PowerEvery year we conduct quantitative research to determine various trends in the fitness business.

And each year we are astonished at some of the results. One in particular.

“Have you purchased a “fitness product” in the past 12 months based on the recommendation of your fitness trainer?”

This year the result was:

Yes – 87% No – 8% Don’t Know – 5%

If the answer was “YES ” we asked the same respondent if he/or she knew their trainer’s last name.

This year the result was: Yes – 11.6% No – 88.4%

It’s the same result each year within a few percentage points.

Five years ago we started to “peel back the onion” to more fully understand the implications of this result.

We asked ourselves,

“How is it that fitness trainers have such influence over consumers without even imprinting their last name?”

The more we dug into this, the more we discovered the power and influence fitness professionals have over their clients through an ever-evolving relationship built on TRUST.

Here are some of the more interesting top line details:

Personal information vs. Professional information

In the very first session, the fitness professional learns about any physical ailments the client may have. Sometimes these are issues the client only discusses with his/her doctor. So, right off the bat the fitness professional has become a confidant.

And, has done so without revealing anything about himself/herself other than certifications and other professional credentials.

Power Shift

Within two to three sessions the client relates eating habits, elements of work life and various non-intimate elements of home life. In contrast, instead of reciprocating, the fitness professional makes validating comments on the positive elements of the information being discussed.

As the client reveals more and more personal information and the fitness professional remains non-judgmental, positive and validating, the “trust” builds. The client feels comfortable.

Power Momentum

By sessions 6-12 the fitness professional begins to hear about personal and intimate relationships, work and career aspirations, opinions on everything from politics and religion to sports and celebrities.

At this point, some clients are even seeking medical advice from their fitness professional.

The Trust-Bond Relationship

By now the relationship has significantly morphed into a “Trust-Bond” relationship. The client considers the fitness professional a “personal friend” who can be trusted — almost without question.

It’s almost the same relationship that a person might have with their hair stylist!

But, we would argue that a client sees his/her fitness professional with way more frequency (as much as 3 times a week) and therefore has a deeper relationship and tighter bond.

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[NOTE]

This is a dangerous place for the non-professional trainer who allows himself/herself to lower professional ethics and exploit this relationship (we all know these trainers exist but I won’t dwell on that dark segment of our industry).

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However, among the high-integrity, highly motivated elite fitness professionals, this relationship automatically turns into increased sales revenue — all by itself.

Service Sales – Loyalty

For example, there are hundreds of seasoned fitness professionals who have worked with the same clients for more than 10 years! It’s the relationship. The bond. It automatically breeds loyalty and long-term client revenue.

Product Sales

Here is the absolute truth. When it comes to fitness product sales – across all categories – from footwear and foods to supplements and home gym equipment, the fitness professional is the most influential purchasing force by far. And the numbers tell the story.

“Have you purchased a “fitness product” in the past 12 months based on the recommendation of your fitness trainer?”

  • Yes – 87% No – 8% Don’t Know – 5%

If a fitness professional recommends
XYZ product… 87 out of 100 clients
are going to purchase it.

Here’s the point.

Based on the research, here’s the marketing perspective of the trust-bond relationship:

  • Purchasers of fitness products trust their fitness professional’s recommendations.
  • Trainers and fitness professionals have a captured audience of willing purchasers.
  • Clubs, studios and trainers can increase monthly net profits more than 30% via product sales.
  • Product sales are an alternative to trading-dollars-for-hours = non-service revenue stream.
  • Because of frequency of visits and relevancy of products, fitness professionals need not “push” clients into anything – the offering is enough.

It’s that simple. It’s the relationship.
It’s the TRUST. The BOND.

Ultimately, high-integrity, highly motivated fitness professionals who do NOT at least make some sort of “quality product offering” are literally throwing money at non-fitness retailers (GNC, Amazon, EBay, web affiliates and yes, even Walmart!)