5 Step Plan to Becoming a Successful Personal Trainer During a Pandemic
Note: PT = Personal trainer - You'll see me say that a lot in this.
Pushed by the pandemic?
Gyms are open...oh no, wait, gyms are closed. Wait, no, they're open! Closed, open, closed - it's hard to keep up, it’s actually exhausting. The moment you find yourself getting into a routine at the gym or doing home workouts, is the exact moment when everything changes. It's not just me who's finding it tough staying motivated to keep healthy during this pandemic, is it?
Don't get me wrong, when lockdown started, it was amazing! We were all adapting well and Joe Wicks was on our TV screens giving many parents the much needed break, as the kids were busy with his free online PE classes. He even tried looking after our grandparents by giving them something to do with 'exercises for the elderly'. Alright, it was funny to see, but it was also heart-warming.
(Don’t worry, I'll get to the plan in a minute, just trying to sell a story here - jheeze).
We had Instagram fitness influencers like Ciara London, Woz & Courtney Black providing online sessions for free, using their platforms to aid in keeping morale high, as well as providing free premium memberships for all NHS workers to thank them for their hard work, doing a bit more than just clapping for our carers! For our personal trainers who served their clients best in the gym however, it was hard. Without the gym there’s no way for them to support their clients, right?
Well that may have been right... about 10 years ago, but now we're able to have our own personal trainers right in our pocket, tracking our progress and motivating us. Online personal training apps like My PT Hub and LENUS have been helping those looking to live a healthier lifestyle by enabling them stay in direct contact with their PT’s. They get their own personal workout plans with video instructions updated for them regularly. Being able to post progress pictures and weight measurements for your PT to help tailor your plan towards your needs, as well as a direct messaging channel to settle any questions or issues you may have to help push you. Some of us need that push of someone watching over us.
The beauty of it is that it can cost less than a fraction of what you'd pay for a 1-1 session with a personal trainer in a gym, and from my own experience, you could get A LOT more out of it! So, it’s great for the clients, now what are the benefits for you, as the PT? First up, you have the ability to take on an unlimited number of clients, or at least as many as you can handle. You’re also able to provide clients with the tools, your knowledge of nutrition and physical exercise by providing them a specified channel for contact. You have the ability to not only help a lot of clients, but to attract many more!
Although, yes, we are currently in a pandemic, this doesn’t mean that you’re not going to be successful by going virtual after the pandemic is over. Consumer behaviour suggests that people will be keen to keep up more virtual / remote behaviours post COVID. We are constantly hearing about ‘the new normal’. So believe it or not but this is going to be the new normal, it basically is already.
So, whether you’re new to personal training or are looking to maintain and build upon your existing user base - here’s a 5 step plan of action to become a successful personal trainer during, and after this pandemic (we’re finally there - phew).
Step 1: Go Virtual
So first thing's first, go virtual! I've said it before but I will say it again. GO VIRTUAL. That's the last time I'll say it. The sooner you create an online platform to gain access to your clients, the better.
A great little app, well not so little anymore, called My PT Hub has gained massive momentum over the last few years catering to over 80,000 PT's and over 2.2 million clients. Why the sudden surge in demand? Because going virtual is becoming an absolute necessity for personal trainers.
So how do platforms like these work? You have your own access and domain to the app, allowing you to add clients and make tailored nutrition plans with all the micros and macros and other tricky stats. Sweet, right?
On top of that you can create bespoke, daily workout plans with explainer videos for your clients standing at home trying to work out how to do a burpee or perfect their form. Isn't that a massive time saver?
Just in case that's not enough, they host a direct channel to chat to customers, so you don’t have to juggle WhatsApp and text messages with your clients, friends and family any longer. Clients can upload their progress pictures each week so you can see what's working and what's not before adjusting their plans accordingly. It's a no brainer.
The attention you can give to clients is unmatched, and the beauty of going virtual is you can take on way more clients. Prices are normally more affordable for clients who wouldn't usually book a PT as they feel they're getting more value for money.
Step 2: Use Professional Photography
Alright, so this one is just as important. Let me try to explain why…
You’re decorating a cake (bad example for a fitness related blog perhaps), and I’m not just talking about any cake, I’m talking about a triple tiered, red velvet cake. You know one with the thick buttercream icing on the top? Sprinkling on the chocolate flakes like you’re Salt Bae. You’ve become a professional baker during lockdown because, well apparently we all have as there's been nothing else to do. It looks amazing, you’ve put it under the perfect lighting, captured photos of it in loads of different angles and posted the best ones on your social media. The messages come flooding in “OMG, I’ll literally pay you to bake me one of these!!”. You’re feeling chuffed. Okay, you’ve got your pictures and it’s okay to finally have a slice, you cannot wait. Then finally you try that first, big cream piece of cake and...
It tastes terrible :(
A great picture might be deceiving, but a bad picture would never convince anyone to buy what you’re selling...
It's the same thing with using professional photography for your own personal brand. You're more than a PT, this is your business. You're not just selling your knowledge, you're selling yourself, your mentorship, and guidance. Capture yourself in the most positive light, the work you've put in from those long sessions at the gym. Get professional photos taken of yourself as motivation for your clients, give them drive by letting them see you gyming, eating and living. No one wants to see you use your iPhone camera in the mirror with the flash blocking half the frame.
So you’ve got some great photos, now how do you use them? This leads us onto step 3...
Step 3: Market yourself
Alright so, you've got your online profile and your professional photos. Now let's try to get some clients on board. There's loads of ways to do this but now, more than ever, social media is our best friend, so let's start by making that your most useful tool. What is the most image based platform out there? Hmmm...I wonder.
Yep, of course - INSTAGRAM. Post, post, post. It's all well and good being social and offering your services to your friends to use, but the toughest thing to learn is that unfortunately your friends cannot be your only customers. You need to reach new clients more organically.
Keep your profile public so it's visible for everyone, change your profile picture to one of you working out and start telling your followers about your training plan, your weekly/monthly/yearly prices and what you're offering them.
A marketing idea you can do to entice members...
10 week transformation plan
Offer a discount price for 10 people on a 10 week discount plan to grab attention, but make sure they're serious clients. Create an incentive such as £250 to the best transformation. Encourage them to share photos and tag you in them for more support.
Then caption underneath the photo with further details for example, "Tailored nutrition plan, 24 hour support, direct messaging channel, weekly check ins, tailored workouts based on your fitness goals" to show how much you're offering.
Step 4: Show results
This part is pretty self explanatory, but they say the proof is in the pudding - unless you're on a strict diet plan assigned to you by your personal trainer. Then the proof is in the salad? Porridge? Whatever...
You've shown results of yourself and you're posting it. Perfect. You've shown that you're leading by example before you start coaching someone else. What about the people you've already trained and helped? Use them too! Obviously, ask permission first but if you've helped them enough, more often than not they will say yes. Using before and after pictures allows your clients to see results when the scales tell them otherwise. This will help them motivate themselves.
This is why it's necessary for your clients to take before and after pictures of themselves. It reminds you of what you've helped them accomplish, reminds them of what they've accomplished and shows everyone else what they can accomplish if they choose you to be their PT.
Step 5: Build a community
Gone virtual? Good. Got pics? Good. Shown results? Good. Meat? Gooooood (sorry, random Friends quote).
You've done all the above, but I think people really undervalue the effect that building a community can have. Realising you're more than just a consumer-based service is important. You're changing people's way of life, and the best way for them to maintain this lifestyle is to be in a supportive and collaborative environment.
Giving a place for your clients to help and push each other to achieve similar goals can help keep them motivated. This could be a Facebook group, a WhatsApp group or even a slack channel. A space to encourage better friendships and open conversations makes people much more likely to build brand loyalty. This leads to marketing through another very powerful tool - word of mouth. People vouching for you goes a long way. The larger your community grows, the more you can market this as a key asset to growing your brand. This could be another measure of growth for your business.
On a final note...
All of the above information will definitely help you on your journey to becoming a more successful personal trainer. But it’s important to note that all of your clients are going to have different goals, it is not a one size fits all. So make sure you don’t take on any more clients than you’re able to handle, you should truly tailor and provide excellent service to each person who puts their faith in your business. Provide support and be empathetic but most importantly help each and every one of your clients reach their goal.
Now go and kick COVID and help your clients smash their 2021 targets, you’ve got this!