The Fitness Zone
Larry Cohen is the founder and director of National Australian Institute of Fitness Career Partner, Step Into Life. Read on for his top tips to achieve fitness business success!
I started my Personal Training consultancy in 1990, and was juggling a few balls at the time: I was a tennis coach, a one-on-one Personal Trainer, as well as training the members of the V8 Super Car members of the Holden Motor Racing team. Like many fitness professionals, I was working to my full capacity and although I felt fulfilled, I was also feeling overly stressed. I had no work life balance, and my income was capped. I could only earn what I could physically do and fit into my schedule. I was just one Personal Trainer, wanting to make a difference and achieve my full potential!
I knew something had to change. I thought back to the time when I was running an outdoor group training research project as part of my Exercise Science degree in the US. It amazed me that in the middle of a New York winter, only 1 person dropped out of the outdoor fitness training group I was running (and that was due to injury), while the other 31 participants didn’t miss a single session! Friendship and a strong sense of camaraderie was built amongst the group as they became ‘members’ of a ‘club’ and would continuously encourage each other, keeping each other accountable and consistent with their training. I had discovered the power of group outdoor training!
With this knowledge, in 1995 my business Step into Life Group Outdoor Personal Training commenced, and I haven’t looked back since. I’d love to share with you what I have learnt over the years to help you discover your own potential as an empowered fitness business owner.
Tip #1 Build Your Business Knowledge Base
When looking at your Personal Training from a business perspective, there are a number of factors you should consider, including:
Effective business systems
Cash flow management
A strong business system will go a long way in saving you time, energy and money. Systems are essentially business recipes with specific steps that you have to follow for a successful outcome – a profitable business.
Tip #2 Keep your Branding Clear
Choosing ‘Step into Life’ as the brand name for the business wasn’t an impulsive decision. I wanted to give people a sense of stepping into a fresh and invigorating lifestyle change when they trained with me. It’s always been my philosophy that health and wellbeing is not a simple or quick fix, and this is not only reflected by the brand name but also across the entire Step into Life fitness program. A program that members now love and trust.
What your brand stands for is your promise to prospective clients. Your brand image helps buyers to determine which businesses to avoid, and which to use, based on your reputation and promise of need satisfaction. It also helps you build a loyal customer base and show that you stand behind what you offer. Think of your brand as your guarantee.
Tip #3 Targeting
Personal Training/fitness businesses tend to think that expanding their target audiences will help them to attract more members – however, the reality is that businesses within this industry need to be narrowing their target market. On the surface this may appear to be counterintuitive and you may even be asking yourself “Why would I do that? I have trouble as it is getting enough members… so why would I reduce my audience?”
Here’s a revelation: your competition will also be pursuing the largest or most obvious market. We all know that there is a LOT of competition in the fitness business. The result choosing the obvious path may result in quite the opposite outcome to what you’d expect. The issue is not that your audience is too small, but rather that your marketing is more ‘hit-and-miss’. By targeting a more specific group of people, your message will be significantly more specific and relevant, and more persuasive as a result.