Virtual workshops

and other Plan B options

Due to the COVID-19 lockdown some gyms, personal trainers and group fitness instructors went virtual and online with their training sessions and classes.  I want to say most did, but the stats say most didn’t.  According to Fitness Australia, at the time of writing, just under 50% went online. Less than 10% of clients transitioned to virtual platforms or one-on-one training. 81% of exercise professionals lost their job or main source of income due to gym closures and social distancing restrictions.*

Could it get any tougher!

And doesn’t it make us all wonder what we could do differently next time?

Beyond running virtual one-one sessions and group fitness, (both of which are great, but possibly only 10% transitioned into them), was there other services that could have been offered virtually or online?  Services that would have helped our clients, members and our businesses stay healthy and fit and even been enticing for newbies to our business to pick up on?

While COVID-19 is kind of, almost in the past, outbreaks like this could well happen again, and regardless, there are plenty of other causes of businesses being forced online. It’s not an issue we should be putting on the back burner.  Indeed now is the best time to plan for it and weaving in our solutions with our face to face options, so we have a diversity of offerings that allow us to shift which we emphasize?

What could Plan B ideas include? Apart from the one-one and group fitness classes?

A) Challenges.  I’m a huge fan of good health and fitness challenges, and lockdown to me seemed like the perfect time to be rolling them out.  Thin on the ground challenges aren’t ‘good’ though. An example would be a ‘do 100 sit-up a day’ type challenges.  ‘Good’ challenge take thought to put together to ensure they physiologically hit the mark and meet the motivational needs of the people they are targeted at.  Now is the perfect time for putting together a content-rich, online one, that you can test and try and then use.  Use it whether we are in lockdown or not and keep perfecting it. And if you want to know about running your own challenges  clickety-click here.

B) Recommendations. Do you have a page on your website of affiliate services and products?  Stuff you love and would recommend whether you got a kickback or not? Of course you do, and now’s the time to get all that on your website. It could be books, heart rate monitors, podcasts to listen to, a certain brand of equipment, skincare range, a local grocer who’s roasting their own organic coffee beans, locally made hemp workout shirts with your cool brand on it and which raises dosh for Kids Cancer.  By shooting for ‘local’ stuff, you’re also supporting your community and it’s all part of differentiating yourself from the influencers and celebs who don’t have that capability.  Be different 🙂

C) A plan B website landing page. Since I am talking websites, while not an additional service as such, do you have a way to easily update your website with when and why you’re closed? What other services members and others can tap into? Out of the 40 websites I visited, only 4 had anything on their website about being closed and COVID-19, and that was 3 weeks into lockdown. Only two of them  provided information about alternate offerings.  Understandably fitness business owners may have had bigger things on their plate than updating their website. They were also were likely conversing with existing members through email. But what about all the other people looking to their local club’s website for ideas and solutions, who didn’t find any and moved on.   What an ideal place to have listed your virtual workshops!

D) Virtual workshops.  How many workshops, conferences, seminars, webinars, courses, etc., did you attend during lockdown?  Lots I bet. The FitEx Lite conference I virtually attended, had over 300 people participate online this year. That’s twice the number that turned up in person last year. Arguably numbers were up because the first year’s one was so dang good anyway, but still, who’d have thought?

As a PT club manager, I’d be thinking this would be a no-brainer way to support your personal trainers, clients and club members.  Helping PTs put together workshops which could then be packaged up into VIP kits – a series for the clients of PTs only, and another for members.   Easy to pull together they could have included other local health and fitness professionals in your community as well.

Whether the world is in lockdown, or not, virtual workshops offer a plethora of opportunities to add value to membership and PT packages, as well as providing a new way for non-members to be introduced to your team and connecting with other professionals in your community.

It’s not like you need to do one a day. It’s not like they need to go for hours.  Just doing one regular workshop a month, 30 minutes long. could open the door to whole other stream of business that you didn’t know existed.

10 benefits of virtual workshops

  1. Referrals. Your clients/members now have an easy avenue to invite new people into your world especially if the workshops don’t require people to exercise, which also means newbies don’t have to worry if they are fit enough to get through one of your workouts. You also don’t have to worry about their technique, pre-screens etc.
  2. Anonymity. It’s an option. Good for those situations when Dwayne Johnson wants to join in, and you don’t want everyone to get distracted by him being there.  It also means my boss will never find out I’m doing a workshop with you on managing my stress levels at work.
  3. Plan B work.  Virtual gives exercise professionals an offering if they get homebound due to an injury, or while your gym closes to get a reno. This alone is 100% a reason why every pro who relies on being physically active and mobile for their income needs to get started on dreaming up a few workshops.
  4. Longevity. Since workshops can be recorded, they provide a resource that keeps giving and giving.
  5. An ‘add on’ for special people. Workshops can form part or all of your ‘VIP’, ‘Travellers’, ‘Newbies’ or ‘WFH’ memberships /packages.

6. Staff support. Workshops could incorporate staff that weren’t keen or able to fly solo with other forms of online/virtual delivery.  Do the hard ‘techy’ work for them and allow them to fill a piece in the jigsaw that they feel comfy with.

7. Up-skilling. It provides PTs, GIs, and whoever else dives with a unique opportunity to work on their presenting skills and/or techy skills.

8. Stay out of the limelight and connect with other pros.  You actually don’t have to present the workshops yourself. You could ask a local Physio, Doctor, Dietitian etc., to do workshops on your fav topics and you just co-ordinate them.

9. Zero travel required. Apart from appealing to people in lockdown, virtual workshops will  be appealing to clients and members who are sick or injured and away on holidays.  How have you catered for these people in the past?  Frozen memberships?  And let’s not forget those who have heard great things about your club, maybe their grandkids or friends train with you, but they can’t get there in person, ever, like older people or people on the other side of the country.

10. Low cost.  Workshops are something you could offer at a lower price point knowing heaps more people can attend them and in that way you can better cater for people that are financially struggling without losing out on dosh yourself.

What now?