The COVID-19 pandemic, or Thanos Blip as I refer to it, has brought about significant changes in our daily lives, particularly in the way we work and access services. With the rise of remote work and the need for social distancing, many coaches shifted to online platforms to deliver their training services, never to return to the training room floor—or so they thought.
The fitness industry was heading this way anyway—we foresaw this in 2016 when we launched our online training services—it’s just that the pandemic accelerated this shift much faster than expected, making it that much harder for trainers and coaches to adapt to this new paradigm shift.
As life returns to a new normal, people’s working habits remain flexible and adaptable. In this context, the most successful coaches we see today are those who have adopted a hybrid coaching model that allows them to run their business both online and in person with maximum freedom, flexibility, and profit in mind.
This is not just to the benefit of the coach though; this new hybrid model allows coaches to deliver exceptional experience and service to clients who appreciate this new working model that easily adapts to their busy day-to-days and life that always seems to get in the way.
By offering both in-person and online training, coaches can cater to their client’s changing needs while also expanding their reach, revenue streams, and that precious commodity we call time.
In this article, I’ll discuss the benefits of the Strength Matters Hybrid Coaching Method, explore how it can help coaches thrive in a post-pandemic world, and explain why we think it’s changed the future of personal training forever.
What Problem Does Hybrid Coaching Solve?
The old personal training model is broken. The traditional model, which involves clients and trainers meeting in person for one to three hours per week, has several drawbacks. The biggest limitation is that it does not address the other 160+ hours of the week when clients are not with their trainers.
I see this as a major factor when trying to help people achieve health and fitness goals since it is during these other hours that habits and behaviors can either support or undermine a client’s progress.
In addition to this, traditional training can be inconvenient and expensive for both the client and the trainer. Scheduling sessions can be challenging, particularly for those with busy schedules or who live far away from the gym, and cancellations are often unavoidable. And one-on-one personal training sessions can be quite expensive for potential clients, which acts as a barrier to entry for many people.
Even though personal training offers personalized attention, progress tracking is limited to visual observation or occasional gut feeling measurements and assessments. This can be insufficient for clients who require more comprehensive monitoring of their progress to stay motivated and for the coach who needs to be more aware of the need to adjust their clients’ training as needed. Gone are the days when you could wing it on the gym floor and create a training plan off the top of your head. Today’s fitness clients demand and want more.
Additionally, the old model is inflexible and does not always provide ongoing support to clients. Clients typically work around their trainer’s schedule, and sessions may only last for an hour or two per week. This can leave clients feeling unsupported the rest of the time and may limit their progress. It lacks ongoing accountability mechanisms which makes it challenging for clients to stay motivated and to monitor their progress during the other vitally important 160+ hours of the week when they are not training with their trainer.
Now, don’t get me wrong, despite the limitations, there are several positive aspects to traditional one-on-one personal training. First and foremost, these sessions offer clients personalized attention from a qualified professional with expert guidance on proper exercise form, which can help prevent injuries and maximize the effectiveness of each exercise. There’s never going to be a replacement for that.
It also allows clients to form a personal connection with their trainer, which can help build trust and enhance the client-trainer relationship. This can be especially important for clients who are new or lack confidence in their abilities, or even ones who’ve had negative experiences with fitness in the past. You can’t beat real-world social interaction and connection, and clients often crave this. Often, trainers are the first line of defense in health—people see coaches and trainers first, before they even, if ever, go to a practicing doctor or medical professional.
The point I’m trying to make is that, despite the positive aspects of one-to-one personal training, it has several drawbacks that limit its effectiveness: Scheduling challenges, insufficient progress tracking, limited support, limited access to expertise, limited flexibility, limited reach, limited exposure, limited accountability, and the inability to address the other 160+ hours of the week.
Not to mention the fact it can leave us feeling tired and trapped as coaches and further away from our goals of freedom and flexibility. After all, why did we become coaches in the first place? To help others and for the passion of health and well-being, right? But the more tired and trapped we feel, the further we become removed from that passion ourselves.
This is why hybrid coaching, and in particular the Strength Matters Hybrid Coaching Method, is a powerful solution that addresses several challenges associated with traditional coaching methods. By combining the benefits of in-person and online coaching, hybrid coaching offers greater flexibility, accessibility, and personalization, making it easier for individuals and organizations to achieve their coaching goals.
With its ability to bridge the gap between traditional and modern coaching techniques, I believe the Strength Matters Hybrid Coaching Method is poised to revolutionize the coaching industry and help more coaches achieve more success in their personal and professional lives, whilst providing their clients with comprehensive support throughout their fitness journey.
How the Strength Matters Hybrid Coaching Model Works
Coaches who combine both online and in-person training command higher fees. That’s the bottom line and, as coaches, who doesn’t want to charge more for the quality services they provide? How can we do this? One option is to operate two separate businesses simultaneously, one online and the other in a physical gym.
This approach offers the advantages and disadvantages of both setups. However, have you ever tried running two different businesses? It becomes tiresome and hard fast. The smart option is to combine them so that they work in harmony together. That’s what hybrid coaching is all about.
To get started, you need to start thinking in systems and structures, otherwise, your hybrid coaching business will fail before you even start. Trust me on this, I’ve made every mistake in the book when it comes to coaching both in-person and online. In-person you can get away with being haphazard and not having a system, online, it will be your downfall, and combining both becomes near on impossible.
As a hybrid coach, you offer a combination of face-to-face and online coaching to your clients. During your in-person meetings, you train clients as normal, teach new exercises, correct form, and provide support whilst developing your relationship with each client. The best client-coach relationship always comes from an element of face-to-face interaction
However, with the Strength Matters Hybrid Coaching Model, the assessments and most of your coaching and support is delivered online, allowing for flexibility and convenience. The frequency of your in-person sessions with clients is customizable, with some coaches training them once or twice a week to even once or twice a month at the gym. You can tailor the frequency to each client’s needs.
For a beginner, you may meet with them twice a week at first and then reduce it as they become more comfortable in the gym. On the other hand, a traveling businessman or athlete with a busy schedule may only meet up with you a few times a year. The bottom line is that all clients receive an individualized performance plan online, just as they would if they were trained entirely in person.
This plan goes beyond exercises, sets, and reps, and is akin to a concierge service for clients’ health and wellness. While fitness is a crucial aspect, it is not the only focus. The hybrid coaching model allows for coaching at the level of deep health.
A hybrid coaching model allows trainers to:
- Help more people
- Take control of their schedule
- Take control of their programming
As a client, it’s:
- More cost-effective
- More flexible
- More convenient
There’s still one primary challenge faced by both trainers and clients with hybrid coaching and that is the fundamental difference between in-person and online training. In-person training is a reactive process, where trainers can identify an issue, make an adjustment, evaluate its effectiveness, and then repeat the process as necessary.
Online training, on the other hand, requires a proactive approach. Trainers must anticipate potential problems and guide their clients in advance. This means that online and hybrid coaches need to be two steps ahead of their clients to effectively coach them through their training programs.
Reactive environments provide a simpler platform to become a competent coach which is why we recommend all trainers have at least two years of hands-on experience before adopting a hybrid coaching model.
That’s why, to excel as a hybrid coach, it is essential to possess excellent coaching skills and have the systems and structure in place to support you through it. I can’t emphasize that enough.
So, what does the Strength Matters Hybrid Coaching Model look like in action? In a nutshell, like this:
- A new client joins.
- The client completes a detailed questionnaire.
- The client completes a series of self-assessments (if applicable).
- The client schedules a consultation (virtual or in person) with the coach to discuss the results.
- The client starts a training program (either online, in-person, or hybrid).
I’d like you to re-read step three above—Client completes a series of self-assessments (if applicable)—when a new client joins us, based on the initial sales call, we decide to do:
- No assessments,
- Mini assessments, or
- Full assessments
I believe that, as a coach, it is important to understand the different categories of clients and their preferences when it comes to assessments. In my experience, approximately 70 percent of clients fall into the first category where they don’t want to be assessed. They just want to work out and have fun.
Around 25 percent of clients fall into category two, where they require a bit more personalized training and are willing to pay extra for it. Extensive assessments are not necessary for this group as they’re not that interested in the outcome.
The remaining five percent are highly specialized clients who require a significant amount of work and attention. I only recommend this level of assessment for clients who love data and want a high level of detail and specialization.
Early in my career, I made the mistake of using extensive assessments for clients who didn’t care about them, resulting in the loss of some of those clients. However, I still value assessments and know that they allow me to give the very best of my abilities as a coach and provide high-quality serviceto high-level clients.
I have learned to use the right tool for the right job and the right person. Therefore, I now only use assessments for clients who value them and charge a premium to ensure that they respect and appreciate the service. Anything else is wasted time.
All clients who go down the assessment route, whether they come to the gym or not, complete a series of self-assessments. Yes, that’s right, you read that correctly. They self-assess. We have built a system of self-assessments for clients so that work at home and in the gym (and they cannot cheat).
We believe wholeheartedly that it is important to set everyone up to be autonomous in fitness. Autonomy allows you to take ownership of your training and understand how much exercise enhances your life. Autonomy is knowing what to do and doing it for the right reasons. However, we feel that most everyday athletes are missing both the “what” and the “why” required for fitness autonomy.
Autonomy won’t happen overnight, but we believe it starts with a self-assessment process that provides the everyday athlete with a training plan that balances challenge, support, and a thorough understanding of where they sit on the fitness spectrum. Our ideal world isn’t one without gyms; it’s one where fitness doesn’t rely on access to four walls and free weights, where people exercise because they can not because they think they should.
Through years of experience and learning, coupled with reflection on how fitness enhances an individual’s function, priorities, and purpose, we believe everyone is capable of learning how to exercise with intent and become autonomous in fitness.
However, it must start with a self-assessment. Self-assessment is at the core of our training system for several important reasons: It promotes self-centered learning, gives immediate feedback, helps our everyday athletes reflect on what they are doing, and provides deeper learning opportunities when we discuss the results.
How to Price and Package Hybrid Coaching
How much do I charge for hybrid coaching and how do I distinguish between all the offerings and services I provide? This is the most frequently asked question I get once trainers and coaches start to understand the benefits of hybrid coaching.
My answer notes that the most important thing is to keep it simple. Complexity in pricing will get confusing for you and your clients.
When it comes to pricing, we recommend having two fees:
- A monthly rate for the coaching program
- A separate fee for each in-person session
Always think of the in-person sessions as an upsell. It’s like the McDonald’s “Would you like fries with that?”
You start by determining your monthly pricing rate for online coaching. I recommend combining training, lifestyle, and nutrition in one package. If clients choose not to take you up on all the options, the onus is on them. We find not everyone wants nutrition coaching, but it’s on offer for when they’re ready or willing to take it on board.
Pricing varies here, but what we see is that the most successful coaches charge between $199 and $499 per month for this option. At Strength Matters, we have found $299 to be our optimal spot in terms of client longevity and lifetime value, but only you can decide what works best for you as it depends on the market you’re going after.
Just remember, there’s no money in being the cheapest trainer in town, and it’s a race to the bottom if you go below these suggested prices.
In terms of your in-person sessions, this is your bolt-on package if people decide they want to work in person with you. The best way to think of this is in monthly offerings. The way we find works best at Strength Matters are the following three options:
- Once per week
- Twice per week
- Three times per week
Most people choose the once per week option when they opt for hybrid coaching, with the rest going them going for the twice –per week alternative. Rarely do we get people choosing three times a week because time doesn’t allow for it. What it does do is it offsets the pricing of the other two options making them highly attractive offerings.
To determine the monthly rate, start with the number you charge for each in-person session. Let’s just say it’s $100, to make things simple. Once per week equates to four sessions a month; twice per week, eight sessions; and thrice per week, 12 sessions.
The once per week option is easy to calculate: We don’t discount and each session costs $100. As they move up in options, it works out that we provide “free” sessions. We never discount. The incentive is to get x number of free sessions so, for twice per week, they get two free sessions on us per month, and, for three times per week, that’s three free sessions a month.
Based on a $100 hourly rate for a session, it would look like this:
- Once per week = 4 sessions @ $400/month
- Twice per week = 8 sessions @ $800/month – 2 sessions = $600/month
- Three per week = 12 sessions @ $1200/month – 3 sessions = $900/month
Therefore, the formula for pricing and the formula we use at Strength Matters is:
Online Base Cost + In-Person Cost = Monthly Client Total
This also comes with a minimum three month commitment and a full 30 day money-back guarantee for the online coaching component (not the in-person delivery). We back the quality of our training and services and put our money where our mouths are.
Assuming a new client decides to work with us both in person and online and chooses the twice-per-week in-person hybrid coaching option, it would look like this:
$299 + $600 = $899/month
There is one other option we provide, but we do try to avoid it unless it becomes appropriate, and that is block session bookings. Sometimes people just need 1 to 5 sessions to help with form or technique.
In these circumstances, we offer 5, 10, and 20-session packages in addition to the online coaching. We build these out in a similar fashion to the monthly in-person pricing options, which looks like this (assuming you charge $100 per session):
- 5 sessions @ $100 = $500
- 10 sessions @$100 – 2 sessions = $800
- 20 sessions @100 – 4 sessions = $1600
This is another great option to help with cashflow but, overall, the key is to be flexible and adjust your pricing strategy based on the individual needs and demands of your clients. Just some food for thought and an insight into how we deliver our training and package our services at Strength Matters.
Hopefully, you’re starting to believe in the power of the Strength Matters Hybrid Coaching Method. While it may not be suitable for everyone, a hybrid model allows trainers to tailor their services to meet the needs and preferences of their clients. By leveraging the strengths of both approaches and mitigating their limitations, trainers can create a unique fitness business that works for everyone.
Ultimately, it is up to each trainer and their clients to decide what type of training model works best for them. As the industry continues to evolve, it is essential to remain open-minded and adaptable to new approaches and technologies that can enhance the client experience and improve fitness outcomes.
The Strength Matters self-assessment method is key to the hybrid coaching process as it allows the client to take an active role in their fitness journey. This process empowers them to take ownership of their health and well-being, which can lead to increased motivation and adherence to the training program. It’s incredibly versatile and can be used for both in-person and online training.
Clients can perform the assessments at home or in the gym, and the results can be easily shared with the trainer via an online platform. This approach frees up valuable time for trainers and coaches to provide even more effective and personalized training programs and a better service experience, leading to better outcomes and more satisfied clients, releasing you from the tired and trapped mindset, and opening the doors to a life of freedom and flexibility, which is why we got into the industry in the first place.
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