In a recent move some of the big corporate gyms have decided to do away with the people in their businesses. Budget gyms are here and more importantly to us – virtually staff-less gyms are here.
The budget gym operators believe most people who use a gym don’t want a trainer, and the plethora of industry data says they are correct. Only 5-10% of gym members take up the offer of a programme by an instructor.
They have taken the biggest overhead out, the instructors, and flipped the traditional gym business model (staff heavy and profits low) to become more profitable and easier to run without the staff issues. Online bookings and membership systems take even more people out.
Personal training uptake in large health & fitness clubs varies between 10-20%.
Their approach is logical – some people want help with their training and some don’t. Those who do, pay and those who don’t, won’t.
You can’t really argue with the thinking and as a business model I love it, as a provider of health and fitness I hate it.
A service business with low people overheads… power?
I don’t particularly have a problem with budget gyms, I’m actually a member of one, although I haven’t been yet (it’s been open 5 months) but could not resist it at 9.99 per month (that’s another part of their strategy I’m sure).
I do have a problem with the notion that trainers can be removed from the equation.
I hate it because I have long felt that gym memberships were too cheap, and now budget gyms take the cost even lower.
Offering someone full access to your gym facility for 6-12 per week, or 2-4 per workout to me is ridiculous. It should be more like 10-15 per visit or 100 plus per month, in my opinion. More on this below….
If you offer something too cheaply (or even give it away for free) people won’t value it. As is the case with health and fitness, it’s often sold too cheaply, people don’t value it.
It sends the wrong message.
It sends the message that “health” is cheap and access to it is even cheaper.
You also have the more common power struggle scenario where the personal trainers are paying 500+ per month rent to the club to work their customers. In this case the gyms are making better margins than the trainers.
I have never done it so I’m not sure but it sounds about as expensive as renting a small unit in our area, 6k a year.
People have said that’s hard to justify in the long term, and your better off taking out a 30k loan over 5 years. That’s enough to set you up in a little studio.
Do the big gyms hold the power in this case? Are trainers who pay rent and build a client base in a club in a strong or vulnerable position?
When I say power, I don’t mean the kind of power to rule the world and suppress others. I mean the kind of power to control your own destiny.
Good personal trainers are specialists but are not regarded or treated as so. We can add more value to people’s lives than some other professional’s that’s for sure.
What has been the response from our end of the market?
The independents and the fitness business entrepreneurs should use what we have that they don’t… personality.
Our ability to deliver amazing and consistent results, our motivational qualities and our ability to personalise the experience, that’s the difference.
This type of business is HUGELY dependent on GOOD people to create the experience.
It’s no surprise that the best (most popular) instructors get the best attendance, retention and adherence to their programmes.
The potentially exciting future of gyms and group fitness is built around individual trainers or small groups of individuals.
Small specialist teams, with small membership numbers, high fees and offering a quality experience.
My final thoughts are that the corporations hold many of the resources, venues and the large capital and the trainers hold the keys to getting the clients results and providing all the energy and motivation that goes with that.
The trainers hold the skills at the luxury end of the market and the corporate gyms hold the power at the “pack em in pile em high” end of the market.
This is just fine for us personal trainers.
Who is your market? If it’s anything like mine, it’s the luxury, affluent and high end of the market. These types of people want a personalised experience and are happy and willing to pay for it.
What do you think? I want to know, am I the only one who thinks the corporate side of the industry are selling us too cheaply? De-valuing the personal trainer market?
Some may say the best result for both parties would be to work together of course and come up with unique solutions to serve both types of people.
I think you should not try to keep all of the people happy all of the time.
Keep things separate, with a clear message. Health is a commodity, the most valuable one of all.
Have you been affected by a large corporate gym in your area?
Do you run a personal training business?
Head over to http://www.personaltrainercommunity.com to see what help you can get to improve your business and link up with other elite personal trainers from all over the world. Richard Clarke, the author and elite personal trainer, has lots of interesting things to say and lots of useful resources to improve your income potential.