The hybrid trainer ushers in a new era of the fitness profession because they have the ability to seamlessly transition between one-on-one instruction and leading a group fitness class. By offering a variety of services or “fitness programming”, the hybrid trainer appeals to and can attract a broader base of clients so they can succeed in any economic situation.
- The fitness professional will be able to identify new opportunities within the fitness profession by incorporating hybrid training.
- The fitness professional will discover additional ways to succeed in the fitness market by reaching clients at various price points.
- The fitness professional will be able to seamlessly integrate their current training model into one that encompasses working with new audiences while retaining existing clientele.
While the economy struggles, the fitness profession seems to be rooted on stable economic ground. In fact, fitness-related careers are expected to rise faster than average for all occupations through 2014 according to the U.S. Department of Labor (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012). Fuelled by the continuing obesity epidemic, advancing age of our population, and the increased emphasis on programming for sport-specific conditioning, there has never been a better time to be involved in the fitness industry (Thompson, 2011).
Although the U.S. Department of Labor’s outlook on the future of the fitness industry may seem bright, a realistic look at the economy paints a slightly darker picture. With increasing numbers of Americans casting a more careful eye over their finances and spending, services that are often deemed luxury in nature, personal training and massage for example, often take a financial back seat to the necessary staples of life including food, gas, and housing.
Despite this reality, during virtually every challenging economic time in history, there exists a group of individuals who seem to succeed, and even thrive, despite what their industry or circumstances seem to dictate. The fitness professional that can provide a high level of service, while offering a variety services or ”fitness programming”, has the greatest chance of surviving and even thriving in this economy. In this article, you will be introduced to the concept of the hybrid trainer and discover that by combining unique expertise with creative program structuring, a fitness professional can carve out a very successful and enduring niche in this ever-changing and challenging economy.
Introduction to the Hybrid Trainer
What exactly is a “hybrid trainer”? Traditionally, there have been two primary categories of trainers – personal trainers who work one-on-one with clientele and group exercise instructors who tend to lead group exercise class. Generally, these two categories of trainers remained in their respective domains, rarely crossing over to the others’ niche. However, with the increasing economic challenges of the one-on-one pricing structure coupled with the increasing needs of those involved in group exercise class to have one-on-one interaction, there is a growing demand for a the fitness professional that can seamlessly blend their skills into an effective solution for their clients. The hybrid trainer, an individual who can meet the needs of both a group class, as well as that of the individual with orthopaedic, postural, or nutritional needs (Hoffman, 2012) is going to be able to welcome in a new era and redefine what it is to be a fitness professional.
This discussion begs to have the question answered, why would you decide to become a hybrid trainer rather than remaining in your current niche? Here are three main reasons to develop yourself into a hybrid trainer:
Reason #1: Economics
While the Department of Labor statistics give us reason to be optimistic regarding our future in the fitness industry, we also need to be realistic about the economic status of many of our clients. Although many of our clients can afford $80-125.00 for a one-on-one personal training session, there are increasing numbers of individuals that are not being served due to these prohibitive costs. In fact, it has been reported that cost was one of the greatest reasons for member attrition in health clubs (IHRSA, 2012). Given the fact that most monthly memberships are less expensive than even one personal training session, this raises some concern that a large percentage of the population is not being served because of the one-on-one pricing structure. The more affordable pricing offered in group training helps solve this problem on several fronts because in most instances the price does not become a barrier to entry.
Reason #2: Retention
Retention is one, if not the greatest concern to health club owners and individual fitness entrepreneurs alike (Fischbach, 2012). Increased retention decreases the hours and investment afforded for a fitness professional to prospect for new clientele. The hybrid trainer can improve retention both for themselves as solo practitioners, as well as their health club, in several ways:
- As discussed above, the hybrid trainer offers the individual, who cannot/no longer afford the higher one-on-one price point of personal training, an alternative way to continue working on achieving their health and fitness goals with a qualified fitness professional.
- One-on-one clients often complain of workouts becoming "stale". The group training model provides a method of introducing a more dynamic environment with a variety of different movements and patterns. Whether the one-on-one client switches to the group training model, or uses group training to complement their one-on-one training, the variety helps overcome the “stale” workouts, therefore the client is more likely to continue training.
- The group environment provides a collective source of input from each participant in the class so it can be a great way to keep all participants motivated, energized, and inspired – all of which contribute to increasing the length of the client’s training commitment.
- On the other side of the coin, for the group trainee or boot camper that feels intimidated, self-conscious, or lost during class, one-on-one training can be individualized and directed towards intrinsic motivation and instruction. This can be extremely effective to help individuals feel supported and empowered to continue exercise.
- For the group training individual, one-on-one training can be a great way to address specific needs and/or wants that may be impossible to address in a group setting. One-on-one training can obviously be tailored to an individual’s specific needs, such as muscle imbalances, postural dysfunction, or nutrition recommendations for changes in body composition.
Reason #3: Increased outreach and revenue
With only 16 million Americans, or 18% of the population belonging to a health club (IHRSA, 2012), there are many individuals not having access to quality exercise instruction. The hybrid trainer can instruct boot camps and group training almost anywhere including outdoors, community centers and/or parks. This helps to eliminate many of the financial and location barriers encountered in health clubs across many regions of the country. In addition, for the fitness professional that is running group training programs, one-on-one training can be a great way to gain additional revenue streams. Specialized one-on-one sessions focused on corrective exercise to address muscle imbalances and postural distortions, sport-specific instruction, and/or nutritional evaluations can be very beneficial to the attending member of the group class. Alternatively, for the fitness professional that is instructing one-on-one training, incorporating group training classes will allow the trainer to reach clientele that may not have normally been attracted to one-on-one training and serve as a great complement to the existing one-on-one client’s routine. This is a simple method of bringing significant amounts of additional revenue to both the individual trainer and the health club. In fact, when structured properly, the hybrid trainer may be able to generate more revenue per hour by charging numerous individuals at a lesser rate, as opposed to the price of one individual at a single session rate.
Professional Menu of Services of the Hybrid Trainer
One of greatest benefits of being a hybrid trainer is the ability to provide a variety of services, or “fitness programming”, so that they can be the expert the clients need and appeal to a larger group of individuals. Drawing comparisons with purchasing a new car, BMW does not just offer one high-end model that only a small portion of the population can afford. Instead, they offer a variety of makes and models with various features and extras customized specifically to the buyers’ wants, needs, and price point. Similarly, the hybrid fitness professional has the unique ability to provide fitness programming for clients at varying levels of experience, comfort, and economic means. A menu of services may be structured as follows:
- Low price point – group fitness class or boot camp
- Medium price point – semi-private training
- High price point – one-on-one training
Lower Price Point
At a lower price point - $10-30.00 per session – the hybrid trainer will design and instruct a group of ten to fifty individuals. Generally, these classes will be run outdoors (park for example), in a community center, or large group exercise room at a health club. This class should only be open to individuals that have been cleared to exercise and have no major health or orthopaedic issues. These groups will not have one-on-one access to the trainer, although they will still provide them opportunities to communicate through blogs, Facebook, or other social media outlets set up specifically for the boot camp or group exercise class. This social media connection will also help participants interact with each other so the trainer can foster a community environment within the groups. This is one important factor in client retention and will help the trainer differentiate from other fitness professionals and programs.
Medium Price Point
At a medium price point - $30-75.00 per session – the trainer will work with a lower number of individuals. This semi-private model will enable the trainer to work with two to ten clients, which will allow the ability to provide more individualized attention, instruction, and even correction. These groups are generally trained indoors in a private gym facility or a community center, however, they can also be run outdoors. If the group requires more instruction or correction, keep the number of attendees lower – for example, between three and five at one time– and train them indoors when possible. These clients can still benefit from the collective energy of the group and the community element can be fostered as was with the group fitness and boot camp class.
High Price Point
One-on-one training is the traditional model used in the fitness industry. While highly dependant on the region, expertise, and focus, the clients at this higher price point will pay between $75.00 and $250.00 for one-on-one training that is very specific and personalized to their needs and wants.
It goes without saying that regardless of the menu of fitness programs offered, always deliver the highest quality of service you possibly can and over-deliver at every opportunity. BMW does not compromise the quality of their vehicle because someone purchases one of their 3-series models rather than the much higher priced 7-series model. They deliver the highest quality vehicle and over-deliver on customer service at every level their client enters into their community. Mirror this model of business excellence for all your clients and you will find yourself with raving fans that remain with you and refer their friends and family.
Getting Started as a Hybrid Trainer
Getting started as a hybrid trainer may initially seem challenging. However, you can get started relatively easy by reaching out to current or past clientele. Use social media outlets, as well as newsletters (start one right away if you don’t have one) to keep up-to-date with current and past clients. Give clients incentives to refer their friends or family to your group classes which gives potential new clients a low barrier-to-entry into your system. If you work with one-on-one with clients, you likely have clients that would like to join a group exercise class to pick up an extra day of exercise. Similarly, you may have a list of clients that had to stop training with you because it was cost-prohibitive. Reach out to them and ask if they would be interested in joining a group exercise program. Similarly, if you work with a group class, let your participants know that you are available to do one-on-one training or consulting. Let them know if you have a specialized area of interest such as corrective exercise, nutrition, or sports specific training and how those services can benefit their current training in helping them accomplish their health and fitness goals. The greater your outreach via social media, newsletter, word of mouth, speaking to community groups, or simply speaking to your current clients and contacts, the easier it will be for you to succeed and thrive as a hybrid trainer.
There has never been a better time to be involved in the fitness profession. By leveraging your time, your expertise, and your earning potential, you can appeal to, get your message out to, and attract a broader based audience. Working as a hybrid trainer, you increase your chances of success by giving individuals an opportunity to know, like, and trust you at whatever level they begin their relationship with you. One thing that never changes, regardless of the state of the economy, is the need for highly qualified individuals who know how to deliver exceptional value for their clients. Therefore, the hybrid trainer will continue to be in demand regardless of the economic forecasts or industry conditions.
- Fischbach, A. F. Ramping Up Retention. Retrieved September 1, 2012, from http://clubindustry.com/mag/fitness_ramping_retention/
- Hoffman, F. How to Become a Group Exercise Instructor. Retrieved September 1, 2012, from http://www.ideafit.com/fitness-library/getting-a-job-in-group-exercise.
- Thompson, W. (2011, November/December). Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2012. ACSM'S Health & Fitness Journal: Volume 15(6), 9–18.
- Frequently Asked Questions – Research. Retrieved September 1, 2012, from http://www.ihrsa.org/research-faqs/.
- Fitness Trainers and Instructors Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved September 1, 2012, from http://www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/fitness-trainers-and-instructors.htm.
- Top Health Trends for 2012. Retrieved September 1, 2012, from http://www.ihrsa.org/media-center/2012/1/11/top-health-club-trends-for-2012.html.