Personal Trainers, Fitness Professionals and the Coronavirus (COVID-19). How do you maintain financial stability? Tips and tricks to moving your coaching online.
It’s important to note that these suggestions will be dependent on your personal circumstances, but they assume they assume that you are not offering in-person sessions at all.
Note: The Prime Minister has ordered a UK lockdown. This means that people are only allowed to go outside to buy food, go to work, go to the hospital or for other emergencies. As explained by the terms of Boris Johnson last night (23rd March), meeting friends, shopping for anything beyond essentials and gathering in crowds are now banned. Furthermore, the government advised Brits should work from home, unless necessary. Key workers are still allowed to do their jobs. But unfortunately, with gyms being closed and a clear-cut ban on gatherings, this would prevent PT sessions being held outside.
Although it’s hard to view this current situation positively, the challenge is a huge opportunity for fitness professionals to rethink their offering. Personal trainers that recognise their services go far beyond just seeing their clients face-to-face 1, 2 or 3 times a week have seen huge success in recent years, so if you haven’t embraced that yet, now is the time!
There is a caveat though; in the present circumstances, with so much unpredictability, it is probably better to focus on e-Learning and education and start your new business venture as a secondary income online. Selecting a few clients that will grow with you rather than expecting to take on lots of new customers from the start.
Instead the primary, short-term focus for PTs should be how to replicate your current model with existing clients in a different way (namely online).
So very simply, if you offer 1-to-1 training sessions in person, how can you take that online? If you deliver small group sessions with 4-8 people, how can you offer the same service remotely?
Remember that people pay for both outcomes (fat loss, improved fitness, strength) and the positive experience they have in achieving them, so you simply need to create a solution that delivers in those areas.
The options available for delivering training sessions online range from free platforms such as Facebook Live and Skype, to paid ones such as Zoom. The latter allows 2-way video interaction for multiple people (useful for group training and often a requirement from an insurance point of view – check with your insurer).
There are also industry-specific tools and apps such as Trainerize, PT Distinction, My PT Hub and Remote Coach which offer a huge range of features to manage and support clients. Most have free trials so you can see which would work best for you.
Later down the line, rather than just being a temporary fix to get you through the next few months, you may well find these solutions become a fundamental part of your business model.
In other words, the aim here is to provide a solution, package or service that clients view as being worth an equal or very similar amount to what they currently pay.
Naturally, many will see a live online PT session as having less value than a face-to-face session if that’s what they’re used to (no hands-on technique correction, no spotting, etc).
So what else can we add to the overall experience to compensate, without requiring a significant amount of your extra time on a regular basis?
You could consider:
One of the key things to maintain and strengthen is the sense of community you have amongst your client base. If you haven’t already, set up a Facebook group where you can share workouts for people to do on their own, run scheduled Q+A sessions, answer queries and offer support. If we have months of quarantine and isolation ahead, people are going to value collectiveness, togetherness and being part of something more than ever before – so they’ll be happy to pay for it.
Linked to this is communication – use WhatsApp and Facebook to regularly update your clients (both current and past) with what’s going on. Make them feel included in the conversation, and share what everyone else is doing (with permission of course). So, encourage clients to post videos and pictures of them doing their workouts at home, and feedback to the group to motivate each other. This form of ‘social proof’ also helps any previous clients who have stopped training with you to see what they’re missing and might prompt them to start again.
Once these assets and initiatives are created, there is minimal additional cost to providing them to other clients, so as mentioned, you will be able to use these new developments as part of your standard business model even when face-to-face training is possible again. That means an even better value product and service than before!
Of course, if you’re already implementing all of these ideas in your current business model, you should find it much easier to transition to online session delivery as clients will perceive it as a much smaller change in the grand scheme of things.
Remember, people pay for both outcomes and the positive experience they have in achieving them – so the bottom line is; be great at your job and your business will not only survive, but thrive.