The power of virtual training is a coach’s guide to adopting and implementing this new medium.
It’s a strange time to be alive and an excellent time to be a coach. We, as trainers and coaches, possess the knowledge to navigate these challenging times while guiding our clients toward new effective routines and health habits. With our insight and promise of accountability, our clients have the rare opportunity to rebound from this pandemic, while maintaining their exercise habits.
This rebound is in large part due to technological advancements (virtual training) that allow us to hold a presence without physically needing to be face to face with the client. As a thought exercise, imagine if these shutdowns were in effect before Zoom, What’s App, Skype, and FaceTime existed.
I’ve been a coach for over six years, and only recently have I experienced the severity of the impact we can have on an individual’s well-being when the chips are down. But:
- How do we do our job when there is no workplace?
- How can we perform efficiently without equipment?
- And how on earth will we have impactful one-on-ones without being face to face?
Thankfully, we, as coaches, are adaptable. When a client presents us with a new injury, a sprained thumb, or pain, we adapt. We re-program and get to work, establishing a safe and effective way to work around the limitation. That’s what makes us intelligent trainers. We can be flexible and provide the answer when it doesn’t seem so obvious, all the while keeping our client’s goals, limitations, and habits close to heart.
Essentially, COVID-19 is the injury, and virtual training is the modification. Virtual training is the platform that will not only support our businesses during the shutdown but enrich our client-facing experience when the doors reopen. Imagine your client that travels every other week is now able to stay consistent due to virtual training with their actual coach.
Of course, a resistance band row in a hotel door jam is less effective than a Pendlay row. But, a resistance band row in a hotel door jam is ten times more effective than fifteen reps of changing-the-channel and one rep of ordering food from the hotel bar. We can be the anchor to our client’s travel schedules, but first, we must discuss how to be efficient in this new medium.
We can expect that our clients will naturally have reservations about converting to an online training platform. However, their willingness to make the shift will be primarily guided by our enthusiasm as coaches. Until they experience first hand that the platform can provide a programmatic approach to fitness, they will be skeptics. As their trainer, we must outline what they can expect. And, always remember, under-promise and over-deliver.
If you, as the coach, share this apprehension, try training another coach or friend on a virtual platform and challenge each other to put together an effective workout. Once you experience the value yourself, it will be a more genuine conversation explaining to your clients how this will play out.
It’s essential to break down your client list into the following three categories before having the conversation about conversion:
1. Excited to Convert
These are clients that love your programming and brand. They are the ones who do their homework every single week, show up on time with enthusiasm, and communicate outside of gym hours how they’re feeling and what they’re eating. Coincidently these clients also see the best results.
2. Hesitant to Convert
This group has a general hesitation about adopting new practices. Perhaps they demonstrate resistance to changes in programming despite the scientific research behind why you’re doing what you’re doing. These clients need social proof that other clients are already training online and enjoying it.
These clients love training with you, but without the gym, they don’t see how this can work. It’s vital to keep weekly communication with these clients, always reminding them that the door to virtual training is open and that you’re eagerly awaiting their first session because you know how powerful it will be for them.
3. Won’t Convert
Once you have your clients categorized (I recommend doing this in an Excel spreadsheet), get to work contacting them and bringing them onto the new platform.
Concerning the fact that this is an entirely new experience for you and your client, I highly recommend following these five guidelines for a successful online session.
1. Replicate the Training Environment
Make your training location similar to the environment in which they train. The less different things are, the more likely the client will feel at home virtually. To do this, I recommend wearing the same professional clothing you do in a session. If you have a branded banner, place it behind you so the client can see it in the viewfinder. Keep your same equipment handy such as bands, iPad, notepad, so that you can physically take notes demonstrating your attentiveness.
2. Come Prepared
I would suggest programming in advance just as you would the regular session. Email your client the training day in advance, so they know you put the time into thinking about their training beforehand. It is also a great time to field questions and make adjustments so that it’s smooth sailing when the session begins.
3. Eye Contact Is Everything
During a virtual session, your clients will continuously be referencing the screen for advice, cues, and reps. So, it’s crucial that when they look up, you’re there paying attention. Fight the urge to keep your phone handy and scroll through Instagram or Twitter.
This time is their hour, treat it as such. If you do use your phone, communicate why, i.e., “I’m going to use my timer for your rest period.” This way, the client understands that it’s for a specific reason.
4. Test Your Connection
Make sure that your wifi connection is strong. Sitting close to your router makes a big difference in connectivity since many apartment buildings are having bandwidth issues due to the high concentration of individuals working from home.
I also recommend turning wifi off on your phone and having your client do the same. Communicating this in advance will show the client this isn’t your first time training online, further validating the medium.
5. Plan Extra Time
If a typical session starts and ends on the hour, I would recommend beginning 5-10 minutes early and ending the same. This time will allow for troubleshooting and communication issues. Your clients will also appreciate the willingness to stick around to ensure they have a positive experience.
Integrate Virtual Training Into Regular Business
We do our job best when we can physically be one-on-one with the individual. This method is best suited for an environment with the necessary equipment, and this leads me to believe that virtual training will not replace one-on-one for a long time.
However, for clients that travel frequently, virtual training can be the x-factor in their habit management. Bringing clients up to speed now will strengthen your business for when they cannot physically get to the gym. This virtual training also frees our time up as trainers. Imagine you go to Bali, and while you’re there, you can train clients virtually, keeping them on routine and putting income in your pocket.
For decades, trainers on vacation have earned no income. A session not performed is an hour’s worth of revenue lost. Virtual training has the potential to diversify our income and draw in a remote clientele with which we otherwise wouldn’t have access.
There’s no better time than now to offer a client a complimentary virtual training session and jumpstart their return to the gym.