When COVID restrictions shut down gyms and cancelled personal training sessions, everyone was worried. Some let go of their fitness journeys, barely moving and living in the bubble of their home (which, of course, no one judges — a pandemic is not the time for blame). Others, however, became even more fanatical about their health and exercise, buying subscriptions for fitness apps and upgrading their home gyms.
The rise of companies like Peloton, which sell exercise bikes and other fitness hardware, can be worrisome for some PTs. The company grew by 350% in 2020, so it is a substantial development in the fitness world. However, despite the undeniable power of Peloton and other fitness subscriptions, you can still set yourself apart from the crowd and prove your worth as a personal trainer.
Earn customer trust
Through Peloton, users get to know different instructors and pick the ones whose style they prefer. You already have that in the bag — you know what your methods are and what kind of client will benefit the most from your style. However, the main thing you have that Peloton doesn’t in that regard is the ability to earn loyalty and trust beyond the screen.
So how do you do this exactly? You can achieve extra certifications that will boost your rapport with your clients. Upskill your expertise by learning new types of exercises, from yoga to weight lifting, and tailor them to your customers’ needs. You have safe premises that are built for exercise, or the ability to bring necessary safety equipment to where you host your classes or sessions. You have testimonials, reviews, and word of mouth on your side. And, of course, you have insurance in place in case something happens. “Things don’t always go exactly to plan,” explains the experts at insurance company Salon Gold. “A client may sustain an injury while following the advice you gave them for their fitness routine”. Because you have all of these safety practices set up, your clients know that whatever happens, they, and you, are protected. The same can’t really be said about an online instructor through a screen.
Pay attention to pricing
The cheapest Peloton bike stands at £1,750. That’s an incredible amount of money that needs serious consideration before splashing out, not to mention the space that’s required for a stationary bike, which the average person doesn’t even have. Of course, getting just a subscription cost far less, but this also loses the main USP of Peloton, which is the hardware. This means you’re already ahead of Peloton in many ways, as your clients don’t necessarily need to purchase any fancy and expensive equipment to start training with you.
Of course, we’re not suggesting that you lower your prices just to attract potential customers. You know what you’re worth. But, consider what you’re offering as opposed to what a subscription would, and set your prices based on that. You can also be flexible, proposing concessions to students or the elderly. As long as you’re conscious about what you’re competing against cost-wise, you can pull customers who cannot afford the extortionate price of a Peloton bike.
Concentrate on flexibility
The main selling point of a subscription service is the freedom it gives its users. Whatever their schedule looks like, wherever they’re based, and even in the event of unexpected changes of plans, they’re able to log into the app and do a quick workout. Those apps have an incredible range of instructors and dozens of live classes at all times, day and night. And if a user still doesn’t find the right live class for them, there are hundreds of recorded classes they can enjoy. In order to compete with this, you’ll have to make your schedule as flexible and as easy to book as possible. Investing in an online booking system could be worthwhile, for example. No matter what you do, make sure scheduling — and even cancelling — a class with you is super convenient.
Prioritise personalisation and inclusivity
Although some subscriptions, including Peloton, offer live classes, they still involve dozens, sometimes hundreds, of participants, all through a screen. Clients don’t get the personal touch an instructor gives, nor do they have classes prepared for their specific goals. As a PT, you can offer face-to-face motivation and encouragement, and build a whole schedule for each of your clients, ensuring they do what’s best for them, keeping track of their personal health restrictions and aspirations.
Speaking of health restrictions, subscriptions aren’t able to easily offer alternative workouts for users, which means that if they’re unable to complete an exercise properly, they could struggle to keep up or even risk injuring themselves. You have the privilege of being inclusive to everyone, from the least active to the most, and from able-bodied clients to disabled. Take advantage of that.
Focus on results
Apps like Peloton have loads of benefits. One of the least spoken about motivations is the gamification element. The machine monitors the user’s heart rate, presents their stats on screen, and lets them know when you reach the top 10% of the class. They can compare to their previous classes or fellow classmates, giving the users a boost and sense of healthy competition.
However, this is only temporary. What these online classes don’t have is a results-focused approach. The app instructor cannot correct the client’s form, nor do they follow long-term progress. Clients will also not have the inherent guilt of skipping a class that keeps some motivated, or the accountability that one-to-one sessions offer. As a personal trainer, not only do you keep track of your clients’ progress, but you also know what will help them move forward based on their specific needs and goals. By focusing on achieving and measuring results, you can make your work invaluable in comparison to a subscription.
Incorporate a two-pronged approach
How many of your clients have a session with you every single day? How many of them would like to? Peloton doesn’t have to compete with you — it can be a great addition to your plan for your more dedicated clients. Encourage them to sign up to an online class alternative or get Peloton as a booster for your training. You can even incorporate this into your overall plan for them, pointing out what kind of workout they should be doing, and when. If you want to go a step further, you could even link specific workouts you think are best suited for them. And, in the most advanced case, recording Peloton-esque videos for them is another great alternative. That way, your clients will get the benefit of a personal trainer as well as the benefits of an online subscription. It’s a win-win.