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How to Start or Enhance an Online Training Program for Your Fitness Studio
You know how important it is to keep clients motivated and comfortable in your gym or fitness studio, but actually getting them to visit in the first place can be easier said than done.
As much as health experts repeatedly tell Americans how important a healthy lifestyle is, some struggle to stay as fit as they should. According to a recent survey, 73 percent of Americans work out at least once per week, while 27 percent claimed they don’t exercise on a regular basis. Of the 1,000 people asked, 144 never work out at all.
Why? Low self-esteem and fear of being judged are two reasons. And these aren’t new problems, either. Way back in 2006, in a study of more than 1,700 Americans, around a third admitted to feeling too intimidated to visit a gym. And, just last year, a new study by Sport England exploring women’s exercise habits found many were too self-conscious about their appearance to visit their gym or engage in regular sports.
Fears surrounding a lack of ability or being judged for prioritizing themselves over children were additional impediments to a healthier lifestyle, with around 7 million women saying they would like to exercise more.
For the many people with low self-confidence, how can you introduce them to the joys of working out and honing their body without exposing them to an uncomfortable situation?
Online training programs are available to anyone with an internet connection, bringing professional fitness and nutrition advice into the home. This accessibility means everyone able to exercise, even moderately, can have their own personal trainer. You can help people transform their lives without their having to step foot in your studio.
Creating online programs is a powerful way to reach new customers and expand your business. Even the smallest setup can embrace the more affordable, easy freedom today’s video streaming platforms offer. Even if you’re a one-person firm, you can bolster your income by working with clients in person by day, and recording videos for online customers by night.
Here’s how can you can set up or enhance an online training program for your fitness studio.
1. Establish Your Target Demographics and Goals
First, you need to establish who you want to help and what your aims are. Simply producing a chain of videos jumping from one area of fitness to another randomly is likely to result in a muddled program. Instead, focus on creating various courses based around specific activities or targets.
For example, Zumba is an increasingly popular way to stay fit and have fun. However, people with low self-confidence may feel uncomfortable joining a local class for fear of being judged. Online Zumba groups such as Zumba Front Row provide members with interactive classes in their own home. Zumba Front Row, in particular, live-streams sessions with famous instructors and provides a comprehensive range of recorded videos and nutritional information.
Establish a clear plan for a course or two, just to start with. Brainstorm ideas for courses that are underserved by existing online trainers, and note five ways to make them better than the rest. What can you bring to the table that others don’t?
You also need to know what type of clients you plan to work with, and how best you can help them meet their goals — a client looking to build their upper body strength and mass would require a totally different program than someone looking to shift their post-baby weight. Look into the types of people using your fitness studio, as well as competing businesses, and how their goals differ. Create a portfolio of programs that appeal to the most popular goals.
After Christmas, for example, the number of people joining gyms increases as they try to shed their holiday weight. Consider adding a program specifically designed for this. You could even create a selection aimed at varied physical abilities and ages.
2. Offer Diverse Content to Further the Experience
Videos are easy to access, more engaging than text-based tutorials, and can further stimulate viewers with dynamic music and vocal encouragement. However, other content should be used to enhance the learning experience.
Create diet plans or nutrition guides relevant to each course for maximum impact. Which foods will help keep clients energized during their 10-week fitness program? What smoothies can they make at home as meal replacements? You have to provide enough options to appeal to their tastes. Don’t just offer one recommendation; cover various replacement ideas to cover a broad range of flavors and ingredients.
Make sure clients can access these across all devices and download them for offline reading. Give clients the means to stay engaged with your program at all times: Convenience is key today. Mobile compatibility is not an option — every aspect of your site should be tailored for high performance on all devices.
3. Choose a Video Hosting Platform
While many online trainers use YouTube to host their videos, there are limitations to even this streaming giant. For starters, while pages can be customized, your videos are still embedded in the YouTube platform, running alongside competing videos and without a unique URL.
Building your own site demands more effort, but is ultimately more rewarding. By using a video-on-demand platform like Uscreen, you have your own little niche and the freedom to reinforce your own brand. You can choose any color scheme — rather than that red and white style we all know so well — to ensure a more personal experience.
Start small and keep your focus. Build a library of videos clearly categorized for easy navigation, and add supporting materials (diet plans, cool down tips etc.) in downloadable formats. Aim for a professional polished design that feels true to your brand and mission. Here’s an example of how that might look:
Using a white-label hosting service allows you to tailor your site to your own exact specifications without the difficulties of maintaining its performance. This leaves you free to focus on your content and, critically, your clients.
4. Embrace the Marketing Potential of Social Media
Social media is a critical tool in marketing today, across most sectors of business.
As a fitness specialist, you have more room to get creative with your promotions than those in less dynamic areas. Consider sharing snippets or montages from your videos in your Facebook and Twitter posts, with links directing followers directly to your site. Images can increase a post’s chances of being viewed, so post inspirational pictures (perhaps show before-and-after snaps of your previous clients, to prove your credentials).
Be willing to engage with your followers as often as needed. Never leave comments, questions, or complaints unaddressed. Not only does this irritate the original poster, it also creates a negative image in the minds of others.
While you can create and use social accounts for free, don’t be afraid to invest in paid ads either. You can tailor these to target specific types of users, and these promoted posts are usually available at competitive prices.
The more active you are in promoting your program on social media and engaging with people, the more you can build a following. This takes time, of course, but it’s a great way to drive traffic organically.
You should also contact your local press to cover your new program and distribute press releases online (either free or paid, though the latter tends to have further reach). If you have existing clients, ask them to recommend your services on social media and to friends, in exchange for a small discount or extra session.
Remember that building a name for yourself demands hard work and time.
5. Establish Your Payment Model
Using a video hosting platform to distribute your training program allows you to monetize in various ways. Do you want to charge for entire courses, or for just one video at a time?
The latter is less of a gamble, as you are allowing customers to try your content before committing to further videos. This is more of an accessible model, rather than expecting clients to spend larger amounts on a complete course they might not actually feel comfortable with.
Using Uscreen, for example, allows you to set up your own monetization system. Study your target demographics’ spending habits, and the ways in which your most successful competitors charge for their content. Even if you find you’re not receiving the immediate income you would prefer, a more balanced payment system may be more attractive to prospective clients.
However, if you provide users with access to an entire course’s worth of videos, how do you know your clients won’t simply consume it all in one go and potentially overexert themselves?
Video hosting platforms allow for live-streaming, so you may want to set up courses that feature some live sessions as well as pre-recorded ones. This breaks the course up into safer, more manageable chunks and allows you to engage with viewers in real-time. Live videos also prevent older courses from feeling stale or outdated.
Creating a unique online training program is a terrific way to reach prospects struggling to register with a fitness studio for various reasons (low confidence, etc.). You can provide all the essential safety and nutritional information through videos and texts, building an online resource hub designed to help people transform their lives.