The Hybrid Training Model For Personal Trainers
My man Gavin McHale is back with another excellent guest post this month. If you missed his last article on lead generation you can check that out HERE.
This month, as the title implies, is all about how personal trainers can (and should) lean into more of a “hybrid” training model that doesn’t rely on IN-PERSON training only and allows you to better leverage your time in order to 1) make more money and 2) resist the urge to throw your face into an ax from work overload.
Give it a read. It will make a lot of sense and I hope afterward it’ll provide some inspiration to you to make some subtle changes in your approach to the services you provide.
The Hybrid Training Model For Personal Trainers
I climbed into my truck and sat back with a huge exhale. I had just finished another ‘day at the office’ and, as usual, I was absolutely exhausted.
It was early afternoon, I had been up since 5AM and on the training floor since 6:30, eating and drinking coffee on the go. I was finishing up my 4th cup of coffee for the day, knowing it would affect my sleep but needing it to prop myself up for the evening full of clients that I had in about 4 hours.
The ‘00’s Pop Punk’ playlist had played at least three times through on repeat that morning.
The plan was to whip home for some lunch and some work on the business before heading back to the gym – another few hours of client sessions on deck. In reality, I knew I’d get home, crush some food and pass out for the entirety of my time at home, barely dragging myself out of bed to get there on time.
I loved my training clients and I got to provide them with the best hour of their day on the training floor.
And, by this point, I got to do it a lot.
I had built my personal training business up to nearly 30 clients, with upwards of 25 semi-private and private training sessions a week.
Business was buzzing… but the thoughts started creeping in…
My girlfriend of two years and I barely got to see one another. When we did, I couldn’t even keep my eyes open for a full movie and had to leave any social gatherings by 9PM thanks to my 5AM alarm the next day.
How long was she willing to put up with an absent partner?
I knew I wanted to have kids at some point in my life, and I wanted to be the dad who could do school drop-offs and pick-ups and coach the sports teams; not the one who always ‘had to work’.
We loved to travel, even just for extended weekends. But I couldn’t enjoy my time away, panicking about lost revenue and possibly unhappy clients.
But the worst part was that I wasn’t making the money I knew I could be. I wasn’t having the impact I knew I could.
I was making a decent paycheck every month, but it was just enough to pay my bills and allow me a bit of freedom. I was pinching pennies and living paycheck to paycheck while working a ton, with a university degree and numerous certifications behind my name.
And honestly? I was just fucking tired…. ALL. THE. TIME.
It didn’t add up.
Especially since the only solution I knew was to take on more clients and do more of the same… something I didn’t have the capacity for without sending myself down a spiral to burning out and being single well before my 30th birthday.
That’s when I was forced to get creative.
I began by asking myself the one question every single service provider should start with (I was just a little behind the curve): How can I best serve my clients?
(GIF added by me, Tony, because if nothing else I keep thing professional.)
I knew they loved their workouts and I loved working with them, but the majority of them weren’t getting the results they wanted because that 1-3 hours a week they spent with me would never offset the poor lifestyle choices they were making during the other 165+ hours every week.
Let’s be real, even though I loved doing it, grinding it out on little sleep and caffeine was not the best service I could provide. The cup I was pouring from… was empty and I didn’t have the systems in place to help them change their lifestyle beyond a couple sweat sessions a week.
And since I had no more capacity for more training sessions and they didn’t have the time to come to the gym every day,
I had to find a better way.
Enter, the Hybrid Training Model
This model created a win-win for me and my clients.
The win for me is that I got to stabilize my monthly income by charging for an entire package instead of session by session and got some of my time back, all while providing a better service to my clients.
The win for them? Straight up better results without having to schlep to the gym and back every day or pay thousands a month for a trainer.
This model would allow me to continue doing what I did best, training clients on the gym floor, but not have to live there, eating every meal out of tupperware, trying not to spill it on the turf and taking bites between coaching cues.
The hybrid model I built and refined since includes 5 key areas:
- In-person coaching
- Regular activity programming
- Nutritional guidance or intervention
- Belief and habit building
If you look at the traditional training model – the one that left me half sleeping in my truck at the end of the work day, I covered maybe 1 or 2 of those bases… at best.
And, in most cases, the trainer isn’t being paid for anything but their time spent in the gym with each client. You can say the pricing reflects programming time and nutritional information and accountability, but it really doesn’t.
When your clients are paying session by session, they see the value in having you in the room coaching them.
Your clients are also financially incentivized by this model to actually miss sessions. If they’re low on energy or just don’t feel like it, they’ll miss a session and either save money that month or stretch their current package out over a longer period.
Bottom line: your income is unstable and they don’t get the best service.
In order to build this model out and be able to market and sell it, you have to ask yourself a lot of questions and completely reshape the way you provide your service and charge for it.
1. In-Person Coaching
- How often do they need instruction lifting weights?
- How often do they want to come to the gym?
- Do you have the space and ability to do semi-private training with them?
2. Regular Activity Programming
Basically, this includes any part of the programming that doesn’t require you to be there, coaching them.
- Can you program some or most of their workouts to be done on their own?
- Do they have a gym membership or access to equipment at home?
- Are there parts of the program where they don’t need to be in the gym like walking, running or mobility work?
3. Nutritional Guidance or Intervention
Any type of transformational program is incomplete without some form of nutritional guidance. If they already trust you enough to train them, then you’re probably the best person to guide them through some basic nutrition principles.
For most general population clients and goals, this is simple habit building. No need to go too deep and risk moving outside your scope.
You can either build your own curriculum or outsource this completely. When I was coaching, I outsourced this to Precision Nutrition and set my clients up on their year-long ProCoach software.
4. Belief and Habit Building
My most successful clients were the ones who made massive mindset shifts throughout my program. Over the time we worked together, they became better versions of themselves, which provided the outcome they wanted.
In my opinion, this is a non-negotiable in any coaching program, especially if you want to stand out from the Pelotons and the Orange Theory’s.
- What do they need to learn to be able to shed their old skin and step into a new, better version of themselves?
- Can you create a simple weekly or bi-weekly curriculum over 2-3 months that will allow them to do that?
Finally, accountability is what they’re actually paying for.
Let’s be real – everything you (and I) coach can be found with a quick Google search if they know where to look.
Information and even education is no longer valuable like it used to be. What is? Accountability and a safe space to fuck up and learn.
Plus, the more skin they have in the game (i.e. the more you charge for this full spectrum service), the more accountable they’ll be.
I’m not sure how many free downloads you have sitting on your laptop, but I have plenty that I haven’t even opened… no skin in the game.
In Its Simplest Form, This is the Hybrid Coaching Model
I won’t lie, this will be more work upfront for you. But, as I learned throughout this process, if you can “work hard once” setting everything up, you make your life a whole lot easier down the road.
This will allow you to charge a monthly price for the whole package and stabilize your pay while actually working less and giving your clients the best chance at seeing the results they’re looking for.
No more never-ending selling of 10 or 20-session packages and no more needing to send out the same resources over and over to every single client who asks about keto or intermittent fasting.
You run the show and make sure all the bases are covered. They get the best of what you can offer and you get the most out of your time, energy and expertise.
About the Author
As a Kinesiology graduate, Gavin McHale quickly realized that following the traditional business model would lead to trading more time for more money.
Over the course of 8 years, Gavin built a 6-figure hybrid training business before founding the Maverick Coaching Academy in 2019.
Since then, Gavin has left the gym and gone all in helping other strength coaches build their businesses. He has made it his mission to fix the broken fitness industry and connect other amazing humans to the highest version of themselves.
IG – @gavinmchale1
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