Grow Your Nutrition Business Podcast Episode 67: How A CrossFit Gym Owner Focuses On Nutrition To Support Her Clients

Today’s guest on the podcast is Nikki Graham, the owner of Graham Strength & Conditioning.

She opened her gym in 2018, knowing nutrition would be the foundation. She signed up with HSN Mentoring in 2018 and has grown an awesome nutrition program where she coaches most of the business’s nutrition clients!

In this episode, Nicole Aucoin and Nikki Graham talk about:

  • Her involvement with her nutrition program
  • How she keeps her members engaged, she’s had nutrition clients for upwards of 3 years!
  • The OMP, a new owner’s support group we launched for HSN Mentoring clients

Topics Discussed in this Podcast

Nikki's involvement with her nutrition program

Nikki runs the free intros and has been the face of her nutrition program since she started her gym, 3 years ago. Her husband, Tanner recently came on to train as a nutrition coach to hep Nikki as her program has grown. 
When Nikki does the free intros, she likes to explain to her prospective clients that they’re never going to reach the potential they are looking for without nutrition. She offers them a month’s time to guide them to change their nutrition and lifestyle and then take it from there.
Nikki also requires for all of her CrossFit coaches to go through free nutrition coaching so they’re able to speak from experience when someone asks them about nutrition.
This gives her staff a chance to connect on a personal level, which is great for staff buy-in. It also gives them an opportunity to ask questions that maybe the clients have asked as well.

How she keeps her members engaged

Nikki holds her members accountable and they know that she really cares about them. 
Nikki currently has 38 nutrition clients! Her husband who recently became a nutrition coach has 2, for a total of 40 nutrition clients at their gym. 1/3 of those nutrition clients have been with Nikki for almost 3 years! 
Nikki attributes the fact that she loves and care for her clients, she there for them when they need her and that’s what’s kept her long standing clients. 

The OMP, a new owner's support group we launched for HSN Mentoring clients

One of Nicole’s big goals from 2021 is to help support owners. She created the OMP to help support HSN Mentoring gym owners.
The OMP is a really fun way for HSN Mentoring gym owners to get together and chat, have lunch together one Wednesday a month.
This group involves gym owners from all over the country and even a few international gym owners who have all had different experiences, and who can all learn from each other and grow.
Nikki is a gym owner who participates in the OMP.
Nikki likes participating in the group because it’s a place where gym owners can talk about struggles and triumphs. Since the gym owners are all in this together, they really understand each other and they can all speak from experience and relate to each other.

Additional FREE Help Related To
Building A Nutrition Program In A Gym

Grow Your Nutrition Business Podcast Episodes:

  • Episode 66: 3 Proven Strategies To Increase Staff-Buy In With Your Nutrition Program HERE
  • Episode 64: How To Find A Great Nutrition Coach In A CrossFit Gym HERE
  • Episode 60: How To Build A Nutrition Program Into A CrossFit Gym HERE

Nutrition Made Simple Podcast:

  • Episode 2: Healthy Steps Nutrition Framework: Nutrition HERE
  • Episode 3: Healthy Steps Nutrition Framework: Support HERE
  • Episode 4: Healthy Steps Nutrition Framework: Stress HERE
  • Episode 5: Healthy Steps Nutrition Framework: Sleep HERE
  • Episode 6: Healthy Steps Nutrition Framework: Exercise HERE
  • Episode 7: Healthy Steps Nutrition Framework: Lifestyle HERE

Free Course:
Building A Nutrition Program Into A Gym

Earn Three CrossFit CEUs By Taking This Nutrition Course

Did you know that HSN Mentoring has a turn-key solution for gym owners to build a nutrition program in-house?

HSN Mentoring is the largest nutrition mentorship business in the world, helping thousands of gym owners and coaches build successful nutrition programs.

All training and ongoing mentoring is approved for CrossFit CEUs

Join The Facebook Group:
Nutrition Made Simple For Gym Owners

Past Webinar Recordings

Live Q&As

Simple tips to help you build nutrition into your gym

Connect with other gym owners who are looking to build nutrition programs

Episode Transcript:

Nicole Aucoin (00:06):
Welcome back to The Grow Your Nutrition Business Podcast. At Healthy Steps Nutrition, we believe something as fundamental as nutrition shouldn’t be complicated, which is why we focus on a simple, habit-based approach when working with clients. We help gym owners and coaches build successful nutrition programs without reinventing the wheel. I’m your host, Nicole Aucoin, registered dietitian and founder of Healthy Steps Nutrition, CrossFit HSN, and HSN Mentoring. I’m also the author of The Basics of Nutrition Coaching, CrossFit Preferred Nutrition Course. I’m going to teach you how to take one step at a time to build a successful nutrition program where you finally feel confident talking to your members and communities about nutrition. We’ve been talking a lot recently about owner involvement as a key driver for a gym success when running a nutrition program. We require gym owners to be involved in the training process because frankly you’re the leader of your tribe, but some gym owners tell me, “My perfect day is coaching clients with nutrition.”

Nicole Aucoin (01:18):
This is the case with Nikki Graham, today’s guest on our podcast. She is the owner of Graham Strength and Conditioning. She opened up her gym in 2018, knowing that nutrition would be the foundation. We actually met two years prior taking our CrossFit level two certification together. She signed up for HSN Mentoring right after she opened the gym and has grown an awesome nutrition program and helped hundreds of people over the years. In this episode, we talk about her involvement in the nutrition program, how she keeps members engaged, and she’s had members doing nutrition for over three years. Isn’t that crazy? We’ll get to this episode with Nikki Graham right after this message.

Nicole Aucoin (02:10):
Did you know that you can get CrossFit continuing education credits with all of the education that we offer through HSN Mentoring? Here’s the breakdown, 30 hours for the HSN Mentoring initial training course, nine hours every six months for ongoing mentoring. There’s 10 hours that you can get with one of our advanced courses, the Kid’s Nutrition course. And you can also get 12 hours with the basics of nutrition coaching CrossFit Preferred course, but I know that some CrossFit trainers are really struggling right now to get CEUs, so we’ve created a free course that you can get three free CEUs for. Basically, you can get all of the CEUs you’ll ever need for CrossFit through HSN and HSN Mentoring. All right. Let’s to this episode with Nikki Graham from Graham Strength and Conditioning. Nikki Graham, I am so excited to have you on the Grow Your Nutrition Business Podcast. Welcome.

Nikki Graham (03:10):
Thank you so much for having me, Nicole.

Nicole Aucoin (03:13):
I’m just excited to talk a little bit more about you guys and your nutrition program. Your gym is an interesting case, although it’s been brought up twice today during [inaudible 00:03:24] calls where you are the gym owner and you’re so passionate about nutrition and that is part of your perfect day. You’re doing a lot of the nutrition coaching at the gym. Talk to me a little bit about why you’re doing that and what your perfect day looks like at the gym.

Nikki Graham (03:41):
It’s funny because in my journey as being a gym owner and doing all the research and kind of learning all the things, I feel like a lot of the business mentoring that’s out there right now really focuses on getting gym owners out of the role of coaching and nutrition coaching and just being the entrepreneur and hiring others to do those roles, and I just kept questioning that and just didn’t feel right to me because nutrition has always been something I’ve been so passionate about. So I just kind of bumped that and decided to make my own way. That’s kind of how I rolled with it. So my background’s actually in physical therapy, that’s what my degree is in. And I love my job, don’t get me wrong, but I found a CrossFit gym and like most people, I fell in love immediately.

Nikki Graham (04:30):
I definitely made the correlation between doing physical therapy with my clients and coaching people on CrossFit and knew day one that I would be CrossFit coach. And so I kind of went down that path and on that journey, I started playing around with nutrition and I really just kind of started out with my own. I was really curious about all the things that CrossFit was teaching like the paleo diet and the zone and all of those things. So I just started dabbling in that and myself to kind of help fix some health issues that I was facing. Got tremendous results, came off some medication that I was on, lost a bunch of weight. People started noticing and asking for my help. So becoming a nutrition coach actually kind of happened to me. I did not seek it out. It just kind of happened. And so I was the nutrition face in all the gyms I worked for before ever even owning my own business. And I just have no intentions of giving that up.

Nicole Aucoin (05:24):
I love it. I think I still have nutrition clients of my own as well and you’re so passionate and it’s cool to still be able to talk from experience in regards to helping other coaches come on board because you’ve been in their footsteps. You know exactly what it’s like to be a new nutrition coach, you know exactly the best strategies to help retain clients and keep them engaged and how to support them because you’ve been there. Like there’s no better person that can help than someone who can talk from experience.

Nikki Graham (05:52):
Right.

Nicole Aucoin (05:54):
I love that. And we actually have quite a past because we went and did our level two together five years ago. It’s expiring this year, so we have to figure out what we’re going to do now, but we…

Nikki Graham (06:05):
[inaudible 00:06:05] together.

Nicole Aucoin (06:06):
Yeah, we’ll do our level two together again. I love it. But you guys, I mean, you guys opened up your gym in 2018 and a couple months after signed up with HSN. I mean, nutrition has been a core part of the culture of your gym from really day one.

Nikki Graham (06:23):
That’s right. And my main reason for getting going with HSN was I, for a long time, was really looking for that backup in having the content all in one place. It was taking me a lot of time to pull content and get things kind of organized for my clients, just have that nice streamlined service. I wanted an app and just all the things that you had already done before me and so I’ll never forget us meeting at the level two, because you were really an answer to my prayers and it was exactly what I was looking for. I was just kind of a little hesitant to ask for any help because I was very dead set in my beliefs and how people should be coached and what they should be doing and meeting you and talking with you, I just knew immediately that we have the exact same vision and I was ready to jump on board.

Nicole Aucoin (07:18):
I remember you sending me a Facebook message and we jumped on a call like soon after that. And you’re like, “Yes, I want to do this.” And it’s been really cool to watch your program grow even despite looking at 2020, you guys grew your nutrition program in 2020.

Nikki Graham (07:33):
We did. We actually doubled it, which blows my mind as well. But yeah, I just feel like the nutrition coaching tends to be a lot more personal even than fitness coaching. I think people really just this year more than ever needed and wanted someone to kind of go with them along the path and hold their hand and hold them accountable to not fall off the tracks and help them to reorganize their day after everybody’s work place got kind of tossed in the air and everybody had to make those shifts. And I feel like that was what really helped us to grow was just kind of putting it out there that we would get personal and in the trenches with them and walk with them through it.

Nicole Aucoin (08:16):
I think that’s amazing because the cool thing with nutrition coaching, and I think a lot of gym owners have figured this out, is that you didn’t need to be in your physical location. So you’re in Florida, in North Florida. We were shut down for a little bit, not as long, luckily as some of the other gyms that have been shut down for months and months, but you were able to still grow your program while your physical location was shut down because you were just meeting people virtually.

Nikki Graham (08:40):
That’s right. We just, we used Zoom like everybody else and just did those meetings and continued on. And we actually even ran a challenge via Zoom during the time that we were shut down as well, which people really enjoyed.

Nicole Aucoin (08:54):
You talked me a little bit about that challenge and the cool thing was you converted quite a few people to ongoing coaching after that challenge was over, which I think is a huge struggle for a lot of gyms. What would you say helped you be able to continue supporting those clients after the challenge is over?

Nikki Graham (09:12):
I think that just having that opportunity to do the challenge and because of what everybody was going through and for anyone that continued their membership with us, we actually did that challenge for free. And it was just a great way to show people the value of what we do. And I feel like a lot of people, it’s easy to say that something is too expensive or too hard or not what you’re looking for if you don’t know and understand the value of it. And so by being able to show them what we could do with them, or just give them a little taste during that challenge, we were able to show them what we can continue to do for them. So what we have continued to do is not only get them back on track after we all got back to the gym, but to help them to continue to meet their goals. So what are the new goals for this year and then make some new goals and help them progress from there.

Nicole Aucoin (10:07):
I love that. You’ve really built nutrition into the culture of your gym. When people talk about you or think about you, I’m sure they think about nutrition and fitness, not fitness with the side of nutrition. And we know that that’s the most important part.

Nikki Graham (10:23):
That’s right. It’s actually quite embarrassing. Some of my clients have made magnets with my face on it for the refrigerator so that they are constantly thinking of me, which is super flattering, but just kind of silly. But yes, one of the things that has really helped is all of my coaches, they get free nutrition coaching, and I offer that to them because I want them to know what we do here. I want them to believe in it. I want them to get the results for themselves. And because of that, they can be a part of the product. Not only are they looking the part, which I feel is important, but also they’re able to speak from experience when someone asks them about nutrition and it helps [inaudible 00:11:07] in my mind because I know that my coach isn’t on the floor giving sound advice.

Nicole Aucoin (11:12):
I think that’s such a missing piece of the puzzle in so many gyms. And if you don’t have a consistent message about your program, your clients are going to be really confused. What other things do you do to help educate your staff? Let’s say you have a staff member who didn’t want to do nutrition coaching for whatever reason, what are you doing to equip them with the knowledge they need to educatedly talk about the program?

Nikki Graham (11:40):
Well, fortunately I haven’t had that happen yet. All of my coaches have been very excited to do the nutrition coaching and have kept on track with that. We do talk about it often. When I put things out to gym or if we have something coming up like a challenge or anything nutrition related, something that we’ll talk about on a staff meetings, or I might just [inaudible 00:12:01] them individually. If I hear clients talking about nutrition in the gym and maybe I feel like the coach wasn’t equipped for that, maybe I’d have a little sidebar conversation, but really just keeping them plugged into their own nutrition coaching has been monumental because it also gives us a chance to connect on a personal level, which is great for staff buy-in, but it also gives them an opportunity to ask questions that maybe the clients have asked as well.

Nicole Aucoin (12:28):
I love that. I truly believe no coach would purposely not talk about nutrition if they knew it was going to help their clients. No one would purposely not want to help their clients, their coaching to help people become the best versions of themselves. But you and I both can probably agree with this, people are not going to talk about what they don’t feel comfortable with.

Nikki Graham (12:47):
Absolutely.

Nicole Aucoin (12:48):
And they’re comfortable coaching a deadlift or a front squat, they’re not comfortable talking about what you should eat after you leave the gym or what your day should look like in regards to what you should be eating.

Nikki Graham (13:02):
Right. And I feel like such a big piece of this as well is a lot of people think about nutrition services or personal training or whatever it is we’re getting in the gym, when you work for a gym, as trying to sell something, which makes it awkward and weird and it makes it about you and not about the client, but I feel like if you come from a place, a personal experience and you’ve had these amazing results and you know firsthand what has happened as a result of what you’ve been through, it’s easy to just share that. I feel like in my gym, we really don’t have to do sales quote unquote very much because people are just speaking from good personal experience and sharing their results and people want that. When someone wants what you have, they’re usually willing to do what it takes to get it.

Nicole Aucoin (13:53):
I love that. And I think you’re 1,000% right. When new people come into your facility, who’s the one that’s doing the intros at your facility? We know the best way to build a nutrition program is to get people started on nutrition on day one, because it’s going to help them see the best results. Who’s doing that process at your gym?

Nikki Graham (14:16):
That would be me.

Nicole Aucoin (14:17):
Which is awesome because you’re the most confident about nutrition. So it’s easy for you to guide new people to get started with both.

Nikki Graham (14:25):
Absolutely.

Nicole Aucoin (14:27):
I think a struggle that a lot of gyms have is the person that’s doing their free intros or the person that’s at the front desk of their facility isn’t comfortable with the nutrition program, so they go right to fitness.

Nikki Graham (14:38):
I think that’s very true as well. But as you said, I’m just very comfortable and if you get to know me, anyone that knows me well knows that I’m pretty direct. I don’t beat around the bush. So I just tell them quite simply upfront that fitness is awesome. Our program’s amazing. It’s fun. Community’s awesome. Love the workouts, but you will never reach your full potential, whether it’s health they’re looking for, better health, better aesthetics, or better performance, they’re never going to reach that potential without nutrition and I always just kind of present it as give me a month, that’s all I’m asking for, give us a month, let us show you what we can do and how we can help you and if it’s something you want to continue with, then we’ll talk about it.

Nicole Aucoin (15:21):
I love that. Keep it simple and be direct with guiding them to the best option. Because at the end of the day, they’re coming to you for the solution to help them solve the problem that they’re looking to solve and if you’re not direct with the best solution, they’re not going to go to the best solution because they are like, “Well, if you’re not confident with it, how is it going to help me?”

Nikki Graham (15:40):
Right.

Nicole Aucoin (15:42):
I want to talk about something and you and I can relate on this on a level. So your husband went through the training process to become a coach after you had been up and running for quite some time.

Nikki Graham (15:56):
He did.

Nicole Aucoin (15:57):
So talk to me about the process of helping him get up and going. And Jason, my husband, was the same way last year. He went through the process to become a nutrition coach and I’m like, “Jay, Jay, what are you doing?” But talk to me about now that he’s a nutrition coach, how much more comfortable does he feel helping clients with nutrition too? And how has it changed or even improved the culture even more to build nutrition into the foundation?

Nikki Graham (16:23):
Yeah. Well, I mean, as you know, it’s always an interesting dynamic working with your spouse. I know that there’s a lot of us gym owners that have kind of walked down that road and it’s really cool. Obviously, he’s been doing this in this sport, in this field for even longer than I have, so he had a good base in nutrition knowledge and he’s been through, I’ve coached him many, many, many times to help him meet his sports performance goals. He’s gone through some programs before, so the knowledge was there, but I think it’s been very earth shattering for him to go through the Healthy Steps Nutrition Program just to see the best way to present it and that there really is a good swing line process.

Nikki Graham (17:09):
And it’s been awesome for me because I felt like it took me almost 10 years to figure out this process. By going through your program, he was able to pick it up quickly. So at this point, he’s only been doing it for a couple of months and taking on a couple of new clients, but he’s doing amazing. And it’s more so kind of him getting used to the procedures, the standard operating procedures. He’s got to get used to all that stuff.

Nicole Aucoin (17:38):
Which is important because in a gym setting, our clients talk to each other, and if you’re doing something different than Tanner’s doing it, it’s going to be really interesting because your clients are talking. They’re talking about it.

Nikki Graham (17:50):
Yes. That was something really big when we kind of had the discussion and he told me that he really did have a heart for nutrition and really did want to take on that role when he started working at the gym full time, which I wasn’t even fully aware that that was something that was so much on his radar. But yeah, we had that discussion because I told him I’ve been the main face of nutrition in this gym since it started and I know that can be a very daunting thing, but I told him as long as there’s that consistency and we’re delivering the same product and delivering the same heart and passion behind it, that probably people are going to want to see him more than they’re going to want to see me. They’re probably sick of me by now.

Nicole Aucoin (18:35):
I think that’s funny and I felt the same way with Jay, right? He was going through and I’m like, “All right, well, as long as we can map out this plan and you can deliver it the same way I can or any of the other dietitians, I think it’s awesome.” Guys can relate to guys a little bit different than they can relate to girls. It’s fun to have a guy nutrition coach because they can relate to those guys and be a little bit more straightforward where if we did that, it would be probably a little bit different.

Nikki Graham (18:58):
Yes. The men in the gym are definitely pumped to hear that Tanner is going to be taken off some more clients for sure.

Nicole Aucoin (19:05):
And the cool thing is when you have another gym owner and I’m thinking of a few gym owners that are in this scenario right now that are taking on a few nutrition clients, not a ton, but they just become more and more confident and your staff follows you, right? Like your passion. And if you’re super passionate about nutrition, the staff is going to be passionate about nutrition, which is going to trickle down to the members and, at the end of the day, help them achieve the results that they’re looking to achieve.

Nikki Graham (19:34):
Oh, yeah. For sure.

Nicole Aucoin (19:36):
What are some things that you… You’ve been doing nutrition coaching for 10 years. What are some things that you’ve learned over the years to help support your clients? Like what are some of the things that you’re like, “Man, that took me a little bit too much time to figure this out,” or what are some tricks that you have for new coaches as they’re starting their journey?

Nikki Graham (19:57):
It took me a really long time to realize and understand a couple of things. A, you can’t treat your nutrition clients like they are you. You know what I mean? You cannot expect everyone to have the same personality as you do. You can’t expect everyone to have the same life as you. It can’t be that cookie cutter. It’s got to be very personalized to the person. You’ve got to really dig in there and figure out someone’s life if you really want to help them. So just getting a little more personal, a little more detailed, I think was something really big for me.

Nikki Graham (20:32):
Then realizing that you don’t have to be perfect to get good results and really you shouldn’t be pushing that because it’s too much for people. That took me a long time. I realized, and I still to this day think about clients I had in the beginning that I’m just like, “Oh, those poor people. I was demanding way too much of them.” I feel like it doesn’t need to be that way. I think that that’s probably why I have the retention that I have now versus what I had back then, because people are much more apt to stay in this thing long-term if it’s doable.

Nicole Aucoin (21:06):
I think that’s an important thing to dive into a little bit. The first thing you talked about building relationships and really building rapport, like figuring out what are all the aspects of your client’s life to best support them? Because as a nutrition coach, I think we get into this business thinking, “Okay, we’re going to teach someone how to eat.” When in reality, there are so many other factors that help a client be able to sustain the results that they’re looking to sustain. Who are the people they hang out with? What is their lifestyle? Are they sleeping? How are they managing stress? If you never talk to your client about how they manage stress and they stress eat, we’re never going to help them be consistent with the results that they’re looking to achieve.

Nikki Graham (21:45):
Right. If you dive into that stuff, you can tend to sit down with a client and think that it’s going to be really cut and dry, like, “Oh, they’re just overeating X, Y, Z,” or, “They’re not getting to the gym enough. This is going to be easy.” And like you said, you start diving in and you’re like, “Wow, I’m going to need a year with this person.” How long did it take you to get your nutrition right, Nicole? I know it took me years of just fine tuning and working on things and getting better habits and losing bad habits. So yeah, you’ve got to dive in there and figure those things out.

Nicole Aucoin (22:18):
It’s funny because it really brings you to the second point of you don’t have to be perfect. I don’t track my stuff in myfitnesspal. I don’t track my macros. I follow the plate method. I keep it super simple. I have a treat once in a while because I like having a cannoli randomly or whatever. If you keep it simple, it’s so much more sustainable. But our mentality of what people are coming in with, it’s like this all or nothing. They’re reading magazine covers. They’re listening to ads saying that they can lose 15 pounds in 15 days. In reality, “Okay. Let’s slow it down. Let’s do something that’s more sustainable and take it one step at a time.” You’re right. Your retention rate is so much higher. How many clients do you guys have right now?

Nikki Graham (23:07):
I have 38 and Tanner has two nutrition clients.

Nicole Aucoin (23:10):
Okay. 38 clients. That’s amazing. How long have most of them been with you?

Nikki Graham (23:16):
I’ve got some that have been with me since the gym started three years ago. I haven’t taken an inventory lately of what that exactly looks like, but I’ve got quite a few, I would say at least a third of those that have been with me since the gym opened…

Nicole Aucoin (23:32):
So two-and-a-half years.

Nikki Graham (23:35):
Mm-hmm (affirmative), and then probably another third of those people have been with us a year or two and then the last third are new people we’ve gotten within the last maybe six months.

Nicole Aucoin (23:44):
Wow. Okay. So people listening to this are probably like, “What in the heck are you doing with those people that have been with you for three years?” I have my own thoughts, but I’d love to hear how are you keeping those people engaged and retained that have been with you for so long?

Nikki Graham (24:00):
The only advice I can give, and this is hard because it’s just, it’s in me and I feel like it’s in some people more than others, but I do also feel like it can be learned, is just love people. I love my people probably so much more than they even have any idea, but they know. They see me in the gym and it’s not so much of a professional kind of way that I approach them. They just really know that I care, I’m checking on them often and when they’re hurting, I’m hurting and when they’re doing awesome, I’m doing awesome. I think that they just can feel that and know that. I think that, and I feel like a lot of people probably do feel that way about their clients.

Nikki Graham (24:45):
Otherwise, why would you get in this? It’s a very hard career to do if you don’t love it, I feel like, but maybe someone listening is just a little afraid to show their emotions or really let someone know how much they care because it is professional. But I challenge you to let your guard down just a little bit and just really let your people know how much you love and care about them. And that this isn’t just a paycheck to you because I feel like if people can feel your heart and know your heart’s behind it, then they want to be right there with you and do their best for you as well.

Nicole Aucoin (25:18):
I love that you said that because I think you’re 1,000% right. You’re really talking about soft skills and building empathy, like showing empathy with the clients to build that relationship because you’re not teaching them anything new when they’re coming in. You’re keeping them accountable and they know that they can count on you.

Nikki Graham (25:39):
Right. Now I will say on the other side of that, so I just gave you my nice and fluffy answer, but I will tell you that I also am known for, and people, I hear them mention this a lot that I’m also not afraid to give that tough love when it’s necessary as well. Like I said, I’m very direct. I don’t beat around the bush and I kind of tell people when necessary and when appropriate, “Hey, okay, this is great, but this is something we’ve been working on for a while and you say that you want to make it better, but we’re not, so let’s dig into that and find out what’s going on.” So just not being afraid. You don’t want to just be a yes, ma’am. That’s not going to help your client either. Love them, but not be afraid to hold them accountable. At the end of the day, that’s really what they’re paying us for is to hold them accountable. I feel like a lot of people wouldn’t be in a place that they’re in if they had more friends and people in their life that held them accountable.

Nicole Aucoin (26:33):
I love that. I think you’re 1,000% right. You’re so right. People are really, they’re investing in your business to help them the best versions of themselves and there’s so many times where someone might say, “Oh, I’ve just hit a plateau,” or, “Things that are going…” There’s somewhere there’s inconsistency, which is leading to that plateau. And you as a coach have to dig in and find out where’s this piece of the puzzle that’s missing?

Nikki Graham (26:59):
Yeah. Because we know from personal experience that one cannoli a week, all of a sudden, you’ve got five pounds and you’re like, “Well, what happened?” Because that one cannoli a week turned into five cannolis a week and so on and so forth.

Nicole Aucoin (27:11):
Yep, and I think it’s all about balance, right? Like have your treat, but then move on and really fostering that positive relationship with food and you guys have done such an amazing job in your gym to build a culture where people know that you will help them become the best versions of themselves, not just through fitness, but really all aspects of their life and be that support system that they need every step of the way.

Nikki Graham (27:34):
Absolutely. We don’t cheat on our diet around here. We treat, we treat yourself.

Nicole Aucoin (27:40):
I agree. One more thing that I want to talk about is the OMP. So one of our goals, one of my big goals from 2021 was to help support owners. And you’re in an interesting situation because you are the nutrition coach, but there are some gym owners that are not the nutrition coach that are looking for another group of gym owners to talk to. And of course, there’s affiliate owners groups and different Facebook groups, but the OMP has been a really fun way for gym owners to get together and chat, have lunch together essentially one Wednesday a month. I want to kind of get your insight. This is the first time that we’re officially talking about it in public.

Nikki Graham (28:23):
Yeah.

Nicole Aucoin (28:26):
Talk to me a little bit about what’s been your experience?. What have you liked about the group and what would you say to a gym owner who’s in HSN Mentoring who hasn’t joined it yet?

Nikki Graham (28:39):
Well, I first off this want to say thank you so much for letting me be a part of that. Again, you did it again for me. You were another dream come true. I really was… That was something that had been heavy on my heart for a little while was it’s hard as a gym owner sometime and anyone in their career, it can be a lonely place. You’ve got all this stuff going on and you can’t really discuss it with your clients, obviously because they probably don’t need or want to hear it. Same thing with your employees. A lot of the stuff could be not really a safe place to do that. And then of course, there’s your spouse, but you really can only talk about so much with them as well.

Nikki Graham (29:21):
So it’s just nice to have a group that you can talk about struggles with and triumphs with and have people that really get it because if you’re not doing this, it’s hard to understand how hard it can be. But I also feel like, for me anyways, I’ve learned so much in this process and I feel like it would be such a waste to not share what we learn and so I just think it’s really cool that we’re all in this group together, we’re all on different walks, we’ve all been doing it different amounts of times, we’ve all had different experiences, and we all can learn from each other and grow. And I feel like some people have already maybe not had to learn the hard way because someone else is sharing some tips and tricks for ways they got through a certain situation. So I personally love it. I would definitely encourage anyone to join it. I think it would be the best hour of your month. That’s what all of us say anyways.

Nicole Aucoin (30:20):
I remember the first time we met, everyone as we were getting off, they’re like, “Okay, can we see you tomorrow? Are we going to do this again tomorrow?”

Nikki Graham (30:27):
That’s right.

Nicole Aucoin (30:28):
It’s been so fun, it’s just so awesome to talk to other gym owners and you’re right, everyone’s in different paths, in different walks. We’ve got people from Ireland and Washington and us in Florida. We’ve got all these different people that are trying to deal with different things. And really, we’re all dealing with a lot of the same things too.

Nikki Graham (30:49):
Right.

Nicole Aucoin (30:50):
It’s definitely been fun. I know you were helping a lot with some employee things one of the times just kind of giving some different perspectives of, “Hey, this worked well for me.” And I’m like, “This did not work well for me. So don’t do this.” But it’s just a fun way and a safe place for gym owners to get together and talk and just share an hour of their month together and I love that you said it’s the best hour of your month because I agree. It’s so much fun.

Nikki Graham (31:16):
It is. We should just nickname it The Happy Hour.

Nicole Aucoin (31:21):
We might have to move it back to afternoon time if we call it The Happy Hour.

Nikki Graham (31:25):
There you go. True, true.

Nicole Aucoin (31:28):
Oh, my goodness. Well, Nikki, you guys have done such an amazing job building nutrition into the culture of your gym. And I think you really lead the way with walking the walk personally and professionally and helping your clients and they see that in you. They know that you can help them because you’re doing it yourself.

Nikki Graham (31:48):
Yeah. And I mean, really, I have to give you a lot of credit too, because your program has really helped so much. And the mentoring from your staff has helped to guide a lot of what I’ve been able to do as well. So again, thank you, Nicole.

Nicole Aucoin (32:03):
Well, you’re so welcome and thank you for trusting us to help you. It’s been an awesome, gosh, two-and-a-half years that you’ve been with us in HSN Mentoring, and it’s been a fun journey. I can only imagine where your program goes in the next year now that Tanner’s on board and you have someone else to support the growth of the program because you can only handle so many clients.

Nikki Graham (32:24):
Well, when I opened the gym, my goal was that everyone in the gym would be doing nutrition coaching and so we’re just going to keep fighting for that. Hopefully we’ll double again this year.

Nicole Aucoin (32:34):
I love it. That’s a great goal. I’m going to hold you accountable to that. End of 2021.

Nikki Graham (32:39):
All right.

Nicole Aucoin (32:48):
I loved what Nikki said about her long-term clients. You, as a gym owner or a nutrition coach, are in the relationship business. Are you truly taking the time to get to know your clients and understand how you can help them beyond just telling them what they can eat? That’s why at Healthy Steps Nutrition, we focused on a holistic approach looking at sleep, stress management, nutrition, mindset, exercise, support system to help clients create a healthy lifestyle one step at a time. I challenge you to take a minute to think about how you could incorporate a holistic approach when you’re working with your clients.

Nicole Aucoin (33:31):
I want to talk about one more thing. Nikki is a gym owner. She wears a lot of different hats at her gym. How is she able to handle 38 nutrition clients and run the gym? Well, it’s simple. She has systems. She has been using HSN Mentoring for two-and-a-half years. A question that comes up often is what differentiates HSN Mentoring with other nutrition coaching certifications out there? Simply put, we help you not only set up your business, but also are with you every step of the way to help you grow your nutrition business, hence this podcast, Grow Your Nutrition Business.

Nicole Aucoin (34:13):
There are two main things that we provide. The first one, in my opinion, is the most important, mentorship. Every coach needs a coach. You need someone that’s been through the steps that you’re going through that’s a few steps ahead of you and that can help you and help you navigate situations that come up that you might not be familiar with. Someone that can keep you accountable and help you stay focused because, let’s be honest, there are so many different ideas out there, but you really just need to take action with one idea, see it to its whole fruition, and then add the next thing to your plate.

Nicole Aucoin (34:49):
We provide monthly individual mentoring calls, educational webinars with our dieticians on staff, weekly Facebook lives with our dieticians on staff, and so much more. There’s so much support to help coaches and gym owners feel confident when building successful nutrition programs. The other thing that takes so much time is content. We are content machines. We provide nutrition, tips, email content, video scripts, new nutrition client resources, and so much more every single month. And you have a platform to manage your clients, the HSN app. The best part is you’re not paying per client with HSN. It’s one flat licensing fee per month. HSN Mentoring has a 98% retention rate with gyms and independent coaches that use our program because it’s easy to see the return on investment. The price is structured so that you break even after paying a coach with only three clients, do you have three people that would want your help with nutrition?

Nicole Aucoin (35:54):
If so, you can use our turnkey solution every single month to help you do so. Click the link in the show notes to get all of the details and see how it works. It’s pretty easy to get started. You book a free call with me so that we can see if it’s a good fit and see if we can help you get your program up and running. We want to make sure that our nutrition philosophies align. If they don’t, then maybe it’s not the best fit for you and that’s okay. All right. We’d love to talk to you, so you can book a free call by clicking the link in the show notes. Did you enjoy this episode? Please make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss another episode again. Until next week.

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About the author

Nicole Aucoin, MS, RD, LD/N

Founder, Healthy Steps Nutrition
Home of CrossFit HSN & HSN Mentoring

Author of Nourish & Healthy Kids Cookbook

Author of The Basics of Nutrition Coaching Course, CrossFit Preferred Nutrition Course

CrossFit Level 2 Trainer