• Jack Willoughby

Personal Training in the Digital World

Updated: Jan 18

The wellness industry may be on the rise and worth over $4 trillion, but is the role of a Personal Trainer evolving or going extinct? This blog post aims to explore how Personal Training has changed in the digital economy and how it could change in the future.



I have been a qualified personal trainer for over 7 years and in that time I have witnessed a massive change in the way trainers are perceived, how they attract clients and how the job is performed.



The Power of Social Media



When I was starting out, most of my business was gained through building relationships in the workplace, as a personal trainer, such as the gym or studio. You relied on the gym business attracting new members and using your sales skills to seal new clients. Your reputation was vital in developing your business. Word of mouth from current or past clients was a great opportunity to grow.


Now, personal trainers turn to the digital marketplace to grow their business, increase their service’s awareness and improve their reputation. ‘Renaissance Periodization’ was created by a group of highly qualified fitness professionals including personal trainers and coaches. They are a great example of a company who established themselves solely in the digital marketplace. They sell nutrition plans, training plans and online personal training. They also use social media to show-off client results, post funny, relatable memes and express their keen interest in the industry, which in return boosts their reputation, trust and profit from potential clients. They have an Instagram following of over 360,000 people. That’s a whole lot of potential clients and with a standard personal training package costing anywhere from £500 to £1000 for 12 weeks – that’s a scary amount of money.


According to Growth Gurus Digital Marketing (2016), social media is predicted to grow by over 25% in the next 5 years, it would be silly for any Personal Trainer to not to be utilising the power of social media.


In addition, common practice amongst personal trainers is to provide fitness plans for their clients. In recent years, the way a client would prefer to follow a plan has changed quite drastically. The amazing technology of the smartphone means that paper plans are no longer wanted. In fact, Ammann, a highly successful fitness entrepreneur, states ‘fitness plans on paper are absolutely outdated’. He then goes on to explain that even the older generation are learning from the younger generation and are gradually discovering access to digitally supported fitness training.


Influencers and brand ambassadors are posting workouts over social media pages, websites, blogs and mobile apps allowing easy cheaper alternatives to personal training.



So, what does the Future Hold?



The future of technology is moving at an incredible rate and the development of new technology could cause the personal trainers of today to become redundant. The development of AI (Artificial Intelligence) is no doubt one of the reasons the role of a personal trainer could become extinct. AI technology has already been implemented in fitness facilities across the globe. An example of this is the emergence of the automated workout buddy. Your virtual workout buddy talks to you, guides you through your workout and motivates you to stay focused, potentially replacing the need for a motivational personal trainer.


The YouTube clip below was published in 2015 and shows Virtual Reality Spinning. A cool motivating concept no doubt, however, if this takes off (which it is starting to) the trainer who would normally lead the class could be out of a job. In addition, Les Mills, a notorious fitness provider, has started to implement virtual classes at major UK fitness clubs such as, David Lloyd; and Anytime Fitness offer virtual classes. Virtual classes save the organisation money, time and minimise opportunity for human error or staff misconduct, such as not turning up. You could argue that it also increases the risk of injury (lack of form checking) and personable human motivation.



This is where the personal trainer must adapt or lose unfortunately. As the world of technology evolves, so do fitness trends. As a personal trainer, you must keep up with these trends in order to provide clients with new and exciting services. By increasing your social media awareness, offering new services and becoming credible, maybe, just maybe, the personal trainer role will survive. After all, the word personal describes human empathy, something a robot or virtual system cannot replicate.


What’s your opinion? Please comment and debate. Will personal trainers become a thing of the past, replaced by evolving technologies or will they withstand the test of time and adapt to the modern technological world?


Jack



Hiergeist, B. (2018). How digitalization is changing the fitness industry: “Fitness plans on paper are absolutely obsolete.” [Blog] Trends in the Sports Business. Available at: https://www.ispo.com/en/trends/how-digitalization-changing-fitness-industry [Accessed 20 Jan. 2019].


Personal Trainers and Social Media Marketing. (n.d.). [Blog] Exercise.com. Available at: https://www.exercise.com/blog/personal-trainers-and-social-media-marketing/ [Accessed 20 Jan. 2019].


SportTechie. (2017). Talk Human to Me: Your Best Workout Buddy Might Be Powered by A.I.. [online] Available at: https://www.sporttechie.com/talk-human-best-workout-buddy-might-powered/ [Accessed 20 Jan. 2019].


Growth Gurus Digital Marketing. (2019). Why you need to understand the Importance of Social Media. [online] Available at: https://www.growthgurus.com/blog/business-brand-need-understand-importance-social-media/ [Accessed 20 Jan. 2019].

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