This is Phil Tran, Owner and Head Coach of PT Strength.
For obvious reasons, there has been a huge spike in sales of exercise equipment for the home. There is an unspoken fear among private strength coaches and personal trainers that this phenomenon could permanently reduce their business once the pandemic has been defeated.
I do not share these concerns. I believe the increased presence of home gyms will not hurt the profession of personal training. It will only help. The reason why is obvious.
Every single household has a kitchen. Has this fact made professional chefs obsolete? No it has not. Did the restaurant industry die? No, the restaurant concept is still here and is ever adapting to changing tastes and norms.
Many homes have at least one musical instrument. Why do music teachers still have jobs?
Open space for running has been available for free since the dawn of civilization. Why do running coaches still exist to this very day?
Just because someone has unfettered access to equipment does not mean that person knows how to maximize its usage.
I think the explosion in home gyms is a positive development for personal trainers, exercise equipment manufacturers, and the end users. It is a win-win-win situation.
Ultimately, we want people to be healthier and more people will be inclined to exercise if their favorite exercise equipment is in their home. The time and cost to commute to a gym would be eliminated.
Exercise equipment manufacturers are certainly enjoying the ability to sell well in the residential space in addition to the traditional commercial space.
Where does that leave personal trainers? Remember that not everybody cooks their own food despite the ubiquity of kitchens. Music teachers are still being hired despite the presence of musical instruments in many homes.
Opportunity will look different and will be more abundant for the personal trainer after the pandemic. No longer will personal trainers be tied to a physical location. House calls will become more popular. Remote training via video conference will be more effective and have greater potential with the existence of more home gyms.
The fitness industry is changing. It is always changing. 2020 looks different from 2010 and 1970 is the prehistoric age.
When a person pays for a gym membership, a significant portion of that payment goes towards facilities and equipment before it goes to human resources. The person is essentially renting space and equipment. The purchasing of training then goes on top.
Now that the same person has built a home gym, there is no longer any need to rent somebody else’s space and equipment to exercise. However, where does the person acquire training knowledge?
That right there is the true value of a coach. It is knowledge. Knowledge is not confined inside four walls.
The value of a personal trainer is the knowledge he or she possesses. The personal trainer is compensated for the effective dissemination of that knowledge.
The dissemination of knowledge can happen in a traditional commercial gym. I think commercial gyms will always have a presence in some form. There are people out there who need the presence of others or feel a sense of community in order to be motivated to exercise and are willing to pay for that. Private indoor workout and competition facilities have great value in athletic performance and youth and high school sports.
The dissemination of knowledge can happen in a client’s home during a house call. House calls are not a new concept. Just a few generations ago, they were quite common for doctors. That custom stopped and shifted towards commercial buildings due to the desire to seek efficiency with the proliferation of automobiles and expansion of suburbia. However, the number of house calls doctors are making are starting to rise again due to renewed interest in house calls. The same is happening with lawyers.
Outside of a professional, the type of person who builds a home gym is the type of person who desires convenience, comfort, familiarity, and privacy and is willing to pay significantly for that. Someone who pays $1000 to $10000 to construct a home gym is reasonably someone who would pay for a personal trainer to make a house call and help maximize usage and gains.
Professional services shifted from house calls to commercial buildings to maximize efficiency. Would a shift back to house calls reduce efficiency and revenues?
No it would not. There is one reason why. It is called the internet.
I just stated that someone who pays $1000 to $10000 to construct a home gym is reasonably someone who would pay for a personal trainer to make a house call and help maximize usage and gains. That person is just as likely to pay a personal trainer to make a video call.
Look at the Peloton. People pay over $2000 to have a Peloton delivered to their home. On top of that, they are paying $39 per month to have a one-way relationship with a personal trainer on the personal trainer’s schedule.
However, we as private strength coaches and personal trainers do not have a one-way relationship with our clients. We actually work with our clients to find convenient times for the most people. We know our clients’ training history and medical history. We have rapport and trust with our clients. We have a referral network of trusted medical professionals to protect and advance the health of our clients.
If a personal trainer can translate an in-person training relationship to an online model, and I see many have done so, that commands significantly more than $39 per month from a client.
I own a work-from-home strength and conditioning business and a work-from-home public relations consulting firm. I have been doing this for over a decade. I think the world is beginning to learn first hand of the joys, and to be fair, the pitfalls, of working from home and homeschooling.
However, because the entire world has been forced to experience working from home and homeschooling, I hope the experience has eliminated the associated stigma and normalized the home economy and homeschool.
Homeschoolers have long been stereotyped as being weird. They are not and people have had different reasons as to why homeschooling worked best for them.
For much of the internet age, there was an unspoken assumption that if your office is your home, that was not “professional.” Businesses capitalized on this stigma and resulting insecurity by offering PO box services with a real street address. It was a dubious, yet celebrated milestone for a budding entrepreneur to sign a lease for commercial office space to get out of the house. Good luck generating enough new business to pay for the increased overhead.
For a good number of professionals out there, the most efficient way to do business is to set up shop in the home and never expand into commercial real estate.
A post-COVID-19 personal trainer is a personal trainer who can seamlessly transition between a commercial gym, a client’s home, and virtual training depending on the needs of his or her clientele.
It would be foolish to return to the way things were when the economy reopens. The business systems and revenue streams you establish during quarantine need to be permanent revenue streams for you once the quarantine is lifted. With a perfected online component plus the return of in-person business, you can very well double your income.
Traditional sit-down restaurants that have established takeout and delivery systems during the quarantine need to keep those services. A fine dining experience coupled with efficient takeout and delivery services will garner more revenue.
Real estate agents who have established a method to sell a home without ever meeting a client in person need to maintain and grow that skill once they can work with clients in person again.
Commercial real estate will still be here as the internet age advances. As malls die rapidly and office space sits vacant, commercial real estate is transitioning to data centers, warehouses, and factories as we speak.
Personal trainers who have established a revenue stream online need to maintain and grow that revenue stream once they are allowed to return to the gym.
That which helped you survive will help you thrive.
Once the economy recovers, I think we will see an economy that is bigger and better than ever before. Stay patient. Stay strong. Use this valuable downtime to establish and test your business systems so that you won’t be left behind when the economy reopens and the market recovers.