On the surface of it, personal trainers already have to deal with this due to the increase in fitness apps and the ready availability of so much free knowledge. Why would someone hire a trainer when there is an app that can give them the exact same program, and they can get free diet advice too?
Things will only get more complicated in the future when artificial intelligence becomes more advanced. In fact, high-quality fitness apps may eventually replace some trainers. But there will always be a market for good personal trainers.
Think about it, you have all of the cooking apps in the world available to you, and access to any ingredient you desire. Amazon can deliver groceries to you within 2 hours, yet if you are hungry on a Saturday night you go to a restaurant.
Same with getting your car fixed by a mechanic, you could probably learn how to do it yourself or even trust an app but the majority won’t. This article is not designed to create complacency and if you are a distinctly average personal trainer, then you absolutely should be worried. But for those of you who are passionate about your job, there is no reason to be afraid, for starters:
Why are you worried about a fitness app when your gym has just hired 5 more personal trainers over the last year? Other personal trainers will always be your main source of competition, and staying one step ahead of them should be your main concern. Personal training is one of the most popular jobs in the country right now, and competition for clients has never been higher. Luckily there are also more clients available, as having a personal trainer is seen as less of a luxury and more of a necessity.
Making sure that you stand out as the best personal trainer in your area should be your only concern. Taking the right qualifications, studying, and participating in extra courses will help you to build your business. Do this and you will never have to worry about losing clients to an app.
Do you think that Harrods worries when the local supermarket sells champagne for 50% around Christmas time? No, it doesn’t. Because Harrods knows who they want to target, and who they don’t want to target. It’s the same thing with personal training. Your current clients could all get the exact same training program and diet advice from the internet but they go to you because they 1) they know you, 2) they like you, and 3) they trust you.
Know, Like, and Trust are the three factors that salespeople (and if you are a personal trainer you are a salesperson) care about. If you are well-known in the gym, liked by many, and people believe that they can trust you, then they will ask for your help. You can then demonstrate your skills and showcase the little things that an app could never replicate.
The people who are going to download a free app instead of hiring a personal trainer were never going to be your client. This is not a criticism of them or of you, to be a personal training client you need disposable income, a strong desire to get in shape, and the humility required to accept that you require professional assistance. Downloading a free app in 30 seconds onto your iPhone doesn’t really hit any of those things.
Find a fitness app that can help a brand new client feel confident about walking into a busy gym, find an app that can intuitively know when someone is feeling dizzy but trying to train anyway.
Find an app that can talk to their client about their day and immediately understand that the training programme needs to be altered because someone who just had a huge argument with their boss isn’t going to want to learn deficit dead-lifts today.
A really good fitness app has its place in the market, but there is no way on earth it is going to be able to replace a great trainer. Personal training was never about storing knowledge and remembering exercises (though these are important), it is about developing relationships with clients. It is about making small adjustments too challenging circumstances using your experience.
Personal training is about empowering your clients.
And don’t forget the softer skills – helping them to socialise with other members of the gym, making them laugh, listening to their stories, and showing empathy.
Find an app that can do all of that, and then we as an industry can begin to worry. If you are worried about losing your job to an app, then concentrate on making your business more human. No app in the world can compete with that.
Stay on top of your game and improve your skillset as a Personal Trainer, by checking out Future Fit’s Personal Trainer CPD courses.