Since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, personal trainers and fitness professionals have been adapting how they offer fitness training.
As underlying conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes can be a contributing factor in the severity of Covid symptoms, keeping moving is as important as ever for our health. It’s also good for mental wellbeing, helping us to keep a positive outlook in a time of additional stress. With restrictions on travel and many people working at home, getting out to exercise for a few hours a week has given many of us a much needed boost.
With gyms closed during lockdown and classes subject to restrictions under the Tier system, personal training has moved online, outdoors and into new venues. For some personal trainers, this new way of working has led to a complete rethink of what they offered before.
How have personal trainers responded to Covid-19 restrictions?
Insure4Sport surveyed 1,000 personal trainers in July 2020 and found that 74% had done some client training online and via live-streamed sessions and 31% saw themselves moving more business online in the future.
A quarter said that they expect to offer more training online than in person moving forward and 36% thought their clients would be uncomfortable with returning to the gym in the near future. Many have seen success with outdoor training and 44% said they will continue to hold outdoor sessions even when indoor restrictions are no longer in place.
Things for personal trainers to consider
As you re-evaluate your business model, what should you keep in mind as a personal trainer?
1. Equipment – investing in new equipment could be a smart move, especially if you’re saving several hundred pounds a month from not paying fees to train clients in a gym environment. Things to consider:
a) Could you set up a gym in your home? If so, you might want to invest in some heavy-duty machinery such as treadmills, exercise bikes, cross trainers, rowing machines or steppers, as well as free weights. For a restricted space, there are multi-functional machines that can offer 30 or 40 different exercises on one machine.
b) Will you be travelling to clients’ houses, outdoor or other locations? If so, you could look at purchasing lighter equipment such as resistance bands, exercise balls, skipping ropes, boxing gloves and pads, portable steps and some lighter weights such as dumbbells and kettlebells.
2. Client goals – moving out of a gym might mean changes to your client base. Outdoor training is usually carried out with smaller or no equipment, which means that it is more suited to health and weight-loss goals than strength and muscle-building – although body weight exercises remain an option. Outdoors can also work well for HIIT training.
3. Permission – in the past you might have been able to simply turn up in a public park or woods to train your clients, but in recent times many councils have introduced rules and regulations on what you can and cannot do. You may need to apply for permission and in some cases pay to be allowed to train in public spaces. Some parks also require you to apply for a special licence. Check on your local council website for more information.
4. Insurance – check your insurance as it may cover you for working with clients in a gym but not in their homes or outdoors.
5. Pricing – personal training online is usually cheaper than in-person training and you’ll need to keep an eye on the going rate to ensure your services remain competitive.
6. Other earning options – with many personal trainers seeing a dip in earnings over the year, you might want to diversify into other areas, such as writing personalised nutrition or meal plans. Make sure you have the correct qualifications in place to advise, as there are stringent rules around this. You might want to investigate gaining further qualifications, such as a Level 4 Certificate in Weight Management for Obese and Diabetic Clients.
While the Covid-19 outbreak has had a huge impact on the fitness industry, it has also opened up new opportunities for personal trainers. Online training has seen a boost, which may continue into the future, but many still feel that there is no substitute for face-to-face training.
Keeping abreast of government guidelines remains important, but even after everything (hopefully!) one day returns to ‘normal’, many personal trainers will be rethinking their business models – and moving their core activity away from large gyms.