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PERSONAL TRAINING


WORLD WORLD


FOCUS


PERSONAL TRAINING HAS PROVED A TOUGH NUT TO CRACK FOR MANY OPERATORS – BUT THERE ARE SOME NOTABLE SUCCESS STORIES. KATH HUDSON REPORTS


W


ith its high hourly rates, personal training has sometimes been seen by fitness instructors as a ‘get rich quick’ scheme. However, the reality is somewhat different. IHRSA’s 2011


Profiles of Success report found that in the US, only 15 per cent of members pay for PT – and as a result, disillusioned no doubt by the reality versus their expectations, 57 per cent of personal trainers give up in the first six months. Why is this? Is PT a service most members simply don’t want? Has the recession made gym-goers more price- conscious? Is the gym culture not supportive? Or is word-of- mouth not happening because clients aren’t seeing results? US chain Planet Fitness stopped offering PT in 2011, claiming people were just using the service to “rent a friend”. But other operators might turn the same argument on its head, seeing the counselling aspect as a selling point of good PT. Consultant and PT expert Nic Jarvis certainly believes that being successful as a PT requires innovation and a sophisticated skill set, encompassing knowledge of behavioural


change, nutrition and counselling. But he feels that, at the moment, few PTs are meeting the grade: “Very often, clubs are just sending staff for a minimal amount of training to tick boxes. But for people to see results with PT, they need to change their behaviour, which is a mental shift and not a physical change. For long-term change, PTs need to be able to coach people through that behavioural change process. “I’ve been encouraging the PTs I work with to target a younger audience – generation Y – as an untapped and potentially lucrative market,” he continues. “Many PTs are intimidated by this group and prefer to target older, deconditioned people, as it’s easier to put a programme together. Superior knowledge is needed to make a difference to an already fi t 20-year-old – it requires a different type of programming and knowledge of nutrition.” It’s this sort of out-of-the-box thinking that could boost PT in clubs, ensuring members are engaged, PTs retained and revenues boosted. We look at the innovation already bearing fruit for some entrepreneurial chains, clubs and individuals.


PHOENIX PRO FITNESS, UK


Godalming-based gym Phoenix Pro Fitness has integrated personal training into its membership structure. Club owner Charlotte Ord says the model was inspired by her mentor, a Californian health club operator. There are a number of different membership packages on offer which include personal training and semi-private training, where people train alongside a few other clients. These integrated packages are driving take-up of personal training at the club.


“Having several clients working together is slightly harder work for the PT, but it means the club can offer more PT sessions during peak times,” says Ord. “Also, there’s group accountability and motivation, and PT is made more affordable. People with different goals happily train together and it’s made the club more sociable.” Fees start at £70 a month for gym membership, rising to £600 a month for the VIP membership, which includes eight private PT sessions a month. “The most popular package is the All Access which, at £179 a month, gives four one-hour, semi-private sessions a month and access to all the classes and gym,” says Ord. “Our retention is very good, and we think this is because the personal training makes sure people come regularly and get better results. PT is all about continuity.”


Group PT sessions at Phoenix have improved club sociability 46 Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital March 2013 © Cybertrek 2013


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