COVID-19 put a halt on new offerings within the University of Montana’s personal training (PT) program.
However, that doesn’t mean the program has stopped growing. If anything, the opposite is true. “We continue to have a robust in-person clientele at this point,” said Kelsey Albin, the senior assistant director of fitness programs at Montana. “I firmly believe training will continue to grow in the coming years.”
Over at Tarleton State University, Daron Trussell, the director of Campus Recreation, also believes PT will continue to grow. But as Albin mentioned as well, there will be a shift toward online training.
Trussell said while they have in-person options currently, they also offer a free virtual training option through Trainerize. “It has been an invaluable tool for our trainers during COVID-19,” said Trussell.
With their sights set on growth, both professionals shared some of their top strategies when it comes to growing a PT program:
Noah Williams, a Fitness and Wellness graduate assistant at Tarleton, said most of their marketing is done on Instagram. They run specials several times a year that lower the cost of PT by 20 to 25%. “This always brings in new customers, and we have had great success with clients renewing during these specials,” he said.
Throughout the pandemic, Tarleton’s most successful marketing campaign was offering free virtual training. Williams said it encouraged clients to work out at no cost.
Over at Montana, Albin said their best marketing is word of mouth. “If we have clients who love their trainers and are spreading the word to their friends, that’s the best marketing campaign we can ask for,” she explained.
However, that doesn’t happen if you have poor PT staff. Albin said continually educating her trainers is essential. Discounts and success stories don’t matter if your trainers aren’t taking daily strides to be better.
“I would encourage anyone who oversees PT to really consider how they can gift their trainers with more knowledge,” she said. “Do not allow yourself to photocopy their certification, put it in their employee file and decide to not develop them any further.”
But marketing PT isn’t just up to the professional who oversees the program. Molly Fenoglio, another Fitness and Wellness graduate assistant at Tarleton, said they have group fitness instructors encourage participants to get a trainer should they desire a more tailored program.
And trainers do the same. “Trainers also recommend clients go to a yoga class or a Stretch and Restore post workout,” said Fenoglio.
Plus, trainers are encouraged to work fitness floor hours at Tarleton State. By assisting those working out, they can meet potential new clients.
Albin takes it a step further. “The best way I have found to cross promote our programs is to teach our personal trainers how to instruct excellent classes and require each trainer to teach at least one class per week,” she said.
The benefits are many: increased face time with potential clients, no financial buy-in for PT from the potential client, the ability to “test” out a trainer’s teaching style, and development of the trainer’s skill set to be broader than just one-on-one work.
In fact, they have found current PT clients also benefit. “Current clients love taking classes with their trainers because they trust them and it gives the client an extra exercise opportunity each week that drives motivation and creates consistency,” said Albin.
All in all, PT programs are here to stay and here to grow. Whether it’s focused marketing, educating trainers or getting them to teach group fitness classes, there are plenty of creative ways to continually grow your PT offering.
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