Tara Finch | Fitness to a T

In today’s economy it is important for a personal trainer, whether training clients in-home or at a gym, to be flexible and creative using today’s technologies.

I have been passionate about health and fitness for about 21 years now. Friends and family often sought me out for advice on losing weight, eating better, motivation, fitness tips, etc. I was working in the customer service industry for about as long so I had a good sense of how to deal with people and their frustrations no matter what the reason.

After getting married in the spring of 2010 and moving nearly 100 miles away from my office job, I was forced into unemployment. Finding a job had proven difficult so I decided to put my talent of helping people and my passion for health and fitness to good use. I studied to be a personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). Competing for a job at one of the many local gyms had been discouraging because a lot of other trainers are looking for the same position(s) I am, so I decided to start my own in-home personal training company, Fitness to a T, LLC, January 1 2010, and I have been forced to get extremely creative with my services because of the economy.

At anywhere from $40 to $60+ per hour, in-home personal training is considered a luxury, and we are often “laid-off” by our clients before their manicurists are, or they cut back on their sessions. This happened to me with all of my clients until I was down to 1 by May 2010. I then created boot camps, Camp BodY rebooT® and Camp Bridal rebooT® respectively to reach another market and offered it at a lower cost, I even used sites that offer “daily deals”, but targeted to my local area to get the word out. The camps were great, but after a while people didn’t want to wake up at 5am anymore, or they lost their jobs, or their husbands lost their jobs and they had to quit.

With fall approaching I had to think of something and think fast. I am already a NASM Elite Trainer with Sharecare.com which gives me more resources but that is a free service. I don’t want the health of my clients, or potential clients to fail, but at the same time I have to put food on my table too. So I got creative and offered Virtual Training as an option in my services.

Studies show 53% of consumers are interested in using a health coach. 61% of consumers want tools that provide personalized recommendations to improve their health. 55% of consumers are interested in tools that help them access, monitor or manage their growth. 50% of exercisers drop out in the first 6 months of a program. Add a professional fitness coach and 80% of exercisers will stick with a weight loss program. 2 out of 3 people reach their goals!

By adding virtual training not only have I opened up the door for my former clients to walk back into, but I increased my range from just a few miles from my home to anywhere in the United States and its territories. How’s THAT for a service area?

Though it sounds like a win-win, being a Virtual Trainer does offer many difficult hurdles as well:

  • Most importantly, we aren’t there to make sure the client is actually doing the work out, let alone correctly.
  • Some clients get discouraged easily, so very personalized and frequent attention needs to be given to that type of individual.
  • A lot of phone and email time is spent to answer questions and talk about the programs.
  • Creating a program and putting it into a format for the client that doesn’t want to sign up for a virtual training program account is time consuming.
  • Cost is a fraction of what an In-home client would pay, the only difference is you aren’t driving to their location, but might be spending just as much time, or more, assisting them on the phone, web chat, or email.

Though the technology today is very useful to grab an audience, especially on Twitter, the conversion rate is stale. This is due, in part, to “car-salesmen” style pitches, and Spammers -Buy this, drink this, pop this pill with a web address attached to it. The noise level on sites like Twitter is quite high, and patience is needed if someone plans to use this tool as a means to find clients, at least that’s what I have found during my journey.

I have found using social networking sites like Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn to be more useful to reach my warm market. I am able to see what they do on a daily basis, watch their struggles, and eventually help them. In fact, I just signed up 5 virtual training clients this week just from my personal Facebook friends that I went to high school and grade school with. I have asked that each invite a friend for accountability, so who knows… I might have 10 by Friday!

Never limit yourself or your talent to just your car or a box with weights in it, branch out, think outside the box, and use your gift to help others as far and wide as you can. Virtual Training has been a blessing in my business, and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to help those I care about from my home office.

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  • I have a virtual trainer, and I LOVE it! It is so easy, and I’ve been able to build a close relationship with her. I’ve also had amazing success! This is definitely an area I would love to go in to – thanks for the tips!!