“Online personal training is killing private PT” she said to me over a coffee. “I just can’t compete with the other trainers who have cheaper prices. I don’t know what I’m going to do”
This conversation is one of the many similar conversations I have had of late.
Everywhere you turn online another ‘virtual fitness program’ or online-PT pops up. This is not going to change. In fact over the coming years we are going to see an increase in the number of online fitness offerings.
Is this a bad thing? Well, it depends on the person who is having the conversation. I don’t see it as a negative, I see it as a positive natural evolution of the industry. It makes total sense for some people to be offering their services on-line.
On-line training provides consumers with a much easier product to buy. It removes barriers such as travel, cost, fear of going into a gym and childcare struggles. What this means is that online training is making movement, health and fitness accessible.
Accessible to all the people that you want to reach, but are failing to do so. So yeah, online training is a great product. Of course, there is a skill to being an online trainer, and my criticism is that those who aren’t good face to face trainers think they can be good online trainers. The reality is this – if you can’t make it as a face to face trainer then you’ve got no business being an online trainer (but that’s for another blogpost).
With more clients moving towards seeking online trainers does that mean the death of private PT?
Nope. It will change the way we do private PT. It will force PT’s to pivot but it won’t be the death of it.
1. Humans crave connection and attention. The real kind. Not the “I have 5000 friends” connection. For every person who prefers the autonomy of being an online client, there is someone who craves personal attention. There are many potential customers who want to work up close with a PT.
These are the clients who are willing to pay a premium for the privilege of working with their PT one on one in real life.
2. The PT business model has evolved and expanded. When I first started 20 years ago, the only option was One on One or Group Exercise. These days there are plenty of different ways to set up and execute the business. From private one on one training, to semi-private small groups, to large numbers online. Each model has it’s unique pro’s and con’s.
But it is up to YOU the trainer to determine what model works best for you. I prefer a Hybrid model where there is a mix of private, small groups and online products. The PT’s I mentor also prefer the Hybrid model.
The commonality being that they all ‘love to do some face to face training because it’s fun’. You get to remain true to your roots whilst exploring other avenues.
3. Online training will be a lead feeder for one one one training. This may be an odd sounding statement, especially given the reason why general population buy online training in the first place, but hear me out. If newbies get great results with online training then they may decide to speed up their progression with a real life trainer.
It’s worth considering that some online fitness products are just starting points. They foster self confidence in a client, give them the support they need and then it’s value expires. The client outgrows the online program. I have taken on clients who have done many rounds of a very popular Australian 12 week program (it rhymes with Bichelle Midges) only to plateau and get bored with it. They sought me out because they wanted a physical, in person experience.
The real issue isn’t whether online training will kill private PT. The issue is the
mindset that surrounds this thought. The statement my friend made above is a classic example of scarcity thinking. Operating from a place of scarcity will always lead to fear, anxiety, doubt, comparison and a business that constantly struggles. If you come from a place of lack you will always experience lack.
“Online PT will crush In Person PT” is a generalised statement that only rings true if you believe it to be true.
Right now, in Australia, and around the world there are thousands of PT’s running highly profitable face to face PT businesses. They are not affected by online training, and they probably won’t be.
Online training won’t be the death of private PT, but if you believe it, then it is the belief that will kill your PT business.
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