We are Killing Our Own Business
There are many people out there who want to work out and who want to work with a fitness professional, but we have slowly built walls in this industry that deny access to many of the people who seek us out. We claim to be open to everyone but the reality is that very few can benefit from the talent and knowledge we have in this industry.
We have inadvertently created in this business the mindset that fitness instruction/leadership is only for the rich and famous. If you can’t afford the luxury of paying for one on one training, then you are mostly relegated to do it yourself fitness. The big issue here is that one on one is a product designed for a very tiny demographic in most markets and the very nature of the product itself is a limiter to the money you can generate each month from training.
While there are great books out there to help the average do it yourselfer, such as Alwyn Cosgrove’s New Rules of Lifting series, most people who struggle with fitness just aren’t even up to the task of reading those books and figuring out where to start. If you haven’t worked out with a fitness professional at some point in your life, and don’t understand even the basic concept of fitness, then even the most basic fitness book is mostly beyond your capacity to grasp and apply to change your life.
Keep in mind that instruction and leadership is far different from mere access to fitness equipment. Most box players offer access for as low as $9 per month to their clubs, but this isn’t fitness, this is nothing more than access to fitness equipment. The assumption is that the club will offer a clean and safe environment where the average consumer can rent a treadmill or go around on a 40-year-old circuit and find fitness on his own. The difference is that these players are in the equipment rental business while most of us want to be in the coaching/information business.
If you don’t know what to do, you do what you know, which for most women is walk on a tread for an hour at 2.5 miles per hour holding on to the rails or if you are a guy you bench and curl and then walk on the tread at the end. Failure is guaranteed and after six weeks or so of getting nowhere we lose one more person who might have been saved if he or she could have spent even one hour with a fit pro who could have guided the person into a safe and effective program that might have gotten results.
Blaming who has killed training leadership is easy…we are all responsible. The box owners have limited education and leadership to about five percent of the client base who can afford one on one training, leaving the other 95 percent at the mercy of the antiquated group instructors or to the latest workout in Men’s Health.
Trainers have killed access by making the product so elite that only the privileged few can afford it. Packages are expensive and have to be paid for all at once. One on one is boring and only appeals to a specific and very limited demographic who like the personal pampering and attention. This personalized approach is not a one size fits all ideology and eliminates anybody who likes the dynamic of the group.
Here are five things you can do now to open up your training gym or box to attract a wider variety of clients:
- Drop packages and sessions and move toward 12-month EFT options based upon weekly payments. Most people in the real world only get paid once a week or twice a month. Yes, your rich clients don’t give a damn and put everything on their Platinum cards, but the 24-40 person who likes group, is a new manager or tech person, and who might be starting a family can’t, and won’t, do training because the he gets paid once a month and the number it takes to train is simply too big. There is no, none, nada downside to weekly payments and no risk whatsoever to a club or trainer who grasps this simple point: the easier it is to pay, the wider range of clients you attract.
- Add layers of services and let the clients share the cost of the trainer. Most training programs are limited to one client and one product-the one on one concept. You should NEVER discount for multiple sessions or packages. Don’t mess with the price; change the amount of the people who take training and share the cost of the trainer. For example:
·1/1 training: $899 a month for 12 months ($207 a week) for unlimited training. This is the elite, traditional one on one clientele. This should also be priced to include all supplements, powders, water or whatever else you offer in the way of services.
·1/1 training limited (5 times per month) for 12 months at $349 a month ($80 a week). This allows the client to work five times per month with a coach but he or she can also go to other group offerings on their off days.
·Small group training limited to a max of four people per group offered at $219 a month ($50 per week). This is for a different clientele than you regularly attract in most gyms of any type. This is the person willing to spend a little more money for intense coaching, but who loves group things and who also wants to share the cost of the trainer. You do not get this person in traditional one on one training.
·Small group limited to five visits per month at $169 per month or $39 per month. This person also has access to the large group offerings on the other days.
·Large group training offered 8-12 times a week, , limited to 15 clients per pile and is structured and crazy with music offered at $129 per month ($30 per week). This is the boot camp crowd but inside and who attend 2-3 times per week. This is also a group that the traditional “pay it all at once” philosophy eliminates. This is a younger group who loves the group ass kicking, loud music and competition. These are good clients who will support your program but who can’t pay for it all at once. This does not make them bad people, just people who don’t only Mercedes and they are definitely not your rich housewife, pampered, one on one, let’s talk about your trip to Rome client.
- Offer a trial period where potential members can try training, mostly in groups, for 30 days. To know you is to love you, but you restrict that period too severely by only offering a one or two visit trial. Four workouts for $99 does not work ever.
- You have to educate the client. A smarter client will stay longer and pay longer. Most trainers try to keep their client stupid thinking that the less I teach him the more he will need me. This actually works the other way. The less the client learns from you, the less he thinks you know. Teach all your clients, and in groups, the basics of fitness. For example, get them all together on a Saturday and do a special kettle bell clinic for them either free or cheap. You have to become the source of all knowledge, not just someone who takes them through a workout that no one understands.
- Be willing to let the time sucking clients go. Every training programs have those 3-4 clients who could suck the life out of a rock concert. They are miserable, needy and take up too many sessions a week. Get rid of them and replace them with groups where you can touch more people for a higher return per hour and start attracting a wider variety of younger clients willing to embrace newer products offered with weekly payments.
We live in a changing industry and many of the old rules just don’t apply today when you try and build a training component in your business. Look at what you are doing and eliminate any barriers that restrict the number or range of clients you attract.
Thomas Plummer has been working in the fitness industry for over 30 years. He is the founder of the Thomas Plummer Company, as well as the National Fitness Business Alliance (NFBA), a group of industry vendors and suppliers who have banded together to provide education and tradeshows to the independent club owner. Currently, the NFBA offers over 20 seminars a year across the country.
Plummer is in front of more than 5,000 people a year, through numerous speaking engagements as a keynote speaker and event host, and he also gives lectures and workshops world wide. He has authored six books on the business of fitness, which have remained the bestselling books in the industry for over 12 years, and several of the books are currently used as textbooks in numerous college programs.
Due to over 70,000 people who have attended his workshops during the past decade and beyond, coupled with the continuing popularity of his books, many industry experts feel that Plummer is the most influential person working in the fitness industry today. He has dedicated his life to helping the young fitness professional in this industry become financially successful doing what they love. During his 30 year trek, he has shown thousands of people how to make money ethically while still creating their own lives in fitness.
He created Thomas Plummer and Associates in 1991, and started a small, limited tour with industry sponsorship. In 2003, he reformed the company and moved it to Cape Cod, MA. The NFBA, which was founded in 2004, is currently the largest provider of education for the independent club owner in the world.
Plummer attended Western Illinois University and the attended graduate school at the University of Arkansas. He started working in the martial arts (Taekwondo) in 1976, He worked as a ski instructor in Colorado for 10 years, raced bicycles in the 1970’s, reached a third-degree black belt in the 1980’s, and loves music, books and the water. He currently lives on Cape Cod with his family, travels extensively, and is presently working on his next book project!
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Awesome article 🙂