Recent events have shown just how important it is for any business to be able to be run remotely. While retail businesses have a direct way of making sales online, those offering a service face a bit more of a challenge in being able to still serve their customers without being there in person.
The personal fitness industry, in particular, is established upon the notion of helping clients achieve their fitness goals by providing real-time feedback and education, as well as a personalised strategy that is tailor-made for each client.
While in-person lessons may still be the gold standard, the recent Coronavirus/COVID-19 situation has forced personal trainers to think outside the box when thinking of how to serve their customers and keep their business afloat amidst lockdowns, closures, and clients’ self-isolation and social distancing.
If you run a personal training business and you’re looking for ways to reach your clients online ASAP, we’ve collected a few resources and tools for you! These are all really quick and easy to set up, particularly if you have an existing database of clients or gym members.
Read on to find out the many ways you can still run your personal fitness business from home!
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Types of content to create and sell
There are many ways to utilise the tools we will be listing. What we recommend is a mix of all of these, so you can reach as many clients as possible. It’s also a good idea to repurpose what you can throughout this entire period, and beyond!
It’s also important for you to still keep your business goals and objectives in mind, even though your approach may have to adjust a bit. As personal fitness trainer, Michael Speck, puts it: “Now more than ever it is important to remember the why; Why you? What value are you giving your clients? What do you provide that sets you apart from the rest? Rediscovering your why will help you find your footing in this new online space.”
When you pre-record a video, you have essentially created a product that clients can access on their own time. In this age of on-demand entertainment, more and more customers are looking to receive their products and services on their own time, so it makes sense to create workout videos, nutrition advice, and other forms of relevant videos for them to access anytime!
Live online group classes
This option requires very little preparation beforehand, and allows the group to have a sense of camaraderie and social interaction that most people sorely crave right now. The most important part of your preparation is ensuring you have a reliable audio and video setup, as well as a preferred method of running our live online classes. It’s a good idea to test the chosen method to make sure you work out any kinks beforehand!
Live one-on-one consultations
Personal consultations can still be done with clients who have specific fitness goals and may not enjoy live group options. Being able to guide a client remotely and help them still achieve fitness goals during this time will prove to be a useful skill to have in your toolbox for the future too.
Consider scoping out beforehand, or in the first session with clients, what gym or fitness equipment they may need. If you have a gym that is closed or with leftover equipment, look into offering a care package. Remember to sterilise the equipment after each return, and be sure to protect you and your clients by having clear liability agreements for damages, for the equipment and themselves, and their home. You can speak to a lawyer like Pod Legal for further advice or support on getting these agreements in place.
Online tools to help you run your personal fitness business online
Your clients can purchase subscriptions via your WordPress website, which you can set up using plugins or create a password protected page. A subscription can be used to capture recurring revenue for live personal or group sessions or for pre-recorded fitness content.
A plugin like Paid Memberships Pro provides various features for you to offer clients different subscriptions or even their own personal profile page.
You can also host an online video course on WordPress! There are many WordPress plugins specifically created to host online courses (also known as Learning Management Systems or LMS) which allow you to easily share video content, including LearnDash, Sensei, Namaste! LMS, MasterStudy LMS and Video Lessons Manager. This is a great way for clients to train at their own pace and in the comfort of their home. Perfect for challenges and bootcamps.
You can sell subscriptions through your Squarespace website if you are on their Commerce Advanced plan. You can then create a members-only password protected page, and either embed videos into your website or include links to a live stream meeting.
If you are looking to create a video course, SquareSpace doesn’t have onsite tools or compatible plugins to really create an online video course. However, there are other ways to create your online video courses on SquareSpace.
You can also customise the emails your SquareSpace site sends to customers for online purchases, which means you’ll also be able to direct them to other places. For example, if you have set up a Facebook or other online group, you can direct them to a link in that order confirmation email.
Private Facebook Group
Setting up a private Facebook Group is one of the quickest ways for you to host and share your content! As long as your clients have access to Facebook, they can access this group and the content you’ve prepared. A great way to ensure your group members are legitimate customers is to ask a few questions before allowing them to join. These questions can be set up really easily, so it’s a no-brainer to include them as a condition to entry.
A Facebook group is an excellent way to build and maintain a community that will be ongoing for as long as your Facebook group is around! This means it has value long beyond this trying time.
Aside from sharing existing videos and content, you can also use Facebook Live to live stream your fitness training. Just be mindful of Facebook’s restriction of copyrighted music! While Facebook does have a sound and music library with audio you can download and use in your Facebook videos, it currently cannot be used on Facebook Live.
To get around this you might like to share live stream links from other platforms such as Zoom or Google Hangouts Meet to your Facebook group.
Note, unlike WordPress subscriptions and membership plugins, you will need to manually review people who have joined the group and remove people if their subscription is over.
Zoom Live Streaming and Video Recording
Zoom is a live stream tool that lets you stream one-on-one or in groups of up to 3 people for 40 minutes. You also have the option to record your session and embed music into those videos, which means you can repurpose the video for future use, or allow clients to view them if they missed the live stream.
Zoom allows users to see everyone involved in the session, which can make group sessions a lot more lively, and allow for social connection and interaction.
When using Zoom to live stream your training sessions, you have to give users a unique link and code for the session. You can send this to your clients beforehand via SMS, e-mail, website, or Facebook Group. Zoom also supports other integrations such as linking up to your Google calendar or other third-party sites like Calendly. For paid users, there are also other options such as registration forms that you can use.
At the time of publication we found a Zoom live stream coupon code that worked for us. The code was: PORTFOLIOPARTNER-ZOOM
Dacast Live Streaming
Another tool you can use to live stream your sessions and embed music into video is Dacast. It works in a similar way to Zoom, allowing you to live stream your sessions and record it for future viewing.
Unlike Zoom, however, there is no way for your clients to view each other on your live stream, so it really is a way for you to share your training with them on an individual level, even if there are many people viewing your live stream!
Google Hangouts Meet
Formerly known as Google Hangouts, this free tool allows you to share videos in a group chat setting with a maximum of 10 people. However, if you have a paid G Suite account, you can use Google Hangouts Meet with more users.
Google Hangouts Meet does not usually let you record the session unless you are on its higher-priced Enterprise plan, however Google is now allowing all G Suite users to record their online video conferencing until July 1, 2020.
Apart from recording your online videos to Google Drive, this also means you can host up to 250 participants per call and live stream for up to 100,000 viewers within your domain!
Google Hangouts Meet fully integrates with Google Calendar, so you can easily send calendar notifications to your clients before a session.
This online scheduling tool allows you to integrate with Zoom and Google Calendar so your clients can choose a free time from your class schedule and book a session accordingly. Do note that you will have to sign up to a paid plan with Calendly in order to offer payment options for your clients within the tool.
Another way to sell services or subscriptions is by using an online form builder like JotForm. This solution allows you to integrate with other tools including Stripe where you can capture client information and create subscriptions for your customers. Best of all, you can use JotForm to host the online form – which means you won’t need to pay for web hosting or other costs.
Vimeo and YouTube
One of the easiest ways to share your video content online is via Vimeo and YouTube. Both video hosting sites allow for easy uploads of your videos, and your clients can access them via a link that you can send via SMS, e-mail, or Facebook groups. You can also embed your Vimeo and YouTube videos on your website, and share them directly to your Facebook Page.
A key difference between these two video hosting sites is that Vimeo allows you to password protect your videos, but YouTube does not. This is important for paid videos, as only paying clients can have access to the videos you are sharing. A workaround for this is to use the ‘unlisted’ publish feature in YouTube. However, do note that if someone shares the video link, they will be able to still view the video without a password.
Note as well that, similar to Facebook Live, there are restrictions to music usage rights on videos due to copyright laws.
Build your own app
Building your own fitness app can be an expensive option, but something you can own and develop for years to come. The overall cost to set up and maintain can vary from a few thousand dollars, though, so it’s something to think about!
Online tools offered by tech giants like Google and Zoom are worth paying for as you don’t need to worry about maintenance and technical glitches. It’s also worth noting that you’d need to develop two different apps for iOS (Apple) and Android (e.g. Samsung), as both of their app stores and operating systems have their own specific requirements.
Start running your business again
If you’ve been stressing out about closing down your gym and losing access to clients, the options we’ve outlined above can be the key to you being able to run your business again.
As Michael has put so succinctly: “Get comfortable in this new space and make your clients feel comfortable too.”
We always aim to provide solutions for small businesses, and will continue to champion fresh ways to overcome challenges together!
Help us make this resource even better
If you have suggestions for an online tool or unique approach for small businesses to prosper in these trying times, we urge you to get in touch with us. We’d like to hear your perspective and share that education freely, as we’re all about supporting small businesses here at LYF Solutions.