The ongoing rise of technology has seen it creeping more and more into every aspect of our lives. And the fitness industry is no exception. Training clients virtually is common, and the delivery of online personal training courses even more so. Although more recently our hands are being forced to turn to technology to keep ahead of the changes and challenges life throws at us, there’s no denying that the right tools can make running a fitness business simpler and more efficient than ever before.
As coaches, we should be looking to develop online skills to ensure clients receive the same quality level of coaching they receive in person. One way in which we can do this is by utilising the tools at our disposal.
Today we’ll be looking at some of the most popular tools currently available to fitness professionals and discovering exactly how they could help you run your business.
Stick to A Calendar System
Most personal trainers will use a calendar of some type to manage their clients. One of the best digital ones available is Google Calendar, which has some nice features that could benefit your business.
The most notable benefit is that of event sharing, a feature that allows you to share a particular event to the calendar of one or more of your contacts. This ensures that your calendar will always sync up with that of your clients and there will never be any confusion as to when things are supposed to be happening.
Beyond that, more subtle features, such as being able to colour code the events of each of your individual clients, may seem simple, but you’d be amazed just how much easier some simple organisation can make running your day-to-day operations.
This is largely an extension of the previous point but, nonetheless, is a tool that can make things even simpler still.
While programs such as Google Calendar allow you to arrange your schedules and stay synchronised with your clients, you will still have to come to an arrangement with your client on a time in the first place. While this can be simple enough for clients who have a regular pattern, with others it can involve numerous back and forth emails, trying to pinpoint a time that works for both of you.
Programmes such as Calendly eliminate that hassle by doing the work for you. Both parties simply input the dates and times they are available, and the software selects the prime time for both of you, without you having to lift a finger.
Alternatively, you can simply set out blocks of times when you are free and send them to your clients. They can then pick which slots work for them based on a first come first serve basis.
Get to Grips with Video
The past year has seen the majority of us getting very friendly with video communication. Zoom calls have all but taken over and our front rooms and office spaces have never been tidier!
While it takes some getting used to (both learning the technical settings and not being there in person when training a client) there are many tools such as Google Meet, Skype and Zoom that help shorten the learning curve.
I would recommend using Google Meet as it’s super simple to use even for the less tech-savvy among us. It also allows simple screen recording so your clients can watch back and repeat any session at their leisure, or you can release your own Jane Fonda style DVD (Google it).
Most by now will already be familiar with using video communication but may still find delivering coaching a daunting task. The key is to forget all the limitations of coaching via video and instead focus on the advantages such as the ability to expand your client base from your local area to anywhere in the world.
Video gives you the opportunity to get creative with your coaching and think more outside the box. For example, at Start Rowing we deliver live rowing classes where participants can follow along, race and complete time trials.
Think, what angle can I offer that’s unique and different from everyone else?
See also: How to Become an Online Personal Trainer
Basic Written Communication
One of the more common online tools that most will already be utilising via email or messaging apps such as WhatsApp. They provide a quick and efficient way to communicate with clients.
The ability to write long messages and include videos and photos ensures clear and succinct communication of what a client needs to do.
Email is more professional than instant messaging but also allows for some boundaries. You most likely don’t want your phone going off all the time with client queries and it’s much easier to schedule a time to send and reply to emails in a more organised fashion.
Personally, I prefer the use of Gmail for it’s cross-functionality with other Programmes. It synchronises with other Programmes, such as Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Drive, Google Meet, to allow you to seamlessly run your business across all the platforms, carrying data between them, without worrying about formatting issues.
Set-up Professional Profiles
If you want to become (or already are) an online personal trainer then you will need to have some sort of online presence, whether it be in the form of a website, social channels or both.
With so much competition in the fitness industry, making yourself stand out from the crowd is an absolute must.
By using sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram etc., you can showcase your qualifications, experience, teaching style and physique in a variety of different ways. This can reduce or even eliminate the arduous process of scouting for clients as, if you tailor your profiles effectively, you can make the clients come to you.
Store Your Files in The Cloud
You may only work from one computer and not see the need for cloud storage. However, there are two benefits that tools such as Google Docs, Google Drive, One Drive provide which are of great use.
The first is the size of the files they can hold. Gone are the limitations of how much data you can send in an email, with one of these Programmes you can simply upload what you need and allow your client to access it online.
Perhaps an even bigger benefit though is the ability to allow multiple users to update the files in storage. This means you can keep track of your client’s progress by getting them to fill in logs, so you can quickly log on and gauge exactly where they are before a session.
How Will You Get Paid
One issue that has long since arisen for fitness trainers is how to take payments. Getting your own PDQ to take card payments can be an irritating and sometimes expensive option that most would rather avoid.
While making bank transfers is an option some people are uncomfortable with, due to handing over sensitive information.
Companies such as PayPal have eliminated that issue though, providing a service where making and receiving payments is as simple as sending an email.
Simply register for an account and link a card to it, and you and your clients can easily and securely complete your business without any fuss or worry.
Getting Your Finances in Order
As much as we may not want to, anyone running a business will have to deal with managing their finances.
Whether it’s billing clients or paying expenses, every business has to keep their accounts in line in order to be successful.
While I’m sure many will be happy doing it themselves and the more successful may even have accountants to do this stuff for them, there are also online options available.
Websites and Programmes, such as Mint, allow you to keep everything in one place, both incoming and outgoing. It may seem like a minor detail at a glance, but the ability to see everything together and have your totals added up will give you a much clearer picture of where you stand, something that is incredibly beneficial in the long run.
It's pretty amazing how many Programmes and tools we now have at our disposal to run our coaching businesses digitally. While some of the tools are not necessarily needed (more traditional methods can work just as well) they can help revolutionise how you do things, especially when used in combination.
Plus, with all of these tools having some form of free version available, even if you aren’t completely sold on them, there’s no reason not to give them a try, considering just how much of an impact they could have.