As we know by now, providing online options for workouts has become the norm for fitness businesses worldwide. Now, as we’re coming out on the other side of the pandemic, many will continue to provide this service so they can reach members wherever they are. This also means that competition for fitness businesses, both online and in-person, is more fierce than ever before.
The online fitness business is all set to become a $159 billion market by 2027. This translates into an annual growth rate of 33%.
With the increased availability of online dashboards and fitness apps for instructors, delivering virtual training has become easier. Whether it’s personal training sessions or group fitness classes, technology has all kinds of solutions for you.
In this article, we’ll try to understand why going virtual is important and five ways to get more online fitness clients for your business. Skip ahead to:
Why go virtual?
After COVID-19 hit the fitness industry in 2020, we were introduced to the online and hybrid models of fitness. With its advent, members were able to engage with their fitness studios via Zoom, Skype, social media, and other customized platforms.
Such online classes became popular and they continued to thrive even after the COVID-19 lockdowns ended.
There are three major reasons why studios are embracing the online fitness model.
Both clients and online personal trainers can participate in fitness work-outs from the convenience of their homes. The clients don’t have to beat the rush-hour traffic to be at the gym. On the other hand, trainers can schedule back-to-back sessions without any disruptions.
There are many advanced equipment and wearable devices making their way into people’s homes. When these innovations come together so easily with virtual training, it’s no wonder people have realized the true convenience of working out digitally: whether it’s a fitness app, a live Zoom class, or following along to a fitness class on Youtube.
Just like streaming platforms, on-demand content has found a place in the fitness industry. Individuals are taking monthly subscriptions to multiple fitness classes for shorter durations.
This massive trend shift has been enabled by the online fitness industry.
2. Easy Transition
Unlike heavy-duty activities like launching a new gym or getting new equipment, preparing an online setup is fairly easy.
Fitness trainers can get going with just a laptop and an internet connection. Even if they need some audio-visual equipment for conducting the sessions, sourcing these items can be done on a budget. Businesses typically use gym management software to manage their day-to-day needs. So, managing clients’ data virtually isn’t a problem.
In the online personal training business, instructors have to take more classes when the business expands. If that isn’t feasible, the studio might need more personal trainers to take virtual fitness sessions. Barring this, there is nothing else that prevents an online fitness business from scaling up.
It’s easy to scale your business when you don’t need extra space or more equipment to accommodate new clients. An online or hybrid fitness model can also become a value-addition for existing customers.
5 tips to land online fitness clients
Whether you already have an online client base or you’re just starting out, these strategies will help you improve online sales and attract potential new customers.
1. Use digital marketing methods
Since we’re talking about online fitness, the best way to find clients is through digital platforms.
Start with popular social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Post testimonials of your existing clients, promotional offers, and video snippets of your training sessions. Create a conversation by engaging in Facebook groups or by commenting on others’ posts.
If the budget permits, you can also run ads on Facebook, Instagram, and Google Search. The biggest advantage of online ads is you can run targeted campaigns for different age groups. There can be unique ads directed towards teenagers, middle-aged people, and senior citizens respectively.
Influencers have become hugely popular in recent years; so it’s a great idea to source some to work with. They don’t need to have hundreds of thousands of followers, the metrics that matter all come down to their engagement. When choosing an influencer to work with for your gym consider the following two points to begin with:
Their audience: Ideally, this should be similar to your target audience.
Their values/brand image: This should align with yours!
Engagement: Does their audience like and comment on their content?
The Top 10 Barriers Discover more
Slowing Your Fitness
When you choose the right influencer to promote your fitness business, it adds an element of authenticity to your marketing strategy and lead to wider brand awareness.
Social media aside, you’ll want a section on your website dedicated to your online services so people can find everything they might want to know. Think along the lines of writing blog posts about your new online program while following SEO best practices. If your website doesn’t have a blog section, consider writing guest posts on other blogs. You can also add an enrollment form on your website or blog to get more sales.
2. Add your own personality
While online fitness has its own benefits, it comes with a few disadvantages too. Your competition is now beyond the studios in your block. Any fitness professional with an internet connection and a webcam is a potential competitor.
So, how can you stay afloat in this densely populated market?
The answer is simple – just bring your own personality to the table. If your studio specializes in weight loss, Yoga, or a different fitness technique, highlight it in your promotional material. Even if you don’t have a unique offering, give a glimpse of your trainers’ routine in the digital space, or a ‘behind the scenes look at what goes into creating your online content.
3. Run promotional offers
Running regular fitness sessions can include a lot of overhead costs. Right from the electricity bills to equipment maintenance, all such expenses eat into your profits. With online training sessions, you don’t have to worry about these aspects. This means that you can offer more discounts on online memberships. Plus, joining a new gym can be intimidating for some people. But for potential new clients who are local to your studio, the online arm of your business can be a great introduction to what you offer both online and in-person – and from the comfort of their own home.
Despite the popularity of online fitness classes, some of your clients might be apprehensive about getting a personal trainer. You can also offer short-term plans at a nominal price. A free trial or a short-term plan will allow your potential clients to test the waters before signing up for the program.
Even giveaways work well in the fitness business. Promotional gifts such as e-books, video tutorials, and branded merchandise are your best bet. With such offers on the table, your clients will know that they are getting something valuable in the deal.
4. Launch a referral program
We know it’s the 21st century and there’s an ongoing digital revolution. But word of mouth continues to be the best way to introduce a new business vertical. Nielsen states that you’re four times more likely to land a sale when an existing customer refers a friend or a family member.
Asking your clients to simply refer their friends is simple enough, but having a referral program in place creates incentive.
Offer perks to your current clients for successful referrals. The rewards could include fitness gear, vouchers, or free classes. Get creative here and try to come up with novel ideas that will make members more enthusiastic.
Don’t stop after launching the referral program. Continuously monitor the activity and capture the contact information of all leads. You can automate the entire process including giving out rewards using software.
The referral method improves brand loyalty among existing customers and builds an element of trust with the new ones. Plus, your clients would surely like the idea of setting fitness goals along with a friend or family member.
5. Enhance the online experience
Your new clients are paying customers who need the right amount of attention. If your fitness sessions are anything like the tutorials or influencer videos on YouTube, then you won’t stand out. The truth is – you can offer your community much more.
For starters, invest in good audio and video equipment, so that there are no tech-related disruptions. You can get an external audio interface and a mixing console for better sound quality. More importantly, ensure that you have good video conferencing software and a stable internet connection.
Many a time, people join online fitness classes because they find gyms intimidating. So, ensure that you’re able to help them overcome their inhibitions by creating an inclusive space. Have a well-structured onboarding process for your online personal training clients. Give them a tutorial for using online platforms, so that they don’t struggle with the technical aspects.
Interact with your members constantly with tools like a company-branded app or mailers. They help you keep in touch with your community via push notifications and newsletters. You can give members curated tips on fitness, nutrition, and wellness on a regular basis.
Use off-beat engagement methods such as unwinding sessions, virtual luncheons, or milestone celebrations. You can also create a forum for members so that they get to interact with each other.
Don’t let the clients miss out on such experiences just because they’re at home. After all, these aspects will give you an edge over other online fitness businesses.
Like all business ventures, landing your first client is tough in the online fitness business. Once this part is done, the customers and their dollars will surely follow. All you have to do is provide a great virtual experience and tap the right sales opportunities.
Here’s an overview of what we covered in this article.
- The online fitness business is about to see massive growth in the years to come
- Many fitness clients have now switched to exercising from home since its more convenient
- Shifting to an online personal training setup is easy and scalable for fitness studio owners
- The best way to get clients for your virtual fitness sessions is by building an online presence for your brand
- Add a touch of your own personality to your virtual offerings
- Run promotional offers and free trials in the initial days to attract customers
- Referral campaigns can be an effective method to boost your sales figures
- Personalize the client experience with branded apps, forums, and other engagement activities to stand out
Planning to take your fitness business online? Here’s an episode of The Fitness Founders Podcast where Brittany Welk explains how her studio made the transition. What’s so great about her move? She managed to retain 100% of her clients even after the shift to online fitness!