Personal training and fitness is a $9 billion dollar industry, with an annual growth rate of 3.2 percent.
This is also an industry that is heavily affected by consumer trends—when disposable income was low after the financial crisis in 2008, the industry took a hit.
But now, rising obesity rates and a growing interest in customized workout and nutrition programs are fueling an uptick.
To better understand consumer impact on the personal training (PT) industry, we surveyed current PT clients about what they look for as they choose among trainers and their services.
Using the results of our consumer survey, we’ve identified four tips that will help your PT business grow.
Here are the four tips we’ll cover:
#1: Offer Online Personal Training
Personal training has historically been an in-person activity. Trainers oversee client workouts and offer in-person coaching and encouragement during a timed session.
Although this method can be successful, trainers essentially have to keep a revolving door of clients to make a living, often leading to scheduling conflicts or burnout.
Recent advances in technology have offered trainers and fitness instructors a solution to these problems in the form of online personal training.
Now, trainers are no longer limited by their geographic area or the number of hours in a day. Clients benefit as well, as they can maintain a fit lifestyle without having to keep up a gym membership.
Some trainers may feel that connecting with clients via software seems impersonal and that by doing so, they may jeopardize their business relationships with their clients. But this isn’t true.
In fact, according to data gathered from our consumer survey, 43 percent of PT clients say they prefer trainers use software. More so, they say that personal trainer software would impact their decision to choose that trainer’s services over another.
Case Study: How Personal Training Software Can Help You Grow Your Business
Martin Egwuagu, or Coach Nedu as his clients call him, is a Nike master trainer and certified strength and conditioning specialist. As an online personal trainer, Nedu connects with his clients using personal training software and has seen significant improvements not just in the number of clients he can maintain, but in his quality of life as well.
“One of the main differences in training someone with software as opposed to without software is that it’s scalable. I can work with more clients and also have a personal life.”
Coach Nedu, Nedu Fitness
To learn how personal training software has helped transform his business, check out our video interview for more details.
#2: Adopt Client-Facing Technology
We asked respondents about the technical capabilities they’d like access to within the tools their trainer uses. The results show that consumers want to be able to track their progress toward their goals as well as benefit from ease of service, i.e., easy booking and payments.
By giving clients access to a profile or dashboard where they can track their progress, they’ll be more inclined to set goals and work hard to meet them.
Some tools even connect with clients’ wearable devices and fitness trackers, which allow clients to collate all their health and fitness information on one dashboard.
Also, ensuring that booking and payment processing is as streamlined as possible will only improve your client’s experience. Look for tools that integrate with payment processors, e.g., Paypal, which allow you to accept credit card payments and/or ACH transfers.
Coach Nedu of Nedufitness says that his personal training software helps him hold his clients accountable for their at-home workouts. His client will receive a notification when they’re due for a workout, and Nedu gets notified when the client completes the workout.
For example, if it’s getting late in the day and his client hasn’t completed the workout yet, Nedu can send them a reminder or offer words of encouragement to help motivate them to continue their training.
With such a high consumer preference for trainers that use personal trainer software, look for applications that offer the following, top-rated client-facing capabilities:
- Client profile: Let clients set goals, view progress and track their overall performance.
- Online booking/payments: Allow clients to view your services, book and pay for sessions online.
- Automatic reminders: Ping clients when they’re due for a workout and help motivate them to meet their goals.
#3: Keep in Touch
We next asked respondents which qualities are most important to them in the trainer they hire. Even above certification, the most important factor when it comes to picking and sticking with a personal trainer is consistent communication.
Rather than counting on yourself to remember to touch base with clients, you can schedule recurring check-ins throughout the week or set up reminders for yourself to reach out to clients at a certain time of day.
Nedu says that he likes to send out personalized messages to clients before the weekend, helping to motivate them to stay on track to achieve their goals.
“I make sure that whatever their goal is, whether it’s to lose weight or get strong or if they’re having trouble avoiding a certain food, I’ll set a reminder for myself to send them a shout out,” says Nedu.
Consistent communication is the make-or-break factor when it comes to clients working with a personal trainer. Look for tools that allow you to automate text messages and set reminders for yourself to reach out to clients on a recurring basis.
#4: Market Your Services
Lastly, we asked respondents how they found the personal trainer they’re currently working with, and, by and large, they found them offline.
Nearly half say the trainer they work with partners with their gym, and over a third say they found their trainer via referral from a friend or family member.
Only 12 percent of consumers used the internet to search for a trainer. This shows that while customers are interested in online personal training services (see first section), trainers shouldn’t forgo traditional training and marketing methods altogether.
For the best of both worlds, consider offering a hybrid of both in-person and online training.
For example, train one day a week, in-person with a client, and then post the rest of their workouts online. Consider partnering with a gym or studio for the in-person sessions and ask to list your services on their website and in their newsletter to help boost your marketing efforts.
Also, don’t lose out on the large number of clients that find their trainer through friends or family. Let your clients know that you’re open to and accepting referrals and be sure to list your areas of expertise on business cards and your website.
Despite the growing trend of online personal training, most consumers still find trainers through their gym or through a referral from a friend or family member.
Take advantage of online databases where you can create a profile, list your services and show your availability and whether you’re taking on new clients; however, maintain a relationship with a gym or fitness studio to capitalize on their client base as well.
Conclusions and Next Steps
The results of this survey are clear:
If you’re not using personal training software to market yourself, connect with clients and track their fitness progress, you’re missing out on a significant opportunity.
Consider this: 43 percent of consumers actually prefer that their trainer use software, while an additional 51 percent have no preference. Meaning, trainers who offer online personal training can potentially reach 94 percent of prospective clients—the 51 percent just haven’t been converted yet.
To learn about the personal training tools available to you, head over to our buyer’s guide for more information. Once there, you can see a list of leading systems, filter by price or customer rating and read reviews left by real customers.
If you’re unsure which product would be the best fit for your personal training business, we have a team of software advisors who can help you evaluate your business needs and recommend a few systems to you. Give them a ring at (844) 687-6771 for a free consultation.