There’s much more to personal training than facilitating a top-notch one-on-one or group training session. From booking personal training and class schedules, to handling billing, to taking important notes, to tracking progress, and more, the client management aspect of running a personal training business can become a full-time job by itself.
Thankfully, there are loads of programs and apps to choose from to make your life easier and help you run your business more efficiently. Plus, as the world becomes more tech-infused, not using these programs could make you look unprofessional to current and prospective clients.
In this article, five fitness entrepreneurs discuss the tools they use to streamline their systems so that the entrepreneurs themselves can focus on what they do best: helping clients succeed.
Why Use Tech?
Christine DeFilippis, owner of PopFitStudio in Haverford, Pennsylvania, was wary when she considered transitioning to a tech-based client management system.
“When I first opened my studio, I researched the different platforms I could use,” she says. “I also considered going ‘old school’ and tracking everything myself with pen and paper or a spreadsheet.”
Ultimately, she chose a program that could do it all for her, because she felt it would create a higher-quality experience for her clients and students. “I wanted a more professional appearance and decided to spend the money on MINDBODY® [marketing and business management software].”
She adds that there were some growing pains in educating her members on how to use the program, but it has been well received and has added value to her business.
The Programs the Pros Use
While there are many apps and programs to choose from—far too many to list in one column—our experts share what they use and why.
DeFilippis uses MINDBODY to track client schedules and packages, as well as to process payments. She also felt that the company had penetrated the fitness market deeply enough that it might make her studio more accessible to new customers.
“Potential clients using the app for other studios could easily find mine,” she says. “I have gained several new clients from the app alone. I’m able to promote special offers that show up for new clients only.”
Originally, DeFilippis used the MINDBODY app only for scheduling and used PayPal to collect payments, but she found using two separate programs cumbersome and time-consuming.
“Using [the app] as a payment processor in connection with scheduling classes and tracking client passes has saved me so much time,” she says.
The app has also been useful in overcoming one of the biggest problems that fitness professionals face: the dreaded no-show. “It has cut down on no-shows,” DeFilippis says, “since clients pay in advance and are sent automated reminder emails for classes they’ve signed up for.”
Kristen Horler, CEO and founder of Baby Boot Camp®, headquartered in Sarasota, Florida, had a unique problem. “As a franchisor, we were seeking a solution that we could implement systemwide,” she says. “Due to a lack of technology options that met our unique needs, we built custom software solutions—which quickly became antiquated with the rapid pace of technology, including [the proliferation of] mobile devices.”
She eventually discovered Front Desk mobile client management and scheduling software, which she felt could satisfy her needs as well as the needs of her franchisees. “I was impressed because it caters to individual fitness businesses and studios and has an intuitive interface for owners, instructors and clients,” she says.
One of the things Horler and her franchisees like best about the Front Desk program is that it gives them the freedom to peek in on their businesses from just about anywhere.
“Our primary use is for our Baby Boot Camp franchise owners to run their business from their mobile devices,” she says. “They can update their schedules, send purchase requests to clients and manage class attendance.”
While Wodify can address the needs of a wide array of fitness businesses, the app was designed specifically for CrossFit®. That is very important to the CrossFit community, says Adrian Alcantara, membership adviser at Fathom CrossFit in San Diego. “It’s also probably the most used system in other boxes, so the continuity is good for visiting athletes,” he says.
Wodify allows box customers and staff to access members’ personal records, performance tracking and more at any participating box. This is appealing to CrossFit athletes, who want to make sure they are constantly progressing toward their goals, says Alcantara.
Like many client management apps, Wodify handles payment processing, scheduling and similar tools. Alcantara finds that Fathom CrossFit members also appreciate the program’s social component.
“Its social media platform allows athletes to ‘like’ and comment on another athlete’s performance, so it’s good for morale.”
He points out another favorite element of the app: It keeps athletes connected to their box when they’re away. “They can follow along with workouts while they’re traveling, and if they participate in another gym’s metcon [metabolic conditioning] or strength cycle, they can access their performance stats to easily integrate as a drop-in visitor.”
My PT Hub
Technology has also eased the development of online programs. Greg Vaughn, owner of Premier Fitness in Madisonville, Kentucky, wanted an option that allowed him to train others from a distance.
“I was looking for a way to send programs to clients,” he says. “I was missing out on potential opportunities to write programs for people who didn’t live in my area. I also wanted to do something better for current clients who worked out several days a week on their own.
Vaughn settled on My PT Hub, which helps him create individualized workouts as well as regimens geared toward groups.
“My clients don’t worry about going on vacation and feeling like they’re going to be way off track,” says Vaughn. “[Their] routines are right on their phones. Also, they can track their measurements, upload pictures and even plug in the weights they’re using to keep track of progress. It’s really been a step up from me scribbling on sheets of paper for clients to take with them.”
Vaughn adds that the program makes data collection and paperwork much easier, as clients can fill out waivers and other forms online.
Tony Cress, a Las Vegas–based personal trainer and the owner of Tony Cress Training Center, opted for Zen Planner to manage his business operations.
“We use it for client booking, class schedules and payments, as well as member notes for things like movement assessments,” he says.
Cress adds that Zen Planner has helped streamline his business because the software takes care of one-on-one scheduling.
“We don’t have to go through a back and forth with our one-on-one clients; they just book and show up. It’s one less thing to worry about.”
Cress states that his studio is still in the beginning stages of using the app, but he likes what he’s seen so far and he’s looking forward to future add-ons.
“The features we haven’t unrolled yet, like client leader boards and workouts of the day, are going to make the clients enjoy the program even more.”
How Do You Choose?
Because there are dozens of programs—and each offers its own line of services—the decision-making process can be arduous. So how do you decide?
“When evaluating the various client management systems available, consider your business needs,” says Horler.
What do you want to offer?
- health history questionnaires
- waivers with electronic signatures
- merchant processing
- integration with your email marketing campaigns
- all of the above
“Determine if the monthly price includes all of the items you need or if there is an additional fee,” she says. “Also, understand the customization options, so that the look and feel of your client management system integrates well with your website and your overall brand.”
What programs or fitness equipment are you finding most popular with participants as they begin to return to in-person training?
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