By now you know that history often repeats itself.
The railroads thought they were in the “railroad business.”
Had they realized they were in the “transportation business,” they would have embraced the airplane and thrived to this day.
Eighty years later, Microsoft repeated the error by thinking it was strictly in the software business instead of the “communications business.” The company nearly missed the Internet revolution altogether. Both failed to foresee shifts in their particular industry.
One reason companies fail to recognize these shifts is because large-scale, sweeping change usually starts small and goes unnoticed.
- For example, as the railroads built stronger, more powerful locomotives, the Wright Brothers were mostly unobserved as they tested their ideas at Kitty Hawk.
- Likewise, as Microsoft developed more robust software packages, visionary computer geeks were communicating and computing in “real time” over a new system they dubbed the Internet. They were largely ignored.”
- Similarly, mainstream health professionals may be overly complacent. The inward focus on new exercise protocol and trends — to the exception of expanded business opportunities and growth — may leave some in the same perilous condition.
- However, some health professionals are re-thinking the business. And, while not causing as dramatic a shift as the two aforementioned examples, they are driving the health and fitness profession to a new level.
For more than 30 years, my company (Private Label Fitness) has conducted research and communicated with thousands of health, fitness and lifestyle professionals — from structured surveys and focus groups to casual conversations. Over time, patterns reveal distinct sub-groups of health and fitness professionals as well as various directions and overall evolution of the profession.
One specific sub-group we now label “NextGen” (next generation), is an entrepreneurial, highly motivated group of health and fitness professionals who are not only dedicated to helping clients achieve their goals but are passionate in their desire to grow their businesses and reap the financial rewards of success.
This group will drive health, fitness, wellness and coaching to new levels as it relates to owning and operating a successful business.
NextGen, in fact, may cause some shifts throughout the entire health and fitness industry. As you read the profile, you may discover you exhibit some of the same attributes — or perhaps you already are part of the NextGen. (The following is a cross-matrix of traits and attributes we assign to the profile of NextGen.)
You Think Big
As a NextGen, you have an expanded perception of the business. Beyond exercise, you think in terms of lifestyle, behavior, environment, ethnicity, relationships, etc.
You clearly understand that, in fact, you are in the business of “life.” As such, your business extends beyond the training session. Clients seek your expertise on everything from food labels and grocery shopping to sunscreen and apparel.
A personal health coach from Baltimore, Maryland, summed it up:
I know a lot about my clients’ medical histories, eating habits, exercise routines, family issues, business goals, hair colors and love lives. So, if they ask for my advice, and it’s within my scope, I help out or point them in the right direction through my referral network.”
It’s here where you, as a NextGen see opportunity. However, you also are keenly aware that this is where the personal/professional relationship line starts to blur.
Abandoning the Hours/Dollars Ratio
You have abandoned the idea of gaining financial success by strictly trading your time for dollars. You realize the hours/dollars strategy imposes an automatic earnings cap since you have a finite number of hours to trade. Instead, you sell a combination of services and products.
Services include one-on-one signature sessions ($75-$150/hr.), group sessions ($150-$350 per grp/hr), nutrition programs ($99-$299), weight management programs ($99-$599), sport-specific training ($99-$599), weekend field trips/hikes/bike rides/grocery stores/restaurants ($200-$1,000) and/or weight management seminars ($100-$500).
You bring in guest speakers who can address common lifestyle issues like stress, depression, work/play balancing, time management, personal finances, etc.
Twice a year, you organize fitness adventures such as cruises, boot camps, ski trips and weekend spa retreats through your local travel agent or fitness organization.
It’s your belief that clients depend on you for accurate information regarding all health and fitness products. Therefore, you’ve researched and personally stand behind the products you carry, including heart rate monitors, packaged foods, bars, water, isotonic and hypertonic drinks, supplements, bands, balls, gloves, tapes, books, cosmetics and apparel.
You sell these products at your facility, through your online coaching business and on your Web site. In some cases, you are selling products as an affiliate partner with other Web-based businesses. You carefully track your source of revenue by either “sales of services” or “sales of products.”
You Embrace Technology
You’re not a geek but close to it. Your computer and mobile devices are used to book clients, monitor client progress, maintain your bookkeeping, update your website, conduct “funnel marketing” campaigns and communicate with existing clients.
You make yourself accessible through the use of a mobile devices, Skype, Zoom, Google hangouts, and yes, maybe even a land line!
You take advantage of what social media and video streaming have to offer in terms of promotions and announcements and online coaching and training.
You also have an additional phone line or have set-up your mobile device and PayPal or Stripe for credit card processing — allowing your clients to purchase products and services through the convenience of Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover cards.
Marketing Is a Way of Life
You are an excellent guerrilla marketer and have implemented numerous tactics you learned from attending seminars.
Your strategy and positioning statement differentiate you from all other competitors. You recognize the value of branding.
Your professionally designed logo is employed on all printed materials including business cards, stationary, flyers, handouts and invoices.
Simply because you took the time to write letters of introduction, you’ve already established a cross-referral base with several local doctors and therapists (especially helpful with the Affordable Care Act and potential reimbursements for Obesity and other Lifestyle programs).
Local newspaper and broadcast media are familiar with your expertise and availability for interviews and comment on all things “health, fitness and lifestyle related” per your qualifications. That’s because you send out media releases (for general release) that comment on the latest health trends affecting your community.
You provide seminars on several topics including weight management, general fitness, lifestyle management and sport-specific training. For some you are paid and others you are not. Each is an opportunity to market your programs and products.
And of course you blog and are working on your social media “chops.”
You Give Back
Interestingly, you are a “giver.” As a NextGen, you see yourself as a role model. As such, you participate and give back to the community you serve. You volunteer your expertise to various community groups and often donate the proceeds from your seminars to a local non-profit charity (urging your clients to do the same).
You are a member of business, social and service organizations. You help out non-profits such as Habitat for Humanity, Wounded Soldier Project, Push-ups for Charity as well as local groups and various homeless charities. And, though not the intent for volunteering, you discover this type of networking has benefited your business through referrals and name recognition.
Industry on Notice
Clearly, the NextGen is an entrepreneur. Bob Reiss, a successful entrepreneur and author describes it this way:
Entrepreneurship is the recognition and pursuit of opportunity, without regard to the resources you currently control, with the confidence that you can succeed, with the flexibility to change course as necessary and with the will to rebound from setbacks.”
The fitness industry is well advised to keep an eye on the NexGen as “agents of change.” To sit idle and not notice may allow history to repeat itself.