Porcelain Post: Jedi Mind Trick Your Way to More Clients and Better Retention

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NOTE: the term “Porcelain Post” was invented by Brian Patrick Murphy and Pete Dupuis. Without getting into the specifics, it describes a post that can be read in the same time it takes you to go #2.

Huh, I guess that was more specific than I thought.


35803741 - man sitting on a toilet seat with his pants and boxers down

Copyright: tuomaslehtinen / 123RF Stock Photo

While I know most mean well, I’m often amused by some of the posts and/or sponsored ads I come across on Facebook directed towards fitness professionals in an effort to teach them how to get more clients and better market themselves.

NOTE: For the record, I call BS on any person who says they’ve figured it all out and are willing to let me in on all their secrets for a mere $5000 weekend marketing bootcamp.1

The reality is, you don’t need to try to so hard. Well, you do…you just don’t need to overthink things and be a moron about it.

You Want More Clients or Wish the Ones You Have Would Work With You Longer?

1) Be Patient (and Be Good At What You Do)

Admittedly this is not a sexy answer. I might as well tell you the secret to getting better at deadlifts is to deadlift.

Success comes with experience. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you’re an incoming personal trainer or coach it’s going to take months, if not years to establish yourself as a credible professional. Yes, there are exceptions and examples of people who do very well very quickly (and build a client roster that anyone would be envious of).

Tragic as it may seem, the likelihood this will describe you and your ascent within this industry is slim.

Get good, unapologetically good, at what you do (as in coach your clients well) and over the course of time, people will take notice.

When I worked in commercial gyms early in my career I can’t tell you how many clients I picked up as a result of them observing me over the span of several weeks. They’d watch how I interacted with my clients – how I was hands on, paid more attention, sometimes wore pants – and how my approach was different than how many of my colleagues interacted with theirs.

You’re always being watched and judged by your actions. The secret to separating yourself from the masses is to be better than the masses.

The act of giving a shit is profound, and people know it when they see it. So be patient, do the work (like everyone else has done in the history of ever), and see what happens.

2) Don’t Be Afraid to Say “I Don’t Know.”

The ol’ saying “fake it till you make it” has a time and place…until it doesn’t. People can smell a fraud a mile away.

Like it or not, you are a profound resource for you clients with regards to health & fitness information. Often times you’re THE resource, or at least top three:

  1. Google
  2. Their doctor
  3. Their friend who read something on the internet.
  4. You

Okay, so maybe top four.

That said, I don’t understand why some trainers and coaches are afraid to say “I don’t know” when they don’t know the answer to a question…as if they’re going to somehow lose personal trainer demerit points or Alex Trebek is going to pop out of nowhere and laugh in their face.

Here, let me show you how easy it is to say:

Example #1

Client:Tony, why does my knee hurt when I do lunges?

Me: “Maybe you lack ankle or hip mobility, or maybe keeping a more vertical tibia will help. Lets take a look.

Example #2

Client:Tony, what does the rotator cuff even do?

Me:Well, every anatomy book will tell you it’s involved with actions like glenohumeral external and internal rotation, as well as abducting the humerus. However it’s real function is to center the humeral head in the glenoid fossa. Also it helps with ninjaing.”

Example #3

Client:What’s the point of kipping pull-ups?

Me:I don’t know.”

Photo Credit: T-Nation.com

See, it’s easy.2

3) Along the Same Lines, Don’t Be Afraid to Refer Out

The obvious talking point here is to refer a client out to a physical or manual therapist within your network when he or she experiences discomfort or pain when exercising.

Unless you went to school for physical therapy stop pretending to be one.

Too, why not refer someone out if or when their goals or needs surpass your level of expertise and knowledge? Again, I feel this bodes in your favor. Knowing your limitations as a coach is not something to be ashamed of. You can’t expect to be a jack of all trades.

If someone is interested in Olympic lifting I refer out.

If someone is interested in contest prep for a stage show I refer out.

If someone is interested in taking their DL from 600 to 700 lbs I refer out.

If someone is interested in training for the Laser Tag World Championships I own that shit.

46060017 - laser tag playground equipment close up view

Copyright: ideastudios / 123RF Stock Photo

When a client understands you have his or her’s best interests in mind, and are willing to refer them to someone who best fits their needs, I guarantee you nine times out of ten they’ll be back as a paying client or refer someone they know to you.


4) Practice Unrelenting Transparency

Here’s the Jedi Mind Trick of all Jedi Mind Tricks.

Be up front with clients that your goal is to make it so that they won’t need your services long-term.


One of my favorite books of all-time is Simon Sinek’s Start With Why. If you haven’t read it already, you should.

The idea is that instead of asking how or what or when, you should ask WHY? Everything begins with asking why and then you can hone on the how, what, and when.

Lately I’ve been starting each one of my speaking engagements by explaining my WHY behind what I do for a living. Coincidentally it’s the same message I relay to all new clients:

There are any number of trainers and coaches out there you could hire. And like most of them, I too want to help you achieve your goals – whether it’s to get a little stronger, improve performance in your respective sport, shed some extra body fat, or help with a nagging injury.

I choose to do so with integrity and honesty, in addition to using equal parts evidence-based research and anecdotal “real-world” experience.”

I want to help you achieve your goals, but I also want to help you not have to rely on me long-term. I want to teach you, educate you, coach you. It’s my goal to make you your own best ally, asset, and advocate.”

A funny things happens: most tend to stay around for a while.

NOTE: Okay, so that was the opposite of a porcelain post and ended up being longer than expected. My bad.

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

I don’t share email information. Ever. Because I’m not a jerk.
  1. 1. I think it comes across as disingenuous and borderline Donald Trumpish that they, and THEY alone have figured everything out. 2. Such claims usually result in some inane concept or made-up algorithm that they pawn off as worthy of our attention, like, I don’t know, (Total number of current clients x total hours worked per week) + (Hourly rate x Number of clients you wish you had) / gluten = TCBQ or Transtheorhetical Client-Based Quotient. #LOLyouareanidiotifyoufallforthis

  2. But for real, don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know.” It’s more likely your clients will respect you more for being honest (and appreciate your willingness to find the answer or direct them to someone who does) than bullshitting your way through.

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