Episode Summary

Welcome to another episode of Alloy Personal Training Business. In this episode, Matt and Rick discuss how to improve your coaching, sales, and overall communications through better body language.

Episode Notes

80% of all communication is nonverbal. It doesn’t matter how great your words are, if you are not matching them with your body language, you are not communicating effectively. Improving our body language is something all of us, especially in the personal training business can greatly benefit from. 

We talk about different body parts such as the feet, legs hips, torso, and arms and how to use each of them from a coaching and sales perspective to improve communication. The legs are a big part which we should never ignore. We also learn how to read small nonverbal communication cues from our clients. 

Your arms and hands are the most important of all body parts. Some of the things we do with them are subconscious but as a coach or a salesperson, you should learn how to use them to communicate better. Crossing your arms, hiding your hands behind your back, and definitely no pocketing. 

Tune in and learn how powerful body language is not only through the lens of fitness but in all aspects of communication. 

Key Takeaways
  • What are the two types of body language?  (5:06)
  • Why your feet and legs are important in body language and how to use them effectively to communicate (5:39)
  • What can you read from the hips and laps in a sales setting (15:30)
  • Why the arms are the most important in nonverbal communication (19:27)
  • Why you should never cross your arms or walk with your hands behind your back as a coach (21:28)
  • How to look out for discomfort signs from your clients (29:08)
  • Recognizing body language through the lens of fitness (31:16)

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Mentioned in this episode

Matt Helland

Rick Mayo 

Alloy Personal Training Franchise



Let’s discuss how to use body language and most importantly, how to read body language. Look at the unspoken language and the science behind it, it’s around 80% of our overall communication. 

So if we’re, yeah, if you’re in the same space as someone else, 80% of your communication is nonverbal. 80%. Think about that through the lens of a trainer and consider your communication to your team, 20% is all they’re going to hear from you. 

For example with dogs, if you say something really horribly mean, your dog doesn’t hear it, they hear the voice inflection. Which is to say, they see they read your body language probably better than we do. It’s a limbic response, a primal thing that we have in our body, and it can’t be changed, and it can’t be messed with. You can say all the great things you want. However, if you’re not doing everything else correctly, you’re not communicating well at all.

Some people just intuitively are better at it. Other people don’t understand that they’re communicating something that they don’t know that they’re communicating,

I know just enough about this to be dangerous. I think I know what I’m doing. But you know, more than not, I’m probably missing a lot. In the context of what we’re going to talk about today and how to use it in business, it makes a lot of sense. Essentially, a lot of this information is coming from a book called What Every Body Is Saying. Imagine splitting those two words up somebody as a standalone word. What Every Body Is Saying and the author’s name is Joe Navarro. He was an FBI agent and a non-violent interrogator.

From what I understand he was the Michael Jordan of interrogations, whether it be terrorists or serial killers. This was because he was so good with nonverbals that he could interview someone in a friendly, unarming manner. He would pick up a few tells, swing back around, ask questions about those tells, again later, maybe just notating that they showed signs of discomfort. In a lot of cases, he could just talk them into telling him. Much like a super telepathic power. 

A lot of the principles we’re gonna talk about come out of his book today. Back to discomfort as an example, through the lens of Navarro, there are basically only two types of body language that are manifested. One is comfort, and one is discomfort. That’s all that you can basically communicate is either comfort or discomfort in some way, shape, or form. We have it broken down based on the body and your body language, how we’re using it. 

The first one is the feet. People don’t think about feet as being part of body language, but it’s actually the most limbic of all of the body parts, meaning what you’re doing with your feet is maybe a bigger tell than anything else. So if we think about that, think about this through the lens of sales as an example. First of all, like how do you set up in a sales office? To sell someone personal training or fitness services you shouldn’t have anything between the two of you. Partly because it sets a barrier there. Doing so makes it feel less personal.

That being said you shouldn’t sit across a desk. I think most people have been taught that at some point if you’ve had any sales training, you know, you should sit, you know, face to face with someone who is slightly off-kilter. So maybe you’re not so overly aggressive. If it’s someone who’s smaller in stature, you don’t want to be squared up to them because straight square on can also be a little bit aggressive. This gives you the opportunity to then view their feet. What people will do is they’ll communicate a lot of things with just what they’re doing with their feet in a sense of sales or through the lens of sales. 

Let’s say that you’re getting to the pricing structure for someone, right? And you get to the price and you say how much it is. For example, “this one is $350.”, then they cross their feet and they turn them towards the door. At this point, you would know even if they didn’t know. Even if they didn’t feel it as strongly as you did, they just told you everything you need to know. That motion with their feet is like saying “see you later” or “Hey, I’m looking to get out of here. 

If you notice this you could literally just address it and say, “yeah, you seem uncomfortable with the price is that the objection is the amount?”. It is a bit of a superpower. The same thing, when you see that there’s a group of people standing together, the people that have their feet closest to each other are probably the closest, certainly from a couple’s perspective. 

We use this from the lens of coaching. If you and I are standing next to each other and a third party walks up to us and we don’t open our stance or our feet to point towards that person, that means that we don’t want to talk to that person. We coach it to our guys because we’re coaching groups of five, six people, four people. There’s always that one client that you know, asks a lot of questions, or maybe you’re having an in-depth conversation with a couple of other clients and you don’t want to be interrupted.

Just keep in mind that even though you don’t realize what you’re communicating with, and the person that you’re communicating with the other client that walks into the group might not realize exactly what you’re doing. You’re putting it out and they’re feeling it, whether they admit it or not, they’re going to get a feeling of closure. In other words, if they don’t open their stance to you or you don’t open your stance to them and bring them into the conversation, you’re basically shutting them out. It’s really important to be mindful.

Next is the torso. There’s not a lot of movement in your torso, really, but it’s very ornamental. Look at some tribes around the world, that’s where they’ll hang necklaces, things like that. Super ornamental. It can show status. If you got somebody wearing a lot of neck jewelry they’re probably more image-conscious, maybe more than someone that doesn’t wear neck jewelry. Not a big one but again, it’s more ornamental. So you might be able to judge how materialistic someone is. Or if there’s something of great importance, like if they’re wearing something simple, that symbol. To them, they’re displaying it in an area of the body that’s in clear view.

Next is arms. Arms are maybe one of the most important as far as we’re concerned and are super limbic. There have been studies done that show that blind people when victorious will do the same thing that people with sight do. For example, if you beat me in a 100-yard race and you beat me, you’re probably going to put your arms in the air to show victory. Think about everybody that scores a goal or makes or kicks a field goal or scores a touchdown or arms in the air. It’s the symbol of a touchdown for American football. What’s interesting is people without sight that have never been told to do that do the same thing. They throw their arms in the air.

Usually, you need to use your arms to communicate, but there’s a lot to do with arms as far as personal trainers are concerned. Arms crossed is a huge no, no, because if you and I are having a conversation, and my arms are crossed, what am I telling you? Essentially, I don’t really want to listen to you, I don’t care. I’m closed off. Either I don’t like what you’re saying, or I don’t want to be talking to you. I see this one the most with coaches standing on the floor with their arms crossed. Remember, 80% of what you’re saying is telling this person, I don’t want to talk to you. That’s what you’re saying without saying. 

This is a big one. Uncross your arms. It’s probably the most offensive of all the body languages. We have some cues at the gym. What we’ll say to someone “Hey, are you cold?” just to get people out of the habit. It’s a nice place to rest your arms. I get it. There are some things but keep in mind 80% of what you’re communicating is saying, Hey, I don’t care. I don’t want to talk to you guys. So if you’re a coach doing it or if you own a business, coach your guys out of doing it. Make sure you explain why and what that really means. 

We like to promote what we call standing, akimbo, that is hands-on-hips. Imagine your feet are out wide, your hands are on your hips. That’s the ultimate power stance, if you think about it, right. Now, in the book, the author talks about how when they’re coaching like SWAT teams or policemen to go to a domestic call, don’t stand like that in someone’s doorway or inside their home. What you’re basically telling them without telling them 80% of what you’re saying is this is my space. Now I’m here. It’s offensive. You’re automatically putting everyone on edge by standing in that stance.

I would say as a coach, it’s actually a great stance again for someone with a smaller stature. If you’re a small coach, stand akimbo. Now, if you’re a bigger person and you’re training clients that are older, or maybe not as fit, do not stand like that, because it’s just intimidating. 

No hands behind the back, no arms crossed. Then the last one we use is hands and pockets. This can just make you look way too casual. Our code phrase for that “hey, you need to borrow some money?” 

Perfect transition to the next one, hands. We always found that our coaches had no trouble with body language when they were coaching small group Personal Training, they struggle with it in team training. When we talk about hands in pockets, if you look at it there are two ways to look at hands in pockets if someone has just their fingers in their pocket, but their thumb out right now. Rock out with your All right, if you do that, that means that you’re you can be casually confident. So say you’re giving a presentation, it’s okay to slide your hand in your pocket. Maybe you’ve got the clicker and the other hand, and you’re being very expressive. However, keep your thumb out. It’s pretty powerful, actually. 

So last, we’ll move on to head/ face. The face is the easiest thing to disguise. Feet are the hardest. A very limbic and powerful body language is said with your head. Just tilt your head, right? Because it shows interest. This is really good in a sales setting. Because we always tell people like whoever’s talking is losing in a sales setting, ask for the sale, be quiet. Let them ask questions or talk their way through it. Well, if you ever want to encourage people to tell you more, just turn your head a little bit like you’re curious. A turn and a little nod like you just did to me. We do it to each other on this podcast all the time. 

Try tilting your head a little bit and just nodding. Sometimes people come over, and they’re upset about something, I did this thing you told me this and I ate all this stuff. I didn’t even lose any weight. If you just tilt your head a little bit, smile and nod. “But you know, I mean, I know I didn’t do everything I was supposed to do. But I’m just saying it’s really frustrating.” All the while you’re just nodding and smiling like, yeah, I understand. They’ll talk it all the way out and say thanks a lot. Great talk. You didn’t say a word. 

Yeah, so that’s about it. We worked our way from your feet, you guys all the way to the head. Read and study What Every Body Is Saying. Teach it to your team. It’s a lot of fun and the exercises around it are fun and always a popular topic when I talk to groups. 

It’s really something that becomes a superpower if you know how to do it right. Again, for the lens of fitness, it’s pretty easy, but I would say start there. And if you’re really into it, dig in even more!

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