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PT: What is Blue Ocean Strategy

Hadyn Luke posted this on Thursday 19th of February 2015 Hadyn Luke 19/02/2015

Tags: Industry news


As well as their day-to-day work helping clients to improve their fitness levels and overall wellbeing, personal trainers and other fitness professionals will need to spend some time progressing their career and developing their business. This is where Blue Ocean Strategy, the subject of this blog, can potentially help.


What is Blue Ocean Strategy?

Blue Ocean Strategy is a way of creating business success. The concept was explained in a 2005 global bestselling book of the same name by Professor W Chan Kim and Professor Renée Mauborgne, Co-Directors of the INSEAD Blue Ocean Strategy Institute at INSEAD in France, the second largest business school in the world. The book has sold 3.5 million copies and has been translated into 47 languages.


The basic tenet is that rather than trying to compete in ‘red oceans’ where competitors are fighting over the same profit pool, a personal trainer or fitness professional should look at how they can create untapped new markets or ‘blue oceans’.


Simply explained, it’s a way to ‘create uncontested market space and make the competition irrelevant’.


The ideas behind the Blue Ocean approach come from a study of 150 strategic moves that covered 30 industries over more than 100 years. The principles and tools can be applied to any organisation or industry, including the fitness industry.


Why does a fitness instructor need Blue Ocean Strategy?

Whatever aspect of the health and fitness industry you already work in (or aspire to work in) – personal training, fitness instruction, gym or sports centre management, sports massage or others – your business will stagnate if you don’t develop it and adapt to changes in the industry (see our blog on Results of the 2015 Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends).


The aim of Blue Ocean Strategy is to help you to identify potential areas of business that will allow you to stand out from others in the marketplace.


As every personal trainer and fitness instructor will know, the start of each year sees new clients flocking to the gym with new resolve. However, this is also a good time to give your own business a health check.


What are the Blue Ocean Strategy Tools?

The Blue Ocean Strategy website (www.blueoceanstrategy.com) lists a number of tools and frameworks for anyone involved in business, including personal trainers, fitness instructors and sports centre managers. These are:


Value Innovation                Six Paths                               Strategy Canvas

4 Actions Framework        Sequence of BOS                 Tipping Point Leadership

ERRC Grid                             PMS Map                               Buyer Utility Map

3 Tiers of Noncustomers   4 Hurdles to Execution     Fair Process


To take the first three:


Value Innovation – described as the cornerstone of Blue Ocean Strategy, this is where a fitness professional would seek to simultaneously find a point of differentiation and a low cost to what they offer.


For example, a gym manager could look at the factors that the industry takes for granted and see if any of them could be reduced below or raised above the industry standard – or eliminated entirely. They could also investigate new factors that could be created that have never been offered before.


Six Paths – challenges the six fundamental assumptions made by companies that keep them in the ‘red oceans’, for example only focusing on rivals within your own industry rather than learning lessons from other industries.


In the case of a fitness instructor, rather than looking at what other fitness professionals are doing to advance their business, you should look at examples from different sectors to get fresh ideas.


Strategy Canvas – a graph that helps anyone working in any sector, including the fitness industry, to identify what factors the industry currently competes on and to work out how to reorient focus from customer to non-customer.


Will Blue Ocean Strategy bring results?

As with any business strategy, the results will depend on the time and effort that a personal trainer is willing to put in.


However, as Blue Ocean Strategy provides a step-by-step process, with visual and easy-to-understand tools, there’s no reason why any fitness professional shouldn’t be able to incorporate it into their approach to running their business and see results for their efforts.



Although there are many business books on the market and a range of business tools that a fitness professional can utilise, Blue Ocean Strategy is potentially a positive approach to developing a business in the health and fitness industry.

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