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The Future of Personal Training: 2018 and Beyond

While working with personal training clients, looking ahead can help you make decisions when creating a program that meets your clients’ needs and helps them accomplish their goals.

Whether you’re a personal trainer at a big box gym or have your own studio, looking ahead is also necessary to stay competitive for your business. Let’s explore a few trends that you should know for 2018 and beyond.

Every year, the American College of Sports Medicine publishes the results of an annual pulse-checking survey of the fitness industry.

You can use this distilled information, pulled from thousands of fitness professionals, to grow your personal training business or provide your gym with programs and services that members really want. In 2018, you won’t find a big demand for Pilates, dance cardio, or exercises classes for new moms—but you should pay attention to some of these interesting trends in personal training:

1. Create Shorter Workouts

Want to help your personal training clients shred fat, build endurance, and tip the scale in the right direction? High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) climbed to the number-one spot in fitness trends for 2018.

Kayla Stryker (@12minuteathlete) is one of those personal trainers who transforms lives in just 12 to 15 minutes a day, even if you don’t go to the gym. She’s garnered an Instagram following of nearly 50,000 fans by sharing HIIT workouts to shred fat and burn calories.

“It is not a surprise that HIIT training has resurged,” says Executive Director Brian Biagoli, for the National Council on Strength and Fitness. “New twists on these metabolic programs using client-centric activities provide a socially engaging experience.”

Tip: Find ways to incorporate HIIT into an existing client program, or consider offering a free 15- to 30-minute HIIT class to meet potential clients.{{cta(‘37190a8e-d800-4115-bf2a-a1a4399af475′,’justifycenter’)}}

2. Offer Small Group Training

How much are clients willing to pay for personal training? A market still exists for individual personal training, but what about clients you’re missing because they can’t afford typical one-on-one sessions?

Personal trainer and fitness business coach Dave Smith got his start by training clients individually, but it was a recipe for burnout. After a winding path as a trainer and a gym owner, he developed the small group training program Make Your Body Work, and now he runs a successful online fitness business.

The rising popularity of small group training sessions is a win-win for clients and personal trainers. Let’s say you offer a group session for three people at $100 hour. At roughly $33 an hour per person, a session is more affordable.

It also creates a built-in system for a little friendly competition and accountability that can get your clients results.

“Training two or three people at the same time in a small group seems to make good economic sense for both the trainer and the client,” says American College of Sports Medicine President Walter Thompson.

Tip: Reach out to past or potential clients and offer a small-group training package at a competitive rate.

3. Motivate Clients with Digital Devices

How many steps did you take today? What is your heart rate and mile pace during your workouts? How many calories were burned per session? Not long ago, information like this was hard to measure for the average person.

Wearable technology, digital fitness devices, and smartphone apps make it possible. Clients can use these tools to log workouts, be accountable, and get results.

“Wearable technology includes activity trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors, GPS tracking devices, and smart eyeglasses (designed to show maps and track activity) that were introduced only a few years ago,” says Thompson.

Gold’s Gym personal trainer Kelly Cole shares her training results and PRs, tracked with a GPS watch, to motivate and inspire her clients. In 2017, she ran 3,656 miles and she is headed to the Boston Marathon again in 2018.

Tip: Have clients use a fitness device or app to track their steps walked, calories burned, exercise minutes, and so on. Most wearable tech allows you to connect online with others. Set up this feature with your clients. Check in during the week if they haven’t logged workouts as planned, and send a virtual high-five when they do.

4. Develop No-Weights-Required Workouts

Do you have personal training clients or prospects who don’t want to lift weights? Perhaps a client wants to work out at home, the office, or the park, where typical weights and equipment aren’t available. No problem.

Bodyweight training is a popular trend: It can be done almost anywhere and requires little to no equipment. But consider using bodyweight training to help your clients for one other reason: time.

“With time being a barrier to physical activity, many of these trends (i.e., HIIT, bodyweight and circuit training) provide time-efficient options that are versatile and engaging, providing flexibility and combating boredom (another barrier), all of which helps to support adoption and adherence,” says Cooper Institute Senior Advisor Gina Cortese.

Former track and field athlete Idalis Velazquez (and busy mom) built her personal training business by sharing her bodyweight exercises and workouts. Now she has more than 60,000 Instagram followers and keep her clients on track with workout videos, pictures of healthy foods, and motivational quotes.

Tip: Incorporate bodyweight exercises, such as burpees, jump squats, and push-ups, into workouts with your current clients. Offer a bodyweight-training-only program to prospects and clients to gauge interest.

5. Discover the Power of Being an Example

In days past, strength training was reserved for bodybuilders and athletes. Now it’s one of the most popular approaches to helping clients lose weight, build muscle, improve athletic performance, and get in better shape. More often, it’s used to keep seniors active, and for patients to either recover from surgery or manage a disease.
Few personal trainers have leveraged strength training to grow their brand and business better than Jordan Syatt. He’s a powerlifting world-record holder who coached and trained at the legendary Westside Barbell Club. Now he’s the fitness coach for serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk. By posting health and fitness tips three times a day for over a year, he grew his Instagram account to a massive 300,000 followers.

Tip: Be a good example. Lift weights and use strength training methods to gain strength and build your own physique. Show your clients proper form, and explain which muscles are used during strength training or weight training exercises.

6. Stand Out with a Fitness Certification

If you want to stand out as a personal trainer in an increasingly competitive market, find ways to set yourself apart. Some specialize in a specific niche, like weight loss or bodybuilding, while others train clients based on their needs and goals.

There is one more way to stand out: Get certified as a personal trainer.

Whether you run your own business or work in a gym, the right certification will help build value and authority. It’s a way to show your clients or prospective employer that you’re keeping up with industry trends and best practices for fitness professionals.

“In these challenging economic times, personal trainers are being more creative in the way they package personal training sessions and how they market themselves,” says Thompson.

Tip: Take the time to explore your options, study, and complete a personal training certification program.

Stay on top of  current trends in personal training so you can tailor your services, personal training packages, and marketing messages to book more client sessions and help more people.


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