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Recap: The Revival & Evolution of Personal Training

personal training

On August 5, REX Roundtables and Club Solutions Magazine presented the 18th installment of a weekly virtual roundtable series aimed at helping clubs navigate through the COVID-19 crisis.

Panelists included Mary Edwards, M.S., the fitness director and professional fitness trainer at Cooper Fitness Center; Cecil Hightower, a partner at Villa 59 Partners Fitness Consulting; Luke Carlson, the founder and CEO of Discover Strength; Bill McBride, the co-founder, president and CEO of Active Wellness; and Blair McHaney, the CEO of MXM and owner of WORX health clubs. The discussion was led and moderated by Brent Darden, the founder of Brent Darden Consulting and chair of REX Roundtables.

Following is a summary of top takeaways from the discussion, centered on adding value through virtual personal training:


  • Both trainers and members have been dealing with fear about COVID-19 and wanting to stay safe.
  • Allowing personal trainers to train clients at home can help clubs maintain a strong trainer-client relationship. It’s important to meet people where they’re at, where they’re comfortable. If members aren’t comfortable meeting in-person, encourage them to participate in one-on-one virtual training.
  • It can take time to build up to a high percentage of members participating in virtual training instead of coming to the club in-person.
  • Outdoor training is a viable option for keeping members engaged, provided you have adequate space, and depending on state limitations on how you’re able to reopen. 
  • What does the viability of a long-term virtual training client look like? Maintaining personal relationships is the key to sustaining virtual training success.
  • You can’t force anything right now — our job in the industry is to serve members, however that looks. Focus on relationships and what your members need.
  • Ensure you’re adding value to training sessions, even if they’re virtual. For example, try recording each training session, then sending that recording back to the client with notes on things to work on.
  • The fitness industry doesn’t just sell access to a facility — it sells access to an expert. In-person or in a virtual setting, trainers deliver their expertise, maintain relationships and help members meet their goals.
  • It’s important to emphasize the importance of your trainers to your organization. Make them feel valued.
  • Make a point to reach out to members and stress their importance to your organization — recognize and reward their loyalty. Let them know you want them back with you.
  • Don’t forget the basics of running a successful training program in the midst of all the innovation and evolving technology in the industry.
  • In-person personal training between the five clubs represented ranged from $55 to $250 per session; virtual personal training ranged from $25 to $250. Reducing the rate for virtual and keeping the rate the same — by establishing the same value as in-person training — are both viable options for personal training departments. Create the best packaging that benefits your club and still delivers great value for members.
  • Recommended programs for virtual workouts: Google Hangouts, FaceTime, Zoom, Trainerize, Myzone, PTontheNet, Virtuagym, and the IDEA Health & Fitness Association.
  • Trainers should have a larger screen during sessions — it allows them to see clients better and give suggestions.
  • Incorporate wearables into workouts to further get members engaged.
  • Nurture your list of current clients to grow virtual personal training participation in the coming months — engage with members through contact, sending gifts, etc.
  • Some members might not understand how virtual personal training works, so it’s a good idea to create videos that conceptualize for members what virtual training will look like.

To access the on-demand version of this webinar, click here

UPCOMING: Don’t miss the 19th installment of our virtual roundtable series, “Successful Strategies for Shaping Your Future: Overcoming Negative Media Misconceptions” on Wednesday, August 12 at 2 p.m. EST. Limited seats are available. Click here to reserve your spot.

Bobby Dyer

Bobby is the former assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine.

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