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Future Fit’s future of fitness – part two

School Of Personal Training Posted Feb 02, 2016 Future Fit Training


After reviewing last year’s predictions for what would be hot and what would not for fit pros, Paul casts an eye into 2016 and beyond.

Future Fit’s future of fitness – part two

In 2016 I think many of the themes I picked out last year will continue to gain prominence – business skills and behaviour change coaching in particular where identified as skills gaps for fitness professionals in our recent Raising the Bar report, and so we’ll see more training and education in these fields to ensure PTs can support clients more effectively and build successful businesses.

However, I believe wearable technology, the ACSM’s number one trend for 2016, is set to have a bigger impact than many realise, as it will influence behaviour change and fitness business models, thereby combining a number of major trends. I believe the result will be a huge shift in the way fitness professionals provide services to clients, and indeed what those services are.

PT 3.0

In previous articles I’ve discussed the relatively recent change from the classic model of personal training, which more or less just involved a trainer on the gym floor supervising and ‘motivating’ a client through their workout. Their role was effectively to teach people how to exercise correctly.

Now we better appreciate that health and fitness goals are best achieved through a complete programme utilising a more holistic approach that involves changes to multiple aspects of a client’s lifestyle; from nutrition, to sleep, to stress management, and of course exercise and physical activity.  Acknowledgement of this is what I describe as the move from version one of personal training to version two (or ‘PT 2.0’). 

The notion of coaching versus instructing has underpinned this change and although it’s still evolving I think this model of PT will last for some time. In fact, Dr John Berardi goes so far as to say PT as we currently know it will die within 8 years – something he will be presenting on at the Fitness Professionals Global Summit next week (a free online event that is well worth registering for).

The shift to PT 3.0 then - which is happening much quicker than the last one, inevitable in the digital age – is about how that model is actually delivered.

Personal, but not in person

The vast majority of PT 2.0 takes the form of live one-to-one sessions, in which the PT spends time with the client in the same physical space, coaching them through an exercise session and addressing any other lifestyle changes needed to move them towards their goals.

Contact between sessions generally involves phone calls, text messages, emails and more recently social media and video facilities such as Skype. However this has mostly been seen as supplementary - ‘back up‘ support between the sessions which are viewed as the main product, and indeed pricing structures are still in the main based on ‘per hour’ fees where trainers are selling their time, not results.

The industry has already begun to move away from this restrictive approach, particularly with online training where these varied communication methods are a much bigger part of the service itself, and the development of this market is what will spawn PT 3.0.

Now that we have the technology to talk to, see and hear, assess, track and record people remotely, get huge amounts of data on their activity, nutrition, sleep, and stress levels, and organise them digitally as a group to communicate en masse (think closed Facebook groups on a simple level), that offers huge opportunities to not only provide a much more comprehensive service which supports clients more effectively, but completely redefine what personal training looks like.

Fast forward to 2020 (or maybe sooner?)

Look out for the final instalment of this series, in which I’ll use my crystal ball to imagine how the personal trainer of the near future will run their business, and perhaps more importantly what experience that will give the client.

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