Before diving into this let’s take a moment to appreciate the fact that the business of fitness has never been better. Think about what our industry was like 25 years ago for health clubs, gyms, and fitness studios compared to today. Fitness businesses of all types, even the big box gym brands such as 24 Hour Fitness, consistently struggled to stay open for more than a few years and were unable to pay employees anywhere close to what was needed to retain them for the long-term. Don’t believe me? Try finding an employee at a local big box gym that’s worked with the company for more than 10 years. Unless they were an employee that moved up into management, career fitness employees are few and far between.
Today, in 2019, the outlook for health clubs, gyms, and fitness studios is bright. These are businesses that are able to easily recruit new employees and independent contractors, have clear paths for career growth within their company, and can afford to pay high enough salaries to retain employees for the long-term. These are all strong indicators of a healthy business and why we our team at StrengthPortal couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this industry for years to come. Having said that, I’m a big believer that many of the estimates for industry growth are underestimating how much revenue growth is still out there for the taking. The three giant revenue growth opportunities that health clubs, gyms, and fitness studios have yet to fully take advantage of are:
In-person training in the gym with private, semi-private, and group coaching are all well-established and growing services that fitness businesses have offered for many years now. In the last 15 years personal trainers looking to increase their personal income have extended their reach beyond the gym to offer their personal training services more clients than ever before. In practice, online coaching is simply when a personal trainer sells a personalized workout program to a client to view and track using personal training software without meeting the client in-person. It’s time that health clubs, gyms, and studios joined the 21st century and added this service to their offerings as well. The benefits are clear:
- Online coaching is cost-effective for consumers. Most gym members can only afford one-on-one in-person training for 3-6 months before they churn leaving the personal trainer scrambling to find a new client. Instead, personal trainers can easily convert their client to online coaching to have a sustainable and profitable relationship.
- Online coaching can increase your trainers income and reduce employee churn. The more revenue your trainers can make working for your fitness business the less likely they are to leave your company. This isn’t rocket science.
The barrier to getting started with online coaching at your fitness business is low and cost-effective. A quick and easy formula for success is to:
- Limit the offering to trainers and clients that are experienced enough to manage and consistently track a workout program without too much interaction.
- Offer the online coaching service at a price point that ensures it is worth your trainers time to give each client the time and energy they deserve each month.
- Use a personal training software platform to manage your training team, workout and exercise library, and deliver easy-to-use workouts for your clients. Paper and spreadsheets just don’t meet consumer standards anymore. Luckily, StrengthPortal has your fitness business covered here whether you have one location or hundreds.
Hybrid coaching is my personal favorite revenue growth opportunity for health clubs, gyms, and fitness studios because it is so clearly a win for all parties involved. Let’s say you have a client who does private one-on-one training and is about to churn because they can’t afford to do two in-person sessions a week anymore, but they don’t feel comfortable doing online coaching because they wouldn’t feel confident and/or motivated working out on their own all the time. This is the perfect opportunity to offer hybrid training which is simply a blend of in-person and online coaching. Here’s how you can structure a hybrid coaching offering to your members:
- The trainer creates and shares a personalized 4 week workout program for the client.
- The client can meet with the trainer for a session every two weeks and do the other workouts in the program on their own time.
Just like online coaching, the trainer will love this because they haven’t lost the client and they can also add a new client to fill in the empty time slots to earn more revenue. The client will also love this service because they can still meet with the trainer to stay motivated, get questions answered, and the service is cheaper than doing in-person training multiple times a week. Once again, just like with online coaching, StrengthPortal's software platform was intentionally designed to make it easy to offer and manage hybrid coaching with your fitness business.
For years fitness businesses have toyed with the idea of adding nutrition services to their offerings, but have mostly decided to avoid the legal worries altogether and focus on selling nutritional supplements instead. To me selling supplements is a distraction to your other gym services and, even worse, largely a waste of money for your members. Instead of having personal trainers tiptoe around nutrition and selling supplements, why not hire registered dietitians who are specifically trained and fully licensed for this type of work? This is already being implemented at smaller gyms companies and boutique fitness studios, but think about the potential reach and impact Registered Dietitians could have if a company like Equinox or Anytime Fitness had 1-2 full-time at every single location. Compared to the traditional career paths for RD’s in clinical and community roles health clubs, gyms, and fitness studios are a compelling potential employer if you’re a Registered Dietitian who’s interested in working with clients directly in an environment that can offer fitness and nutrition services all in the same building. With an average salary of around $60,000, it would be fairly easy for an established fitness business to offer a competitive salary and viable long-term career path to Registered Dietitians. Anecdotally, I’ve met a decent amount of personal trainers who decided to go back to school to become a Registered Dietitian. These RD’s would be a perfect hire for fitness businesses because of their flexibility to train clients in fitness and offer nutrition services. Compared to selling supplements I’d be willing to bet hiring a Dietitian for your fitness staff would have a much larger impact on your businesses growth and on member results. It's time to take the next step here and make hiring RD's a standard across the industry.
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