Unless you’re a monk living in the wilderness, you’ve probably heard about the Internet; how it has changed the way we do business; and how if you’re not on social media, your business will fall behind.
But how does today’s technological climate affect gym owners and coaches, specifically?
Omid Rahmat is the CEO of Breaking Muscle, an online media hub that produces some of the most popular fitness, performance, health, coaching and gym-business related content on the Web today. He knows a thing or two about the latter. And he articulated exactly why coaches and gym owners need to understand technology and demographics at the recent MadLab Group Summit in Las Vegas—not in a fear mongering way, but in an enlightening, ‘I want to help you,’ kind of way.
OMID at the Summit
Technology, Demographics and the Coach
Simply put, technology has changed the role of coach, Rahmat explained.
In the ‘old days,’ (i.e. pre-Internet) coaches had access to valuable information and training advice that people couldn’t get elsewhere. Not anymore.
“Technology gives the user a lot of control they didn’t use to have. Look at Uber or Airbnb. It’s the rent versus buy concept. People don’t buy anymore. We rent stuff. We don’t have VCR’s. We pay for Netflix. We don’t buy our phones. We have two year contracts,” he said.
“It makes for a very fickle audience.”
The result is technology is also allowing this “very fickle audience” to learn things on their own about their health and fitness, Rahmat added. And to take matters into their own hands.
“To find fitness programs online on their own,” Rahmat said. From online strength programs, to heartrate apps, to instructional youtube videos—all available to the consumer for free. This is why Rahmat is emphatic that if you’re a coach today, you need to offer your clients MUCH MORE than just a workout.
Workouts are a dime a dozen; value adding coaches are not, Rahmat explained.
“If you’re really good at working out, and you’re really good at delivering a workout, that’s not enough anymore. That’s not a career in the fitness industry anymore,” he said.
In fact, Rahmat said he believes coaches need to get out of the fitness industry all together.
“You need to be in the health and wellness industry instead,” Rahmat elaborated. “If you’re the guy who can run fast or lift a lot of weight, nobody cares. Your clients are people who need your help.”
“Whenever I see coaches who don’t make a lot of money spending five, ten, fifteen thousand dollars on certifications, I say, ‘Dude, nobody cares. That’s great for you, but if you’re not spending time asking how you’re going to benefit your clients, how you’re going to work for them, then you’re just working out.”
Are you giving your clients more than just a workout?
This isn’t to say Rahmat is opposed to continued education and staying on top of the science, he is simply urging coaches to look beyond certifications. Urging coaches to realize helping their clients isn’t about their shiny equipment, their impressively-sized facility, or their new state-of-the-art jerk blocks.
“Your brand isn’t about your weights, your square footage, or your workout. Those are just features of your brand,” Rahmat said. “Your brand is about what benefit you are bringing to your clients. What are you doing to add value service?”
And adding value means you can’t just put a group of athletes through a group class workout.
It means connecting with clients in a personal level, in a one-on-one coach-client environment, where you’re helping people not just learn movements, but also to discover what they really need to feel better and be healthier.
“You have to start thinking about doing things the bigger (gyms and companies) can’t. And that is to provide a much more personal service,” he said.
Again- health and wellness, as opposed to fitness, he reiterated.
“You need to focus on something that means something to a demographic. Otherwise, you’re selling the same thing as everyone else—a workout.”
Speaking of demographics…
The fitness industry has long been about the young.
But if you focus your business on the young (people under the age of 34), you’re destined to miss the mark, Rahmat said.
“Millenials—they don’t spend money. They don’t commit to anything,” Rahmat said. “It’s not that they’re bad people. They just have (been brought up with) different tools (i.e. technology) than the older demographic.”
He continued: “I know a 75-year-old coach and he told me, ‘I don’t really know how to train older people.’ He’s used to training young athletes who are looking to compete, yet he’s never had to train someone who started Olympic weightlifting at the age of 50.”
The point is simply that the people who coaches can help the most—the people who are most likely to see the value in a more personalized service, and have the money to pay for one-on-one training—are baby boomers.
Rahmat’s Practical Technology Tips of the Day:
1. Make sure your website looks good on a mobile device!
“Most people’s website sucks. They blow giant chunks,” he joked.
He went on to explain that five years ago, 30 percent of Breaking Muscle’s audience viewed the website through a mobile device.
“This year, it was up to 70 percent,” Rahmat said. “70 percent of people see us on a phone, and it’s probably the same for your (gym’s) website. Anyone can make it look great on a computer. Make sure it looks great on a phone.”
2. Keep your website simple
Rahmat explained: “All people need to know is where you are, and how you can find me. I don’t need to know if you can do a giant squat, or how much you can bench. Where you are? How to find you? That’s it.”