In this feature, Charlotte Tooth talks about some strategies for adapting your personal training business during lockdown.
You may have just graduated after taking the necessary personal training courses. Or you have been in the industry for a while. Regardless of whatever state the gyms are currently in, you have options and can adapt accordingly.
Check out Charlotte's tips by watching the featured video below. And if you want to skip ahead, you can find the transcript right after the embedded video.
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Charlotte Tooth (00:00):
Welcome, everybody. This is your first workshop with me. My name is Charlotte Tooth. I'll be taking over the Premier Global Instagram every second Friday, so fortnightly workshops with me. This first workshop is going to be on how to adapt your personal training business during lockdown.
Charlotte Tooth (00:16):
Now, the first thing to look at is how personal training has evolved since lockdown began. The loss of face-to-face contact is one of the biggest things that you will probably feel the most as a personal trainer. You're no longer able to stand face to face with your client, build rapport, mirroring, eye contact, nodding, smiling. All of these things are a lot harder to read on screen, so much more difficult to build rapport.
Another thing is a lot of environment. When you walk into a gym setting and there's music on and there's people around and other people working out, it's very easy to get into your vibe and get into your flow. Now our clients are working out in their living rooms. Their two year old daughter is screaming over there because she wants her dummy. It's a different thing altogether. So they've lost their environment, it's a very different situation.
Charlotte Tooth (01:02):
You might also be dealing with lack of equipment. This is a toughie. A lot of clients do not have home gyms at home. All they have is their body weight and what's around them. This is very challenging but not impossible. A huge thing as well is that clients are now slightly out of routine.
Perhaps they were going to work every day at nine o'clock, they'd finish at five, they came to you at six, and it was very easy to stick with the habit of going to their gym sessions because it was already in their routine. Now everything's a bit up in the air. There's a lot more decisions to make because you are sat in your living room or your desk, and it's all the same environment. It's not as if it's a set schedule yet for a lot of people. But we are now training people via screens, which is just not the way personal training has been done traditionally over the years.
Charlotte Tooth (01:46):
Obviously, there are some online personal trainers out there. But for those of you that have been on the gym floor, this is going to be very, very different for you. The big thing that I'm trying to get across here is that personal training has become slightly less personal now.
Now we are dealing with a different situation in that we are not face to face, we are not able to build that rapport. And now we have to create the experience of personal training but via screens and via messages and via emails, all done digitally.
Charlotte Tooth (02:14):
What have we gained from lockdown? So for a lot of people, they might have gained time. This is not for everyone, but a lot of people might have gained time. Before, they were perhaps rushing to their sessions in their lunch break or running out, get back to work, quick, get on that meeting.
Now they have a lot more time available. This doesn't necessarily mean they have more time available to work out because they might have other commitments, but potentially more time.
A lot of people also might have head space as well. They might have been super busy with work before, now they're furloughed or now their job role has changed, they're doing something slightly different. They might have a little more head space to wrap their head around a program or a routine or some of the skills that you've been teaching them in the session.
Charlotte Tooth (02:55):
Clients can start to hone in on their interests. What do they want to do? And what do they want from their program? One thing that has cropped up with my clients is that they are finally using their equipment in the garage that has been dusty for 10 years, and they used to prop doors open.
The biggie here is that people are now realizing the importance of health. Why is health and wellness important in this current climate? Of course, the reasons are obvious. In the next section, I'm going to share a few tips to stay ahead of the curve.
Charlotte Tooth (03:26):
How can you keep your personal training business afloat during this difficult time? The most important thing that you could do is look after your current clients well. Don't be that person that goes online and looks for thousands of new clients. Make sure your current clients are happy first, okay?
They already know you. They're already invested in you. They know your skills, they know what you can do because you've already been working with them. So make sure they are happy, make sure they are sorted, their programs are on point and that they have got that constant contact with you as their personal trainer.
Charlotte Tooth (03:59):
Another big one is your internet setup. I have personally struggled with this one. I've been running live classes daily since lockdown began. And when I did not have fast internet, it was a huge problem, and not just for the video sessions.
I don't know how many of you have been asked to produce content for various platforms, YouTube, Instagram, whatever it might be, and you've been sat there for six hours waiting for your video to upload. Just don't give yourself that stress, get your unlimited internet, get fast internet and your life will be breezy.
Charlotte Tooth (04:32):
A huge one is going the extra mile. Think about how when your client used to come to the gym and that natural rapport that used to happen. You would chat, you would chat about the weekend. Maybe you recommended a book or a recipe that they would enjoy. You don't really have that same feeling on the screen so you got to create that within the session, but also in between sessions.
Well, I'm a huge fan of WhatsApping them between sessions, additional hints and tips over to them. I sent quite a few of you the virtual training PDF, which has hints and tips on how to set up your camera. I sent this to all my clients to make sure they were happy with how to set up their space, not just assuming that they knew how to set up a camera or to get light into their room. These things we take them for granted, but they're actually quite difficult.
Charlotte Tooth (05:22):
Acknowledge that it's a difficult situation that we're in, acknowledge the mental difficulties that we're having. Brushing it over and just being like, "Hey, I'm your perky personal trainer," isn't always the best way. Just be like, "Yeah, it's tough." Be human and be like, "I feel it too.
This is a difficult time. Yeah, some of the things that have helped me are this, this, and this." If they start telling you things that help them like, "Oh, I went for a walk and I felt better," or, "I listened to some heavy rock and jammed in my living room, and I felt better," make a note of that on their client notes and remind them that the week after, because they will go in waves.
This is quite transient, right? You'll feel great, and then you'll feel quite funky the next day. So keep on top and remind them of all the things that make them feel good.
Charlotte Tooth (06:04):
This might not be for everyone, but creating a group class whereby you can invite all of your PT clients along. Great way to build community and community can be very powerful.
The next section I'm going to speak about building endurance. How can we ensure that clients stay on top of that training, that they want to continue personal training, and that they see the importance of what you're doing with them. First things first is to track their progress and tell them about it.
Maybe the progress now isn't how much you can lift a barbell because they might not have a barbell at home. But there's so many other ways to track progress, and you really want to stay on top of that.
This empowers them as the client and gives them that lovely rush of dopamine when they're like, "Yes, I achieved something. I felt fantastic." Remember the psychology of training, people want to feel like they've done something and achieved something.
Charlotte Tooth (06:50):
Check in regularly, just as you did before. So is it a WhatsApp at the end of the day, "How did you get on with that thing I told you about? Did you manage to do your movements next today?" You know, moving between each 10 emails that you sent. Check in with them because they're going to need that extra little push.
They're at home, they might struggle a little bit with sticking with things and creating good habits. You'll know this from when they first started training with you but keep referencing their why. Why did they start training in the first place? Why is training important to them? The why is the thing that keeps them going. It gives them fire in their belly. So keep referencing this throughout the session and keep reminding them of why they're doing this.
Charlotte Tooth (07:30):
Now, this one's a big one. Keeps things interesting. I actually follow a very small program with each of my clients, but I actually try and leave some playtime. Because I think clients, at the moment, have a very difficult time in that everything in their lives right now is very much the same, okay?
So I want to create some variation for them in order to make them feel great and give them something different, okay? So things like gamification, giving them little games that you play in the session, variety in terms of movement, variety in terms of session planning.
Another really important one is setting them up for success. Your clients are going to be busier now more than before with their children, with their at-home chores and daily activities. They're going to need a bit of support. So doing things such as sending them the Zoom links early, if you're using Zoom or whatever platform you're using, putting it in their calendars, like the digital calendar so they get a reminder.
Charlotte Tooth (08:31):
Already get them set up with the equipment that they need, so just tell them what's going on with the equipment, and simple things like leave half an hour between each client or 15 minutes so that if you do have internet issues, then you can just make up the time and just explain that to them, be like "I've booked the hour.
But if we have any internet issues, we'll continue to work past the hour. Is that okay with you?" And then it just shows them that you value them as a personal training client and you value their time. So a big tip, and I know this is not for everybody, is to start an emailer. I did this from the get-go.
I wanted to stay connected with all my clients. You set up an emailer. It gets sent once a week, let's say on every Saturday afternoon. In this emailer, you recommend things like recipes, books that you've been reading, I don't know, maybe
it's a podcast, whatever it is, but it's a way to stay connected with them. A really important part of that email, which I've seen lots of really successful personal trainers do, is making it personal about you.
Charlotte Tooth (09:29):
People like people, and they want to stay connected. So saying things like, "I've also had challenges this week. I really struggled mentally with this, this and this, and this is how I overcame it."
This will be fantastic for you because it will bring across the fact that you are human and that you have an understanding of the psychology of this situation, the psychology of being at home and training. The most important thing I'm possibly going to tell you today is, don't deviate from what you do well, okay? If you are a personal trainer who is used to doing A, B, and C, don't start doing X, Y, Z, all right.
Stick with what you know really well. Hone your skills and market yourself as you are. I think sometimes we have a tendency in these situations to panic and be like, "I should be doing this, this, and this because everybody else is." Don't do that. Stick with what you know. You know that you are an expert at that one thing or those couple of things. Shout from the rooftops about your strengths, your skills, and don't be afraid to stick with what you know.
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