How can you run a personal training business without being able to, well, meet in person?
This was a crucial question that Aaron McCulloch and James Lorey had to find an answer to last year, not long after they had jointly taken over the reins as Managing Director and Operations Director of Your Personal Training (YPT).
One of the United Kingdom's most successful personal training management companies, YPT has a highly successful team of skilled regional coaches who dedicate their time day-in, day-out to helping Personal Trainers to achieve their objectives.
Taking on the challenge
Driven by the goal of enabling their Personal Trainer’s to become ultimate fitness service providers, Aaron and James were faced with meeting the challenge of supporting over 400 fitness entrepreneurs through an immensely difficult period, working alongside some of the UK’s largest gym chains and leisure centres. How could they continue to provide expert guidance, help place and mentor their PT clients during a global pandemic?
Fortunately for those trainers, YPT were reactive, adaptable and innovative.
In addition to providing free education, group challenges, engagement blueprints for lockdown and regular updates on outdoor provisions, they understood something crucial - the potential benefits of hybrid business models. With a pre-existing realisation of how PTs could blend physical and digital services, they foresaw that the pandemic would be a catalyst for change across the whole fitness and health industry.
Therefore, if the PTs they worked with were going to not only survive but thrive, both during and after the pandemic, then they were going to need to harness digital engagement and revenue opportunities. Face to face training would have to be just one of the services a PT could offer.
With a belief that the modern fitness consumer desires value in the form of flexibility, personalisation, immediacy and variety, YPT wanted an all-in-one solution to cover everything a Personal Trainer needs to grow their hybrid business.
They decided that what Virtuagym offers aligns with what PTs want - and we were happy to help!
YPT embraced fitness technology and worked with Virtuagym to launch the ‘Your Wellbeing App’. A unique management app personalisable for each user, Your Wellbeing supports PTs in running and managing their business by being more efficient and streamlined, enabling them to focus on what they do best - training clients!
Before working with Virtuagym, James and Aaron believed that a Personal Trainer would need three or four different apps in order to provide perfect functionality and achieve what they view as the three main pillars for PTs - COACH, MANAGE and ENGAGE. Indeed, for them, PTs now need to act like gyms by providing a full range of services, including subscriptions, payments, booking systems and communities.
However, by creating Your Wellbeing, YPT has enabled its PTs to provide all of those things and more in one, easy to use app! Already, PTs utilising Your Wellbeing are working with hundreds of clients, using the app to keep them engaged and on track on a day-to-day basis.
"Why treat fitness any differently to our TV habits? Why can’t someone who wants to achieve a fitness goal go to a gym, have a digital Personal Trainer and be part of a nutrition club?"
Aaron McCulloch, Managing Director, Your Personal Training
All for one and one for all!
So, how exactly has this app been maximised to date?
In a time when we are craving engagement more than ever, the trainers YPT supports have really benefited from the app’s community features, which are keeping them and all of their clients digitally connected and motivated. And whilst we’re on motivation, the group challenges have been a great resource, creating clubs within clubs!
On top of that, trainers have valued the ease in which the app can be used by them and their clients, including aspects such as the calendar functionality, which has given far clearer visibility of training opportunities. Linked to this, the booking software has taken away the traditional hassle of appointment administration, with the integrated payment system also enabling an ease of process and a streamlined approach for clients, so they can efficiently secure different packages and use earned credits.
During the early stages of the pandemic, YPT saw that 40% of its members had paused their contracts. Yet, as the year progressed, there was an impressive 20% increase in sign-ups for virtual workout classes as more and more trainers recognised the value of delivering online services.
The early success for those who have chosen to use the app (James and Aaron estimate they have been able to engage with almost 1,000 members) has been such that Your Wellbeing has been integrated as a non-mandatory part of the onboarding process for YPT’s new clients. And our Virtuagym academy has also been added into their skills section on the app!
One example of a YPT client who has reaped the rewards of using Your Wellbeing are brothers Martin and Graham Law, who together run St John’s Health and Fitness, a personal training studio in Yorkshire, England. The two former professional Rugby League players added Your Wellbeing as a bolt-on membership option for clients and have been able to increase their revenue by £1,600 per month.
“The Your Wellbeing app is exactly what we as a club have been looking for. All of our needs are rolled into one place, from our gym booking system to virtual workouts. Our members love it”
Graham Law, St John’s Health and Fitness
Easier management, greater results
All of these elements have aided YPT’s trainers in being able to develop bespoke workout packages for their clients. They get the accountability and flexibility they need to adapt to their client’s experiences and interests. This helps them achieve what James and Aaron refer to as the three ‘Rs’ - retention, results and ultimately referrals.
For example, whether a client prefers to train at home or in the park, wants to focus on specific exercises or is only available at certain points in the week, users of Your Wellbeing can now manage and deliver for them in a far more time and cost-effective manner. By integrating technology into their business, these fitness entrepreneurs now have more free time whilst delivering a higher level of service.
“By embracing a hybrid approach, our Personal Trainers can give their clients direction and support based on their needs in a cost effective way, helping them to achieve more holistic all-body health”
Aaron McCulloch, Managing Director, Your Personal Training
Future of fitness
The aim of YPT moving forwards is to use Your Wellbeing and the support from Virtuagym to continue to educate PTs and engineer a cultural shift, in which more and more trainers are confident enough to embrace digital as part of their offering.
Over the coming years they hope that, with their good market access, knowledge and the fact they are learning every day, they will be able to work with thousands not just hundreds of Personal Trainers.
For James and Aaron, fitness consumers now want a blend of physical and digital fitness, with the transformative impact of fitness technology here to stay - even as people start going back to their gyms. This means fitness professionals need to be able to keep adapting and understanding the changing desires of the modern PT user.
After such a challenging year, Aaron and James believe it is now an exciting time for the fitness industry and Personal Trainers. They feel it is only going to grow and get better, with a hybrid approach at its core.
“Virtuagym’s on-boarding and support has been gold standard. Their consultative way of working fits perfectly with how we run”
James Lorey, Operations Director, Your Personal Training