Guest Post! Sgt Nick Rians from FitRanX

I met Nick at Perform Better in Long Beach. I think this product fills a gap for a lot of us. I discuss standards to “death,” but for the typical gym environment, we have a gap. I have seen this in action and I am a big fan of the whole idea. Enjoy (DJ)!

Sgt Nick Rians and Tim Peterson of FitRanX:

Do You Just Want You or Your Clients to Get “Better”?

I assume that as you train your clients you want them to get “better.” I also assume that when you yourself train you want to get “better.” But what is “better?” A few years ago a good friend of mine and I set out to answer that question. We wanted a program that would allow the client to set a goal and then reach it, but then not walk out our door with a smile and a thank you, never to be seen again until they needed to re-lose the 10 pounds they just shed. We wanted a program that would help us increase our client retention, as well as give the client a series of attainable goals that would eventually allow them to attain the rank of certified badass. It needed to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. It needed to be SMART.

So over the years that followed we created, released, tweaked, and re-released our program. It is called FitRanX. It is an eight level fitness ranking system, a program that is both challenging and attainable for both couch potatoes and Navy Seals alike. It is currently being used in over 600 gyms in 15 different countries. Each level has a strength component and a conditioning component. Each level will take an approximately equal number of months to attain (i.e. it takes 1 month to prepare for level 1, 2 months to prepare for level 2, and so on). This ensures the client will be with the trainer for approximately 3 ½ – 4 years (this is the client retention part, in case you couldn’t figure that out) and at that point it will be part of their life, and the client will have been “promoted” to assist with the lower level clients.

The strength component has 6 elements that each progressively become more difficult. They are:

Pull: the participant progresses to bodyweight pull-ups,

Dips: the participant progresses to weighted or bodyweight dips, depending on sex. Quad (or hip and knee dominant): the participant progresses from an unweighted overhead squat to weighted front or back squats,

Push: the participant progresses from push-ups to standing weighted presses, Ham/Glute (or hip hinge dominant): the participant progresses from a static hip bridge to a weighted single leg deadlift, and

Core: where the participant progresses from a static plank to a suspended pike.

We realize that the strength component has two pushes and only one pull, the balance occurs in the conditioning portion which includes various kettlebell exercises, which are pulls in nature. Speaking of the conditioning, it progresses from a single exercise paired with a tri-set of exercises, to a pair of quad-set of exercises.

So after some tweaking and editing of the program, we felt we had to solicit the advice of those older (sorry Dan) and wiser than us. Dan really liked the program and asked us to read his blog post, “Sleepless in Seattle,” in which he lays out his own 7 levels of strength. As someone who follows Dan (figuratively, not literally, come on, that would be creepy), I was glad to be able to say that we had not read his post prior to creating the system, which I’m sure some might question given the similarities between the two. But I can assure you that we did not, and in fact it reassured us that we were headed in the right direction.

As expected, not all feedback was positive, which is required for growth to occur. But one particular bit of feedback got under my skin. A very well known individual in the industry, who shall not be named due to our continued respect for this individual, responded with, “I don’t care what level I am, I just want my clients to get better.” While this is a very “kum-ba-yah” and feel-good response, what does it mean? What is better? The answer is nothing. “Better” is ambiguous. “Better” is not specific, nor is it measurable, attainable, realistic, or timely. “Better” is when every kid on a losing soccer team gets a trophy at the end of a season.

FitRanX is more than “better.” FitRanX is specific, and very strict in its specificity. There is a reason I never attempted to become a level 2 RKC instructor. I couldn’t perform a one armed press with half my bodyweight, plain and simple. It doesn’t matter if Pavel thinks I’m a really nice guy, I wasn’t going to be an RKC 2.   Is every client going to become a level 8 in the FitRanX system? Probably not, and for the very same reason that not every 18 year old that joins the military ends up in Special Forces. The execution of the level tests are extremely strict in their protocol. From what counts as a rep to the rest time allowed between exercises, there is a very strict standard that the trainer and client must adhere to. Without the standards the system would be worthless. There are no “almost” reps allowed. There are winners and there are losers. One of my favorite movie quotes comes from The Rock. In it Sean Connery’s asks Nicholas Cage if he’s “sure he’s ready for this?” Cage answers “I’ll do my best.” Sean Connery responds with “Your best?!” Losers always whine about their best. Winners go home and F*** the prom queen.”

Winners don’t just strive to be “better.” They have SMART goals, and when they attain those, they re-write them and start over. The FitRanX system is a SMART system, and it gives the client goals and the trainer a roadmap to get them there.

If you want more information, look here. I am very impressed by this idea and I think it is a tool worthy of notice.

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