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Personal trainers who work with new technology rather than viewing it as a threat to their existence will benefit both their clients and their businesses, writes personal trainer Todd Brodie.

From the increase in fitness wearables such as Garmins, Fitbits and Apple Watches, to remote diet and exercise consultations, there are now numerous ways that people can use technology to help them achieve their fitness goals that don’t necessitate seeing a personal trainer face-to-face or even attending a gym. This doesn’t mean, however, that they need to train alone.

With this evolution comes a change in the way people seek assistance from fitness professionals. In a technology-heavy world, we’re seeing a shift away from traditional forms of consultation and an embracing of new, more flexible options.

It is important to adapt to the changing pace, embrace what is now available and be aware of where it’s headed in the near future, without losing connection in this highly connected world.

Here are my reflections on how things are changing, and how fitness professionals fit into this changing landscape.

1. The demand for small group training (SGT) will continue to grow

Travelling Australia and internationally through my work with Technogym in recent years, I have seen a global shift towards small group, functional and bootcamp-style training.

Secondary to this growth has been the explosion of single discipline workouts where entertainment is just as important as the exercise content. These cleverly use technology to gamify exercise and engage users throughout the entire session. Think running or rowing classes combined with strength training, under lights and music, with real-time feedback on screens and devices.

Personal trainers can continue to thrive in this climate as long as they expand their skill sets to engage and entertain these small groups, as opposed to sticking to one-on-one sessions.

Hybrid training models are becoming increasingly popular because they offer the best of both worlds. By delivering a mix of semi-private, one-on-one and SGT options, you can diversify your PT business, making it more interesting for you, and increasing your reach.

2. Clients will drive the demand for flexibility, increasing the amount of online classes

Personal training apps and streamed classes have made it possible to exercise from home or work spaces while retaining elements of the connection and guidance previously only available in face-to-face situations. Users that haven’t attended fitness facilities in recent times, or who haven’t found a connection within those places, can now choose their own journey (one-on-one or group), at a time, and in a place, that suits them. Training with a PT face-to-face is no longer the only option.

The fitness industry is in a position to replicate the convenience and instant gratification currently offered by food delivery and streaming entertainment services. Trainers now have the ability to coach and engage clients online, and can reach way beyond their local geographic confines. They can also create and deliver shorter, convenient workouts tailored to fill the gaps in users’ training regimes, rather than being restricted to standard training session durations.

3. The way to track your clients’ fitness progress will go far beyond traditional methods

Accurately tracking progress brings accountability to both trainer and client, and facilitates a sense of satisfaction as the client progresses through their health and fitness journey.

Technology is replacing traditional methods of tracking progress. 3D body scanners, such as mPort, surpass the capabilities of body composition scanners, let alone weighing scales. Whereas some composition scanners analyse body weight to produce an approximate split for fat percentage and muscle mass, with 3D scanners, users receive a comprehensive health report after their scan, which enables a more thorough analysis of body fat percentage, body type and what can be tweaked on their program in order to achieve optimal results.

4. Clients will seek out one-stop shops to help with both their nutrition and exercise regimes

While it’s easy to find personal trainers who are experts in their field, there will be a surge of health and fitness apps and platforms that provide advice for people looking to improve every aspect of their lifestyle.

Apps with ultra-personalised information for users can help personal trainers and health professionals optimise their clients’ experiences. For example, I work off the detailed health report that mPort users receive, which includes information pertaining to their body type, nutrition and exercise tips specifically tailored for them, suggested forms of post-workout recovery, the target heart rate zones that they should aim for when exercising, and more. The personal trainer’s skills can be fully utilised in helping the client to adhere to these programs and behavioural changes.

5. People will seek out more support through online communities

With humans being naturally sociable creatures, it’s normal for us to seek motivation and advice from others going through the same challenges. Wearables with accompanying phone apps, such as Fitbit or Garmin, also have community sections where users can jump on, share their progress, connect with like-minded people and motivate each other.

Facebook, Instagram, other social media platforms and fitness streaming channels will enable users who work out in the comfort of their own homes to feel a sense of community, even if they never meet their fellow training buddies face-to-face.

As technology becomes ever more intuitive, the way in which people exercise and interact with fitness is changing. Rather than viewing these advances as a threat, personal trainers can recruit them as companions in the services they provide.

Todd Brodie

Since 2004 Todd Brodie has been making waves in the Australian fitness and health industry. Following retirement as a professional soccer player, he began working as a personal trainer within leading hotel chains and has never looked back. Brodie is Director of the industrie pt, founder of The Wellness Concierge and creator of the AFT-app for trainers, and is also the National Master Trainer at Technogym.

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