The pathway beyond group exercise instruction and personal training is not exactly clear cut. Fitness professionals realize early on that adding classes and clients to their already jam-packed, hectic schedules may not be the best use of their time. However, figuring out a way to increase stability and cash flow is challenging. Since most fitness professionals end up working for several facilities simultaneously and/or fend for themselves as independent entrepreneurs, finding a mentor can be tough.
As the health and wellness industry has developed, so has the understanding of what constitutes fitness “product” in the minds of consumers and facility operators alike. Nowadays, a company’s product is more than a tangible “thing.” It includes every aspect of fitness: personal training, group exercise, kids’ training, the facility, staff training and development, studio-based classes, floor layout and, above all, member experience.
When Nick Locascio, club manager of The Leading Edge in Greenfield, Massachusetts, hired someone for his front desk, he had no idea how much she would cost him—emotionally and financially.
“Instead of greeting and interacting with our customers, she spent her time on Facebook, texting and chatting with friends,” he says. “At one point, I caught her watching a movie on her laptop [while] wearing earphones.”
Many personal trainers are promoted to manager or director solely on the basis of their success as a trainer and not necessarily because of their management skills. Now it’s your turn: You are the new personal training manager. You’re finding out how different being the manager is from working with clients on the floor.
Regardless of how big or small your role is as group fitness manager (GFM), your success depends primarily on how effectively you communicate with a diverse audience. Each employee has a need to hear you, understand your message, store the information and act on it. Keeping employees informed can eat up a lot of time and may prevent you from getting to initiatives that could grow the business.
You stock your training tool kit with uber-adaptable equipment for every fitness level: a TRX, a stability ball, maybe some tubing or a yoga mat. Since you can never be completely certain what your fitness client will need on any given day, your go-to gear adapts to any training trial. But what about the tools you use to gain new training customers--do you have a stash of stand-by sales phrases that adapt to diverse personalities equally well?
The 2010 IDEA Personal Training Programs & Equipment Survey found that approximately 75% of respondents ask clients to pay for individual sessions/classes or packages of sessions/classes. Some fitness professionals suggest this business model should become a thing of the past. “When you sell ‘packages’ of sessions, you’re chasing money and not building projectable income for yourself,” warns Troy Fontana, CEO of Freedom Fitness Unlimited in Sparks, Nevada. “The only security you have is the six, 12 or 20 sessions your client just purchased.
Most personal trainers recognize the impact that social media investments can have on their business. By actively improving your online presence with blogs, Facebook pages, YouTube videos and/or Twitter updates, you can increase your opportunities to enhance client-trainer relationships, multiply promotional efforts and gain authority on a topic (Alsac 2010). But this article is not about creating a social media strategy. It is about course-correcting the one you already have—to ensure that you are being portrayed in a positive light.
In this article series we have covered a wealth of information to help you create and maintain a business edge so that you stand out from other trainers, coaches and fitness centers. I have enjoyed thinking through the elements that I believe have given my personal training and coaching business, Cross Coaching & Wellness, a business edge in my local community and in the fitness and wellness professional world as a whole. Writing these articles has also motivated me to stay on track with my own advice while I am sharing it with you.