Do it! Virtual Workshops

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?

Fitness App Challenges

Fitness App Challenges

This article was written for workplaces but health and exercise professionals may find excerpts helpful to share with clients. 

For those who struggle to follow through on their exercise routines, using an app could well help them along the way.

First up:  30-day bodyweight challenge apps

30-day bodyweight app and online Challenges often come with names like ‘6 pack in 30 days’ and ’30 days to a better butt’.

They encourage users to do exercises with just their own bodyweight like 25 pushups a day, or an ever-increasing number of squats each day, or a different ab exercise each for 30 day.

The social media ‘click bait’ version often appears as a picture as a picture of a calendar month with an exercise written on to every page.

Similar things exist on the nutritional front and those from that area will like relate just as well to these points.

App 30 day to beach body

Pros:

  1. Pros:
    1. Often free or cheap.
    2. Tasks can be done anywhere with no or little equipment required.
    3. Users don’t have to think about what to do in the way of a workout routine for a whole month.
    4. Users know what they need to do, and they know if they’ve succeeded. They don’t need to check in with someone else for instruction or clarity.
    5. The time frame looks to be a stretch but not so much to be impossible.
    6. Virtual rewards, like badges and points, serve to pat people on the back and make for a visual, shareable sign of achievement.
    7. Sometimes there are online social/group structures to mingle in.
    8. Some come with music, voices, pictures, making them more engaging.
    9. Users get to feel good at the end of every day providing momentum to keep going.

Cons:  

  1. If the user misses a day, they are more likely to stop completely.
  2. It’s easy to cheat.
  3. Rewards and leaderboards, praise and statistics, become meaningless when entrants realise no robust accountability.
  4. They are often designed by app developers and graphic designers, not exercise professionals. Exercises are often wrong, outdated, and dangerous. A classic example for the last few years are the 30-day ab Challenges which require 100 sit-ups a day, for a strong core no less! Yep, exercise professionals give that out all the time…. not ever.
  5. Not great for beginners. For reasons just described at 3.
  6. Not individualized. They may say they are for ‘beginners’ or ‘pear-shaped’ people, but it doesn’t mean they are. They also won’t be individualized for an individual’s posture, form, injuries or health afflictions.  One day.  But not yet.
PT showing how they are better than a fitness app

6. Lack of feedback. Informational feedback adds to safety and effectiveness of any exercise programme and is a key piece to motivation. An app can’t look at a bridge (an exercise common in apps) and say “your left side is holding strong, but the right side is dropping, can you lift your right side up an inch? That’s it.  Feel the difference? That adjustment will save your shoulder from injury. Your form is getting better and better. Great work.” Yeah. Nah. Apps can’t do that yet.

7. Free or very cheap. This means the app is easier for the user to give up on.  It also means the app’s income is likely coming from advertising, pushing the user into a paid-for version, selling user data, or carrying viruses to hack the user’s phone.

8. No equipment, you can do anywhere and by yourself. It all sounds incredibly positive, but unless we’re in lockdown or highly self-motivated these features probably won’t work in someone’s favour.

Who are these apps best for?

Not the beginners they are marketed to.  They are more suited to:-

  • Self-motivated people who like not thinking about what their exercise routine is going to be, and
  • People who have a good grounding in exercise and know the difference between being uncomfortable and over-exertion, DOMs and an injury etc., and know how to adjust the exercises for their body, health status and goals.

What to look for in 30-day challenge apps.

If you’re dead-set on rolling out apps in your workplace.

  1. Look for apps that have been developed in conjunction with a registered, exercise professional or exercise physiologist.  Don’t be fooled by endorsements by celebrities or by stock images of fit people.
  2. Choose apps that are updated regularly (in last month). This helps ensure it is ‘bug’ free and won’t hack people’s phone.
  3. Choose apps with lots of downloads (30,000+) and lots of positive reviews. Neither are full proof evidence of being good and both could be fake, but it puts the odds in the user’s favour.
  4. Look for apps that offer lots of different ways to succeed, for example: ‘Gold’ for doing 30/30 days of activities, ‘Silver’ for doing 25-29 days, ‘Bronze’ for nailing out 15 -24 days. That way if users miss a day or three, they won’t be as likely to stop altogether.
  5. If people have never had any personal fitness coaching/training around exercises, then have a live, local, face to face session with a personal trainer/exercise professional/gym instructor to look over the app programme and adjust the exercises and programme for each user. It may add to the cost in the short term but think of it as a great investment which will put you/them in good stead for all future exercise programmes.
  6. Generally, most professionals would advise against doing the same strength training/resistance exercises every day for 30 days. Shoot for workouts where the activity is different each day (i.e. uses different muscles) and includes rest days, (important physiologically and psychologically) and/or is interspersed with cardiovascular routines in between bodyweight training days.
  7. To ensure everyone sees the Challenge to the end, look for layers in the app (or add them in yourself) that keep users accountable. An app requiring users to post a video doing the exercise or to do it with other app users, or at a certain time every day; would all be examples of layers.
  8. If you’ve picked up a free version with loads of adverts or missing all the cool premium features,  then step up and get the paid version.
  9. If you are going to go for these 30-day simple apps and Challenges, use cardio-based ones (think: walk, cycle, swim) as they will likely be safer for more people and/or have a registered exercise professional provide some additional guidance and motivation.
  10. Finally, if you stop using these types of apps and/or don’ get the results you want, don’t blame yourself.  Much like the infomercial Ab King Pro type stuff, these things are not built with the ingredients they need in them to be a success.  Take it as a sign not to give up on getting fit but to move on to something different.

The future

In the future, there is likely to be more accessible/cheap ways to record your bodyweight training efforts just like how Strava, Apple etc., can record how far and fast we run and cycle.  They may have robust accountability like Apple’s feature with exercise minutes and be able to provide feedback about form and adjusting to suit our energy levels, health etc.,

Advice to personal trainers

Should you recommend apps like this to your clients and share those 30-day Challenge images on social media? Sure, providing you are up for providing individual guidance around the exercises in them. If you don’t layer them with your expertise, I don’t think your clients will:-

  1. be safe,
  2. achieve their goals, and
  3. appreciate how you are different to an app/picture with 30 days of exercises on it and indeed, why you are so much better than both.

And in case you’ve forgotten how awesome what you do is, take a look at these pics and ask yourself if an app could do that.

PTs being personal way better than a fitness app
Fit girl saying yeah nah to apps
Male PT being personal better than App

Fast Track Workshops

Fast track series

Here’s a series of workshops that personal trainers, club owners and gym instructors could deliver to current members or offer up to local sports teams.

Four workshops

Pitched at gym-goers, in particular:-
    • exercise/gym newbies who want to know how to exercise effectively and safely, i.e. reach their goals fast, and
    • for anyone training hard or consistently but not getting the results they are chasing.
Fast track workshop ideas series

• WORKSHOP 1: WARM-UPS

An effective warm-up can increase your performance by a whopping 40%. Warm-up well and you’ll feel more motivated, run faster, lift more and be less likely to suffer injuries. It all adds up to you achieving your goals faster, whether that’s to lose weight, be stronger or win races. Learn why spending five minutes on a stationary bike, skipping rope, running and a whole bunch of other activities, aren’t your best option and learn what is. It’s the knowledge you’ll have forever and use every workout!

• WORKSHOP 2: DIETARY RECALLS

Learn why a dietary recall is important for your health and success. For improving energy, race time, muscle mass, dropping bodyfat or sleeping better.  Find out the pros and cons of Apps like FitnessPal. Set yourself up with the best recall to suit your personality and goals.

• WORKSHOP 3: HEART RATE TRAINING

How to get the most out of your exercise routines.  Learn why knowing your heart rate matters, before, after and during exercise and how it is directly linked to all your fitness goals.  Whether you want to lose weight, win races, stay energized, or stack on muscle, this is the workshop to attend.

• WORKSHOP 4: ASSESSMENTS

30 different health and fitness assessments that your doctor won’t be doing but which are key to having an active life and maintaining motivation. Many you can do yourself, others we can do on the day. Two  local physios on hand to help out. Lots of giveaways in this final workshop of the series.

DETAIL

The idea with these workshops is that they are held at your fitness club.  As an example, you put up posters about the series at the club, invite your own clients and invite them to invite others.  You also put a poster up in the park’s clubhouse, where a lot of local soccer teams train.

When: Each Saturday in August. From 10.15 am – 11.45 am

Cost: Club members: $25 per workshop or VIP pass to all four for $80 before July 1. Non-members: $30 per workshop
Limited: Each session limited to 20 people.
Bookings: Essential. Pay online beforehand to secure place.
Where: ‘Your Great Club’, in the aerobics studio, straight after the 9 am weights class.
Refunds:  Not after July 1st, but you can transfer your ticket and send someone else along in your place 🙂
Bring: Each workshop requires you to get a little bit physical, other than the dietary recall workshop, . Please wear comfy gym gear and closed in gym shoes.
Poster for inside club, workshop ideas

Poster ideas

Above is an example of a poster made using Canva.  It’s designed for use inside your gym club and in social media.  It’s the bare-bone basics aimed at raising curiosity and pushing people to a page on your website.  That web page will have all the details,  as well as a booking system, payment gateway and will be easily shareable with others.

This type of poster is fine for an environment like a club, which already has narrowed your market to those interested in being fit.  It is also likely fine with people who know you – your tribe. For promoting your workshop outside of the club environment, you’d likely need something different.

Let’s say you want to promote the same workshop at the local park clubhouse where soccer teams train.  You would likely then add other details in:-  when, where, price and what to bring, who the presenter is/are, their credentials and an easy way for anyone interested in booking.

You would likely change the picture to a soccer player, change the description of who it’s for and add in what soccer players will get out of it.

THOUGHTS?

Did you read through those workshop ideas and say to yourself:

  • “I could totally do that!”
  • “I know a topic that would be heaps better than all of those.”
  • “Flip, I’d charge more than that.”

YAY if yes, in all those cases.  Or maybe you thought “yeah I’d love to do this, but I don’t know enough, and I don’t have enough confidence talking in groups, and I’m not at a club, and I don’t do one to one stuff”.

If you’d like to know why to run workshops like these, how to promote them and get your confidence up then pick up my books on Amazon.

Finally, if you found any of the ideas here useful, please share this post and use the info.  No copyright applies to this page’s content or the ideas, other than the picture. You can ‘use’ the pics, but due to their licensing laws, you’ll need to make your own in Canva.

Workshop book cover
Cover for part 2 Workshop Guide