Dimensionalize Your Fitness Business
What’s on your horizon? Here’s how to use the process of “dimensionalizing” fitness for career success and growth, with real-world tips that have worked for your colleagues.
Navigating fitness career paths these days can be trickier than ever. Even with most fitness establishments now open, almost all facilities are following new frameworks of safety guidelines and best practices established during the pandemic. These adjustments continue to be a challenge—yet in challenge lies opportunity. The evolving fitness arena has never offered as many new dimensions to the open-minded group fitness instructor and personal fitness trainer. The key to seeing and seizing these new dimensions—or to dimensionalize your fitness business—lies in embracing a growth mindset.
Here are some creative ways fit pros like you have found new markets, revenue, purpose and passion through dimensionalizing their approach.
Lean Into Your Passion and Purpose to Dimensionalize Your Fitness Business
Online events, coupled with today’s in-person training, have morphed into hybrid offerings, bringing new ways to dimensionalize your fitness business and success for both group ex and personal training. (See “Dimensionalizing Your Class Calendar” below for creative tips from fit pros on making the most of what you’re already doing through tiered and hybrid memberships and virtual classes.) In addition to dimensionalizing the ways their “regular” classes are delivered, some fitness professionals are expanding their subject matter and audiences.
See also: Discover Your Purpose
Finding a Fitness Niche
Johanna Valencia, MS, works as the senior assistant director of fitness and wellness for Texas Tech University’s recreation department. She boosts her income by using her fitness competition history to mentor others interested in bikini and bodybuilding posing. In addition to teaching the mandatory poses, she also shows how to boost confidence with posing styles from three different fitness and bodybuilding organizations: The National Physique Committee, the Natural Fit Federation, and the Physical Culture Association. “Untapped career growth comes from finding a niche within fitness, then marketing to those in that niche who need your expertise,” she says.
Providing Themed Workshops
Janie Watkins, a yoga therapist, yoga teacher and Pilates trainer who works for Absolute Fitness, based in Gadsden, Alabama, started offering uniquely themed in-person workshops at the club where she holds regular yoga classes, thanks to a suggestion from a mentor. (See “Expanding Mentorship and Networking,” below, for ways to embrace mentorship.)
“While I love my regular classes,” she says, “I’m also able to teach on topics that I otherwise never get the chance to offer, such as pelvic floor therapy, yoga for arthritis, yoga to manage scoliosis and chakra-balancing yoga. I submitted a list of these special one-off events to my manager who agreed to all of them, at a rate of one per month. We call them Member Workshops, and they not only bring in additional revenue, but also allow me to dimensionalize my abilities as a teacher.”
Doing Community Outreach
Jennifer Howes is a fitness professional based in central California. She added community outreach to her dimension of fitness income by working with GT Independence, a program that helps people with disabilities self-direct their care and how they live their lives. “I not only provide fitness training; I also provide community outings such as kayaking, hiking, bowling, tennis, going to the movies, etc. If an activity requires the use of my fitness expertise, I’m at one pay rate. If we’re just going to a movie, I’m on a different pay rate.” As a bonus, clients pay for all her expenses on these excursions. Howes notes that this USA-based company is looking for more instructors to get involved. Learn more at gtindependence.com.
Partnering with Product Manufacturers
Petra Kolber is a positive psychology coach, podcast host and “digital nomad” (based wherever her laptop is), as well as author of The Perfection Detox (Da Capo Lifelong Books 2018) and the 2001 IDEA Instructor of the Year. Recently, she has partnered with a company to make a profit through clothing and community. Kolber says, “I’ve seen how important it is to create income that does not rely solely on trading time for dollars, [so I] help fit pros realize that there is no shame in creating both impact and income.” For fit pros looking to align with other brands in this way—to make “impact and income”—visit petrakolber.com/impactandincome.
Fyonna Vanderwerf, owner of the Hive Muskoka in Ontario, Canada, says, “I’ve started offering clients body scans which brings me additional, repeating revenue using the Styku™ body scans.” These 3D scans offer insights into measurements, body shape, composition and other metrics. “These scans also help my clients answer the question: ‘How do you know how far you’ve come if you don’t know where you started?’” she says (visit styku.com to learn more).
Seek Trades and Sponsorships to Dimensionalize Your Fitness Business
With new fitness dimensions come new responsibilities, too: Among them, staying certified and keeping up continuing education. Some fitness professionals have found support for this and other avenues of growth by approaching sponsors or organizations that set up trades.
Inviting Clients to Support Your Education
Teresa Estill, owner of Pilates by Teresa based in Campbell, California, says, “I was saddened to hear that so many of my fitness colleagues let their certifications expire during the pandemic. Keeping up with continuing education and renewals is [especially] important now: First, because it’s ethical and, second, certification brings me more credibility with my international virtual participants.” Estill says she was able to offset these education-related costs in a unique way. “My generous, faithful clients made me ‘love offerings’ toward my recertification fees, just because I told them that I had to renew my certifications to be able to continue to teach them,” she says.
Seeking Sponsorship From Local Businesses
Zoraida Sepúlveda, MBA, a corporate wellness consultant based in Puerto Rico, shares, “I used the idea of building community and went to the administration of my local shopping mall—Mayagüez Mall—and of the large healthcare provider, MCS, [and asked them] to sponsor my online classes in exchange for promotion like wearing their clothes and displaying their logos virtually.” Today, she is teaching in the mall rotunda, where many of her virtual students now join her in person. The stores have continued sponsoring her, and she has a camera set up to record and broadcast her classes. “This allows the rest of the world to pay and attend virtually. Because now I reach even those outside of my island, I’m doing business globally from my iPhone locally,” she says.
Trading Lessons for Luxuries
Patricia Kolberg, who works as a group fitness instructor based in Gresham, Oregon, added the concept of trading services to her fitness dimensions. “I reach out to all-inclusive high-end resorts and offer to trade my services as an instructor in exchange for a stay for myself and a guest,” she says. “Then, when I’m there working, I network to find opportunities for future trades at other locations.” Fit Bodies, Inc. (fitbodiesinc.com) is just one of the companies that helps connect fitness pros with destinations in the Caribbean, Central America and the Asia-Pacific region.
See also: How to Be a Better Adult Learner
Expand Your Mentorships and Networks
“Paying it forward” is no longer expected to always be a free service. The need for fitness mentors and consultants has risen to an all-time high with the huge influx of daily queries for ways to navigate the new reality—and charging for these services is now the norm. A mentor can save the mentee time, effort and money by fast-tracking their success, usually by helping the mentee make valuable career connections online.
Monetizing Your Brainpower
Noel Chelliah, owner of DailyMuscle, an independent gym based in Kuala Lumpur, says, “While I don’t exaggerate my fees, I do charge a fair price for an hourlong phone consult to help both gym owners and trainers alike think outside the pre-pandemic box and find new ways to make money by sharing my virtual success secrets. More often than not, it’s just a question of someone outside of one’s circle looking in and asking ‘Have you considered this?’ or ‘Have you tried adding that dimension to your career?’” This can open clients’ minds to possibility, he says, and help them “get out of their own way.”
Phyllis Hanson Ansusinha, a freelance personal trainer, group fitness instructor and author based in Bangkok, Thailand, began doing something similar in her early 60s. “Since my body no longer can do what it did even a few years ago, I dimensionalized my course a bit. I now use the phone, charging [fitness professionals] to ‘pick my brain,’” she says. “Each call lets them fast-track their career to success because they trust I’ve most likely ‘been there and solved that’ already.” She uses the free app calendly.com to set up appointments. “Sharing what I’m learning is also a great way to pay myself back for my huge financial investment in my own mastermind groups,” says Ansusinha, who recently added additional certifications to expand her knowledge base. “Too often, fit pros don’t realize how they could monetize their own educational process.”
Dimensionalize Your Fitness Business!
Career paths for group exercise instructors and personal trainers keep evolving to add new dimensions that can extend one’s reach both locally and globally. Keeping an open mind to these new possibilities can help today’s fitness professional keep revenue flowing from untapped sources, while inspiring even more of the world to fitness and health.
Build a Verified Network
Promoting new types of offerings oftentimes means relying on social media for promotion. However, fitness professionals can be judged by the company they keep, including on Instagram, Facebook and other sites. Bren Crowson, an ACE-certified personal trainer, yoga teacher (RYT 200) and fifth-degree black belt in San Shin Kai karate says, “It’s easy to get lost in the social media craziness of everyone posting apparent fitness success stories as what I call FFIs, or Fake Fitness Influencers. During the downtime of the pandemic, my mentor encouraged me to fill out my full professional profile on IDEA FitnessConnect to stay connected only with other professionals who are verified like I am.” This approach may not deliver immediate dollars, but surrounding yourself with valuable connections is a long game that can pay off for you and everyone in your ever-expanding circle.
Not Just for Fun: Selling Clients on Special Events
Teresa Estill, owner of Pilates by Teresa based in Campbell, California, reluctantly made the switch to virtual movement experiences to stay connected with her clients, but today she’s sold on it. “I’ve learned that nobody cares if my cat passes by or if Alexa interrupts to say that it’s national Hug a Friend Day. These days, people actually gravitate more to those of us who show our real, unfiltered and vulnerable realities because it creates a more believable connection.” Estill has parlayed her approach into another revenue stream by creating regular online gatherings and socials for which she charges a fee. “My one-on-one clients from various walks of life <I>buy into<I> these special gatherings just to mingle with people who they would otherwise never meet,” she says. Mollie Sasson, a group ex instructor and personal trainer based in New Jersey who teaches for the DSN Community Center and Mollie’s Place, conceived something similar. She hosted a special hybrid anniversary celebration to commemorate her 25 years of teaching. Those who attended in person got to ride, and those who attended virtually were able to dance along with her special playlist and be a part of the overall anniversary celebration as Sasson coached everyone, both on and off of their bikes. “My mentor helped me tease the event 25 days in advance,” says Sasson, “by putting 25 funny memories online to represent lessons learned for each year that I’ve been in the industry.” The event was such a success that she’s now planning other kinds of paid one-off celebrations each month. “I didn’t go through all that learning for just one event!” she says. “Doing it once gave me a system to make it easier for doing it again and again.”
Dimensionalizing Your Class Calendar
During the pandemic, the virtual world allowed fitness professionals to stay connected for both ideas and inspiration—not for teaching new things, but for teaching things differently. Sangeeta Sharma, a certified personal trainer and assistant professor at the University of Delhi, India, says, “The virtual communities we assembled almost immediately at the onset of the pandemic gave me encouraging ideas for setting up Facetime and Zoom meetings with other fitness pros. I saw public service announcements that some put together, like #fitnessworks, which encouraged us to charge for the classes and sample sessions we were putting online. Because of that connection, I felt the confidence and support to start charging for my virtual classes, which I’d never have done otherwise.” Here are a few more ways fitness professionals have dimensionalized their offerings recently, without adding much effort to their everyday work. Learn more about how to dimensionalize here (link to article).
Taking In-Person Classes Outdoors
Konstantinos Sentoukas, MSC, is a med student and certified personal trainer in Athens, Greece, who says, “I recommend not only promoting the time-saving features of virtual personal training because everyone saves travel time, but also emphasizing in-person outdoor training in light of re-emerging COVID-19 cases, since outdoors is where some of my in-person clients feel more comfortable.” Depending on where you normally offer classes, you may be able to simply invite the class to follow you onto the lawn outside your fitness facility, or you might add “bonus” sessions that meet outside once a week, where you take members through the same workout you’d offered for indoor exercisers.
Adding Classes, Contests and Community
The idea to dimensionalize the traditional pre-pandemic descriptions of fitness pros also means making revised gym dimensions. Noel Chelliah, owner of DailyMuscle, an independent gym based in Kuala Lumpur, agrees, says, “We felt isolated and stuck in Malaysia, but our online virtual global meetings with other gym owners—like mastermind group Business for Unicorns with Mark Fisher Fitness—connected us all with practical, step-by-step tips. We dimensionalized our mindset first, which included expanding our gym membership to include a virtual spinoff, complete with online kikis (social gatherings), contests, classes and community. As a result, mine was the first gym in our part of the world to continue memberships and movement in a virtual reality. In a way, we never closed! What’s more, when our government deemed fitness centers worthy of opening, our online groups inspired me to continue to offer virtual and hybrid experiences with various types of memberships because some people still feel more comfortable attending from home.”
Making the Most from Each Class
This hybrid dimension offers fit pros the potential to increase their revenue even from pre-pandemic realities. Ann-See Yeoh works as a mind-body fitness specialist and multipassionate business owner out of Bristol, England. She monetizes the opportunities of this growth mindset, saying “instead of having to choose between in-person or virtual, now I offer both. Clients and connections I made during our pandemic became interested in my goods and services, and now, without travel budget or logistics to consider, my income from both virtual and in-person gives me freedom and financial success I never had before. Why would I choose just one platform? I’m already going through the preparation and motions of creating a compelling movement experience, so why not maximize my financial opportunity gain from that since now my only class limit is the number of people allowed in my Zoom meeting room. Since I record everything, I can also sell those recordings.” While many fit pros remain fearful about creating a virtual platform, participants are usually only too grateful for any experience that comes their way. Usually, they are not exigent about high-quality perfection in fitness sets, lighting and sound, as long as they can spend time with their trusted, compelling on-camera personality. “They want to be able to be a part of an authentic experience from wherever they are in the world,” says Yeoh, “and feel like they’re joining me in my home studio space in the U.K. for that hour class.”
Selling Access to Personal Workouts
Doug Brignole is a veteran competitive bodybuilder, celebrity personal trainer and author of The Physics of Resistance Exercise (Healthy Learning 2020), working in Hollywood. Brignole holds numerous bodybuilding titles, including 1982 Amateur Athletic Union Mr. America and 1986 AAU Mr. Universe. “I’ve started offering new dimensions to my income potential by recently selling access to my own workouts, both in real-time and subsequently on recordings,” he says. “Many people have asked me over the years what my own workout looks like, so now they virtually attend, and I get paid to let others observe my own routines.”
Bonus Material: Biscontini’s Tiered Membership Tip
Since the pandemic, I created a tiered system of personal training for both my ongoing virtual clients and my seasonal clients in Mykonos, Greece, who are back to in-person training:
- For the Silver Tier, you get our agreed session time.
- For the Gold Tier, you get to bring a friend at no extra cost.
- For the Platinum Tier, you get to text me SMS and MMS whenever you want for fitness questions, send photos of your meals for me to plug into a food analyzing program for you, receive membership in an exclusive online group (where you’ll hear from me daily) and enjoy an invite to a Special Sunset Social once monthly.
Lawrence Biscontini, MA, has made fitness history as a mindful movement specialist, winning awards that include the Inner IDEA Visionary Award. He is a philanthropist, presenter, keynoter, and course development specialist for various companies, including ACE, AFAA, FIT and NASM. He also serves on the advisory boards for the International Council on Active Aging and Power Music®, and is an International Spa Association reporter-in-the-field for its #ISPAInterviews series. Lawrence teaches with yoga RYT 500 and decades-long certification experience. His company, Fitness Group 2000 offers scholarships to professional conferences and competitions on several continents. Lawrence runs fit camps in Puerto Rico in the winter months and has authored more than a dozen books.