Having a clear view and understanding of all your incoming leads can be very difficult. How do you determine who is really interested and how do you keep track of it? These are two common questions that can keep fitness professionals awake at night.
With Virtuagym’s lead management feature, tracking and approaching leads becomes a whole lot easier. Curious as to how? Then read on!
First and foremost, what actually is a lead? A lead is a potential customer who has shown interest in your products or services by interacting with your brand, for example by signing-up for a trial class or newsletter.
For this reason, it is beneficial to track and understand these specific individuals and target them for conversion. Virtuagym’s lead management software ensures you stay on top of the number of incoming leads, so you can respond as effectively as possible.
After installing the lead management software, a new window will appear in your Virtuagym portal. This is the lead overview where you can easily add all contact information, comments, and origin of the leads. This way you can track your leads at any time of the day.
How to approach leads effectively
After a clear lead overview of all the key information has been created, it’s time to reach out to your potential clients! Being highly visible in the consumer’s decision-making process is very important.
Using this overview, you can easily approach your customers by calling them or sending them an email. That way you are well informed and you know if they are actually interested.
Convert leads to loyal members
Be prepared! A clear lead overview and email campaign will often ensure that a lead is convinced and actually chooses your product or service. After the lead has officially become a client you can easily change their status to “member” in your portal. This also ensures that all information from the lead overview is transferred to your client overview, simplifying the registration processsignificantly!
Get ready to grow your client base
Convinced of the benefits of Virtuagym’s lead management software? And ready to enhance your client base? Then get started today and make the most of your gym!
Our daily lives have changed greatly because of digitalization in the last decade – ever since smartphones became ubiquitous, the way we interact with brands, products, and services has irrevocably changed. Wearables have spurred that change even further, being with us every waking moment (and sometimes even in sleep).
The adoption of wearables is predicted to keep expanding as these wrist-sized computers become more and more precise in tracking our biological data – to the point it can be an accurate and reliable instrument for medical practitioners.
While fitness had been slowly but surely digitizing before the pandemic, we cannot deny its explosive growth since the lockdown. It is predicted that the wearable technology market will be worth$265.4 billion by 2026 – which is more than double what it is in 2021.
And as digital and real-life are more intertwined than ever, it’s up to fitness operators to maximize on the digital habits of their clients and integrate wearables into their long-term hybrid strategy.
The Role of Wearables and Fitness in Healthcare
The more data wearables can aggregate from their user, the more possibilities exist for professionals to utilize it. Anything from sleep patterns, heart rate, blood pressure, daily steps taken, and even recognizing the type of workout being done – such insights about a client’s daily life can give precious information for health care professionals as well as fitness operators.
For example, many patients become nervous during their doctor’s visit, sending their blood pressure and heart rate through the roof. This can make it hard for medical professionals to discern the baseline readings for their patients and prescribe medication accordingly.
While some patients have blood pressure meters at home, the mere act of putting on the cuff gives them a surge of anxiety. Advanced wearables can close this gap for healthcare providers by giving them a less intrusive and more complete view of the patient’s lifestyle.
So what does this mean for fitness operators? Physical and mental fitness are the keys to a healthier society. A long list of preventable diseases – in some cases high blood pressure – are caused by poor nutrition and low levels of physical activity.
Wearables might just be the bridge between complete holistic wellness and healthcare, nipping lifestyle diseases in the bud by providing insights into health through data aggregation.
Holistic health through collaboration
This opens new doors to fitness operators by enabling new streams of revenue and putting them in touch with new target audiences. Think about starting a local professional community by working together with nutritionists, physical therapists, and mindfulness centers. For example, sufferers from long COVID will need extensive physical rehabilitation but also support in mental wellness to overcome the effects of the illness. Connect with your professional health and wellness community to explore the options of offering these clients a holistic service, all connected by wearables.
With the wearable at the core of the client’s lifestyle, you can offer more complete preventive health services to your community and make sure your clients get exactly what they need in order to achieve a happier and healthier life.
Are you looking to offer holistic services in-house? You don’t have to become an expert in every aspect of holistic health.
Get Personal: Personalization of Fitness Through Data Aggregation
Hyper-personalization is a growing trend in fitness. And through the fast digitization of the fitness industry, it has become expected by (potential) clients. By aggregating data on your clients, you can build custom plans that fit their personal lifestyles and goals.
How are your clients behaving while they are not in the gym? This is pertinent information that you can use to not only personalize but also perfect training and nutrition to help them achieve their goals in the best way.
Some clients may take their rest days pretty literally and spend their evenings on the couch, while others might have physical hobbies. Does your client walk their dog every evening for an hour but really dislike going on the treadmill in the gym?
This is a precious insight you can use to personalize and optimize their training plan. You can see how many steps they took, what their heart rate was like, and maybe decide to scrap the treadmill from a few workouts. Now the workouts fit their lifestyle better, which will help keep them motivated for longer.
You don’t even have to meet your clients personally to give them this one-of-a-kind experience! Discoverhow DAG EEN has perfected remote engagement through wearables and data aggregation to coach their clients to success through Virtuagym’s apps.
Wearables as Part of Your Future-Proof Hybrid Business Model
In the past year and a half, we have experienced how important it is to have a hybrid business model in place. When we conducted a survey of our clients in 2020 to see how they were coping with the challenges of the pandemic, results showed overwhelmingly that businesses that quickly adapted their offerings into the digital domain fared better than those that did not.Discover the lessons the fitness industry has learned from the pandemic.
As big tech is getting more and more involved in the fitness industry, traditional brick-and-mortar fitness facilities must not fall behind. For example, Apple Fitness + lets users work out at home with online classes while their Apple Watch tracks their biometrics, giving them a complete on-demand fitness experience. This shows that digital fitness and the hybrid model are here to stay.
And clients want to have a choice. Add value to your regular membership with an online and offline offering and integration with wearables through apps. You can automate and personalize their experience, enabling you toexpand your streams of revenue.
PRO+ helps you offer competitive services to your clients and community, at the fraction of the budget big tech is spending. And the best part? It’s all customized in your own branding and integrates with a myriad of different platforms to give your clients a seamless experience.
As the world was gripped by COVID-19, it had a significant impact on not only peoples’ everyday life but on the world economy as well. Many sectors had to close their businesses completely or significantly reduce their capacity. As a result, they lost business and their revenue took a hit.
The fitness industry is one of the sectors that was hit hard by closures and many fitness operators have been struggling with financial losses.
According to research published by Bloomberg, large fitness clubs have not raised the price of their memberships in a consequential way. However, small studios have been forced to increase their pricing by 20% on average in order to cover overhead costs. And, whilst virtual classes have become about 20% cheaper during the pandemic and are a scalable solution with a low start-up cost, the revenue per member has dropped, making it a drop in the ocean for struggling fitness operators.
All in all, the financial losses have been huge all over the board: American health clubs and gyms for example lost $13.9 million in revenue from mid-March to August 31 in 2020 alone.
So as entrepreneurs look to recoup income to keep their businesses afloat, how will that affect membership pricing? If you do choose to increase your prices, how do you ensure the retention rate of your existing members? And finally, how do you stay competitive against big-budget chains and cheap and accessible home workouts?
Focus on adding value to your gym membership
As a result of COVID-19 and rapid digitization, many fitness businesses have to consider a transformation of their business model and streams of revenue.
There are many ways to go about this, but for fitness businesses, Value-Based restructuring will bring them, well, the most value. Approaching the transformation of a company from this Value-Based restructuring perspective will help entrepreneurs and teams to get the balance right between targets and set them up for consecutive and profitable growth.
So what should you take into account when considering a new pricing strategy? This might sound counterintuitive – but don’t focus solely on profit. Do your research into external factors like your target audience, your location, local competitors, etc. But of course, also look inwards: what do you need to reach financial stability and balance your books? Which membership pricing strategy best fits your business identity and brand?
The pandemic has dramatically changed consumer behaviors and demands. For instance, the number of people who prefer online fitness lessons as opposed to an in-facility offering has grown substantially since lockdown – it gives them a more personalized experience in the comfort of their own home, a flexible schedule that fits their day-to-day lives and saves them the commute to the gym.
For the studio or gym owner, implementing a hybrid business model that gives clients a choice between online and in-facility services is an easily scalable solution. This way they can grow their customer base beyond the four walls of their facility, and offer new target audiences services that fit their lifestyle.
Choose the right pricing strategy for your fitness business
So how do you approach raising your membership prices while minimizing the risk of losing clients in the process? There is no one size fits all answer to this question – ultimately it depends on your target audience and what they want and expect from your fitness business. And there’s nothing wrong with straight-up asking for their opinion. If anything, it will strengthen their sense of community and loyalty to your brand.
1. Bundle pricing
Offer several products together and sell them cheaper than all of them would be individually. Work with your team to learn how to cross-sell and upsell packages – offer your clients the services that best fit their goals while ensuring new revenue streams.
2. Premium pricing
Implement a “luxury” or “lifestyle” strategy with high-quality products. Clients get a hyper-personalized experience – this covers everything from his/her eating habits to workout plans and wellness advice.
3. Economy pricing strategy
Some people just want to work out. Nothing more, nothing less. You can target this group with an economical membership. Offer a basic membership and charge for additional services, classes, and amenities.
4. Market penetration pricing
Looking to grow your customer base? Undercut competitors with temporary low prices or promotions. As your customer base grows you can incrementally increase membership prices.
Looking for a more flexible solution in uncertain times? Add-ons allow your clients to customize their experience. Customers can purchase workout plans, online access, and meal plans separately.
As the restrictions around indoor fitness are slowly but surely easing, fitness operators can now see how much the fitness landscape has changed around them. Digital fitness through livestreaming, wearables, and apps has firmly positioned itself as a flexible, accessible, and COVID-safe alternative.
According to a study published by Visualcapitalist, between Q1 and Q2 2020, health and fitness application downloads increased by 46% worldwide. Moreover, the amount of daily active users also grew by no less than 24%. This goes to show that there is a lot to win for fitness entrepreneurs in this segment of the market.
Finally, the lockdown has encouraged people to invest in home fitness equipment – according to data from NPD, retail sales almost doubled in 2020 to a staggering $2.3 billion while depleting inventories all over the continental US. Offering virtual classes or 1:1 sessions can be a solution to get customers in without raising prices. They have the equipment at home, but you and your trainers can help them stay motivated and get everything out of their workout!
Since occupancy is still limited in many places and the future looks uncertain, a hybrid solution offers clients the option to still attend classes, albeit online, when sessions are for example fully booked.
This way fitness businesses can open new streams of revenue with a relatively low upfront cost. Moreover, it will help expand their offering, so they can attract new clients that canceled their regular gym membership during the lockdown and are now on the lookout for new ways to work out.
Ways to increase revenue from existing club members
Increase the value of your memberships by offering additional services to your clients. This can range from low-cost solutions like livestreaming lessons or doing 1:1 online coaching sessions. As mentioned above, these can be implemented into bundle packages or add-on pricing strategies.
You can also choose to branch out from fitness into a more holistic wellness offering by giving your clients access to meditations and mindfulness exercises. A great number of apps offer easily accessible and cheap holistic content, for example, our very own PRO+.
Are you looking to grow your in-facility traffic? Research possible partnerships with other local entrepreneurs – a physiotherapist or a healthy smoothie bar may be open for collaboration on special offers for your gym clients. Hiring a local yoga or Pilates teacher for group lessons will also help you add more value to your offering.
Finally, gyms that have more square footage can choose to expand with more luxurious amenities such as in-house childcare, saunas, steam cabins, or even massage therapy. Depending on your target audience and location, this can give you an edge over your competitors, and maximize a solid upsell strategy.
Optimizing studio footprint
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, gyms and studios have to rethink their footprints. Depending on city, county, or even state regulation you might not be able to welcome your clients back yet at full capacity. So how do you make more space?
Earlier we explored the option of expanding into online spaces with livestreaming lessons and online training, but sometimes a restructuring of your physical fitness space can do wonders. In the FitNation Lunch & Learn webinar, Sarah Mannering shared tips on how your club’s design potential can help maximize engagement, accelerate growth, and drive revenue.
Redesigning your club can take shape in many ways: are most of your clients focussed on lifting weights, rather than the cardio machines? Then you might consider bringing down the number of machines to give more space for free weights. Do you have a parking lot that you could utilize for some of your equipment? A big party tent could extend your square footage, so you can organize group lessons or move some of your machines or weights outside.
And you don’t have to come up with the solution all by yourself – ask your clients for their input! Start a poll or discussion in your community to find out what your clients want and need from your gym. You’ll kill two birds with one stone: not only can you specify your offering to your clients’ needs, but you are also making them feel more engaged and heard, which will help your retention rate.
And while weather dependent, offering a range of outdoor classes in local parks or cross-country boot camp circuits in spring and summer can be a fun and social way for your clients to shake up their fitness regimes and enable you to become more engaged in your community. And have you considered the possibilities around marketing your boot camps to businesses for a healthy and energetic team-building day out?
The possibilities are endless. Although it may take a while for the financial state of affairs to even out for the fitness industry, steps can be taken to ensure a brighter future and a more productive present. Whatever the best solution is, your situation will always depend on understanding what your target audience needs, and making them feel they get value for their money – especially if you need to raise your membership prices.
Apps, wearables, online training- our dependence on technology is higher than ever before.
It is not just our online presence that is growing; the internet is collecting more and more data on our personal lives!
This makes it tricky for gyms and personal trainers to maintain client confidentiality.
While having access to a wealth of client information is extremely useful for tailored client experiences, big data brings big responsibility.
How Do We Collect Client Data?
We rode a digitalization wave during the pandemic, turning to online platforms to keep our services active.
With this meant online sign-ups, fitness apps, and membership portals-all of which require the constant collection of client data.
This means client information is digital, stored in the cloud, and potentially widely available.
You might be wondering what data we are talking about.
Standard data (names, addresses, banking information, and phone numbers) might seem obvious, but we now collect information on everything– sleep, heart rate, blood pressure, running times…the list goes on.
Unfortunately, cybercrime is now a worldwide concern.
In a world where things are so uncertain, the need for a clear and precise communication strategy has never been more important. Restrictions are changing regularly, and gyms are not yet operating at full capacity.
In short, consistent changes to your communication strategy can help grow your community and build stronger customer loyalty. In these ever-changing times, you need to provide your members with clear information and direction.
Moreover, effective communication builds trust with both your team and your customers. This, therefore, means you can increase their engagement and satisfaction at the same time.
Connect with your clients
Positive and simple communication is essential, as a friendly attitude toward your audience will encourage them to interact with you. Research shows that 65% of customers say they are emotionally connected to a brand if it makes them feel like it cares about them.
This means that the tone of voice creates a connection with your audience and encourages dialogue. What you say matters, but the most important part is how you say it.
The KISS Principle
Effective communication should follow the KISS principle: “keep it short and simple”. The keys to the KISS principle are very simple and short: get to the point, avoid irrelevant aspects and deliver a message that is easy to understand.
Review your communication and content critically, and look where your message could be simplified. Keep in mind that while your communication might become more straightforward, it is imperative to keep showing respect and empathy for your audience. In short, speak the language of your customers.
A little tip? Make sure you keep a consistent tone of voice across all the channels you use. This will not only make your brand look more professional and trustworthy, but your audience will also identify with your messages more easily.
Go Beyond Basic Communication
The key to positioning your gym as a real authority is to ensure your communication is going beyond the basic messaging of class schedules.
First, you can share regular updates, for example about reopening or restrictions, but you can also offer insights about key industry news. Whenever things change in the day-to-day running of your gym, whether it is a new reservation system or the implementation of new sanitation guidelines, share this with your clients. Take your time to explain changes and updates, and be on hand to answer their questions. Those little extra steps mean a lot for client engagement.
And why stop there? If we have learned anything from the pandemic, is that a digital offering for remote fitness is essential. Fitness is no longer tied to a physical space – you can reach and serve your clients wherever they are and whenever they need through technology. Connect with them online by live streaming workouts or offering them pre-recorded sessions through your channels.
This is a tried and tested strategy to increase motivation and engagement. You can share fitness tips, nutritional advice, recipes, wellness tips, and on-demand workouts with your clients through your in-app community or members-only pages on social media.
Creating a YouTube or Instagram account is a great way to live stream or upload pre-recorded workouts. Encouraging people to share, upload and comment on your videos can increase engagement and get people talking about your gym!
Finally, organize challenges and ask your community to film themselves and share it online! The idea is to have a solid social media presence and encourage members to interact with you outside of the gym.
Adopt an Agile Communication Strategy
With the reopening of fitness facilities, you’ll need to train your team to meet your members’ expectations. With changing government guidelines and new ways of working, an Agile communication strategy is the best option.
Agile communication is an approach that can respond, adapt and change responsively while keeping the same goal. You must communicate clearly and effectively with all of your on-site teams, and moreover, you need to be able to disseminate new ways of working to your on-site teams quickly.
The best way to do this is to adopt a single platform to send all of your information. Then, your teams will know where to find the information they are looking for, no matter what the issue might be. They should be able to access information easily. Also, make sure the content sent out is engaging.
You can share content in many forms, whether it’s an announcement from management or videos on how to wash your hands.
You also need to know if your communications are driving action. If you send a key communication to your team – for example, training them on a new health policy – you need to make sure it’s being implemented. Cultivate a culture of openness and honesty by asking and accepting feedback from your team.
Pick the Right Communication Channels
A good communication strategy for a fitness business is based on the customer experience. Therefore, it is essential to understand your customers. For example, try to find out how they heard about your services, how long they have been members of your gym, etc.
To do this, you can conduct periodic customer satisfaction surveys and analyze the data. Focus on building good relationships with your customers, increasing the number of touchpoints, and keeping them engaged.
Understanding your customers will help you know where to reach them and how to structure your marketing message. Consider differentiating your channels based on your target audience. For example, to target audiences from different generations, you will need to diversify your channels.
Also, choosing the right channel depends on the content. You wouldn’t send an invoice through text, right? Selecting the proper channels is as important as the content you share.
The medium is the message
Determining the most appropriate channels will save you valuable time and increase the effectiveness of your message. Here are the channels to consider: in the facility, billboards, websites, blogs, social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, emails, as well as webinars.
When choosing your channel, ask yourself:
Does it reach my target audience?
Does it fit my budget?
Does it allow me to communicate my message effectively?
Can I measure its performance?
Does it work well with the other channels I’ve chosen?
It’s also helpful to review the performance of the channels currently in use. You may additionally want to include a new, innovative channel in your strategy. Keep in mind that if the channels aren’t working for you, you can be creative.
You can always create a new space for your message that fits your goals. Sometimes, the boldest strategies are the most successful.
It’s the first month of a new year and in order to prepare for the first quarter, there are a few things you should consider in order to make 2021 a year of huge growth for your business.
One of the biggest January cliches is that gaining and attracting new clients is the most important thing you can do this season. Yes, getting more people through the door will lead to more sales.
But don’t overlook the importance of engaging with your current customers and making sure they stay with you even as the new-year-new-me January crew pour in. And of course, you also want to make sure that your brand new customers like your gym enough to stick around.
This checklist will help you find new ways to engage with your customers and give them an experience that will make them glow as though they’ve just exited a 7 am online spin class.
Get yourself ready for new years with the latest update of our gym software.
How to Attract New Customers
Okay, so let’s deal with this biggie first. Attracting new customers is the best way to scale up your business.
Luckily for you (and thanks to new year’s resolutions), every Instagram influencer and his uncle will be hitting the gym extra hard at the start of this quarter.
This is the perfect opportunity to bring in new leads and score yourself some year-long memberships. Now is your prime time to get those customers in!
Step one in attracting new clients is to implement an effective social media strategy.
For more information on how to improve your social media marketing strategy, click here.
Here’s a great example of a fitness brand that is getting it right when it comes to online advertisements.
Ashley Galvin has built her brand as a yoga instructor that runs online fitness classes. She perfectly exemplifies how social media can be used to target an audience and drive them to subscribe to classes.
These images feature a video advertisement created by Ashley and shared on Instagram.
The short video shows a combination of yoga poses and then cuts to bold white lettering that tells viewers they can achieve goals such as to ‘tone and define’ their whole body. It also invites the viewer to watch a longer video to get more information.
This ad is shown to a target audience as they scroll down their Instagram newsfeed. While a video may require more budget to produce, this method can also be used by creating attractive graphics for your target customer profiles to view instead.
Remember That Creating a Call-to-Action Is Key
You should make it easy for social media users to sign up to classes or for membership directly after seeing the ad. When viewers click on Ashley’s page, they see that her bio also includes a call-to-action.
She provides a link to her website, details her latest class launch and the paid ad also means that a link to watch more on the website is also provided at the bottom of the page.
It’s easy to focus on lead generation. But remember that the flow of potential customers quickly increases management and conversion costs.
This is where Lead Management comes in. This will help you figure out how to communicate and who to communicate with. It will determine your messages and when you send them. Understanding leads and effectively managing them is a great way to increase profits and drive more sales.
The moment a person subscribes to a membership they should receive an email of confirmation with information on your gym and how it works there. Leave a week before sending a secondary email so that you don’t inundate them with marketing.
In this second email, you should redirect them to another point of sale. That could be premium membership, classes or a point of sale online such as a webshop. Include a call-to-action button and links in your email so everything is easier for them.
Use a lead management tool to keep track of your actual and future members so you can focus on marketing and sales. You’ll have the data of all of your leads in one place.
You can also easily interact with them via automated emails and messages – saving you a ton of time in the process. And we know your time is worth GOLD in January.
Engage the Customers
Once the new customers have arrived, you have to offer the best service possible so they stay in your gym and don’t go running off to your competitors.
You can have the best marketing strategy possible but if the service you offer doesn’t live up to the hype, you’re going to lose your clients faster than you can say ‘power snatch’.
For starters, having the right and most qualified trainers for the job is essential. You could also try offering advanced personal training. If you pair this with tracking to encourage motivation, it could place your gym above the rest.
Engaging customers is all about motivating them to keep going to the gym and the best way to do this is to allow them to keep track of their evolution and see the results for themselves.
For this, you need a complete app that can offer full tracking of what you are doing at the gym (or on online classes) but also workout plans that you can customize. This means your teachers can focus on motivating clients, while they are equipped with the best tools to drive results (and keep people coming back for more).
Creating a seamless client experience is paramount to keeping clients motivation up. This will keep them coming back to your gym and they will act as social proof, telling their friends and family about their positive experiences.
You need to give the best tools to work out so your gym becomes a second home to them. You have to make it as easy as possible for them, which will end up making it all easier for you too.
That means implementing great equipment inside the gym – but also great equipment outside the gym. That’s where software comes in.
Utilize up-to-date software tools like a QR code check-in. This means that gym-goers don’t need a card to check themselves in (which means no forgetting cards), making the experience simpler for both customers and staff.
This comes especially handy during these pandemic times, as you can allow the entrance only to the gym members who book their time slot online.
In this way you can always ensure you comply with the COVID-19 guidelines. This is just one great example of how you could improve your customer experience.
Set Up and Use a System of Credits
Another way is by implementing a system of credits to book classes. These credits can be bought on the app to have a clear system of payments, for both the client and for you.
The system of credits is compatible with an online schedule, which allows clients to book classes directly and have it marked on a calendar.
Small adjustments like this will make you stand out in your local market.
Creating an easy, enjoyable experience will drive customers to your gym or studio. Show them what unique features you can offer will encourage them to stick with you, rather than head for the other gym at the end of the street.
Implementing your customer experience vision in your business development plan is one of the most efficient ways to retain clients.
Create Customer Loyalty
Bringing in new customers is great – but studies have shown that retaining customers instead of acquiring new ones is actually 6 times cheaper.
That means that working on building customer loyalty and keeping the customers you already have is the most effective way to build a business.
This is because there is more probability that an existing customer will generate a sale and so they also have a better conversion rate.
To improve brand loyalty, you should also try to build a community within your gym and outside of it. This can be done by making sure that engagement doesn’t end when your client exits the building. Encourage your customers to talk and share things between them but also with you.
This can be done using software such as an online community feature, which helps build a stronger relationship with your clients, keeps them motivated and engaged with your club 24/7, and increases retention as a side-effect.
Ways to interact with customers include mass communication, targeted communication (e.g. only members interested in specific classes), or one-on-one messaging. This is all accessible via your web portal or mobile app, so you can engage with your clients anywhere.
We believe that you never leave a gym that is filled with people you care about.
So while gaining new clients might be at the top of your priority list this for the new year. Remember not to lose sight of what the whole picture.
Giving your current clients a winning service and building a real sense of community within your gym (and outside of it) are sure-fire ways to foster a business that will see exponential growth in 2021.
Making sure that the customer journey is seamless from the start will ensure that your customers stay with you much longer – so that money spent on a Facebook ad won’t be going to waste.
In this week’s episode of FitNation’s Lunch & Learn webinar we welcomed Lindsey Rainwater: experienced business advisor, executive coach and the founder of the Women in Fitness Association. With her, interviewer Alex von Hagen delved into how you can become the leader your business deserves. Lindsey also shared tips on how to build your personal brand, optimising your behaviour towards responsibility and how to create a culture of success and transformational change in your facility.
Watch the webinar recording by clicking on the play button and read the transcript below.
Alex von Hagen: Welcome, everybody. Thanks for taking the time to join us for another FitNation Lunch and Learn. Joining this week from my home state and I think one of the most beautiful places in America, that would be Colorado is Lindsey Rainwater. She’s the founder and CEO of the Women in Fitness Association or WIFA. She’s an experienced business advisor and executive coach. And today, we’re going to discuss how to be the best leader for your fitness business. So within that topic, we’re going to shine a light on three different areas. First, one is building your personal brand. The second one is optimizing your behavior towards responsibilities, and the third is creating a culture of success and transformational change. So yeah, without further ado, Lindsey, thanks for taking the time to join us on a frosty snowy April, Colorado morning.
Lindsey Rainwater: You’re welcome, Alex. Thanks for having me. It’s great to be here with Fit Nation.
Alex: Awesome. Yes. So yeah, always a good spot to kick off. Maybe you could tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, and how you first landed in the fitness industry.
Lindsey: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I’ve been in the fitness industry since I was six years old, in my opinion, because I grew up an athlete. So I grew up figure skating and I started contract figure skating when I was six. And so I was on the ice all day every day, and then my mom homeschooled me. And so I was literally at the rink doing homework. I mean, it was a very immersed experience. So I’ve been involved with sports forever. But the discipline that created for me was, it really set apart the way that I behave, you know, from a young age. Fast-forward to my high school years, my first year out of high school, I worked at an all women’s health club. It was called The Health Spa at the time, and it was the nineties. And so I checked everybody in with a paper card, and we had our big feature was the new elliptical that Precor had just put out. I’m aging myself a little bit here, but I’m proud of it. And so long story short, I started working in health clubs at 17, 18 years old. I also got my degree in culinary arts and hospitality management because I’ve always had a heart for being in service.
And what ended up happening was I had a brief stint about five years that I worked for Starbucks Coffee Company while I was in college. I was in management with them. I got a lot of experience running stores, with training and development. It was during their big growth years. So I got a lot of opportunities at a really young age and then 2008 happens. And my career kind of came to a halt in the sense of the retail management chain. Our ladder of growth became stunted because of the layoffs that were happening. And so I got back in touch with one of those club operators that I worked for. He said, “You know, the fitness industry is really thriving right now.” And he connected me with a woman that worked in Boulder, Colorado for Peak Pilates, and she hired me on the spot. So I ended up doing commercial sales for Peak Pilates, and then they were bought by Mad Dogg Athletics. And so I ended up consulting and selling for the Spinning brand, Body Blade, Resist-A-Ball, and all the brands that they housed. Transitioned in, I was recruited out of there working for Les Mills and I worked the most successful Les Mills distributor agency in the US. At one time I was managing 10 States and the business development to bring Les Mills to the health clubs in those areas. So I traveled a lot.
Then somewhere in there, I decided to branch out on my own and this is where personal branding really is so important. But the whole time that I was working with Les Mills, I was writing my own content, and I was using the time that I was in health clubs as case studies for blog content and shares. And I was strengthening a voice I discovered as I was doing the work. And so in 2013, I created my own business name. And then in 2015, I started branching out and doing some independent consulting and collaborating with mentors, and in 2017, I formed WIFA. And so now, I feel really fortunate enough that in this last year I’ve gotten the opportunity to focus completely on WIFA. We’ve been blessed to secure funding in such a way where we can scale our operations, which is a really big deal because we’re going to help a lot of women, we already are. And my consulting work and speaking and writing are still always there. And my primary focus right now is WIFA. So that’s kind of a brief overview of the last 15 years.
Alex: Nice. Thank you for that. So that’s a pretty interesting one. And yeah, also I think a lot of people in the fitness industry have their background in athletics from a young age. And so I think a lot of people will resonate with that story where something imprinted in your brain early on, and it just kind of helped shape not only the direction of your career but also just your mindset, like how you approach things every day. So that’s really cool to hear.
Lindsey: Oh yeah. Absolutely.
What is WIFA?
Alex: And could you tell us a little bit more about WIFA?
Lindsey: Absolutely. So WIFA is the four impact global organization supporting women in the fitness industry. And I get asked a lot, well, what qualifies a woman in fitness? And I always throw the question back, you tell me. In the sense of, if you’re standing in the front row of the group fitness class, chomping up the beat to get trained, you’re a woman in fitness. If you are teaching a couple of classes a week, you’re a woman in fitness. You run 60 health clubs globally, you’re a woman in fitness. You sell treadmills, you’re a woman in fitness. You have an app. So there are so many different ways to be a woman in fitness.
And what I realized was that because the industry can be so siloed, and it’s tough to know if you work in a club, what are the professional opportunities in the service industry, on the service side. So I would talk to women all the time, especially when I was consulting with Les Mills that wanted to make that full-time. They wanted to make a full income working in fitness, but they had to teach like 16, 17 classes a week just to pay their rent. And so it was always very enlightening to me to be able to say, “Hey, well, did you know, there are companies like Life Fitness and Matrix that you could go sell equipment for? And then maybe teach a couple of classes a week. But you could make a living selling to clubs just like this one.” And so I have a real heart for connecting those dots and that’s a lot of the work that WIFA does in addition to our advocacy for getting women paid equitably. So right now I mean, it’s a global issue. It’s way outside of the fitness industry, but whether it’s the hourly rate for group fitness instructors, the personal training rates, how are we helping health clubs and individuals set their rates? How are we creating opportunities for women? Historically, you see a lot of health clubs and a lot of companies run by men and led by women. So how do we get that paradigm changed? So to get more women in the C suite, more women in the boardroom.
And the career development and the acumen that happens inside of the WIFA membership have a lot to do with the soft skills. So the skills that I didn’t learn in college, no one taught me in business courses, the emotional intelligence, and the self-confidence that it actually takes to be successful in your career. And the member experience that we create has everything to do with enriching the lives of our members so that they can know why they’re on the planet. Why did they wake up in the morning? What is their purpose for being here? And then you line that up with your career aspirations. Then you go and say, “Okay, where do I need to ask for more money or negotiate for myself?” And so those are all the skills that we teach within WIFA.
And so WIFA is a global membership organization, and when you join, you get access to our network. It’s for all women in fitness and I really started it because I was about to become a new mom. I was pregnant with my first son and I really was craving a place where I could connect with fellow female business owners and talk to them about the dynamics and really scheduling of your career or your day-to-day life managing your business and being a mom. So it was very clear that I wanted to work full-time, but I also didn’t want to just go the daycare route. I wasn’t comfortable with okay, my child’s going to be away from me for the next eight hours. I’m going to do work, and then we’re all going to get together for an hour and then go to bed at night. I didn’t want to have kids just not to raise them. So I wanted to find a hybrid. I wanted to create a new solution. And so that took crowdsourcing a lot of opinions, right? Well, there was nowhere when I really started looking around in our industry where women were in support of other women gathered. We have a lot of groups, a lot of organizations, a lot of networks, and there wasn’t anywhere where women specifically were gathered to help each other. And so I linked arms with a couple of women that have lots of tenure in the industry and ask for their help. And almost four years later here we are.
Alex: Nice. Yeah. Well, as they say, necessity is the mother of all invention, right? So you saw the need there and that’s really the end result. So that’s a super cool trajectory. Thank you for sharing that.
What does personal brand mean to you?
Alex: And as we transition to the topics that we’re going to focus on today. So yeah, the first one that we’ll kick off with personal brand, obviously. It’s very crowded out there. There’s a lot of competition for mind share, for opinion sharing on LinkedIn, so standing out takes a pretty concerted effort. I think the one that’s most important for people it’s going to follow them whether they’re in the fitness industry or not, it’s their personal brand. So yeah, I’d be interested to hear your take on personal brand, what it means to you and what you personally focus on when thinking about yours?
Lindsey: Yeah. You know, this topic is so vital for every single human on the planet to understand, regardless of the industry you’re in, regardless of your role, having a voice that supersedes your circumstances is very important. And I think the tendency is, especially if you work in an organization, and you’re assigned a job title is to start to identify with that job title and let that dictate how you show up. And my wish for everyone is that there would be a voice that would supersede any circumstance that you have, that just articulate who you are, and it spans much further beyond the job that you might hold at that time.
So some examples of that are, you know when I was working with Les Mills, I was in upwards of hundreds of different facilities a week, and it was for-profit, not-for-profit, boutiques you name it. And I was traveling between at the time six different States and then up to 10 towards the end. And so what an opportunity to see so many business models over the course of a given week and month. And so the opportunity for me to start writing about that and sharing about what I saw became a massive asset in my own mind, and then something that I could share back. And so I developed little ways. I would get back in the car after sitting with someone and having a meeting and I would use my voice dictator in my notes app on my phone and just, I would talk out a couple of points of what happens during that meeting. And then I would email it to myself. And later on in my hotel room that night, when I was sitting there eating my Whole Foods hot bar and getting ready for the next day, I would develop a blog out of it. And I started doing that about 10 years ago, and I’ve never stopped.
And what’s happened is whatever my job is at that time, it iterated what I was talking about. And so for a long time, I talked about what’s going on in clubs. What I’m seeing? What’s working? What’s not working? What are some of the common themes? What are some of the trends that are coming? And so it was a way for me to amplify the work I was doing, and I got paid largely on commission at the time. So it made sense for me to make sure that I was saying great things about the clubs I was in because it made a nice follow-on article as well. Hashtag, business development tip if you’ve never done that before, do it at works. And it’s the right thing to do like you’re saying. It’s like you say, nice things about people. You tell them how wonderful they are, and it develops an environment for supporting one another.
So the personal branding aspect of it can be found in whatever you’re doing. And what I’ve discovered is I’m definitely, I’m not a writer. Rewind the clocks to when I was figure skating and this is so embarrassing to admit, but I would cheat on my spelling exams with my mom when she was homeschooling me to get back on the ice. I was so excited about my athleticism that I really let my academics suffer during those formative years. And so I was actually really self-conscious about writing. I was very embarrassed about my spelling and grammar mistakes. And a lot of it came from this place of, you know what? When I learned of that, I wasn’t paying enough attention. So now I take extra time to make sure that there aren’t errors and if they are I’m human, I do my best. But you know, at the end of the day, if I were to let that stop me from hitting publish on the first blog, I would never have 10 years of a backlog of writing either.
Lindsey: And it doesn’t have to be writing. You can do a video. You can do images. There are so many ways now to create content. We’re creating content right now, and this can be transcribed into the written word. It can be a voice. It can be video. There are so many ways that you can produce content, sound bites, whatever, quotes. And so I think that for branding, you’ve got to start. You have to make a plan. And then for me, every year changed. So I would figure out, wow. The things that were coming up for me would create themes. And I’ll never forget, I think it was 2013, I was on a flight home and there wasn’t Wi-Fi on my flight. So I had some dead space to fill, and I busted out a Word document. And I took some of the themes that had come up in my writing over the course of that year. And I created a 52-week topic calendar for the upcoming year based on what I was excited about the most to write about. And that I ended up having one of the most successful publishing years that I’ve ever had because I created this template for myself. And so when I was out in the world, I was always looking for, okay, I knew that’s what I was writing about next week, and so I was looking for examples of conscious listening or whatever the topic was. And then yeah, it just evolved from there. And then ironically, a lot of what we do at WIFA came from the things that I got excited about and wrote about a couple of years ago.
Alex: So it all comes back, sort of. Yeah, it all circles back, right.
How to Start Working on Your Own Brand.
Alex: Awesome. And I think one thing you mentioned there, like getting started is the most important part for anyone who is going to start doing this. I think maybe one thing, and maybe this is me, you know speaking personally, but also knowing from colleagues and friends I’ve spoken with as well, some people hold back a little bit because of the feeling of imposter syndrome. They don’t want to seem like they’re someone they’re not. So how, or where would you suggest for someone to start working on developing their own brand, other than of course just getting started?
Lindsey: Yeah, I think, so a couple of things there. I read a really interesting article and I wish I could remember the source a couple of months ago about how imposter syndrome is completely made up, from the context of we’re kind of programmed to believe that, I can’t remember exactly how it phrased it, but let’s just stick with the point that it’s made up. So imposter syndrome, what is it really? It’s like not quite either growing into the thing that you’re doing, maybe you’re acting as a director, but you’re still in your mind a coordinator because you felt really good at the coordinator job, so you haven’t grown into the director level yet. News flash, most of the time, when you start a personal brand, I would encourage you to think about it as an internal promotion. You’ve just promoted yourself to director level or in my opinion, the CEO of your life. And so there’s going to be a learning curve of teaching yourself how to do it while you do it.
And so I think first understand that most people out there are doing that. They’re trying to figure it out as they go. We all are. Next thought process is no idea at this point is really original. Someone has had it along the way. If you’re thinking something, it probably has to do with something you’ve read over time or all the collection of things that we’ve been taught and marinated on for decades, however old we are. So just cite your sources. Like if you have a really good thought, and you’re curious about it, Google it to see if anyone else has also had that thought, and then give them credit and develop your thoughts around it. So most of the content that I write comes from a lot of the courses that have become part of me that I’ve taken from thought leaders. And so my ideas become original inside of that context. But just point back to the origin. You know Gabrielle Bernstein gave me this idea and here’s what my life looks like today as a result of reading this book. Don’t, not source Gabby. Make sure people, you can point back to that. And I think that eliminates some of the imposter parts of it, is just to realize, like I’m not trying to invent the stapler for the first time. That’s been done.
Lindsey: How about instead, I talk about how the staplers changed my life because every one of us was put here for a specific purpose, and we all have a specific reason for being here. Even if you talk about the exact same thing Gabby talked about, you’re not going to be able to reach the people Gabby reaches because those are Gabby’s people. And if you try to do it the way Gabby does, then you’re never going to reach the people you’re meant to reach. I think a great example of this, and I think it’s why I keep saying her name is there’s a book of hers called Spirit Junkie. And the book is actually a rewrite of another person’s book through her perspective. So Marianne Williamson wrote a book, A Gift of Miracles. I think that’s the name. Gabby read it, got inspired, approached her, and said, “Hey, this has changed my life. I’d like to share it with my audience.” And Marianne being the collaborator she is, said, “Great. Write it in the way that it’s going to reach your generation because I’m 20 years older than you. So go reach your generation with the same content.” And with her blessing, she went and did that.
So she wrote a whole book about a book that had already been published. And so you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, just start talking about what’s going on in your life and make sure that you’re pointing to the people that got you there, or that gave you the phrasing or whatever. And pick a couple of topics that you can rotate through. So for myself, I talk about conscious living and how that informs basically your whole life. My family is a huge part of my content. I love sharing inspirational quotes and the empowerment and championing of women. And so I rotate through and then my fitness routines. So I rotate through those four things and that kind of informs the content I share.
Alex: Okay. Got you. I think what I hear a lot from you as well is that there are some really focused efforts and putting a structure behind what you’re doing. It’s not something that just happens overnight. It’s really that collection over time. But as you say, like cite your sources and start pulling it all together and then that’s the brand that you start to build for yourself. Okay. Nice. Thank you.
Lindsey: Yeah, it doesn’t have to be hard. So a really simple way to start it is to open an Excel spreadsheet or a Google sheet, number it down the side, you could start with 52. You could divide 52 in half for the number of weeks in a year. You could start with 12 months, whatever. It’s what feels most comfortable to you. And then start an outline just like you would, if you were writing a term paper in eighth grade. So start an outline. Pick your 12 topics. Pick your 52 topics and then from there and those topics can be informed by a couple of things that you choose to rotate through like I just mentioned. They can be driven by one specific message. And I will say before you actually do the exercise I just said if you’ve never done any soul searching or any why work or purpose work, hard stop, do some of that. And if you’re not ready for that, maybe take some time to publish your content for yourself until you develop a rhythm and then share it publicly. And I say that because it depends on your comfort level of learning in public. If you don’t know why you wake up in the morning, and you don’t feel aligned with your purpose which will change, so if you know something start with that.
Lindsey: You might consider pausing and still doing the exercises, but waiting to share them until your confidence can align with what you’re putting out. Because if you don’t, one bad comment is going to crush you, and you’re going to stop.
What Does It Mean to Be a Female Business Leader in the Fitness Industry?
Alex: Yup. I hear you. Thanks. Okay. And then, as we’ve mentioned already, I think a few times today, like the topics we’re going to discuss, it has value for anyone listening to the podcast. But I would be however interested to hear about your experiences and your take so far on what it means to be a female business leader in the fitness industry.
Lindsey: Yeah, I think it means a lot. I take really seriously modeling for other women and what that looks like and how every door that is open for me, that I have a responsibility to hold it open for as many women that can get through the door. And so it’s way less about the opportunities that are being given to me, but how can I scale the opportunities I’ve been given to help as many women as I possibly can? So there’s that aspect of it. And then the reason I talked about purpose work and why work and the confidence piece is because, in my experience, I’ve had years where I’ve felt really magical, and I think I’m in one of those groves right now I feel really confident in my work. And I’ve had other times where I’ve emulated someone I saw as successful and that became how I felt successful, was I could align myself with what another person was measuring in success and see that. And a lot of us do that in our careers, right, until we find our footing.
But I think as women, in particular, we have to be so careful. This is my own experience. You have to be so careful not to let what other people want of you, dictate how you show up. So I had just little examples of that. How I dressed? How I presented myself? Reading the room and showing up in a certain way because I thought it was going to appease the people I worked with. Some of that might make sense if you’re trying to be the chameleon. Some of it gets really clear on you, and then you show up to the party or find your way along the way. But I think the part that can be really hard for women, in particular, is having the self-confidence to be unapologetically yourself and then to walk in that. And I’ll circle back, I’ll tie that into WIFA. I think a lot of the good work we’re doing in mentorships is helping dissolve some of that. Because whether it’s the way you dress at a trade show booth, I mean pre-COVID. But if somebody asks me to stand in heels for eight hours a day, but my colleague gets to wear his Nike’s, I’m going to ask about that now.
Lindsey: I’m going to say, I’m going to call bullshit. Ten years ago, I would have done it. I did do it. So I think that there’s room for an opportunity there and that’s where the gender gap becomes glaringly obvious. When you walk up to a booth and you see women in heels and dresses and men in comfortable polo’s and tennis shoes, that’s bullshit. Like there has to be a different way of approaching that and there should be an open line of communication to talk through it. And it’s just interesting, some of those things that when you really pause and look at it, you’re like, “Why does that happen? Why do I have a story made up about heels looking a certain way?” And it’s a cultural norm. We have to pause and break down.
Steps to Close Gaps Between Male and Female Roles in The Industry.
Alex: Yeah. And this example you’ve presented, I mean, let’s be obvious, for me, it hasn’t really crossed my mind. I’ve been to trade shows and yeah, I wear whatever I really want to wear. And that’s kind of it. Sometimes I fight wearing a cheesy company polo as well, I just want to wear my normal clothes. But that’s really something that I had not considered. So a good one to keep in mind for sure. On that note then, what other steps do you think need to occur in order to close any of these outstanding gaps that exist between the two roles in our industry?
Lindsey: So when you say the two roles, can you just say a little more, so I make sure I’m answering your question?
Alex: Male and female. Yeah.
Lindsey: Okay. I just want to take into effect that we want to recognize the folks that are non-binary as well and don’t claim any gender. So I just wanted to clarify, I was like, what are we talking about here?
Lindsey: So for me, the example that I just gave is one. Also, it has to be the organizations themselves and the leaders of the companies, whether it’s the health clubs, the brands, right now, we’re seeing globally a huge focus on DEI efforts, breaking down any anti-racist, it has to become part of your organizational culture. Diversity in the C-suite has to become, and we’re talking race, gender, any biases, they have to be broken down. The world is just closing in on us, in the sense of like, we’re not tolerating it anymore. So when I say closing in, I mean it’s like, you don’t get to not pay attention to this. Historically the kind of old boys club that runs the fitness industry, those boys have to make a decision to start either surrendering their seats and letting new opportunities come in or share their experience and get some people promoted to leadership roles that can change because the same results keep getting generated because the same people are speaking to power.
So if we want to create a new industry and a new experience for women, we have to change the way things are getting done. And I’ll just say it, I mean, I founded and run a non-profit that is in service of breaking this down and in service of getting women in C-suite roles and getting diversity, equity and inclusion pushed in every organization. And I asked a lot of companies to put this on their pillar of HR focuses and I get a lot of lip service and no action from most people. And so I don’t think we’re there yet where organizations see it as a must, because otherwise, I would have a flooded inbox of organizations begging me to give them the BIPAC speakers that I’ve found that can speak on their panels and I get a couple of those emails.
Lindsey: And so there’s a lot of work to be done in the sense that it’s not the issue that it needs to be. We’ve had some really cool movements in the last decade where women have stepped forward and said here’s how I’m being harassed in the workplace. And other women stepped forward and champion the idea that people get called out and cultures get changed. But by and large, there’s still an underbelly of discrimination across the board that has to be broken in order and completely dismantled so that we can breathe life into a new way of doing things. And so I’m excited to see what organizations in the next year get that in order to create change in their organization and get women promoted and have women in leadership roles, they need to have a plan in place and it needs to be an active part of their human resources strategy.
Advice for Women Who Follow Your Footsteps
Alex: Excellent. Yeah. Very much agree, very much agree. What advice would you give to the women who are going to follow in your footsteps whether it be in the next five years, the next 10 years? You’ve touched on it a little bit already, but.
Lindsey: Yeah. Alex, I hope that the world is really different and so the choices that they’re having to make are different. I think that the best advice that I would give is to focus on the development of your self-esteem, purpose, and why you wake up every morning and make for damn sure that it’s lined up with an output that doesn’t depend on other people, places or things to keep you going. So it has to come from inside of you. And if it does, then lining yourself up with any given circumstance becomes a lot easier because you’re not having to rely on the feel-goods from other people to fuel you through your day. You’re fueling yourself through your day because you have a bigger purpose lining you up. Like, I hope you can feel that through the way I talk. WIFA is a vehicle, podcasts are a vehicle, but the reason I woke up today and the reason that I’m excited to be here right now, isn’t because of that one thing. It’s because I want to see a completely different world than the one we’re living in right now, and I believe that it takes solid advocacy every single day to change that.
WIFA’s goals and vision
Alex: Yep. And I think also a good transition to the next one of the key topics that we’re going to talk about is how you can kind of craft your behavior or optimize your behavior towards the responsibilities, not only to yourself but to the organizations that you’re driving forward. So I know we’ve already touched on a few of these already, but thinking about WIFA’s goals and WIFA’s vision and your personal mission, like how do you align those two and how you present that message to those already on your team and those looking to join it?
Lindsey: Yeah. Well, I’m really fortunate in the sense that over the last 10 years, I got really clear that I wanted to be able to let the message that I wanted to have in the world, be the outpour of the organization that I created. And so that, it just so happens that what I believe so strongly about, what we’re talking about right here is the purpose and the vision and the mission for the work we’ve been doing. And so I get to channel all that WIFA why energy every single day. But to get really nitty-gritty, there’s got to be a plan in place to allow your big macro purpose and vision and all that stuff. There has to be a really detailed way to get it micro to inform the daily behaviors that will allow you to produce your jolts. So what do I mean by that?
You have to have a system for calendar blocking and when you get stuff done. So if you know that your value system is to spend time on the work that you love and maybe that’s for another company, right? So that’s a big percentage of your day. You need to work on your own brand. So that’s a percentage of your day that’s outside of this part. You have a family that you love and a spouse that you love, and you have a network of friends and family that you really want to spend time with too. So those are your four buckets. So if you look at a calendar, if you start every single day, let’s say at 6:00 AM, how do you spend your time between 6:00 AM and 10:00 PM, so that you are pouring into each one of those buckets? So personally, the way that I’ve set up my schedule for years is the first two hours of every day are reserved for filling my tank. So for years, the six to seven or seven to eight, before I had kids, it was seven to eight. Now that I have kids at six to seven. I write I read, I pour into myself. So that’s like if you want to call it like my personal branding time.
Lindsey: So now from six to seven in the morning, I’m journaling. I’m reading quotes. I’m filling up my cup so that I can be available so that when my sweet little three-year-old is like, “Mommy, what’s for breakfast?” I can come to him with a presence of love and not irritability. I’ve also had coffee by then. So the seven to eight is for family time. So I take my son to preschool. I get to spend some time with my two-year-old. I get to set up my day, have some breakfast. Sometimes I get to do my workout then. Other times it comes later in the day, but that’s another part of it, it’s the movement for me. And then from there at 8:30, I’m fortunate enough that I have a circumstance right now where I have childcare in my home. And so she and I run my home together between 8:30 and 5:00. And those are the hours that I’m committed to being totally present and available for WIFA. And then it switches back to family and then my spouse is in the mix of that. So usually where my workouts come in right now are during the lunch break. So usually I take a pause from WIFA, and I’ll go to my basement, and I’ll hop on my Peloton, or I’ll get on. I’ll do a workout with my TRX straps or something to that effect, at least five days a week, some form of movement. And then I’m back to family time.
So I’m spending time with my husband, and I’m having dinner with my family. It’s a really big priority for Jeremy and I, that we make sure we have dinner with our kids, even though we’re little just to set the precedent, that this is family time. And then whether it’s weekends or whatever, like, I feel fortunate that a lot of my friends I get to interact with all day long because I work with them. My colleagues have become my friends over the years. And then personal relationships outside of that, I’ve used Marco Polo a lot this last year to stay in touch with people or video chat if I can’t see them in person. But the point of it is from the outside, it might look like a really rigid schedule but for me, it’s my opportunity to touch all four of those meaningful things each day.
How has COIVD caused you to rethink your role as a leader?
Alex: Great. Yeah. Thank you. And we don’t want to go back to just discussing COVID because I think people have COVID fatigue just hearing about it, talking about it, thinking about it all day every day.
Lindsey: [Inaudible 38:23] word.
Alex: But the past year now, how has this caused you to rethink your role as a leader?
Lindsey: Yeah. You know, so the initial COVID responses, so working from home, things like that, I’ve been doing that for over 10 years. And so for me, a lot of my day-to-day didn’t change. The things that changed were, oh, I have to wear a mask when I run to Target now, which sounds incredibly like, it’s interesting because so many people were like, “Oh my gosh, I’m trying to figure out how to work from home.” I’m like, “I can give you some tips. I’ve been doing it for like 10 years.” But I think as far as what it has done for me is it’s distilled down any extra noise that was in my life that I wasn’t conscious of. So there were a couple of activities, whether it was like a group study or a book club or whatever that I had just kind of kept doing, but didn’t really have a big why behind, that got cleared up. A couple of relationships that just weren’t serving me anymore from a business standpoint, I got an opportunity to change my whole life.
My husband and I, in order to get WIFA to the point it is now, I worked for WIFA for almost a year with a tiny stipend offset daycare for three days. And so, because I knew that if I gave it my all, I could get us to a place where I could give it my full attention and make it my job for a while. But that took very intense short-term sacrifices from my family to be able to do that. It’s a non-profit, I’m never going to own it. Like that’s not the point. The point is what can we do to scale and change the world for women, period. And so last year was an opportunity for me to get really clear on, am I chasing consulting work or am I growing WIFA? And I’m growing WIFA. So that was a big turning point that came via COVID.
Alex: Nice. And then would you say there was some, I mean, looking around at some of your peers or just other business leaders, either in our industry or outside of the industry, their response to COVID, were there any surprises you had or any interesting reactions, some that stuck out?
Lindsey: I’m trying to think if there’s anything that stuck out. I think the biggest thing that stood out for me was because we had COVID and then in the US, we had a tremendous shakeup around the way that we’ve been handling ourselves as a nation around racist behavior. And literally, just yesterday that the George Floyd case, he was claimed guilty and I’m not trying to be political. This is a human rights thing. So I feel really happy that in 2020 organizations, I think we’re really forced to take this on in a way that they hadn’t before. And so, yeah, COVID was the primary, like big thing all year long, but I think it was also what surprised me was how many organizations did nothing. It was deafening. I was embarrassed for them. I made some really hard decisions, personally, cutting ties with companies that I’d been writing for, for over a decade, because I wasn’t willing to collaborate with anyone that wasn’t making it a priority to do anti-racist work. And it hurt my heart to see the lack of participation from so many fitness industry companies and at the same time, really proud of the work we could do inside of WIFA and the companies we could align ourselves with that was doing good.
Lindsey: So yeah, that was an interesting point for me last year.
Alex: Yeah, I would agree with that point too. And a guy like over in the UK, his name’s Jon Nasta, he’s been a marketing executive for big gym chains, and now he does a lot of consulting work as well, but I’ve listened to him on podcasts talk about the reactions or the stances that companies are taking, the perception that that creates not only in their followers but their employers, whether it’s no reaction or a reaction for the positive. No matter what people are going to perceive that in ways that you can just never understand. So it really is about making sure that it is a positive one that people are going to remember. And as you say, not one that is deafening which may speak louder than anything they could have said otherwise, right. Okay. So moving then towards one of the last key topics that we wanted to focus on today is about creating a culture of success and transformational change. We all know change can be super slow especially the bigger the organization, but how would you suggest for a leader in their own organization to start to get those wheels of change moving?
Suggestions for Organizations to Get Their Wheels of Change Moving
Lindsey: To start to get the wheels of change. Well, usually what inspires change is some sort of spotting a problem or an opportunity to evolve. So it’s tough for most people or companies to inspire any type of change, unless there’s a pain point, sadly. People don’t normally change just because they woke up feeling like it. Usually, it is inspired by that. So typically whether it’s an outside organization consulting you or an internal reoccurring problem that keeps coming up, identifying that first and then from there identifying if you’re internally going to be able to handle it, or if you need to bring in outside support. I love working with outside support, especially I’ve been the outside support so many times that I just think it’s such a great way to get outside of your own fishbowl because you’re in it all day long, right? And so you can’t see, what you don’t know, you can’t.
So anyways I think the first step is just identifying what is our problem? What is our reoccurring theme that has an opportunity here and then what resources need to be aligned with it? And if something needs to give, what’s going to be given up in order to get it done. And who’s it in favor with. And what part of your vision and mission is it lining up with? So you make sure that the dollars are being spent because you’re trying to evolve your primary purpose as an organization and not just throwing money at something that doesn’t really need to be fixed.
Alex: Okay. Yeah, I could see that for sure. Yeah. It is about identifying those problems, that is going back to what we said earlier. Like was it necessity is the mother of all invention? Like that’s when you realize why you need to change just because you have a problem that you can’t really focus on anymore.
Future Challenges or Opportunities in the Fitness Industry as a Result of COVID-19
Alex: Would you say to maybe some downstream challenges or opportunities that you see leaders facing in our industry that…?
Lindsey: Can you say that one more time?
Alex: Yeah. Sorry. So what challenges or maybe like, what opportunities do you think leaders are going to be faced with, in the coming years as a result of COVID in the fitness industry?
Lindsey: Yeah. Gosh, it completely depends on the vertical. It completely depends on what type of organization it is. Do you have four walls? Do you not have four walls? Is the virtual space saturated where you are? What are you doing? What’s your unique value proposition? I think that any notion that we get to stop iterating at any point has got to be smashed because it’s always been true. You always have to iterate and keep evolving, but I think now it’s been proven that you will completely fail if you are not iterating and keeping up because I mean, all the companies that didn’t have any type of a work from home solution felt that the first month of COVID. They had to pull shit out of their ass immediately in order to get their people working safely from home.
Lindsey: So I think that’s part of it. You just have to be relevant to what you’re trying to do, who your end-user is, what you’re trying to and if you’re really clear on those things, then it starts to become somewhat obvious on how you can make changes. But if you don’t have a team that’s super conscious of always evolving, it’s going to be really hard. You know, it’s really involved.
Audience Questions and Answers
Alex: Yeah. It’s going to be a tough go. Yeah. And starting to get just some questions from the audience here. One that we get often, and I think it would be good to get your take on too, talk about some of the mentors or people that you’ve had, who you look to for inspiration. So whether that’s in the fitness industry or outside of it, I know you’ve called out an author already earlier this webinar, but yeah, maybe you could expand on that a little bit.
Lindsey: Yeah. One of my favorite thought leaders that I’m following right now that I really love is Brené Brown. She’s definitely in the personal development space who’s talk like she’s not specific to any one industry, but her book Daring Greatly is such a lovely template for how to show up as a leader in a way that really supports cultural change in a way that can help people feel the most aligned net worth that they possibly can, et cetera. So Brené Brown, Daring Greatly. If you go to her website, you can see just an outpour of free content and courses. You can even become a certified Brené Brown coach. There are so many pathways there. One of my long-time mentors and friends actually is Gay Hendricks and Kathlyn Hendricks, and they’ve written the book, The Big Leap, is a great place to start. I’m actually a Big Leap coach. So I spent two and a half years apprenticing with them on those practices and learning how to integrate those tools into my life and my leadership. And totally transformational, really integrates the entire body into the coaching experience, which really aligns with the fitness and wellness space.
Those two in particular are folks that I always go back to. I’ve been fortunate that with every job that I’ve had, whether it was the Mademoiselle Fitness Spa, when I was 17, the YMCA, when I worked with Les Mills, every organization I’ve worked with, there’s been a key person in that organization that has championed my work and whether it was a male or a female, it was somebody that partnered with me to grow my career. And it was something I was up for. I took the advice and I did it, but I also asked for help, and I was willing to put in the work. And so just like I do today for my employees if you have an environment where you have someone willing to help you, take the help, and grow.
Alex: Yeah. I think that’s super good advice as well, and I follow it myself. Like you shouldn’t be afraid to ask. There is no such thing as a stupid question, no matter how hard you can try, although some people do come close, myself included. But on that note, you’ve mentioned Daring Greatly and The Big Leap. Would you say you have any other book recommendations for people listening in right now that business leadership-oriented style books that you would like to give a call-out to?
Lindsey: Well, in my consulting work and day-to-day, my favorite business books that I always go back to is Jim Collins, Good to Great. It’s such a classic if you’ve never read it. And then Covey’s, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Those are two really great places to start. And then before that one, my OG favorite is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
Alex: Definitely an all-time classic. Yeah.
Lindsey: Yeah, absolutely.
Alex: Awesome. And hey, two more audience questions here. One coming in from Marta she works for Fit Vision. They’re a corporate wellness client or a corporate wellness business in Ireland. So her question is how to really stand out in the industry while being seen as an authority.
Lindsey: Are we talking about a personal brand or a whole company?
Alex: I would say that definitely falls into the personal brand category. Yeah.
Lindsey: Yeah. I think it goes back to your unique voice and worrying less about if it’s been said before, being original and more about what’s your purpose, why are you on the planet? What’s your unique opportunity and speaking from that place of discovery and being willing to seek curious and available, because you’re going to stand out if you’re being original to you. Where it starts to get messy is when you try to be like other people to the tune where it becomes familiar in not a good way.
Alex: Yep. Okay. I see it. I see it. Yup. And last one here from Ingmar based in the Netherlands where I’m calling in from as well, advice on how to scale up your business or your business concept and differentiate yourself from the competition.
Lindsey: Oh my goodness.
Alex: It’s a loaded one.
Lindsey: That’s a loaded question.
Lindsey: So I’m just going to take it down to probably not the popular answer, but like you have to do the work on what your business is and why you, it’s the same as a personal brand. Why does it exist? What am I here to accomplish? What problem am I solving? What are my values? What other organizations am I aligning myself with? Et cetera, et cetera. If you don’t have those things vetted out, and you can’t see a clear vision statement, value proposition, ideal customer, you don’t have to have the best business plan in the world per se, but you need to know why the heck you’re doing what you’re doing and what your reason for it is. And then once that’s all vetted out, the rest does start to make sense pretty quickly. If you don’t have those foundational skills, good luck. When it gets tough, I don’t know what to tell you. You’re not going to enjoy those days.
Alex: Yeah, I think, yeah, the strong foundation, it can definitely, it is that starting point, but it can also help weather the storms, whether it’s something outside of your control, like a COVID or something that happens that maybe you just didn’t see coming, but it’s something that needs to be addressed. So foundational very good shout.
Lindsey: [Inaudible 52:53].
Alex: Yeah. So, hey, always one of the last roundup aspects of any of these webinars, where do people go to find you if they want to learn more about you and about WIFA?
Lindsey: Yeah, absolutely. So WIFA is Women in Fitness, spelled out, dot O R G. So it’s a nonprofit. So it’s not a dotcom, it’s an org. So if you go to that website, you’re going to see all things WIFA. I think I’m linked on there somewhere, but if you want to read my content specifically, go to Lindsey. Or is it dot or dash? I love when I forget my own website, I changed it a while ago. So it’s Lindsey-Rainwater, all spelled out, dotcom. And that’s where you’ll see my blog and all my content. On Instagram, I’m Lindsey Rainwater. So if you Google me, you’ll see where I’ve been writing or where I’ve been featured as well.
Alex: Great. Yeah. Hopefully, a lot of our listeners want to go check you out and maybe some people who want to join WIFA as well. I think, especially with everyone being remote and being such a global organization, hopefully, you can get some new voices from around the world.
Lindsey: Thank you. I appreciate it.
Alex: Yes. Awesome. And yeah, Lindsey, we really appreciate you coming on today. Thank you for your time and your perspective and your expertise, and hopefully, we’ll catch up with you soon.
Lindsey: Thank you, sir.
Alex: Yes. All right. So it’s been another episode of Fit Nation Lunch and Learn. Thank you for tuning in, and we’ll see you next time.
We have all been waiting and hoping for such a long time and now the moment is finally here – gyms are reopening and we are up and running again! Of course you will have a lot to think about as you open your doors again but please don’t forget the importance of restarting your billing and invoicing!
Good preparation is half the battle
As mentioned above, it is essential to re-establish your invoicing process to prepare for accepting payments again.
Within the Virtuagym portal, it is possible to set up offline and online payment methods such as credit card payments, direct debits, PayPal or even cash. The following payment providers are linked to these payment methods: Paypal, Paysafe, Mollie, SEPA and GoCardless.
Are you curious about how you can restart the invoicing process? Then read on…
How do you set up invoicing?
Setting up invoicing in your Virtuagym portal is luckily not rocket science. But it is important to understand exactly how it works.
Firstly, carefully reconsider the payment methods you used before the COVID crisis.
After this, the setup can begin! Simply visit your online portal and select the system settings in the left sidebar. Then scroll down to the payment methods section. The location of your gym (Europe, North America or the Rest of the World) is displayed in the top right corner. Based on this location different methods and providers will become available. Then select the desired method(s) and provider(s). Please note – only one provider can be chosen per method, per club portal!
What are the benefits?
If you were using our invoicing feature before the COVID crisis, you will already be aware of its numerous advantages. But there’s no harm in emphasizing them again! Besides saving a lot of time, it also:
Creates a clear invoice overview
Simplifies the invoicing process
Supports the most popular payment methods
How Virtuagym bills customers online
Many of our clients are already reaping the benefits of the automated invoicing feature. For example, Tom Fearson, founder of Be Fearsome, a London-based fitness company that offers fitness, lifestyle and adventure services to individuals, groups and businesses.
As Be Fearsome’s client list grew, Tom sought a service that could speed-up and facilitate his invoicing and go beyond just accepting card payments with a mobile card reader. That’s when he found GoCardless three years ago to expand into direct debit and credit card payments.
Since Be Fearsome could easily combine GoCardless with Virtuagym’s all-in-one package, he was able to start automating the entire invoicing process.
With all invoices, payments and tracking in one place, Be Fearsome and Tom now save time and money. This process used to take almost a full working day, but now it is done in a heartbeat. His invoicing is fully automated, which eliminates the need for Tom to keep track of payments and send regular reminders.
Larger gyms such as chain fitness clubs or personal trainers with a broad client base may be interested in building an outdoor fitness station professionally for many reasons. For example, you want to grow your fitness business in a different, more versatile direction – or you want a business offering that can withstand the uncertainties of lockdowns.
Whatever the reason may be, if you’ve got both space and budget, how to build an outdoor gym should be an easy question for you to answer. Many successful fitness companies have taken their workouts outdoor before, and the warmer months mean that there’s a market gap for people wanting to be outside – and not stuck inside a gym after a year of… well, being stuck inside.
As a larger business, it is worth it to put a little more into the building of your outdoor fitness station to make it stand out. Doing it the professional way means creating a more permanent outdoor physical location, stocking your outdoor station with equipment, and using technology to unify the workout experience while creating a professional workout program.
How to Build an Outdoor Fitness Station: Equipment Goes Beyond Weights
A prime example of this is Barry’s Bootcamp. This premier fitness company has made its name in the genre of both outdoor and indoor exercise. They are currently offering 50-minute outdoor workouts that utilize weights and bands – all suitable equipment for outdoor gyms.
Barry’s is even using a ‘silent disco sound system’ since their classes are being held in outdoor public locations; they provide headphones for all participating clients, complete with an energy-boosting playlist. They also allow clients to use their regular in-studio memberships to partake in these outdoor fitness classes, and new prospects can purchase class packages to use outdoors while dipping their toes into Barry’s offering.
Find a Unique Location
We’ve already spoken about location in our previous blog about how to build an outdoor fitness station on a budget – the same rules for finding a good location apply here. In short, when scouting for a suitable location, building an outdoor gym the professional way means taking weather into account. A semi-permanent tent, terrace, or something to protect clients from the weather can make holding outdoor classes no longer at the mercy of mother nature.
Since we’re doing things the professional way, you ideally want to have the room in your budget to have an above-par location where you can set up banners and other advertising material to capture the curiosities of passers-by – it’s free and easy marketing for your fitness business! An ‘above-par location’ basically means somewhere your clients can work out undisturbed and away from too many prying eyes. This may mean getting into contact with your city hall or municipality to secure a nice spot to build your outdoor fitness station.
A good location should also be one that motivates your clients to keep coming back for more. While parking lots and public parks work well across the board, try finding a unique spot by connecting with outdoor terraces, rooftop bars, and other cool spots that are willing to rent out cool spaces during downtime.
Provide High-Quality Equipment
Provide everything your clients might need for a full-body workout and expect them to bring as little as possible. For gym stations operating on a budget, you can ask clients to bring their own mini-weights, jump ropes, or bands. However, this can be seen as unprofessional if you’re a larger fitness business that members pay a premium membership for. Bar a yoga mat and a towel, they should be able to show up for your outdoor fitness class without clunky gym bags.
Battle ropes, kettlebells, swiss balls, and small portable machines are all great options for your semi-permanent outdoor station. You could transport it in a van that’s decked out in your company’s branding to gain even more exposure.
The equipment will vary depending on the classes you decide to teach, but whatever you choose, make sure it is outdoor-friendly and can hold up to the elements. When setting up, don’t forget to take social distancing into account for both the instructor and clients.
How to Build an Outdoor Gym: Use Technology
Finally, gyms or personal trainers implementing a professional gym outdoor station strategy will want to integrate this new outdoor offering with streamlined use of technologyto monitor progress, keep them accountable and motivated and create professional workout plans.
Creating an outdoor gym station to take your fitness classes outside is no longer just a fancy addition to your in-facility offerings but will be a necessity going forward. Considering the ‘newness’ of this phenomenon, it is crucial to note that you don’t have to do everything all at once. We’re still laying the groundwork for how to build outdoor fitness stations – especially within the professional context.
Nevertheless, bigger gyms and personal trainers more clients have the financial and social capital to build an outdoor gym space the professional way; and we believe it is definitely worth the investment!
Outdoor fitness classes are arguably one of the most popular fitness offerings at the moment. Not only are they profitable, but working out outside releases mood-boosting and endorphins, basks us in some feel-good vitamin D – and not to mention it’s free advertising (if you’re wearing branded gear, that is!)
Outdoor fitness options allow for more space than the traditional gym setting. It gives personal trainers and instructors the chance to get creative with programming. In the wake of COVID-19, as many gym-goers are focused on social distancing and hygiene measures, exercise is made inherently safer once moved outdoors.
Outdoor fitness stations are a great alternative to indoor gym classes during the coronavirus because it is a safe way to keep aerosols in check during intense activity.
With many gyms around the world still closed, the introduction of outdoor fitness presents a fun way to get people active or to bring them back to your ‘gym’ in some form or another. Exercising outdoors can boost the overall enjoyment a person gets from working out – and it may keep them coming back for more!
Revenue-wise, the ROI on an outdoor gym station is surprisingly good. Holding classes outdoors is very profitable while simultaneously costing you very little. To really kick things up a notch, you should double down on your outdoor classes with online offerings as a sort of afterburn.
How to Build a Cheap Outdoor Gym Station – Things to Consider
If you’re ready to get started with your outdoor classes, this article will show you how to build a cheap outdoor gym station – the easy way! If you are a personal trainer or gym owner looking to get into the outdoor fitness game quickly while on a budget, then these tips are for you.
Bring your workouts outdoors by finding a suitable location (park, parking lot, beach, etc.), bringing some of your own equipment to supply your clients.
It is imperative to let your surroundings support your fitness offering so you end up doing less and can focus on your clients. Create your programming, circuits, or routines to take advantage of both natural and man-made outdoor landscapes. Incorporate these into classes so you can use your surroundings as part of your classes.
Keep your clients aware of what types of classes you offer, especially if there is some variation in the programming. Not everyone’s comfort level for working out outdoors is the same, and a content calendar might help to share class information.
Since there are no overhead costs for most public outdoor locations, you can offer your classes at competitive rates and attract a segment of the market that traditionally cannot afford a full gym membership.
Nevertheless, you will still want to check with your local authorities or city hall to see if you need special permissions and/or insurance to use public parks in your area for commercial purposes.
There are tons of great outdoor class options using bodyweight only. When it comes to how to build a cheap outdoor gym, bodyweight-only fitness classes are a sure-fire way to keep your expenditure down while collecting on revenue.
The key, however, is to provide an experience that clients cannot get from doing bodyweight workouts at home or within their small groups. Think about your unique selling propositions and brand identity; try to incorporate these into your bare-bones classes to create an unparalleled vibe.
Provide Cheap Equipment for Outdoor Gyms
To make your classes stand out, you may want to include some equipment as well. Since we’re talking about how to build a cheap outdoor gym, let’s go about providing equipment the easy way.
We are not talking machines or barbells, but think smaller: think props that are easily carted to and from class (and easily sanitized post-workout). These small additions can make a big difference in the quality and effectiveness of your outdoor fitness classes.
Cheap equipment for outdoor gyms could be resistance bands, jump ropes, hand or ankle weights, medicine balls, light kettlebells, or larger equipment such as traffic cones to set up as circuit stations. A small investment in equipment for your classes can make a big difference for your gym station. Not ready to invest in equipment just yet? Check out Simple Outdoor Workouts: No Equipment Needed for some great no-equipment workout ideas.
The pros and cons of building an outdoor gym station the easy way
Less commitment since the outdoor location already exists.
More cost-effective with little to no overhead.
Quick and easy to get started – as well as ramp down if necessary.
Give your clients something of value even during the lockdown.
More manual labor bringing props to and from class