According to ACSM’s Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends 2016, the market for trainers is increasing. However, the relative high costs of personal coaching means it’s still out of reach for a large amount of people. But are there ways to provide coaching models to this target group in a way that is both affordable and sustainable for your business?
The Coaching Pyramid: It’s important to realize that coaching does not have to be an all-or-nothing deal. Between one-on-one training and complete self-management, there are various other gradations of coaching, each with a different target demographic. Applied to your current client base, you’d probably see it as a pyramid: the higher the level of personal attention, the higher the costs for both club and client, and the fewer people willing or able to afford the service.
Self-management: At the very bottom of the pyramid, there’s the self-management approach. Present mobile app technology now allows you to give your clients access to default workout plans and tools for progress tracking through your gym app, completely automated at minimal extra costs. Some providers even offer all-digital upsell opportunities to this group. Personal guidance is minimal to zero, aside from perhaps an initial tour through the gym and its equipment.
Collective Coaching: A step up from the self-management approach is collective coaching. The use of mobile apps and optional wearables now allow clubs to coach a large number of clients simultaneously. Trainers can distribute workouts, nutrition plans, recipes, motivational messages, challenges and so on with a single click. While collective coaching won’t allow you to tailor to every single need of your clients, it does allow you to provide a level of personal attention to many at minimal cost. Personal feedback can be offered in various tiers (think weekly, monthly or quarterly) allowing for affordable coaching for all and an interesting source of additional revenue. On top of that, blended coaching models (coaching in combination with self-management using an app) can also boost member retention.
Expand Your Offering: My advice would be to not choose between these forms of coaching, but rather to expand your offering. A great example is training companies that expand their services with lifestyle coaching, combining a personal intake and follow-ups with self-management. The same can be done by clubs, which often have thousands of existing clients they can cater services to. By diversifying your offer, you can not only increase your retention and revenue from clients, but also appeal to new demographics. You can even use online coaching tools to keep a line open with ex-clients. Even if they choose not to use your gym services in your club, you can still earn revenue and more easily draw them back in when they’re ready.
Hugo Braam is a technology evangelist in the fitness industry and co-founder of virtuagym.com, a provider of innovative software and mobile apps for clubs and trainers. Email him at email@example.com.