Learn six key steps to creating, marketing, and running your first Fitness Transformation Program to grow your personal training business.
How to create a transformation program for your personal training business #personaltrainer Click To Tweet
The cool thing about fitness transformation programs is that they are beneficial to both participants AND trainers!!
A fitness transformation program gives participants the option to workout on their own schedule while still receiving the guidance and support of a certified trainer.
It is also like a “sneak peak” into what online training is all about – something many people still don’t quite get.
The benefits to a trainer of offering a transformation program is that you are spending waaay less hours in the gym while still training a handful of clients. With a group transformation program, participants will meet together once a week (or however many times you want) to go over the workout, check form, and make any modifications – the rest of the time, they are working out on their own and you are just checking in with them.
After listening to multiple online trainers rave about the potential to increase your income and decrease your hours per day with a flagship online or online/small group training program – I knew it was something I wanted to try in my gym.
In this post, I am going to explain exactly how I put my first fitness transformation program together, marketed it, and ran it.
This particular program is meant to be a hybrid of online and in-person training. So, yes, you will need a gym or space to meet with your participants once a week.
If it is an option, I truly feel that online and in-person hybrid training is a much easier place to start for trainers to be successful – and make some money!
So, if you already work in a gym, speak to your manager about offering the program. The gym will of course take a percentage, but it won’t cost the gym anything to offer an additional program option to members.
If you do not work for a gym, some ideas include renting space at a private studio or facility, offering group sessions outdoors at a park, or even meeting at a client’s home (if the group is all friends and they – and you – are comfortable with that).
If you are going to JUST do an online program, know that while the online space has huge potential, it is very crowded. You really need to niche down your program to something super specific in order to stand out in a crowded market place.
I am fortunate enough to be the Fitness Director at a private club, so I have the opportunity to try new programs and see what works and what doesn’t. For my first transformation program, I offered it to the current members of the fitness facility and pretty much all of my marketing was through emails.
Here are 6 key steps to creating, marketing, and running your first Fitness Transformation Program:
1. Pick a theme
You want to pick a name or theme for the program that will resonate with your ideal participant.
The theme – or title- for my program was “Strength Training and Fat Loss Made Simple.”
I wanted people to feel like strength training was not overwhelming and I also knew many of my ideal participants wanted to lose weight. I launched my first program in the New Year so I knew the “Fat Loss” component would resonate with those making New Year’s Resolutions to lose weight!
Here is what my informational flyer and marketing materials said about the program:
Strength Training + Fat Loss Made Simple
SIMPLE – The plan is simple, the workouts are not.
EFFECTIVE – Get the job done right.
EFFICIENT – Get the most bang for your buck.
This six-week fitness program is the perfect opportunity for anyone looking to increase their strength and challenge themselves a little further. Any fitness level is welcome – each participant will go at their own pace and determine how much weight to lift (with the help of a trainer).
The program design is simple (about 5-6 strength exercises per workout plus an optional conditioning circuit at the end). The workouts are meant to be efficient (should take about 30-40 minutes) and super effective by challenging your muscles with heavier weights, different exercises, and varied rest intervals.
2. Put your workout program together
This can really be done lots of ways – and there is no one right way!
Here is what my program outline looked like:
S – Total Body Strength
M – Cardio
T – Lower Strength + HIIT
W – Cardio
TH – Upper Strength + HIIT
1- Cardio: 2-3x a week
– Pick MILE or TIME goal
Ex: Run 20 miles this month
Ex: Workout 30 min, 2x a week = 4 hours this month
2- Strength Train: 3x a week
– Each week you will either increase in weight, reps, or sets or add a more challenging move/set
Saturday – Full Body – 4 sets (2 sets of 2 workouts),
M/T – Lower Body – 3 sets,
W/TH – Upper Body – 3 sets
Exercises with the same letter are performed in a super set (for example, A1 and A2 in the chart below) meaning you perform one set of the Front Squat, then move on to one set of Assisted Chin Ups, then go back to the Front Squats until all sets are complete. Follow the rest period recommendations listed. In this example you would rest 60-90 seconds between sets of Front Squats and Chin Ups. Make sure you’re always challenging yourself with the weight you use, but always leave 1-2 reps “in the tank” meaning you could have done 1 to 2 more reps with good form.
Set Work:Rest Ratios
15 seconds : 45 seconds (positive rest, as you rest more than you work)
20 seconds : 40 seconds (positive rest, as you rest more than you work)
30 seconds : 30 seconds (equal rest)
40 seconds : 20 seconds (negative rest, you rest less than you work)
45 seconds : 15 seconds (negative rest, you rest less than you work)
Variable Work:Rest Ratios
Work as long as it takes you complete an exercise or set of exercises: rest twice as long (positive rest)
Work as long as it takes you complete an exercise or set of exercises: rest exactly as long (equal rest)
Work as long as it takes you complete an exercise or set of exercises: rest half as long (negative rest)
Work as long as it takes you complete an exercise or set of exercises: rest until your heart rate drops to 120 bpm
I decided to break my program down into a full body workout on the day we all met as a group – and then I split all those exercises we did together into a lower body day and upper body day. You can just have them so 3 days of full body… or split it up any way!
I liked offering the full body workout as a small group because I could make sure everyone knew exactly how to perform the exercise when they went and did it on their own.
Despite sending emails, pictures, videos, and tips – many people needed that personal support to try the move in front of a trainer and ask questions.
As for the programming over the 6 weeks, once again, this can really be done any way. But I chose a few exercises that participants challenged themselves to lift heavier (low reps) and then a few exercises where they focused more on muscle endurance (higher reps.)
The regular exerciser is not going to want to make massive strength gains (super low reps, high weights, and high sets) – unless of course that is what your program is all about! I knew my audience didn’t lift very heavy, so my goal was to challenge them to just try a little heavier weight with just a few exercises, and we progressed it by either increasing weight or reps each week.
3. BONUSES: What will you offer with your program to sweeten the deal?
Providing the workouts is only a piece of this puzzle.
There are many “bonuses” or additional offering you can add to the program. These really just help to give a little nudge and push people who are on the fence about the program into buying.
Here is what I offered with my 6-week program:
- Weekly workouts that include a full body, lower body, and upper body strength routine.
- Weekly email with the workouts for the week and a weekly diet or mindset challenge.
- Group workout on Saturday morning to complete the full body workout, check form, and make adjustments to program, if needed. Participants completed the other two workouts on their own.
- Option to meet with me one-on-one if could not attend Saturday session
- Over 20 healthy recipes
- Sample one week meal plan from a registered dietician (I bought this from a fellow dietician)
- Strength Training Fundamentals Guide for men and women
- Access to a certified personal trainer for support, questions, and modifications
4. Decide on your price
Two thing to keep in mind – know your market and know your value.
I charged $342 for 6 weeks – which came out to $57 per week. My gym charges between about $60-65 for a training session – so this was slightly under that price which I thought would appeal to people.
I did not want to offer a program at too low of a price a devalue it, but since it was my first program, I did not want to come in hot and heavy with a really ridiculously expensive program!
I knew I would be investing six Saturdays in the gym and wanted to make at least $200 each Saturday (more than I do for one-on-one training) in order for it to be worth be coming in to work a sixth day a week. So, in all my advertising, I stated I needed a minimum of 6 people to participate (this was calculating the fact that my Club retains some of the training revenue). I ended up getting 9 participants generating a little over $3k.
5. Marketing your transformation program
I’ve run two transformation programs so far and I think one of the biggest take aways about marketing is the importance of timing.
My first program kicked off in the beginning of January. I spent a good portion of December marketing it.
I ran a second program after the first due to participants asking for another 6 weeks, but the participation dropped off a bit.
So, the New Year is, of course, a good time to run a fitness program. The spring (right before summer) and fall (when school starts back up) are also usually pretty good times for fitness.
Like I mentioned above, since I was marketing to members of my current gym (not the whole online world), I spent most of my efforts in email marketing and flyers.
A few ideas for email marketing:
1. Ask questions that resonate with your audience.
For example, one of my emails started off by saying:
Do you struggle to stay motivated on your own?
Not sure exactly how to program the exercises you do in the gym to see result?
Looking to learn a little more about strength training?
Do you enjoy working out on your own but could use a little direction?
Does your busy schedule limit your availability for in-person training and group classes?
Do you need a plan for 2017?
2. Provide a sample workout and ensure people that anybody can participate.
I provided a sample workout in one of my marketing emails in an effort to offer a glimpse as to what someone can expect when they signed up for the program. The fear of the unknown can be scary!
A many people fear taking on fitness endeavors because they do not know what it entails or if they can do it. I wanted to make people feel comfortable and really get them picturing themselves trying the workout.
3. Talk about making fitness and living a healthy lifestyle a priority.
Here is an excerpt from that email:
How we spend our time reflects our priorities – working out and eating well really comes down to you making them a priority. Once you do that, look no further than the Fitness Center for a little direction, support, and accountability!
If using social media as well, be sure to paint a picture and not just promote, promote, promote! As Gary Vaynerchuk says in his book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, “there is no sale without the story”. So, a right hook’s content aims to sell and promote while a jab’s content aims to engage and trigger an emotional response. Throw too many right hooks that annoy your audience and it kills engagement potential.
This is kind of similar to the 80/20 rule. Share valuable, emotional, engaging content 80% of the time and then when you are ready to promote, your audience will be ready for that 20% of sales content.
6. Run the program like a boss
Once you create and market your program and sign ups start rolling it, you really only have to focus on two things: weekly emails and the weekly group sessions.
It is important to get participants to invest right away into the program. Since my first program was at the beginning of the year, I thought it was a good opportunity to do a little goal setting email series with them.
I will say – some participated and some did not respond to the emails.
Whether you do something in-depth like this or not, I do recommend having them pick a couple goals.
An easy one is the cardio goal mentioned above in the program. I also had participant perform as many push up as possible in their workouts – this was a neat way to see them progress as the weeks went on.
Six weeks is not a ton of time and some may not lose a lot of weight so having other goals helps participant to see their progress and feel successful!
I sent group emails once a week (with the workout progressions and any tips, interesting articles, etc.) and personally checked in with each participant once a week. Some responded and some did not. But most did show up on Saturdays.
We usually started with a group warm up, opened up the floor for any questions or comments, I would demonstrate or talk about one of the more challenging exercises, and then participants would break into groups and work through the workout at their own pace.
Sometimes we finished with a HIIT session together or did stretching as a group – other times people were ready to go after their workout.
I did not offer a private Facebook group BUT I think it is a GREAT way to keep members accountable, offer that group camaraderie, and provide extra value and support.
A few things I learned….
– If you have more than 8-10 participants, the first few sessions can be a little crazy trying to make sure everyone is performing the moves properly. I had 9 participants in my first program and while I did feel I was able to demonstrate and coach the move – I think if I had more than that, it would have been nice to have another trainer on hand. If hiring another trainer is not an option, you could record the workout demonstrating the exercises and email to participants a few days before hand strongly encouraging them to watch the video.
– While it is a group program, make personal connections! I asked every participant to meet with me or schedule a phone call before the program began. I wanted them to feel like I knew them and allow them to feel comfortable and trust me.
– I offered nutrition tips and advice but did not keep members very accountable with nutrition. Diet is such an important component of wellness that I think making more of an effort to check in and open the discussion about nutrition would have been beneficial.
– You could certainly offer a longer program than 6 weeks – and, in fact, I think it would be beneficial because 6 weeks is not a whole lot of time. Many participants stated they felt like they were just getting the hang of the workouts when the program was ending…
However, I liked starting with 6 weeks because I thought it was not an overwhelming commitment for people to make. My intent was hook them with the short program and then – if there is interest – perhaps creating a longer, more in depth program. But the 6 weeks worked well as a first offering into online/small group hybrid training.
How to Run your First Fitness Transformation Program like a Boss #fitbiz Click To Tweet
Have you ever offered a group training program? How did it go?
Have you considered an online/in-person transformation program for your business? What is holding you back from getting started!?
photo cred: IvoryMix