though I think some of the coaches have competed in bodybuilding contests before, which is a plus).[/quote]

You mention that if a trainer screens his clients well, his risk should be minimized. Ironically, you’re precisely the type of client he’d turn down. Your model almost guarantees that you wind up with a second or third tier trainer. The best trainers know what they’re worth, and they’re not going to work for free.

I believe you’re mistaken about who gets the best results. I would put my money on a disciplined client running a mediocre program over a undisciplined client running a program handed down by Jesus Christ himself.

I think dragging a trainer into your scheme will backfire. If you want to structure a program with a financial incentive, pick an organization whose message you disagree with. Maybe it’s NAMBLA, PETA, or Greenpeace. Give a buddy $10k and tell him that unless you hit goals x, y, and z by some predetermined date, he is to send the check off to the organization. Then, use the rest of the money to find a reputable coach in your area and pay the guy to train you.


#11

I think your fundamental premise (“I’d rather pay that for a trainer/gym/cook to more or less guarantee I get to that point”) is flawed. Nobody is able to guarantee your results other than yourself. Why not just take the money you’re spending on your crossfit membership and hire a coach who you trust and who has proven able to get results for their clients? The best that ANY trainer will be able to provide you is an intelligent plan and a base level of temporary motivation – the rest will be up to you whether you’re paying $100 or $10,000.


#12

I agree that dragging the wrong trainer in will backfire. I also agree that many first-rate trainers are not a good fit for me and would (and should) turn it down. I’m not looking for the theoretical magic Jesus program, but rather the program/training/coaching where everyone’s incentives are aligned. If a trainer believes that the client’s adherence is something he or she has no ability to influence by tailoring the program then that’s clearly not the trainer for me.

I’m willing to do the bad-buddy-bet scheme as part of a larger incentive structure, but I think something like that on its own is what would exacerbate this:
"how are you going to maintain that physique once you’re obtained it if you have a problem with discipline?"
A proper approach is one I would be able to follow for life, not just for a crash sprint.

Speaking of sprints, long distance runners are clearly disciplined, and engaged in a mediocre program if their goal is to get jacked – you would lose money on that bet – that’s what I mean by strategy trumping discipline. I certainly expect better results (and adherence) following a crossfit program, but can’t expect it to be optimized for what I really want, but I will be doing that until I find a program that does.


#13

[quote]TrevorLPT wrote:
Nobody is able to guarantee your results other than yourself. [/quote]

In principle I agree with this, and before I would have been loathe to hire outside help for that very reason, but I’ve come to respect that experts and teachers have profound influence on the success of their students, and choosing the right mentor is as much part of how I guarantee results as showing up and picking up the weights. If I find the right person who wants to be paid less, I have no problem doing so, but I’d like to explore the results pay structure – if for no other reason that it brings out a kind of reality check.
“You want these results? Well, we can work on that.” vs. “If you don’t get there, I don’t get paid? Let’s think about this some more.”


#14

Are you sure that the trainer is the one who needs the incentive?

My first thought was you’d likely find someone willing to work with those kind of incentives somewhere in the Hollywood film world – it wouldn’t surprise me if the studios wrote their contracts similarly. On the other hand, the actors have a lot of incentive to succeed… which I’m not sure you have.


#15

[quote]10kchallenge wrote:
…if for no other reason that it brings out a kind of reality check.
“You want these results? Well, we can work on that.” vs. “If you don’t get there, I don’t get paid? Let’s think about this some more.”[/quote]

So, hypothetically, you hire CT as a coach. After hearing your goals, he design a program and sits down with you to go over it. After hearing the program, you slide a hundy across the table and say, “OK, now let’s hear what you’ve really got.” You think he’s going to say, “well, that’s certainly a reality check. Let me think about this some more”?

For the best coaches, the incentive to help you succeed is in you reaching your goals, not in them making another $100. They want you to go tell your family and friends about them, they want other people in the gym to see that they can work with a client and achieve results. Your success is the carrot, not a few hundred bucks. *

You seem like a bright kid, and after 20 years in finance I can appreciate novel incentive structures, but I really think you’re not going to attract the right type of coach by pursuing this. What you’re saying is also very cynical, that no coach is going to put forth their best effort for merely their hourly rate.

  • But money is pretty great, too.

#16

[quote]10kchallenge wrote:
[…] instead of say, paying $10-20K on a car, I’d rather pay that for a trainer/gym/cook to more or less guarantee I get to that point.[/quote]
If I had $10-20K laying around and I was a lazy, thoroughly-unmotivated dude who wanted to get into shape I’d probably:

  • Hire an online nutrition coach like John Meadows, Mighty Stu, or another legit guy with a track record of dramatic client successes.
  • Hire a local personal chef for 1-2 days a week to cook the meals advised by the coach.
  • Hire a personal trainer, in person or online. Again choosing a coach with a notable track record of results, preferably whose methods I find agreeable and in line with my goal (as in, I wouldn’t hire a kettlebell coach if I wanted to build muscle or a Crossfit coach if I wanted to train for a PL meet).
  • Join a site like gym-pact, where I pay a significant amount of money each time I don’t go to the gym and pay money each time I slack on the diet.

For perspective, as a trainer, I had considered getting into a pay scheme along these lines, it’s definitely a solid concept in theory, but I found it wasn’t worth the effort of explaining the new/foreign structure to clients. Most just didn’t understand it. Pay-per-hour or per-session has been the go-to, and seems the most hassle-free way to do business.

If you sat down with me and explained things the way you explained them here, I honestly don’t think I’d accept your business and I can’t think of a single colleague who I’d be comfortable sending you to.

The onus is and always will be on you, the client, even if you hire a team of coaches and a personal steroid guru. You’re the one who puts food in your mouth and decides if it’s grilled chicken or fried, you’re the one who gets dressed, gets in the car, and drives to the gym or hits the snooze button.

[quote]I’d like to explore the results pay structure – if for no other reason that it brings out a kind of reality check.
“You want these results? Well, we can work on that.” vs. “If you don’t get there, I don’t get paid? Let’s think about this some more.”[/quote]
Most coaches I know do approach each client with the latter mindset. If you hire me and don’t get the results you want, I might have your money now, but obviously no way you’re going to return and you’ll most likely spread word of my ineffective methods (super-easy with social media), costing me even more money in the long-run.

This is why the best coaches treat the junior high kid trying prepping for his first football season with as much attention, care, and professionalism as they give the college senior prepping for the NFL combine, or the 40-year old mom trying to lose baby weight with as much attention as their pre-contest IFBB pro.

Then get a life coach. Seriously. If you think you’ll need detailed guidance and hand-holding instead of building/discovering internal motivation to maintain a long-term fitness lifestyle, you need more than just a personal trainer or nutrition coach.


#17

I’d be curious to know the details of how the hollywood incentives are structured.

Thanks for the 10-20k budget scenario – the meal prep in particular. I may just end up going that route.

Would the scheme be more tractable for a trainer as a base hourly rate + a tiered bonus for results?


#18

"What you’re saying is also very cynical, that no coach is going to put forth their best effort for merely their hourly rate."
I would say that an hourly rate encourages best effort for that hour, but I’m not necessarily looking for more face time. If a coach can get away with just a few hours correcting form and devising a bonehead simple program that I can adhere to, and that gets me where I want to go, that’s totally fine, but under an hourly structure, the coach loses quite a bit. I imagine the reality is somewhere between the two.


#19

You can’t buy motivation. I wish you luck but I honestly don’t think you have the mindset needed to succeed at this goal.


#20

Can you quantify the results you want to see and the timeframe you’d like to see them? What exactly is your starting point right now?