Last week, in a landmark move for the fitness industry, IDEA Health & Fitness Association launched IDEA FitnessConnect, the largest national online directory of fitness professionals that is open to the public—and the only one where profiles are verified by nationally recognized certifying agencies. The new, interactive segment of www.ideafit.com was unveiled to 5,000 attendees at the IDEA World Fitness Convention in Los Angeles August 5.
A Valuable Tool for Consumers
“We know consumers understand the importance of exercise, but finding a qualified fitness professional is a huge challenge for them,” says Peter Davis, chief executive officer (CEO) of IDEA. Without a standard set of guidelines to consider, a consumer search for a personal trainer may yield insufficient or outdated information. Through IDEA FitnessConnect, consumers can search for a professional using various criteria and be confident they have found a suitable and certified fitness expert.
Currently, 14 certification agencies have agreed to participate in IDEA FitnessConnect by verifying the certification status of professionals listed in the directory. For instance, a personal trainer who lists himself as certified will have the word "verified" next to his credentials only when the certification agency has confirmed this information against its database; until then, the status will appear as "pending." If a certification proves to be inauthentic, the credentials will be listed as "not verified." If it has expired, the credentials will say "expired" with the expiration date. In cases where the certification agency has not partnered with IDEA to provide verification, the status will appear as "unknown."
“We feel this unifying step strengthens our industry’s credibility as a whole, which helps raise the profile of all fitness professionals and ensure safe, reliable fitness instruction across the industry,” says Scott Goudeseune, president and CEO of the American Council on Exercise (ACE).
A Valuable Tool for Fitness Professionals
IDEA FitnessConnect also serves as a business platform for fitness professionals and health clubs. Equipped with its powerful marketing tools, fitness pros and managers will be able to spend fewer resources on promotion and more energy inspiring clients. “[Fitness professionals] have told us [that their] biggest challenges are finding ways to make more money, recruit new clients and do so without having to spend all their time marketing or selling,” says Davis.
More Time for Clients. The business tools included in IDEA FitnessConnect are designed to help fitness pros become less overwhelmed with operational tasks and more focused on fostering relationships with colleagues, clients and prospects in order to provide the highest quality of service to their clients.
Networking Opportunities. With IDEA FitnessConnect’s extensive directory, fitness professionals will be able to increase their networking opportunities and create working alliances with complementing health professionals.
E-Newsletter Tool. IDEA FitnessConnect’s e-newsletter tool (called Client Newsletter) is designed to inform current (and prospective) clients of the latest fitness news and upcoming events. It merges consumer/client-focused articles from the IDEA Library with a fitness professional’s specific profile information and mailing list to create and distribute a customized newsletter.
An Indispensable Tool for You!
Any fitness professional can sign up and create a profile in the IDEA FitnessConnect directory because all the tools and features are absolutely free!
Setting Up Your IDEA FitnessConnect Profile. It is to your advantage to set up a profile in the IDEA FitnessConnect directory. Whether or not you use all its features, it at least ensures you one more point of contact for potential clients.
If you are already an IDEA member or an ACE-certified professional, the framework of your profile is already listed in the directory. Go to www.ideafit.com/fitnessconnect/login and log in with a current username and password. If you are not listed in the directory, no problem! This platform is free to use by any fitness professional. You can create a new profile by clicking on the blue “Get Listed” button on the IDEA FitnessConnect home page. If you would like to remove your public profile, simply log in, click the privacy setting link and follow the instructions.
Once you have claimed or created your account, the four steps below will ensure your profile stands out in search results within your ZIP code.
1. Follow “Completion Tips” for Your Profile
IDEA FitnessConnect provides tips on how to improve your profile’s rank (tips will be in the upper righthand corner of your profile page.) If you are serious about finding prospective clients, include a lot of details in your profile. Start by listing certifications, profession and locations. Listing your certifications will initiate the verification process. Depending on the certifying organization, it may take a few seconds or a few weeks before the credentials are verified. Until that happens, their status will appear as “pending” (see above).
2. Add Unique Identifiers
Profiles with distinguishing characteristics are likely to get more views than those that offer only minimum credentials or a short bio. Upload your profile and exercise videos, write about your client success stories, and add content that gives insight to your training philosophy and session experience. For consumers, choosing a trainer is as much about finding a complementing personality as it is about making sure the trainer is qualified.
3. Sync Your Social Media Efforts
If you blog, use Twitter or manage a Facebook page, sync these social media efforts with your IDEA FitnessConnect profile. Cross-promotion helps your online marketing but also shows that you maintain an active presence on the Web. When clients or colleagues see that your last “tweet” was posted minutes ago or that you were blogging yesterday, they are more inclined to contact you over someone whose profile has been static for the last 3 months.
4. Promote Upcoming Events and Classes
Whether you are starting a new boot camp series or teaching a step class, add all events and classes into your profile. This shows variety in your services and keeps your profile active in searches filtered by “event.”
100,000 and Growing
At its August launch, there were more than 100,000 profiles of personal trainers, specialty instructors and sport coaches, 25,000 clubs and 15,000 classes in the system. Over the next few years IDEA FitnessConnect will continue to grow as a directory and evolve as a product.
To learn more about the benefits of IDEA FitnessConnect, check out this video.