Many gym owners tuned in to Boris Johnson’s update this week, hoping that they would be able to re-open on the 4th of July. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and there is still no set opening date for gyms.
The lockdown has hit most businesses hard, and none harder than the leisure sector. The fact that pubs will be allowed to open is a bitter pill to swallow for gym owners, personal trainers, and a large percentage of the fitness industry.
This week we interviewed Nick Screeton, a Sheffield personal trainer and owner of ‘LEP Fitness‘ to ask him his opinion on how personal trainers can adapt during this prolonged and challenging period.
Can you briefly introduce yourself?
Hello, my name is Nick Screeton, the founder of LEP Fitness (2012). I have been a personal trainer for the last 15 years and have completed over 10,000 personal training sessions.
How has the lockdown impacted personal trainers?
While lots of personal trainers have adapted, many have not. The trainers who have adapted have had to move their businesses online, doing Zoom sessions, and online personal training. Lots of personal trainers have had to supplement their income with another job or rely on financial support. And some have not managed to make it.
At the start of the month, it was announced that outdoor training was allowed, so many coaches are now training clients in parks and outdoor spaces. Although it is not the same as training clients in gyms, and many coaches have had to reduce their hourly rates.
What tips do you have for personal trainers who want to keep their income high post-lockdown?
I know it is a tough pill to swallow and that the latest speech from Boris Johnson has left personal trainers and gym owners outraged/deflated, especially considering pubs can re-open.
I understand this frustration, having a private personal training gym myself, is tough both emotionally and financially. That said, it is what it is, and the fitness industry has to either adapt or run the risk of going out of business.
Can you give some ‘action points’ that personal trainers can apply to increase income and profits?
Here are five suggestions as to how personal trainers can adapt and keep their income high post lockdown:
1. Outdoor personal training
I mentioned briefly that outdoor personal training in parks is allowed. We are now in the summer months, and the weather will ‘hopefully’ improve. It makes sense to move your clients to outdoor sessions. Virtual personal training is effective, but nothing beats face-face interaction.
Public parks are also allowed to re-open from Monday the 4th of July. Many public parks have an outdoor gym. You could use this with clients. That said, the parks are likely to attract more people than ever (for obvious reasons).
I would recommend picking up some portable gym equipment. I would recommend picking up equipment such as; resistance bands, a TRX suspension trainer, and spinlock dumbbells. You do not need much for an effective workout.
2. Virtual Personal Training
While life in many ways seems to be returning to normal, many are still stuck inside and self-isolating. There is still fear of another lockdown, and many are not convinced of the statistics.
There is still a significant demand for virtual personal training. You can train clients in their homes using very little equipment. Most of the clients I work with have basic home gym gear, but a few do not have any equipment. Instead, we do bodyweight workouts and exercises with chairs, towels, etc.
3. Improve Your Web Rankings
If you are unfamiliar with SEO, it stands for Search Engine Optimisation. When somebody types in ‘personal trainer London’ it will showcase the best PT businesses in London.
SEO is one of the essential areas to focus on because Google is where people look for services such as personal training. If you can get your website into the top 3 positions, you will get fully booked up very quickly.
SEO is a complex subject, but some simple things you can do are register on local business directories, write quality content, build relationships with other fitness bloggers, and ask them to link to your site.
You can also spend some time watching videos on Youtube and attend free webinars. After a weekend studying SEO, you will likely know enough to make a positive impact on your business. If you can afford it, reach out to an expert SEO company and let them do the hard work for you.
4. Monthly payment plans
One of the biggest mistakes personal trainers make is charging for large blocks of sessions. For example, a standard personal training package of 20 sessions could be between £600-£1200. While many can afford this upfront payment, lots of people cannot.
I would recommend moving your clients to a monthly payment system, such as a standing order system or a direct debit payment – like a gym membership. There are benefits to this, such as:
- More affordable for clients – smaller payment chunks
- Payments can coincide with the client’s monthly payday, i.e., first or last day of the month
- Clients commit to X amount of sessions per month. If they miss a session, they still have to pay, or rollover the missed sessions to another week
- It is easier to manage your finance – you are getting a monthly wage rather than payments at random times of the month.
To set up monthly payments with a client, you need to do the following equation:
Sessions per week (£) x 52 weeks ÷ 12 months = total monthly amount
£100 per week for two sessions x 52 weeks ÷ 12 months = £433 per month
There is no harm in offering both ‘blocks of sessions’ and ‘monthly payment’ plans. It can be useful to get more substantial fees upfront for a cash boost to your business. You could do an 80/20 split. I prefer monthly payments. From eight years of experience with LEP Fitness, the clients who pay monthly train with you for much longer.
5. Look for new opportunities
There are lots of ways personal trainers can boost their incomes. You have to think outside the box. You could focus on serving a niche such as busy mums, stay at home dads, skinny guys who want to build muscle, etc.
There are also other ways to serve customers and make a profit, such as:
Online Personal Training – this is different from Zoom sessions. Online coaching is where you design a custom workout and meal plan for clients, and they follow the plan in their own time. You could also sign up to the SiriusXM authorized dealer program and sell the service on to your clients through personalised playlists for their workouts as part of your personal training service.
Membership Site – You can create a paid membership site — an online hub for people to learn, connect, and get fit. You can share articles, free videos, workout plans, and exercise tutorials. If you want to reach more people, scale your personal training business, build a fitness website and increase your profits, this is a natural path to take.
Writing – if you are an expert in your field, you can get paid to write articles for fellow health and fitness sites.
Ebooks – Once you have created your ebook, you can sell online via social media or your health and fitness blog. Ebooks could potentially generate thousands of pounds of passive income for your business each month.
Affiliate Marketing – Using the Amazon Affiliate program, you can make up to 10% commission per sale. You can endorse products that you believe in, protein powders, supplements, exercise equipment, etc. Affiliate marketing can be an effective way to generate passive income.
What advice would you give to personal trainers for the rest of 2020?
I would say be prepared to adapt. We do not know what the future holds, but you must stay calm and think on your feet. Business is all about adapting to the ever-changing environment, solving problems, and meeting your client’s needs. If you continue to do this, you will give yourself the highest possible chance of success.