Changing the Face of Training
Nowadays, personal training isn’t just for the athlete, but instead it’s a powerful and refined tool members of all shapes, sizes and fitness levels can use to find success. And for health clubs, it has become a game changer in terms of differentiation and improving the bottom line.
“The personal training profession has evolved so much since it started,” said Adrian Wegeng-Frank, the member orientation coordinator for Pura Vida Fitness and Spa in Denver, Colo. “For individuals, personal training has become more well-rounded. It is no longer just about the physical, but also about nutrition, mentality, sleep and recovery, stress level and spirituality.”
On top of a changing industry, the way consumers approach personal training has evolved as well. “The customer is getting a lot more savvy,” said Matt Midyett, the owner of Powerhouse Gym in Tampa Bay, Fla. “With the Internet, they’re doing their research.”
In light of this evolution, clubs have had to get creative in terms of how to market personal training and get members involved. At Midyett’s Powerhouse Gym, that creativity has taken the form of an orientation video posted on the club’s website. According to Midyett, the video has generated prospect interest and educated members on what to expect during their complimentary fitness assessment with a Powerhouse trainer. “By putting the video up, we can walk members through the whole assessment process, and they’re more likely to sign up for our [personal training] services,” said Midyett.
It’s no secret that new member orientations with a trainer are a great way to introduce new members to personal training. However, Pura Vida Fitness and Spa took that idea and transformed it into a high-end, customized experience.
“At Pura Vida, we have something called the Pura Vida Experience, or PVX,” explained Heather Bahlmann, the fitness director for Pura Vida. “It was called the new member orientation before. We fancied it up a bit, and even gave it its own logo.”
Establishing PVX, which pairs up new members with a trainer best suited to meet their needs, led to the hiring of Wegeng-Frank. “Adrian gets people involved,” explained Bahlmann. “Once the sales rep signs up a member, Adrian reaches out to them directly and matches them up with a trainer for an assessment. One of the keys for us has been having Adrian do that. By having a person in charge of the enrolling process, they really own it.” According to Bahlmann, 50 to 60 percent of personal training clients were introduced to training through PVX.
Steele Smiley, the founder of STEELE Fitness in Minnesota, said the key to generating continued interest in training requires a company message that positions personal training at its core. “The number one thing that’s very important is to make sure you have a culture that is personal training focused,” said Smiley. “If it’s key in your messaging, you’ll have a much better chance of getting members enrolled. In the club and in the culture of the club, [it’s] very important that the clubs have a strong personal training culture with great personalities, great programming and great spaces.”
That means trainers should be involved with the club in more ways than just while they’re training clients. Trainers becoming more involved with the club as a whole, is another way personal training has evolved.
“Our entire industry has been focused on the one hour [of training], and the best departments — including STEELE Fitness — focus on the other 23 [hours],” said Smiley. “Trainers should be a part of the social media strategy, for example, and should be educated on the wants and needs of the members. A good fitness product today has a community, and trainers are a central part of that community.”
In Dallas, TELOS Fitness’ community of trainers has given TELOS a reputation as one of the top clubs in the area for personal training, which is why Cecil Hightower, the director of personal training, stresses training during the initial sale. “We’ve established a reputation as a place for one-on-one training,” said Hightower. “The big key is emphasizing training at the point of sale. The tour is very customized to help them understand the benefits of a fitness assessment.”
Part of the department’s upstanding reputation is a result of the club’s training model, Ortho-Kinetics (developed by TELOS Fitness co-owner Everett Aaberg), which is used by all TELOS Fitness trainers. By becoming experts in Ortho-Kinetics, trainers gain a set vocabulary that is utilized by every trainer on staff. “We want the member to have the same experience, regardless of the trainer,” explained Hightower. “By having all of our trainers speak the same training vocabulary, we’ve branded our training model.”
Keeping abreast of the wants and needs of training clients is a must — something your trainers are best positioned to do. “Personal training is really recognized as a profession now,” reiterated Bahlmann. “Trainers are far more results-oriented. People are looking for a trainer that will change their life.” Would you consider your training department “life changing?”
By Rachel Zabonick