Thursday, September 19, 2013

5 Things That Will Kill the Personal Training Industry Within the Next 10Years

I will tell you something very private. Sometimes I want to leave the personal training field altogether.

It is a out-of-control, diseased animal that has not been able to cement its feet into a career choice taken seriously by outsiders. 
But after over 13 years, I still feel obligated to "take care of my backyard". The field I have chosen is the field that I enjoy, but grow increasingly frustrated with on a more frequent basis. Sure, there is the obvious...that the personal training field lacks any type of state licensure and uniform regulations. This is the main culprit to the eventual demise of the personal training field. The 5 things that are going to kill the industry are a result of the "wild, wild west" this profession has become. The fact that the personal training field has no "fixed" path to gaining respect among the storied careers out there, is the very reason that these 5 things will slowly chip away at it. Eventually, it will dissolve into nothing more than a "job"--no different than working at your local fast food restaurant or waiting tables as a summer fling.

1.) Online Universities & Colleges, Secondary College Courses, and Online Certification Companies 
You've seen universities and online college courses that market their incredibly convenient ways to earn a degree that is time efficient and respected. Online education has become very popular over the last decade. Since the boom in technology and internet use, more people are choosing to shell out thousands of dollars for an online education through a warehouse university...ahem...I mean a online university because of the freedom it bestows on the end-user.

Online universities and college courses are for the most part...the lazy man's method to earning a degree from a school no one has ever heard of. Now don't get me wrong...there are some very good online education platforms that graduates have done a very good job of learning from. However, is really up to the end-user: the student. My problem with online education is many of these online universities are nothing more than office-housed small businesses that feed off of career-confused people. Their courses are overly priced webinars and discussion forums with quizzes throw in. Lots of reading.with some access to the instructor. Again, most of this education is taken place in front of the computer monitor and not inside a gym. They are also devoid of any student interaction, networking and practical play.

Secondary colleges are institutes that attract people who are un-decided about choosing a 4-year matriculated course. They provide education on professions like truck engine repair, becoming a medical assistant and medical coding. Over the last 5 years, many have begun offering personal training. I have been teaching a course for a community college since 2002. As an instructor, there have been many times I was pressured by the college administration to "pass the majority of students". Why? Their thought (from what I presumed) is "if students fail the course,  the majority of future students will not enroll in the classes". And that means a loss of dollars for the school. So, from my standpoint I've had a very tough time passing students that I don't believe have adequately learned anything from the classes I teach. Thus, the school does request a different instructor from time to time to get a different perspective than mine. Over the years, I've bumped heads with administrators; however,  they respect my ability to teach very effectively and my tenure has earned me staying power.

2.) Internet Marketing and the"Get Rich Quick" Image
Internet marketing in fitness that is largely targeted to personal trainers has been around for over 14 years. The problem with the industry is that many young, vibrant trainers are entering the field with minimal to no experience and wanting to make $1000 a week. So, marketers see this blood in the water. As sharks they come running and designing marketing products and promotions to entice young trainers into buying a $400 product that delivers ZERO results. NOTE: When I mention a "young" trainer, I am referencing trainers that are "green" or "young" in the field. This is not age-related. 

There is a tendency to enter the field and make tons of money. The truth is--the personal training field really stands on the shoulders of coaches and trainers that have put in the work over the years. The research and the methods that have been tried and true are what we base our programs on. And results come in time. And so does the money. The problem is, many buy into schemes and trickery to make money within the first 6 months of business. And it never works and never sustains for long. 

3.) Trainers with a Lack of Empathy
Today's society has lost a bit of "connectivity" with its neighbor...blame it on technology, TV or bad news. Walk into any restaurant and see friends sitting at tables staring into their cell phones rather than engaging in conversation. Walk into any gym and you see 99% of lifters with headphones on. This lack of communication has spawned our inability to treat others with respect, dignity and courtesy. Many young trainers don't have the properly developed skills of listening and coaching people through an emotional  process like physique alteration. Many don't possess the "been there, done that" characteristic that sets other coaches apart. Today, trainers recite what they've learned in textbooks or what others have said. And the emotional component behind coaching is not there. Empathy for a client will really take you to a path of results and long-lasting friendship. However, today I am fearful to say it is missing.

4.) Commercial Gyms
Commercial gym care about one thing: profit. People do not understand the amount of money it takes to run a large commercial gym up to 24 hours a day. One commercial gym I managed had a monthly electric bill of $26,000. It was a 30K square foot facility with numerous cardio machines, TV, tanning booths, music systems, lights, lights, and more lights. In order to survive, commercial gyms have to fill their facilities up with members. Now, membership will off-set some of the expenses, but to really survive  it must convert members into training clients for profits. This added revenue will ensure longevity and success. Commercial gyms do not pay trainers adequately. They pay minimally. Hence,  the reason why the profit margins are high for personal training departments because a client pays $350 for 10 sessions and the trainer only gets paid $15 for each. That equates to $200 going to the club. Highway robbery. Gyms look for new trainers with no experience and freshly certified. These trainers do not have high payroll expectations and therefore, are hired quickly. They are typically trained "in-house" through software, webinars and sales companies and their exercise/coaching knowledge is minuscule. This really chases away good trainers and polarizes them into building their own small businesses. Commercial gyms have the money and power to create larger programs than the small boutique training studio or the bootcamp class run at the local park---therefore, the good, experienced trainer becomes a victim of globo gym's reign.  

5.) P90X, Insanity and Other DVD Workout Sets
Since the popularity of P90X, there has been an influx of people using those exercises in the gym and in their homes. These DVDs have literally "taught" everyday joe-schmoes how to exercise using just their body-weight and chin-up bars. Once people view these DVDs, they believe that as they become proficient in each exercise; they can teach others how to perform them too. I applaud anyone that makes the commitment to exercise in their home or in the gym and makes a successful change in body composition. But it does not mean if you complete watching these DVD program,  it make the person "eligible" to coach others. This is a multi-million dollar industry and really challenges the personal trainer because the DVDs are cheaper, can be stored, resold, and watched repeatedly. In essence, if we all watched YouTube videos on how to fix a leaky faucet, would we all become plumbers? That is what these DVD sets are manifesting into...people completing these programs...getting results....and feeling that they are qualified to be a coach. This self-teaching is what gave personal trainers a bad rap in the eighties.

So there you have it. I don't have any solutions to these factors. I hope I've created an awareness. Now, you've been warned.


  1. Love how you snuck the Dom Mazzetti picture in here, his "bro-science" character is the perfect example of what pisses everyone off in a gym.

  2. John,
    Do you still manage the personal training department at a commercial gym?

  3. No. But what can I help you with?


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