Becoming an Online Trainer in 2020 | COVID19 Will Change Fitness

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Right now the fitness industry is full of trainers and instructors flooding the online space. No one was prepared for COVID19. And yet, becoming an online trainer was a good idea before this pandemic. It wasn’t crowded for any single niche.

Note: I’ve been an almost 100% virtual personal trainer & health coach for women in perimenopause, menopause, and post menopause, focused on hormone balancing exercise since January 2013. In March of 2013 I created my first online course. I offered my first online marketing and sales training course for trainers in August 2013. My advice is to jump in. Do not wait. This many years later it is easier, and it will get more crowded if you wait. Be first. Be best. But done is better than perfect.

My business model is hybrid – providing live retreats for women, fitness pros, and live workshops and speaking. The beauty of hybrid is that a trainer isn’t defined or limited by circumstance. A hybrid trainer is able to adjust to the needs of a client and provide online, in person, training sessions, programs, nutrition coaching, tele-sessions on an as-needed basis. The content gets delivered on the platform that works best at the moment. You’re not limited as a trainer by geography or technology.

In 2019 I launched the Flipping 50 Fitness Specialist certificate to provide the training for other trainers and meet the huge demand for 46 million women in menopause, growing by 6000 every day (ACOG, 2019). As a part of that training I offer an online build your brand & business program for trainers and health coaches. Now has never been a better time to 1) already have leverage online 2) create your online strategy 3) leave random or “someday” options and commit to business that is either hybrid or 100% online.

For trainers who have an interest in becoming an online trainer this is the time to pivot. For trainers who want to continue doing training in person this is the time to develop online training tools that support customers and leads. It is the time to develop an online presence if even by showing up regularly, not necessarily to contribute to the mass of “exercise” options, but to be there supporting and creating community. This doesn’t mean spending your life on social media. But it means willingness to research what your customer needs right now. What is the biggest problem your customer faces?

Now is the time to plan. Create a strategy that is informed from homework about the clients you want to target. If you currently had been serving clients face-to-face in a wide array of ages, conditions, and goals, that won’t equate to an easy target online.

You need to focus on:

1) Who you want to serve

2) Who you need to be

3) How you help them and

4) What’s unique about you and them

Before you try to add “online trainer” into your website or social media bio, spend some time really focusing on the business plan and model.

The Process

Becoming an online trainer will all but guarantee you become a better trainer.

You will learn how to market and promote and serve your customers in a way that boosts your value.

What are we and aren’t we talking about?

I’m not only talking about delivery of your services via teleconferences or Skype or Facetime. That virtual training simply changes where you are and may increase the convenience of delivery for you or your client but is still an hour-for-a-dollar method of training. You hit a limit to the number of hours you have to train.

Does it offer a little more freedom than face-to-face sessions? Yes, but it may actually end up being less than the amount of revenue you’d otherwise make. You still have to be in a quiet space with control of your environment. Your kids can’t be coming in and out of the room. Without celebrity status or a bestselling book your clients may not want to pay you as much for this service. So more clients paying less money unless you’re talking a LOT more with say an online bootcamp you’re doing live is not an optimal model.

Will virtual sessions now help you recover income otherwise lost? Yes. You can conduct Skype, Zoom, or Facetime sessions with your clients scheduled just like any other sessions. Unless your business model is stuck and you refuse to figure out how to it this way, there is a way. Most of the time the greatest learning and fastest forward progress happens because its needed and necessary: not because you’re ready.

Why is Online Training (and Coaching) So Beneficial?

There’s no income ceiling if you strategically create programs.

It offers you a way to make passive income if you’re sick or on vacation.

You can train anyone from anywhere anytime.

You can have as much hands-on or DIY as clients prefer and you build.

Accountability is Still Key

Customer service between sessions is still and all-important part of your value. Clients who need accountability (which is about 98% of humans) need your personal touch. You still have to show up. You need to coach them, have check ins, have Q and As and in some way be there for them so they do what is available to them.

Online Training Revenue Streams Beyond the Old 1-to-1 Model

  • Online education courses
  • Online exercise courses
  • Online group live stream

What Doesn’t Change

You still have to choose a niche. You can’t serve “everybody.” If you’re still marketing mass bootcamps for all ages and men and women without pre-qualifications and specific outcomes, you’ll fail. Going “broad” like this in the future will guarantee your failure.

Can you imagine people wanting to be in large groups where they share battle ropes, and TRX, and dumbbells, and mats while they’re sweaty?

The overwhelm of prospective clients is real. They can’t distinguish between one program or trainer and another. If you’re a so-so trainer, that’s good. If you’re a highly skilled expert trainer, that’s bad.

A 60-something woman may think her daughter who just graduated from college with a degree she paid for can help her because after all she’s a beginner and need the basics. Never mind the osteoporosis, arthritis, hip bursitis and rotator cuff issues she has.  Unless you clearly distinguish yourself and create a message that a customer gets at hello, you will be lost in a sea of trainers scrambling right now to get an online presence.

Online Fitness Service Options

  • Private-personalized programs one-to-one
  • Non-personal written programs (in pdfs or videos)
  • Non-personal video fitness programs
  • Hybrid online and in-person training
  • Live Video Workouts online (Skype, Facetime, Zoom)
  • Live Online group training

Examples of Information Products to Add

  • Nutrition programs
  • Stretching specific sessions
  • Golf/Ski conditioning
  • Yoga for bikers/runners/hands-free/osteoporosis

Membership Models

Once you have begun and learn what’s working a membership model with subscription is the way of the future for many. Though we don’t know exactly what will happen post COVID19, we do know that things will change. Health is important. Quality will have more value than ever. 

Software, Course-Building, or Word Press

  • There is trainer-specific software that is already built. You’ll need to fit into the model that exists and the options available.
  • Consider course-building sites like Thinkific, Teachable, and Kajabi.
  • You can build a membership site within a word press site using tools like Memberium and Learn Dash to create a course experience.

You have options. Before you go shopping for the options to build something lay out your plan so you can create a customer experience. Once you do that you’ll best be able to choose the products that will create it.

The biggest mistake? Trainers tell me, I know I have to get a website up. If you too are saying this before you even know who your target customer is, that would be a bigger mistake than not having a website.

Whether you deliver in-person personal training or online personal training this is the absolute most important and most often skipped part of every struggling fitness business. Especially now. Any fitness business can have a certain level of success due to novelty or newness or the vast offerings. Or at least could at one time.

If you want to survive and thrive during and after COVID19 you can. You can’t however wait it out. 

Find a Niche and Serve

Today customers who are more overwhelmed by facilities and amenities that they don’t use are less likely to go to a big umbrella gym. The bigger it is and the less time a customer has, the mere walk to the locker room and back to find a classroom is a time inconvenience. An older adult who has to climb the stairs or even use the elevator to reach the track or an exercise bike may decide it’s all too much if that’s all they want to use.

So your specialization and your specific message are more appealing than ever. Define your target market. Learn what options already exist for them. Identify a gap and determine if there is great enough demand. Decide the model you want. Then plan the customer journey before you shop for how to put it together.

You want to create the ideal program and offer in your head and on paper before you ever start a website, a membership area, or start creating videos.

If you want support and step-by-step coaching on creating, reaching, an offer customers love schedule a breakthrough with me. 

When you’re ready, these are your steps:

Identify your ideal customer  – Begin attracting the right person who has a problem is actively seeking solutions, and has urgency around it and willing to invest in it. Spend the most time developing this so you can evaluate how many customers fit this niche and the 4 criteria that make this niche a wise one.

Learn how to create rapport with anyone  – in your emails, on your website, on the phone, and in person so you can put them at ease and learn what they want. There are word you want to avoid and words you want to use, and a right time to use them.

Generate leads that grow your business – Learn the marketing tools that work right now. You want to create leads that grow your email list every day automatically.

Create Offers – Learn how to create offers that convert customers and that position you as a trainer of value not a trainer of discount. There are 16 parts to making an irresistible offer.

Client Care – You’ll learn how in person, online, and hybrid trainers win the loyalty of the clients with the best follow up, accountability, and customer love strategies. A small percent of people today have any brand loyalty and 50% switch due to poor customer service. The good news is 93% of customers will make a repeat purchase when there is excellent customer service.

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