As I’m sure you’ve seen with many other things in life, Covid has sped up what some might argue was destined to happen among different industries. When it comes to personal training, a lot of trainers went virtual. But is it the future?
Keeping You Afloat
Pro’s: In regards to your overall business, if you were a trainer at a gym, you basically became jobless or close to it once everyone went into lockdown. It left a lot of trainers scrambling to figure out how to keep making money. Those who became savvy enough, realized they could still coach their clients through Zoom calls, and online group classes. You may have lost a couple clients, or found it hard to sell that kind of training to some, but hopefully you used it as a tool to keep your clients engaged throughout the lockdown and up till now. Maybe you used it as a general check in, or led them through mobility or injury prevention workouts that are easier to do at home, and didn’t require much, if any, equipment.
Con’s: Not every client or trainer likes the experience of being online. You can’t be hands on, always be there to gauge their form. It can be difficult to coach someone through a computer screen as well. Nothing will ever be as good as physically being next to your client (if you train one on one). Even for group classes, half the appeal is the atmosphere that is created when you get to be a part of a group class. It’s just not the same when ultimately you’re just in your room jumping up and down awkwardly.
Scaling Your Business
Pro’s: This may have opened up a whole new revenue stream for some trainers. There is a yoga instructor whose following more than DOUBLED once she started free workouts on her YouTube page. With things opening up again, a lot of trainers seem to be doing a mix of back to in person training, along with maintaining some of their clients virtually. That’s fantastic. I also like from the client perspective, some realized they actually prefer not having to leave the comfort of their own home. It really opened up the options for all walks of life.
Con’s: The biggest downside to this is mainly if you didn’t take advantage of creating this revenue stream. Maybe you couldn’t get any clients to continue, or thought it was “below” you as a trainer. Either way, there is no denying now that it is definitely a great option to offer clients going forward.
Opening Up Your Demographic
Pro’s: As mentioned earlier, it opened the door for potentially a new wave of clients. When I used to sell memberships I can tell you there are a LOT of people who find going into a physical gym intimidating. Not everyone has the time, or the confidence to just step into a new space, feeling like the odd man out, without any guidance. Clients now have virtual training as a fantastic way (whether it be through group classes, or one on one training) to ease the barrier of entry into getting in shape.
Con’s: The personal training industry is already dicey as is. There are always bad trainers who don’t do their due diligence to continue honing their craft, and learning new methods of what works with each individual client. My concern is that opening up virtual training continues to allow trainers I wouldn’t recommend to offer their “expertise” to vulnerable individuals trying to get their feet wet towards fitness. This leaves room for horrible advice, lack of attention to form, and bad movement patterns being taught on a much bigger scale than in person.
Making Yourself More Available
Pro’s: Even before Covid, people have busy schedules. Not everyone can meet in person. There are also some great trainers out there that possibly felt held back by not having a huge pool of clients to offer their services to within their network or small town. This allows those trainers to now offer great services to a wider audience. Those with really busy schedules, and families have found it a lot easier to just log online and join a class or meet with a coach rather than having to get back in their car and drive 10+ minutes to a gym.
Con’s: As mentioned before, this increases the risk of many bad trainers slipping in and taking advantage of new lifters and exercise enthusiasts.
So is virtual training the future? Yes and no. I think it will definitely remain another tool in a trainer and clients toolshed of options to choose from to achieve their fitness goals. I do not think it will kill the in person training business, nor become the end all be all of personal training going forward.