It’s without a doubt that the world of online training is becoming more and more popular and it’s having a considerable impact on fitness professionals worldwide. Have you noticed the effect?

It offers an incredible opportunity but understandably, some are afraid that online training programs will ‘steal’ their job right from under them, if they don’t adapt to the online market.

In this post I want to take a look at online training;

What it means to you as a fitness professional, how to protect yourself from losing clients to online fitness training and how to adapt to the changing environment.

Can online fitness programs really ‘steal’ your job?

There are so many valuable aspects of physical training that no fitness website or motivational quote can rival. It’s easy to switch off a mobile device right? It’s not so easy to switch off the impassioned voice of a tenacious trainer, pushing you to go the extra mile. Even though a high quality online program can be delivered easily through email or through an online membership program, there is certainly no guarantee that users will complete the program. There’s no one to make sure you actually show up at the gym and there is no one there to push you through a tough workout.

An online trainer cannot detect or correct technique as people exercise. This can make a big difference to the efficiency of the way you workout and it can make it really dangerous and leave you susceptible to injury.

Plus, it’s really hard to truly track the progress of someone purely through online training. As a fitness professional, you’re trained how to perform fitness tests and track things accurately and when someone is reliant on online guidance for tracking these results themselves, they may not be all that accurate.

So, I’m definitely you’re number one fan. I am a true advocate of face to face training and the fact that there are a lot of things that online trainers can never provide. In saying that – there was always going to be a BUT coming along.

The fact of the matter is, we need to look at what people want, if you want to stay ahead of your competitors. Here in Australia we’ve seen how programs like Michelle Bridges 12WBT have taken off and a lot of people are jumping on board with online training programs.

We both know how important face to face training can be, but the evidence suggests that people are moving towards online training more and more, so we can either run from it or we can embrace it. The truth is, online training can work and people can definitely get results from it, however it’s not always the best choice for everyone (for all the aforementioned reasons).

A lot of the top trainers are not losing out to online markets though because they are infiltrating it. They are molding a comprehensive fitness business model that incorporates the best of both worlds.

So, now that we’ve both decided you’re going to embrace it ;), I want to explore how you can start to implement some online aspects into your training program in conjunction with face to face training.

I’ve always promised you that I’ve got your back and I want to give you as much help as I can, to help you help more people so I want to help you tackle this issue (online marketing and online systems is what we do best).

How can online training help your clients get better results?

While intimate fitness sessions provide clients with the focus and motivation they need to fulfill their goals for that one hour, your voice of encouragement and support grows quieter and quieter as the day stretches on. Ask yourself, what support are you offering clients between sessions? There’s nothing more disheartening for a trainer than seeing their dedication fall on deaf (or lazy) ears. But remember that you are not the only one disappointed. The client will undoubtedly be disappointed in themselves as well. The fact is that some people need more motivation than others to keep their eye on the prize. And what’s more, those people are often aware of their own weakness in this department. They will therefore seek out avenues that recognise and address their problem, rather than invest in a program that doesn’t acknowledge it. So make sure you’re thinking about how you can add this into your program. People may want extra motivation and ongoing support or they may want extra training videos so they can keep motivated when they’re not directly training with you.

I’ll go over this a little bit more in a moment, but the people that can recognise issues like this and implement solutions will be the ones who end up attracting and retaining a heck of a lot more clients.

Why is online training so popular?

One of the key reasons online training is so popular is because of its affordability, and the fact that it provides freedom to workout whenever and wherever they like, by being able to complete a workout from a mobile device rather than being restricted by studio opening times or trainers availabilities.

It’s without a doubt that fitness professional are worth their weight in gold and shouldn’t ever have to compete on price. You have such an incredible impact on people’s lives and are able to help people become healthier, get fitter and feel more confident, you deserve every dollar you make. There’s no doubt about it. The problem is, that popular trainers with expert status are now creating online monthly training plans for the same cost as an hour of training with you, so consumers often think they’re getting a lot more value for their money by investing in online training.

Let’s be realistic, when people can spend $200 on a 12 week program that provides daily workout videos, dietary guidelines, hundreds of recipes and motivational videos, as opposed to $2000 on a trainer who provides 2 or 3 workouts a week for 12 weeks and doesn’t give too much guidance on nutrition, can we really blame consumers for taking the less expensive option? It’s possibly not the best option, but if they’re able to get results by spending $200 and they’ve got a limited budget, then that’s what they’re going to choose 9 times out of 10. (Remember that as a fitness professional we know it might not be the best option, but to a consumer, it might be the best value for money in their eyes).

How to adapt to a changing environment

So, how can you tackle this one? This isn’t an easy one to address but the truth of the matter is, it’s not really about the money, it’s all about the perceived value. Many trainers are reluctant to have much contact outside of their one-to-one sessions, but it’s clear those that do and provide added value to their clients, are the ones who aren’t losing clients to online training programs. 

Let’s take a look at how you can combine the best of both worlds to help you to be competitive, attract and retain more clients and leverage the power of online platforms in your business.

Online training programs often create videos about mindset and motivation, nutrition and have videos demonstrating exercises users can do, so think about doing this too.

Think about creating your own videos or writing motivational posts and emails that you can send to your clients every few days. Think about creating video demonstrations of exercises and workouts with clients. Perhaps work with other industry professionals and interview a local nutritionist or sports physiotherapist and provide people with dietary guidelines and tips to ensure they keep their body in peak condition. There’s no doubt, putting this content together will be time consuming, but if it was easy, everyone would be doing it right? If you don’t feel like you’ve got the time to do it, then checkout my video “How to work less and get more done to build your fitness business”  – that will help!

The next thing I want you to do is to consider putting the content you create online. A lot of fitness professionals create handouts and recipe books for their clients, but think about also putting these online and creating a membership area for your clients. It not only adds to the professionalism of your business but the truth is, people often get these pieces of paper once and never look at them again. Either they lose them or they make decisions about food when they don’t have your little booklet in front of them. If you created a members portal where people could access all of your information in one place, you’d find they’d use it a heck of a lot more and it will provide a lot of added value that other fitness professionals aren’t providing to their clients.

If you decide you want to start creating videos then make sure you checkout my video where I outline “How to create great videos for your clients” – which goes over what kind of equipment to use, how to structure your videos and how to overcome fear of getting in front of a camera, it’s got heaps of great stuff in that video.

Remember, you create this content once and you can use it again and again for future clients and you can also consider charging for access to this content down the track. So, now you have a service that offers more value than online training programs and allows you to adapt to a changing environment and set yourself apart. Although it might take time, it’s definitely worth the effort and creates a massive selling point that can not only help you get more clients but it can help them get better results – which in turn helps you get more clients. It’s an awesome snowball effect. If you need help with getting your content online or creating a membership area then get in touch now and we can help!

Competing in business and in the fitness space has changed significantly since the advent of the internet. And this time-it’s personal. Literally, people want a more personal connection to the products and services they spend their hard-earned money on.

Incorporating online training into your business strategy is not a means of providing clients with information without having to deal with them in person. On the contrary, it’s a way of letting potential and existing clients get to know you better. With our digital world as socially connected as it is, people can learn a heck of a lot about you before they even make first contact. This generates not just new clients, but long-term clients. People like to work with someone they know, like and trust. If you focus on building a community online, business will naturally follow.

Action Steps from this article…

1. There are so many valuable aspects of physical training that no fitness website and online training program can rival. The key to staying competitive is to incorporate the best of both worlds. Continue to provide great in-person training with your clients, and begin to provide added value by providing extra information online.

Action Step Number 1: As a fitness professional you’ve done the training and you’re a bundle of knowledge. Start to get this knowledge down on paper. Start writing a training program for people at different stages. Beginners, intermediates, advanced. Get it out of your head and onto paper and then have a think about how you can turn these into extra workouts for your clients. Have a think about whether you can start to record these extra exercises, and put them online. Ideally you want to add them to your website, alternatively you can simply put them as a private video on youtube. The point here is to get started. Set aside some time this week and get it done.

Action Step Number 2: Start providing added value and ongoing support by allowing your clients to contact you via email or through your website and perhaps provide them with dietary guidelines and the ability to have a weekly food journal assessed. Once you start to provide this added value and you create a system for it, then you can provide this extra service at an added cost. The point here is to start providing some personal attention to ensure your clients meet their goals and so you’re providing the added value that people find online with online training programs.

Action Step Number 3: Ensure you have somewhere online where you can begin to put all of your content online. We recommend to all of our clients to use WordPress to build their website and either Optimizepress 2.0 or Wishlist member plugin to build your online membership area. At some stage in your career or in your business development, you will need to make sure you have a strong website and a place where you can provide added value by having an online aspect to your business. If you need any help with setting up a website or a membership area, feel free to get in touch and we can help.

So that wraps up todays post about the changing marketplace. I’d love to know how you feel about it. How is it affecting you? Will you start to embrace the opportunities of online training programs? Are you already doing it? I’d love to know what you think, so leave a comment below.