Adding Value to Online Personal Training with Behavior Change Coaching
By: Lauren Shroyer, MS, ATC
Whether taking on new clients as an online fitness coach or serving clients who are used to working with you in a gym, the online setting for personal training is new and different from what is offered in a gym. Creating the right workout environment in a client’s home (blog on home gym equipment) is an essential part of building the right environment, as is setting up your coaching space to appear professional and well equipped. In addition to these tools, personal trainers should consider the way they approach the services they are providing.
The relationship between a personal trainer and client is essential to client retention. A great personal trainer never forgets that and develops and cultivates that relationship through meaningful connection. While online personal training, this remains essential and, because the cadence of the session is different online, some personal trainers find that what works in person falls flat online.
Behavior change coaching is a person-centric technique that is designed to facilitate autonomous commitment to behavior change. Meaning, the coach helps the client dig into their intrinsic motivation and discover why they are setting goal before working together to establish daily (for more tools to tapping into motivation, check out the article “Harnessing the power of questions to build motivation and accountability with online coaching”)
Adding Coaching as a dedicated and explicit service to your business can act as a differentiator in attracting new clients, a service that warrants a higher monthly rate, as well as improved client retention.
5 tips to adding Coaching as a service
Make it a service: A business owner must continually evaluate their product to ensure that they are serving a need to their customers and charging for it appropriately. Most personal trainers set pricing by the hour or session. Take a cue from online subscriptions. These usually have 3-5 levels of services for different monthly fees. Consider offering packages that include a set package of online personal training sessions and coaching. Then, set up a recurring credit card charge that remains the same monthly, and clients can upgrade the package at any time. If you’re on the Remote Coach app, check out the store and package functionality, as you can do this for free.
Schedule time for conversation: Coaching is conscious. It is consistent and deliberate, so set aside time each week, possibly even a dedicated session, to discuss the successes of the week, possibly create new goals, and build upon successes. Especially, if you are charging for the service, call it out to your client as the Coaching Consultation.
Set small goals each week: One of the beautiful things about personal training is that you have weekly (or more) conversations with your client. Though you may set a SMART goal to achieve in three months or more. It is the daily and weekly choices that reach the goal. I like a concept introduced to me by Michol Dalcourt, inventor of the ViPR and Founder of the Institute of Motion, called “habit stacking”. The idea with habit stacking is to recognize those habits already in place which support the goal, and stack small additions to those habits. For example: Your client prepares and eats a healthy dinner each night. Are they interested in preparing an extra serving to add to lunch the next day? If so, that becomes the goal for the week. It’s a consultation full of questions that will reveal the already good habits that your client has, on which they can build small goals each week.
Check in regularly: We are more connected than ever before and as a coach, you want to keep consistent contact with your clients regarding their weekly goals. In the example above, it’s easy to check in the next day with a quick message and ask “How’d it go?” When there is only one goal, your client will know exactly what you mean. Pictures are another fun way to stay in touch. If all is on track, ask your client to send you a pic of lunch, showing how they repurposed their left-overs. You are setting up another way to affirm their success and keep them accountable to their own goals. Following health data is another excellent medium to set goals, track successes, and affirm accomplishments.
Approach it like a business: Because we are so easily connected and there are many free video platforms out there, you might be tempted to go that route. After years of running a pre-app, pre- personal trainer software business, I can say…it’s not worth it. Business platforms, like Remote Coach, are business essentials for two primary reasons. First, by using a platform, clients will perceive your business as upscale, sophisticated, and business savvy, which is associated with a higher worth. Second, keeping your business communications and professional communications separate increases your ability to organize your tasks, schedule, follow-up messages, and revenue. Pro tip: In your client agreement, outline boundaries with your clients. Make sure they know which hours/days of the week they can expect to hear from you and which times you are not working. They should understand and agree to the fact that you won’t be available to answer questions 24/7.
Always have a growth mindset. Like anything, being a successful coach, means continually educating yourself about effective coaching techniques. Invest in your skills through online courses like ACE’s Behavior Change Specialist Program or The Platform app by IoM, or for more specifics in coaching nutrition, try No.1 Education’s Transformation Nutrition Coach course. Becoming a great coach doesn’t happen overnight. Think of the time and education it has taken to bring your personal training skills to the level they are today. Stay committed to the process of learning and the practice of applying what you’ve learned, and the value of your services will soar.