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Diani Hall

Diani Hall - Strong Fix Coaching

September 7, 2023
4
minute read
From army recruit to business owner and PureGym PT, we take a look back at Diani's first year of coaching.
Diani Hall - Strong Fix Coaching

Issy Striive

Welcome, Diani! Thankyou very much for joining us for The Pro Knows.

Diani

You're so welcome.

Issy Striive

We'll start at the beginning. Have you always been into fitness? Or if not, when did it enter your life?

Diani

I've been on and off my whole life until my last year of uni. In school, I'd always be up for athletics in the summer, but other than that, I didn't really do much. I started CrossFit when I was 16, to get fit for the army, but only twice a week as that's all my dad would allow me to do. He was worried about putting stress on my body whilst it was still developing. In fairness I was also training with the reserves so felt I was doing enough.

I moved to London from Cornwall for Uni and tried to continue Crossfit but it's so expensive up here. So I just tried to mimic it in the gym as much as I could. When I got to my last year of Uni I decided I wanted to take it more seriously, but was dealing with a long term back injury so it wasn't easy! I couldn't do nearly as much as I wanted to. The last year is the most consistent I've ever been, I signed a lifting organisation to do Olympic weightlifting.

Issy Striive

Interesting, so did wanting to join the army lead you to fitness?

Diani

It was the other way around. My mum's side's all army and my dad side's all navy. So the idea was my brother would join the Navy and I'd go into the army. I joined the Army Reserves during uni but after a while thought '...this isn't what it's made out to be', so I left. But you know, I stuck with CrossFit because it became a habit and I loved it so much. Then I made the transition to weightlifting as that was the part I really enjoyed.

Issy Striive

Hilarious, Navy vs Army is some serious sibling rivalry. So you own a company called Strong Fix Coaching. When and why did that start?

Diani

I started Strong Fix Coaching in April last year. I started working at PureGym, the model there is that you do three shifts a week and you must have your own independent business on the side as well. I like the setup a lot as PureGym gives me security, and I love my colleagues, but also freedom to develop my own endeavours. I chose the name Strong Fix Coaching as I specialise in helping fix clients little muscle imbalances to help improve their overall strength, so really working in the detail. I wanted to specialise to help establish who I am in the fitness industry, there's so many different 'types' of trainer, so many different specialisms. So it helps clients select the trainer best for them, and it helps me to be clear about what I'm offering.

We're all like a little family that helps and challenges each other. There's friendly competition.

Diani

Sounds very sensible, certainly makes marketing yourself easier! So when did you decide you wanted to be a PT?

Diani

Well, when I started CrossFit at 16, I actually wanted to be a CrossFit coach. Unfortunately in Cornwall it's just not as lucrative as it is in London, it would be hard to maintain a 'full time income' (for lack of a better term) down there. Not impossible of course just harder. Typically you've either got to be in a group facility, or working in a hotel or a resort as an instructor, which is seasonal because people only come down in the summer. You can work at the bigger gyms, but the rates are relatively low, the clientele is consistent but limited so it makes it very competitive between trainers. So for a while I believed that it would be too challenging to start a career in fitness, but when I moved to London and saw PTs all over the place doing well I thought 'hang on a minute, I can do this.'.

Issy Striive

Yeah I can imagine it being challenging with how seasonal it is, it's challenging enough for London PTs when clients are off far and wide during the summer. So did you start at PureGym or PT elsewhere before?

Diani

I started at PureGym, I was a member and I got to know a couple of the personal trainers. They asked me 'have you ever thought about being a personal trainer?' and they were looking for more PTs so I did my course and hey presto here I am!

Issy Striive

Fantastic, sounds meant to be, and it leads me so nicely into the next question! You're a year in, so it's fresh in mind, what's been the biggest learning curve so far?

Diani

Do you know what I'd say? I'd say that I wouldn't actually change anything that's happened throughout the last year. Because at the end of the day, all your little slip ups and mistakes make you better. I think if you're looking back at your first year and don't think you've made any mistakes... something might be wrong. Bad or difficult sessions are what you learn from, they help to keep you humble and force you to think about what went wrong or what you need to do differently. Maybe you thought you knew something but you didn’t, it's good to have those little bumps and dead ends for you to work it all out. It's all about experience.

Issy Striive

A great way of looking at it, mistakes are inevitable you just need to turn them into something useful. How was it when you were first trying to pick up clients?

Diani

Well, when you're first starting out you need money and you need clients, so find yourself pursuing clients that just aren't right for you, and likely you're not right for them either. Trust that you're going to attract the people that will align with your values and personality. The last thing you want as a PT is a client that's on the opposite side of the spectrum to you. You'll clash heads all the time, which makes it hard for them to get the most out of their training and for you to deliver your best sessions. You're not going to have ideal chemistry with everyone, you need to establish what you're about and what your values are, and then eventually, you'll attain clients that share those same values. It's too easy to dive head first into the excitement of a new client when you don't have many or any, and then regret it because it's just not a match. I think that's been my biggest learning curve so far.

Issy Striive

Definitely takes patience but that's sound advice. Does working at PureGym help you to pick up clients on the gym floor?

Diani

Hmm, depends on the PT. At our gym the boys are probably more sales focused, I guess it comes to them more naturally than it does me. I'm all for authenticity, people will see my style of training and see how I train my clients, and that has been a successful way for me to attract clients so far. I have to mention that I am at the gym most the time so you do have to be in a lot for that to work I think. If I see someone who's not a client doing something wrong I will go up to them but that's out of genuine concern, I want you to do it properly! On a deadlift for instance, a lot of people rock the weight into their heels when they lift. Well, if you have your weight in the mid-foot, and therefore evenly distributed, you can get more leg drive and power through that way, can't you? If I give them a tip like that and they're interested in a session then that's a bonus but I wouldn't try and steer them towards one.

Issy Striive

You're welcome, Striive readers. A free bit of deadlift advice there! Is there much competition between you and the other trainers for clients?

Diani

At our gym no. It definitely depends on the team that you have but we're quite lucky here, we're all like a little family that helps and challenges each other. There's friendly competition, for instance as soon as I started bringing my own uniform and business cards, everyone else put their business cards out. Then if someone's doing a course to up-skill, suddenly someone else will be doing one too and there'll be a bit of competition about it. I know there are some gyms where it can be pretty brutal but we all want each other to get better, it's really nice.

Issy Striive

That's lovely, there's enough room for everyone to be great! So moving away from your PT work, you've recently started to compete in Olympic Weightlifting, how did that come about?

Diani

So actually it was a year ago on Monday that I signed up to a lifting organisation. Doing it competitively has only been this year with my first competition in April. When I first signed on I was asked if I had ever thought about competing, the thought of it made me pretty nervous but by Christmas I had built up more confidence. I had a lot of help with my technique and really learnt to enjoy the highs and lows of lifting. I didn't tell them at first that I was going to do a competition but when I did, my goodness, they were the happiest I'd seen them! After the competition I got the bug and haven't stopped since really.

Issy Striive

I'm glad you got there! It's mental game as much as physical. Have you got competitions coming up?

Diani

Yes I have one in two weeks, the British age groups.

Issy Striive

Good luck! Do you hope to move into coaching Olympic weightlifting at some point?

Diani

That's the long term goal for me, I'll still be able to help people from all sorts of backgrounds as it's not just weightlifters it benefits. It's functional fitness and improves skills that show up in a lot of different sports and disciplines. I'm currently doing my British weightlifting qualification but I'd like to build up more experience before going for it. Anyone can get the qualification but experience is really what improves the quality of your coaching.

Issy Striive

Makes total sense, would you gain that experience by shadowing?

Diani

That and being coached. I met my coach in Woking at a seminar and that's why I first signed on, as well as improving my lifting I wanted some form of mentorship. I'm going out to Bali with them at the end of October to do lifting. The coaching for the most part is online but you've still got the personal and face to face relationships, which has been a great mix.

I do think that coaches need coaches as well. If I had a PT that said they knew everything and didn't need any help I'd get rid of them straight away. You want your coach to also have a coach, who's also had a coach, because the passing down of knowledge and experience is a great way to learn.

Issy Striive

Absolutely. So that brings us on to our last question. Please could you tell us something that you enjoy about the wider fitness industry, and something you don't enjoy?

Diani

I like the diversity of it, I like all the different specialisms. I often think if someone favours a style of training, it kind of says something about that person as well. So there's moments in the gym where you see someone train and you can kind of see their why or their motivation for training because of the style. I like that hidden clue about what that person is like. Also the social aspect, you know, interacting with all these people and all their different walks of life. I love it. What I don't like is how often the ego, that I know we all have, distracts from doing things that are genuinely in the name of improving health and fitness, or someones quality of life.

Issy Striive

I get that, can you give us an example?

Diani

For instance, some people will take supplements or encourage others to take supplements for no other reason than aesthetics. At times even if it's detrimental to their health. Another example, is often seeing younger kids come in and lift way heavier weights than they should be to impress their mates. The industry is built around improving your quality of life, but vanity traps seem to be everywhere within it.

Issy Striive

And they are very easy to fall into! Diani, thank you so much for speaking to us today this has been great. If our lovely readers want to make use of your coaching services, where can they find you?

Diani

Thank you for having me. On Instagram you can find me as @Diani.hall, or you can visit my website StrongFixCoaching.com

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