Suddenly everyone is a fitness guru?! Standing out in the fitness industry during Coronavirus
Updated: Apr 16
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began to pick up speed in the UK and Europe, most of us have had our lives completely turned upside down. Gyms began to close their doors and more of us started to rely on technology and social media to fill the gaps that have been left in our lives. From this sprouted a wave of (mostly) well-intentioned people posting their home workout ideas on social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube and Facebook. Suddenly everyone and their dog seemed to know the best home workout plan. An onslaught of content was appearing every day from toilet roll and baked bean tin workouts, living room HIIT programs and your Mum’s mate Sandra sharing her everyday Pilates routine. However well-intentioned, the internet quickly became saturated with workout ideas that simply aren’t suitable for a vast majority of the population, with the advice often coming from unqualified people.
Many people might use this pandemic to really start considering their health and wellness and will use their increased downtime to take up a new form of exercise. Exercise is one of the only reasons we are allowed to leave the house at the minute and there are numerous, well documented mental and physical benefits of getting active. This is a great opportunity for PTs and group fitness instructors to start helping more people begin their fitness journeys. However, it is not without its challenges.
The entire fitness industry has been forced to adapt due to the closure of gyms and leisure centres and many have turned to social media to serve their current clients and find ways to generate a living. Many PTs and group fitness instructors are self-employed and have seen their incomes wiped out because of the coronavirus. Keen to not be forgotten and to keep their clients and members interested, a swathe of workouts were filmed and chucked up online in the first few days of the UK lockdown. Everyone seemed to think the best way to secure new clients and keep their current ones was to film as much content as possible and throw it up on Instagram without much thought to the structure, branding or timing of the post. Taking a fitness business online and standing out from the crowd is hard, especially when you may not have had a big social media presence before. You are battling against masses of free, seemingly helpful content from social media influencers and corona do-gooders who just want to help people in this tough time, not to mention established fitness brands who are offering their programs free or heavily discounted.
If you are a fitness professional looking to use this time to increase your online presence, what should you do to make sure you stand out from the crowd, begin to earn revenue and build something that will last once the lockdown has finished? Here are my top 5 tips:
Post quality content over quantity
Social media analytics have shown time after time that people are more likely to unfollow spammy accounts that pop up in their news feeds too often. Think about the people you follow; are you likely to look through every single IG story for an account that has 30 posts up that day? If you’ve posted a free 15 minute HIIT workout in 20 separate IG stories, then followed it up with your online coaching offer (the thing that will make you money!) on post 21, what percentage of your audience are going to scroll through and actually find it? They will reach a level of fatigue with that content and switch off from it or perhaps unfollow. Focus on posting a few quality, relevant stories every day and a post for your feed every 1-2 days.
Don’t be afraid to monetise
During this time of hardship you may be scared about asking people to pay for your services, however you must remember that you are running a business. Whilst many of us get into the fitness industry because of our passion (and would often do it for free if we could!), we all have bills to pay and mouths to feed. You are a qualified and educated professional, providing a service that you have taken time and energy to create and deliver. You should not feel bad about asking for compensation for your efforts.
3. Ignore the noise
Due to the swathe of content being thrown online, you may be inclined to switch up your offering and follow the trends. However, if you have a personal brand and area of knowledge, it would be silly to completely change direction. If you are a PT who specialises in strength coaching, why would you switch to posting about HIIT or yoga? It dilutes your brand and makes it unclear to your audience who you are and what you actually do. Whilst many are posting unstructured workouts of them jumping around their front room, you could be creating well-structured bodyweight strength programs. Stick to what you do best and cut out the noise to stand out.
Use this time to build something lasting
It is incredibly unlikely that we will ever be gifted this much downtime in one go. Don’t panic about your clients forgetting about you or losing momentum from everything you promised the last time you saw them. Take this time out to step back from your business, look at what has been working and what hasn’t. Take some time to assess where you want your business to go and what you want your life to look like post lockdown. Think about what you could do to build a business that you could maintain; who says you have to drop everything you’ve worked on?
Don’t stress too much
In the days leading up to and following the announcement of the UK lockdown, many people went into panic mode, worrying about how they were going to pay their bills. Times are tough for all of us but there is support available from the government. Check out the coronavirus help pages on gov.uk to see what you are eligible for. You may want to contact your landlord or mortgage provider to get relief from your housing costs. Be kind to yourself and reach out for help if you need it.