Ten years ago I wrote an article titled, “The Next Generation Fitness Professional.” 

It was forward-focused about Generation X Trainers and how those “young guns” embraced new technologies including mobile smart phones and the internet to increase their own productivity as well as marketing and managing their businesses.

I layered this scenario on top of the health club and studio landscape — which was in flux as high-value low-priced clubs and studios squeezed out many of the mid-tier players.

As it turns out the article was accurate and a whole new wave of “hands-on” personal training studios filled the vacuum left by the mid-tier players who shut their doors..

Now, today, there’s a whole NEW GENERATION of fitness professionals who, in my opinion, are driving the business to a totally different place.

This Time It’s Different!

The weird thing about this “New Generation” is that it’s NOT age-based.  Nope.  This generation is actually a group of fitness professionals with a common mindset and approach.  And, it’s populated by both men and women from 20-somethings to 65-year old master trainers.

  • They are moving in a new direction.
  • They are creating a different environment.
  • They are developing brand new business models.

Do You Remember…?

But, before I describe the NEW” NEXT GENERATION of Health and Fitness professionals….  let me ask you an important question. (I’ll relate back to this later). 

Here’s the question:

Do you ever watch popular TV show reruns or movies from the 80’s and 90’s?

I do.

In fact, recently, my two millennial daughters (Roxanne and Chelsea) and I sat down and watched “Pretty Woman” with Richard Geer and Julia Roberts – followed by a few episodes of Seinfeld.

It’s classic stuff, for sure…  BUT…

I always get so distracted by the TECHNOLOGY…or I should say…  the LACK OF IT.

There are:

  • dial telephones
  • electric typewriters
  • color TV consoles
  • vinyl records and turntables
  • cassettes and cassette players
  • telephone booths
  • super 8 video cameras
  • VHS tapes
  • telephone answering machines
  • reel-to-reel tape recorders
  • Polaroid cameras…

Do you remember these things…?

It’s stunning how technology has changed our lives and our businesses.

But Wait…

Here’s the funny thing.  My daughters were NOT AT ALL DISTRACTED by the old legacy technology.  In fact, they didn’t even notice it. 

Why?

Because, technology was NOT the focus of the movie. 

Pretty Woman is a ROMANTIC COMEDY. It doesn’t matter what year you watch it or what kind of technology existed in 1992.  That’s because a ROMANTIC story line will always resonate with all ages at all times and make an emotional CONNECTION.  

In other words, some things simply transcend time and space.

Same with Seinfeld.  It’s a COMEDY. And, it’s wacky characters still CONNECT with us.  They’ve transcended time and space.

Can You Relate..?

Allow me to tie this back to fitness.

There’s no question that for the last 10 years the entire fitness industry has embraced a wide array of technology.  Most of it makes total sense and has clearly proven itself – especially in marketing, admin and operations.

On the other hand, there’s technology that, for lack of a better description, has totally taken the “Personal” OUT of Personal Training.  

And, it’s not just personal training

It’s the front desk with fingerprint ID instead of a warm smile.   The group training programs led by video and/or virtual instructors.  And, then the apps (inaccurate, insensitive, impersonal).

And, today, the most popular training programs are no longer “personal.”  But, instead, group and small group training are the new normal.

A “Personal” Vacuum

Don’t get me wrong.  There will always be commodity price-point clubs.  There will always be studios with low-barrier offers, and group training and fitness apps.  There will always be technology.  They are all here to stay.

But, some fit pros and other health professionals believe the continued focus on technology to drive profits has compromised our industry.  That it’s created a vacuum — of which they plan to fill.

They contend the fitness gadgets and fads are mere distractions – just as I viewed them in Pretty Women — and, the real story line that resonates with clients and members is the PERSONAL CONNECTION.

It is, in fact, the PERSONAL CONNECTION that transcends time and space resulting in long-term clients, overall retention and referrals

The “All About YOU” Mindset…

At face value, this new approach by the New Next Generation appears to be anything but new.  In fact, it’s perceived as so “old school” that whenever I mention it to fit pros…  they just laugh at me.  

Yes, believe it or not, one-on-one private training with individual clients is making a comeback!

But, like I said, this time it’s DIFFERENT.

For one thing, it’s not just training.  This “individualized approach” includes a variety of additional value-added products and services including:

  • Personalized Nutrition Programs
  • Online Food Prep and Cooking Classes
  • Individual Supplement Protocol
  • Skin Care Formulations
  • Online Consulting via Skype, Zoom, etc.

Mimi’s World

For example, Mimi Waltrip, a 40-something “private lifestyle consultant and trainer” in Connecticut said this,

“I view my services as the difference between picking a dress off the rack or being custom fitted by an expert tailor.”

Mimi only offers one-on-one training.  But, she also offers her clients:

  • individualized menu plans 
  • skin care formulations
  • supplements
  • exercise bands and a host of fitness accessories.

She also has relationships and a referral network of:

  • hair stylists
  • marriage and family therapists
  • massage therapists
  • fashion/color consultants
  • personal development coaches

But, it’s not like Mimi just refers out to these resources.  Each of these professionals provides Mimi with a brief summary of their work with her clients (except for that which is confidential).

When a client retains Mimi… they actually enter “Mimi’s Network” and she is the hub.  It’s a comprehensive, holistic approach toward a healthy mind-body lifestyle.

As a result, Mimi and her clients are SUPER-CONNECTED —  which explains why some of them have been with her for more than 15 years

Online Connections, Too!

One of my long-time coaching clients runs a 100% online training business for traveling sales professionals.   You might think, “What could be more IMPERSONAL than Online Training?”

But, even here… technology is NOT the focus.  It’s just the enabler.  And, he’s as CONNECTED to his clients as much as anybody. 

He, too, only commits to one-on-one consultations using Zoom.  But, he also:

  • Offers additional 15-minute phone consultation (up-sell)
  • Sends daily affirmation emails / videos (automated)
  • Maintains a group forum (not facebook) for Sales Pros
  • Provides a “Tips & Tricks for Road Warriors” eBook (autographed)
  • Provides a “DIY Road Warrior Meal Plans” eBook
  • Offers an extensive video library of specific exercises (can be performed in motel / hotel rooms with bands)
  • Provides an online list of best “healthy foods” restaurants in top 50 U.S. cities
  • Operates a complete online store with branded supplements, apparel and accessories
  • Writes a weekly blog specifically for traveling sales professionals.

Obviously, there’s a ton of automation going on with this model.

But, with this level of constant communication and client engagement, his clients feel very CONNECTED to him as well as an overall feeling of being part of a TRIBE.

The One-on-One Connection…

So, will this NEW model ever really catch on and gain momentum? 

I don’t know.

It may end up being a small niche.  And, perhaps those “contrarians” who work in that space prefer it remain a small segment.  

Let’s face it.  NOT everybody is meant to be a one-on-one service provider.  It takes a ton of effort to maintain solid CONNECTIONS and RELATIONSHIPS.

But, if you are the type of trainer who prefers to work one-on-one with clients and willing to put in the effort…   then, as you can see, there are plenty of ways to generate significant revenues.

If being seriously CONNECTED to your clients resonates with you, then, perhaps you’re already part of “NEW” NEXT GENERATION of fitness professionals.

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