Back in December of 2008 a trainer emailed me and asked what I thought 2009 had in store for our industry.
What I thought was going to be a few sentences in response ended up being a 2,300 word email to him.
Anyways, I decided to send that email out to the rest of my email subscribers (since I had put in well over an hour’s worth of work into it) and the feedback from the trainers that I sent it to was H-U-G-E.
Apparently people want to know what I have to say about where our industry is headed. And that started what is now the official annual state of the industry report where I share my thoughts on the industry’s trends and predictions for the upcoming year. In this case 2013.
Now, before I share with you my thoughts, predictions, and the upcoming trends I see taking place I want to first tell you how I gather my information.
This part is more for the new folks who just started following me or if you happen to have recently stumbled upon this report and my blog for the first time. If you’re wondering who I am then read this detailed and colorful bio: Who is Bedros Keuilian
But if you’re like me and have a short attention span here’s the short version on who I am and why you may want to listen to what I have to say about the upcoming year – because it may at the very least save your fitness business from failure, and potentially double and re-double again your income in 2013.
I’m fortunate enough to have been coaching and consulting fitness professionals for over a decade now, so you could say that I have my finger on the pulse. Even before coaching and consulting the fitness industry I always found pride in keeping my personal training facilities on the cutting edge.
My philosophy has always been if you’re not growing then you’re dying. Evolve or perish.
That goes for all aspects of life – even in business. So I always kept my facilities in San Diego on the cutting edge of not only service and the results we delivered, but also on the way I ran and operated my business.
I think keeping my business on the cutting edge in every way was a large part in how I was able to do what most trainers ultimately wish to do, which is to sell their business for a nice profit, rather than simply closing it down or feel as though they’re held hostage by it when they’re ready to retire, or in my case, move on to a higher level of their passion and purpose – which for me was to help other personal trainers build they businesses, become better entrepreneurs, and have financial freedom to live the lifestyle they want.
Today over 50,000 fitness pros subscribe to my email broadcasts. I’m tremendously grateful for that. Between the four coaching programs and mastermind groups that I run I get to work with and coach 142 highly driven fitness pros from all across the U.S. UK, Canada, Australia, Ireland, Singapore, Spain, France, and Pakistan who own and operate fitness businesses that generate anywhere from $120K a year to over $2Million dollars a year in revenue.
These are fitness pros who run boot camps, one on one training businesses, private studios, semi-private and small group training programs and sell niche specific fitness and fat loss programs online.
My coaching clients train athletes, the grossly overweight, offer general fat loss and fitness, work with baby boomers and the senior market, some specialize in prenatal and postpartum fitness and fat loss, others in injury prevention and rehabilitation, some specialize in diet plans, hardcore garage workouts, fitness and bodybuilding contest prep, age and gender specific programs, and some are “celebrity” trainers who train the top celebrities from TV and the big screen.
You’d know who they are if I were to drop their names. You’ve seen these trainers on TV and you may have even met them in person if you were at a previous Fitness Business Summits.
I coach and consult celebrity trainers who train “A” list celebrities… What does that make me?
Through my coaching clients I’m intimately connected to practically every sub-niche within our industry. I know how they market, I know the needs and wants in their market space, I know what they’re charging, paying their staff and what they’re taking home, I know where their businesses are headed and what’s trending in their space. I see first hand the markets and services that are shrinking and and those that are expanding.
It’s because of my coaching and consulting clients that I get a unique perspective into every aspect of our industry. My finger is constantly on the pulse – and I’m thankful to them for that.
I also have a column in Personal Fitness Professional magazine (PFP) where I get to reach another 40,000 plus trainers and hear feedback from them. I’m constantly asked to speak at industry events to hundreds and thousands of fitness trainers worldwide. I also host Fitness Business Summit, hands down, the largest three day gathering and networking event for success minded fitness pros worldwide.
FBS has one simple goal… it’s dedicated to helping industry trainers become better professionals and entrepreneurs to help raise the bar across the board.
I’m fortunate to have friends or sit on the board of practically every type of business in our industry… from equipment resellers, to the creators of future equipment, to supplement companies and formulators and researches who are always on the cutting edge of fitness, fat loss, muscle building, and injury prevention and rehab. They help keep my finger on the pulse as well.
And the thing I’m most proud of is having the opportunity in revolutionize what was once considered the lowest rung on the industry ladder – fitness boot camps.
Once considered just a “side gig” and something that was offered in parks, play grounds, and parking lots and not accepted as a real business, and therefore not treated as a REAL business has now come full circle. I’m proud to say that I’m also the president of Fit Body Boot Camp Franchise, the #1 fitness boot camp brand on the planet with over 200 locations across six countries and growing faster than the Moso Bamboo plant.
And just like my coaching clients, I’m involved very closely with the business systems, service delivery, program design, marketing strategies, and local and global branding of hundreds of Fit Body Boot Camp locations worldwide. Thanks to the awesome FBBC location owners and my coaching clients who have fitness businesses within every possible niche I get to be in the trenches still with all aspects like business operations, sales, marketing and client attraction, and client retention on a day to day basis.
The challenge for me, which serves as a massive benefit to you, is that by being so closely involved with the day to day operations of so many boot camp, personal training studios, and strength and athletic coaches worldwide I get to understand and figure out the needs and wants of clients worldwide – and how they want to be marketed to, sold to, and serviced.
I live for that challenge… That’s my purpose and passion… to create and come up with a business model that’s not only well put together, but also systematized in every way, low cost to set up and start up, and delivers the most amazing fitness and fat loss results possible by some of the most awesome, caring and passionate fitness pros on the planet.
In fact, you’ll see a text message I got just an hour ago from Steven Hadley that beautifully summarizes why I’m so proud of what we’ve created with Fit Body Boot Camp and how it has since raised the bar industry wide of what boot camps are capable of doing in both revenue and client services.
Mind you Steven is located in Daphne Alabama, which typically ranks within the top three spots on the fattest city in the nation and with a population of only 22,000 people.
So being as connected as I am with my coaching and consulting clients and FBBC location owners worldwide, I guess you can say that I’m pretty well qualified to speak on the topic of where our industry is headed and what 2013 has in store for you.
Oh, and one other thing. Each year I send out a five question survey to my subscriber list of 50,000 plus personal trainers. The results of this survey are included in this post as well and they paint a very clear picture of where the industry is at today, and more importantly where it will be tomorrow.
If you want your business, your income, and your impact on your community to grow in 2013 then you’ll want read this entire report all the way through.
Let The Facts Speak For Themselves – Survey Results
What I find most fascinating about this set of survey results are the $50-100K column and the $100- 250K column. In the last 365 days we’ve seen almost 2% more trainers leave the $50-100K income bracket and at the same time, we’re seeing a 1.5% increase in the $100K – 250K income bracket.
The 50K or under income bracket stayed the same as last year, yet it seems to me that almost the same number of trainers who left the 50K-100K income bracket transitioned to the next level of higher income, the 100K – 250K income bracket.
This, to me, is an obvious sign that more trainers are catching on and seeing that there’s a better way to run their businesses and are taking action to put themselves and their businesses in a better place.
A perfect example of this is FBBC Daphne owner Steven Hadley, in 2011 he marked the “under $50K” box on the survey. However, last month when I ran the survey again he fell into the $100K- 250K bracket. Steven is apart of that 1.5% who moved from one income bracket to the next highest one.
Side Note to Steven – Killer job dude!
Here’s another interesting survey result…
In the 2011 survey results 53.1% of the respondents said that their main source of income came from one-on-one training. In the 2012 version of the survey the number of trainers who’s main source of income is one-on-one training shrank to 51.6%
Interesting facts so far, right?
1.5% of trainers moved from the $50K-100K income bracket to the $100K – 250K income bracket – and the same ratio of trainers went on to offering group or boot camp training workouts where they can leverage their time better, cut their overhead costs, and market to a larger segment of their community.
Not surprising, the survey results show that the average amount per client that the training industry is charging each month has dropped from $272/month (in 2011) to $232/month (in 2012). Some might argue that this is because the economy is in worse shape… maybe the impending fiscal cliff that the media is talking about is upon us… or that people have less expendable money.
All of those could be true IF trainers were making less money in 2012 than they did in 2011…
…however since 1.5% of the industry moved from the $50K-100K income bracket to the $100K-250K income bracket I’d argue that the drop in monthly per client changes are due to the fact that more trainers have switched over from one-on-one training to groups and boot camps which by nature allows you to charge less per client each month (giving you the ability to market to more of your community) while boosting your income and profit margins.
This is all congruent with what I’ve seen throughout the industry over the last 12 months.
The industry is shifting to small group training and boot camp programs – because it’s proven on all fronts:
– As a trainer you can leverage your time best when training groups
– You can have the greatest impact on your community when training groups because you can “touch” more clients
– More folks in your community can afford the lower cost of boot camps and group training thereby giving you a bigger pond to fish in
– Your clients can get as good or better results as compared to one-on-one training (assuming their goals are fat loss and general fitness) and not injury rehab or sports specific training. Although I know plenty of trainers who work with athletes in groups and produce world class athletes.
– You’ll have a business with less employee (less employee = less stress and headaches), higher profits, and more freedom.
Make no mistake about it, one-on-one training is never going to go away. And it shouldn’t. There will always be a market for one-on-one training – some folks just prefer working with a trainer who gives them 100% undivided attention and they have discretionary money to afford such a service.
However, all markets, industries and businesses models are elastic… they expand, shrink, and evolve and some parish. Take a look at Curves, Microsoft, Travel Agents, Blockbuster Video, and even Apple.
Curves grew to nearly 15,000 locations at one point. However change was a-comin’ and they chose to not stay ahead of the curve (pun intended) and they got eaten up by other better, newer, more cutting edge programs that serviced their niche market. Yes, there are still some Curves locations around – – but they’re no where near as popular and as in demand as they once were.
That’s too bad, because by simply staying ahead of the curve and reinventing themselves based on the new science of fitness and fat loss and by listening to their clients who wanted more options they could have still been a force to be reckoned with, but they’re not. Evolve or perish.
For years travel agents helped people book trips and vacations. To them, they felt untouchable, they had the market cornered. You needed to fly somewhere and get a hotel and they pretty much told you what limited options you had. Want a rental car? Go do it yourself because that’s not in their job description.
Travel agents had what is now Expedia at their finger tips at one time, but they chose to not give the consumer the options and flexibility that the consumer wanted. They held the keys to the kingdom close to the vest keeping your options limited to what they felt was a good fit for you, or perhaps most profitable for them.
In came in companies like Expedia that gave the consumer more flight options, hotel options, rental car options, flexibility, affordability, package deals and even information on what to do when you get to your destination – all things that travel agents could have and should have done. But they chose not to evolve even when they saw the writing on the wall and today you’d be hard pressed to find a travel agent anywhere in your community. Evolve or perish.
Every family I knew had a weekend tradition, including ours. We’d get Subway sandwiches, stop into Blockbuster Video and pick out a few DVD videos and the weekend was set! Blockbuster was the industry giant, until NetFlix showed us a better way – DVDs through the mail. Brilliant and so out of the box!
Blockbuster tried to follow their lead, but failed. The industry changed again – this time to on-demand through Hulu, Amazon, and Netflix.
The industry giant didn’t know what hit them. They came crashing down – hard. Ironically the DVD video market never went away, there’s a Red Box on ever corner of every town across the country. Blockbuster simply chose not to stay ahead of the curve and now they’re obsolete.
Interestingly, I was traveling through a small town in Tennessee a couple of months ago, as we turned the corner onto a small street I noticed that they still had a Blockbuster Video store in town. How cute.
The big Blockbuster animal is dying, but it still has a faint pulse – for now. Evolve or perish.
Microsoft for years conditioned us that they’re the best at what they do and that we as consumers should be tolerant, even accept their glitches and hiccups in their browsers, software and operating systems. And for a while we did.
Little did Microsoft know that Apple had other plans… and they came out of the corner punching. Down went the Microsoft giant. Apple, on the other hand, reinvented themselves – several times. Today they deliver a better product, sexier in design, nearly flawless in code, that delivers a more enjoyable user experience – that’s probably why you’re reading this report on your Apple device.
Microsoft is still around though. Plenty of people and companies who are stuck in the 90’s are using Microsoft. Not enough people if you ask Microsoft share holders. Evolve or perish.
Apple, by the way, stands to fall in line with the industry giants I mentioned above. There’s increased competition in their market space and that’s a good thing becuase it forces everyone to raise the bar, deliver a better product and user experience. What Apple does next and how they evolve in light of the increased competition and newer products options out there will determine their place in history.
Like I said, all industries are elastic and ours is no different. The one-on-one personal training market space, like all maturing businesses and industries, is shrinking, evolving, and refining.
A thinning of the herd.
Today consumers have way more options other than one-on-one training; Planet Fitness, Cross Fit, Fit Body Boot Camp, Small group training programs, Pilates, Yoga, Big box gyms and even follow-along TV and online based fitness info products like Zumba, P90X, Insanity, Final Phase Fat Loss, The Diet Solution, Muscle Maximizer, and 24/7 Fat Loss are competing for the attention of the market space.
Gone are the days where one on one training was one of the only option available to work with a fitness professional. Consumers have more options available to them today and many of those options are evolving and refining at break neck speed and delivering similar, and in most cases, even better results, service, and client experience at a far more reasonable cost.
Like I said, one-on-one personal training programs will never perish, but they are thinning. Back in my day, all of my facilities offered one-on-one training programs. I had a total of 65 employee and payroll and overhead ate into my profits like a hungry animal. Even though I did well… I could have done much better had I leveraged the power of boot camp style and small group training programs.
Truth is, today my one-on-one training business would not cut it. There would be no way I could charge what I should charge to have the quality of trainers I would need, in order to deliver the level of service and results that my one-on-one clients would expect.
The numbers just wouldn’t make sense. You can’t find sixty something quality trainers. But you can find a couple, or do it yourself and know that the quality in service that is being delivered to your clients is world class.
In order to have a successful one on one personal training business I would have to have only one location rather than five like I did so that I could have the best trainers and service available for my clients.
Even then, I would still have to compete with a massive payroll, I would still have a smaller pool to market to in my community because of my higher prices and I would still have to worry about employee issues and headaches. That wasn’t something I was willing to do once I got married and started a family.
I wish I would have known about boot camps and small group training programs back then.
The way I see it, there are only two ways for someone to be a one-on-one personal trainer today. And if that’s what you want, and if that’s what you’re passionate about then you should let nothing stop you from it.
1. You can be an average trainer (most are, thems the cold hard facts), be willing to work all hours of the day (early morning and late into the evening). Be willing to put in 50-60 hours a week in, and be prepared to be in that under $50K a year income bracket – which BTW most trainers are. In fact the industry average is $37,000 a year in income. THIS IS WHERE THE MAJORITY ARE.
2. YES, you can make six figures as a one-on-one trainer – and the best in class do. These are the 1%ers. I know this first hand because I have coaching clients who do it. You’ve got to be the best damn trainer in the world, or pretty close to it. You need to have client service skills that rival the Ritz Carlton and the Mandarin Oriental, and you have to market to the affluent, the top 2% in your area. And even then you’ll still work 40 plus hours a week. But who cares, because if that’s what you want to do – do it.
The fact is consumers has become much more discerning than ever. And expectations in service, results, and affordability are higher, as they should be. More discerning clients with higher expectations raises the bar industry wide.
The mediocre trainers, those that think it’s a good idea to “date” several of their clients at once, or run a hodge podge business by the seat of their pants are weeding themselves out across the board.
And that’s where the industry is headed today and moving forward.
Client experience, while always paramount, holds far more weight than ever before.
And by client experience I don’t just mean results. Truth is, results are just a fraction of what the client experience is all about. Today it’s about community amongst your clients both at your facility and on Facebook.
It’s about giving recognition and showing appreciation. It’s about keeping the workouts fun, different, and challenging and delivering the outcome better than anyone else can deliver.
Gone are the days of not keeping track of your clients metrics. Fitness evaluations are a must. People want to see change in the mirror and on paper (body fat lost, inches melted, pounds gone, strength and endurance gained).
Like I said your clients have higher expectations than ever before and that’s a good thing. And it’s only going to get higher and higher. Be the best at what you do or merely survive in the shadows of you competition.
Your clients will pay you good money and they’ll tell their friends all about you if you can deliver the clients experience that meets their expectations. Keep them motivated and dialed in by encouraging them to use technology such as MyFitnessPal.com. Keep them on track and accountable to with automated fitness evaluations and goal setting tools like FitClients.com.
The client experience is also about service, service, service. Meet their needs in all aspects of fitness. If they’re working out then they’ll probably need a better diet plan. Be the solution or refer to an expert you can be. Your clients will get better, faster results and you’ll supplement your income.
Odds are your client will need to supplement with protein, high quality multi vitamins, fish oils and what have you. They’re either going to go to the local supplement shop and get sold on a bunch of poor quality crap that they don’t need or you can be their resource and turn them onto the highest quality supplement line on the planet, that drop ships the supplements directly to your client’s front door, can’t be found in supplements stores, and gives you 30% on going lifetime commissions.
Does a company like that exists? They do now, and it’s all I use.
They’re called Bio Trust and you can learn more about them here: http://TryBioTrust.com
A couple weeks ago I wrote a blog post on the “big thing” that’s missing from most fitness business. You can read that post here, in it I talked about doing one thing and being the best at it.
Today more than ever that determines your level of success. If your clients want fat loss then be the best at it. Give them the nutritional support they need – if you can’t deliver it, find the solution. Give them the supplemental support they need. Don’t let them wonder into a supplement store blindly. Turn clients onto a supplement line that you trust, that’s high in quality and that has what they need.
This is true if you work with athletes, the injured, boomers and seniors or any niche market.
Deliver unmatched client experience and results. Exceed their expectations by being a full service business – meet all of their needs that will help them better achieved their desired outcome.
And above all be a specialist and not a generalist. Do one thing and be better at it than anyone else.
Let’s talk marketing and the future of getting clients because it too has evolved over the last 12 months and will continue too.
Moving forward the magic word is “social marketing”. You know it to be true. Your best source of new clients are most likely through referrals, email marketing, from Facebook, from local businesses talking about you, and from review sites such as Yelp, Google Places, and Google Local.
What they all have in common is the social aspect of being apart of the community. Folks these day relay less on traditional marketing and more on feedback and experience of people they consider reliable and trust worthy. That’s the new face of marketing for fitness business owners – for all business owners actually.
This doesn’t mean that other “traditional marketing” tactics don’t work. What this does mean is that your best clients will come from, and the lowest hanging fruit is in social circles – on your email list, on Facebook, word of mouth, and trusted online review sites.
Now more than ever it’s about cultivating a relationship with your clients and exceeding their expectation so that they’ll talk about you and refer their circle of influence to you. Marketing today is also about community, about getting involved and donating time, effort, and money. It’s about being known for one thing rather than trying to be everything to everybody.
Marketing your fitness business now and into the future is all about the people on your email list, your Facebook and Fan Page friends and followers and being known, liked, and trusted by the community. Technology and the internet has made it so that we’re all in a fish bowl, and that’s a good thing becuase if you’re an awesome trainer… if you deliver results…. and if you’re the best in class in what you do, then others will see it and talk about it faster than ever.
The future for our industry is bright. Countries that once didn’t see much value in fitness and working with fitness professionals are now coming around – the UK, and parts of Europe are embracing fitness and the value that fitness trainers provide more and more.
And here in the states… people are not getting any leaner. Sadly, there are more clients available then there are trainers to serve them.
The bigger problem is the disconnect between what the clients wants and what the trainer thinks they want.
Even bigger is the problem of not being able to effectively communicate your benefits, your value proposition, and your marketing message to your market space. That’s the #1 reason most trainers have a “marketing” problem.
There’s a true disconnect – a marketing message mismatch between what the clients want and what you think they need.
= = Marketing is evolving as consumers become more discerning = =
People are better educated these days, and that’s a good thing. They know what they want, they have friends, family and co-workers who work with a trainer or have at one time worked with a trainer. They know what to expect, they can tell a good trainer from a crap trainer, they have higher expectation and demand the best in class.
And in an industry that’s not regulated (which I’m happy about because the government can’t seem to regulate anything right) higher expectations and high standards force the bar higher across the board throughout industry.
– 2013 is going to be another epic year for fitness experts who constantly strive to better themselves, their services, and the experience they deliver.
– One-on-one training will continue to to decline, but those who stay in it are going to either be in feast or famine. In other words most one-on-one trainers will continue to make under the $50K a year (Famine), the remaining few will do well, really well, because they’ll be best in class, communicate their marketing message effectively, and deliver world class service which is what their clients will expect.
– Small group training training programs and boot camps that understand their client’s needs and wants will continue to thrive.
– Boot camps are going through a massive evolution right now and will continue to do so throughout 2013. Those that choose to operate boot camp “classes” and liken themselves to classes taught in big box gyms will continue to struggle. We don’t run ‘classes’ at FBBC they’re sessions. And we’re trainers, not aerobic instructors or group fitness instructors. That message is sent loud and clear to our clients and it’s just one of the many factors that differentiate us from them.
Boot camps that operate outdoors, while barking out orders like they were teaching military boot camps will continue to struggle. The name ‘boot camp’ as you’ve known it is changing. It once stood for outdoor programs that operated like military boot camps and ran four weeks on, one week off.
That’s no longer the case.
In 2012 we saw big box gyms like 24 Fitness try out boot camps and they failed miserably – proof that they can’t match and deliver what the NEW boot camps are known for; Indoor locations, padded flooring for added resistance and joint support, battling ropes, TRX straps, Kettle bells, sliders, boxes, dumbbells, smash balls and a host of other cool “out of the box” (pun once again intended) equipment that keep the workouts fun, challenging, and fresh in a caring and supportive environment.
The bar is set higher than ever and that’s a good thing all the way around. And I’m proud of every FBBC location owner who’s helping redefine what boot camps are known for. And whether you’re a Fit Body Boot Camp owner or not you will benefit from this if you choose to rise to the occasion.
– Everyone’s got a voice – and that’s good and bad. Thanks to Facebook and review sites like Yelp and Google Local everyone has a voice, once again forcing the industry to do better, to reach higher, and to improve the quality of service and results delivered.
However the problem is that EVERYONE’S got a voice and some people will lie, spread hate, and throw you and your business under the bus. That’s the nature of the beast. Welcome to the NEW information age.
All in all 2013 looks bright for our industry. You control your destiny, your economy and your income. Every morning you decide if you’ll be a better version of the person you where yesterday. If you’re not happy with where you’re at, do something about it. If you need help – ask for it.
As always, I’m here to help.
This report has gotten far longer than I anticipated. I may have missed a few things. You might have some questions. I may have rubbed you the wrong way with what I said in this report. I’m okay with that. I’d love to know your thoughts and comments down below.