When one door closes, another opens: Never had this saying been more true than when you consider how the fitness industry has been thrown for a loop because of the global pandemic.
Overnight, the door closed on crowded gyms and 25-person bootcamps and group classes—the bread and butter for many gyms.
This has caused many small gyms to abandon old ways and adopt a more OPEX-style model—one that replaces generic group class programming with individualized fitness at a higher price point. Where many group class and CrossFit gyms charge in the neighbourhood of $150 a month for group programming and a group classes, OPEX gyms tend to charge close to $300-plus for a relationship with a coach and an individualized training program.
The good news is those gyms who are switching to an OPEX-style of delivering fitness to their clients say they have quickly discovered it’s a better system anyway, not just for the business, but also for the coach and the client.
And especially, right now, when some clients are apprehensive about coming back to the gym because of the global pandemic, or have learned they prefer to workout remotely, the combination of OPEX education and TrueCoach technology is allowing coaches to cater to this group.
Let’s take a look at three of these gyms:
The Ryan Ferns Healthplex:
When COVID-19 hit, the Ryan Ferns Healthplex in West Virginia immediately shifted to an individual program design model.
Coach Christa Giordano said individual program design helped their clients stay accountable to their fitness when they were working out from home. Seeing their clients’ success led their team to continue with individualized programming when they reopened their doors in May.
“And then not knowing what kind of guidelines we would be faced with when we reopened in terms of social distancing—we figured classes might not be possible—we realized individual design was a better approach,” Giordano said.
The move to individual program design has been a silver lining in a crazy and uncertain time, Giordano explained.
“I love CrossFit classes, but it never helped people as much as we can now. Unless they were really interested in putting in extra time, they never achieved their goals in the group class. Whereas, with this OPEX-style of training, we can finally tailor the program to the individual,” she said.
When they first reopened after COVID, they explained to their clients that the individual program design model was just a trial, so people wouldn’t freak out about the change. And if it didn’t work, then they could abandon it, Giordano said. But after just three weeks, it’s pretty clear it’s working.
“Now we’re three weeks into the individual programming trial and the feedback has been amazing. It’s the best thing we can offer our people,” said Giordano, adding that this has allowed them to raise their rates considerably to reflect the higher level of service.
She added: “People are realizing they’re also getting more coaching with the OPEX-style than they did in the class, because coaches can focus on coaching instead of feeling like you’re just herding cattle.”
And having TrueCoach has made the transition that much easier.
“TrueCoach not only allows us to deliver personalized programs, but also (to) communicate with them. We also use the platform to store notes from our monthly client check-ins and track progress toward their goals, so it’s all in one place. All in all, it gives us a way to deliver a more valuable, higher touch service,” he said.
Chase Tollson, the owner of Ardent Fitness in Illinois, has also switched his model since reopening so that new clients will all receive some individual program design administered via TrueCoach.
He has created what he calls a “hybrid model,” where, during the first part of the hour clients follow their individual program, and then at the end they join up to hit a conditioning workout together with the group.
This allows clients to receive individual programming but also gives them a chance “to have a date with their friends” at the end of the hour when they all do a conditioning piece together, explained Tollson, who went through the OPEX Coaching Certificate Course (CCP) two years ago.
“The CCP completely reframed how I looked at fitness and how I wanted to deliver it,” Tollson said. “It became abundantly clear that personalization creates more buy-in, better attendance and less burnout. The CCP taught me that individualization is the only way to truly help clients.”
So far, so good: Within 48 hours of opening, Tollson already added a new member, who is paying full price for his hybrid individual program design program, while existing clients who used to only do group classes, have also jumped on board the individual program design train.
“The feedback has been amazing so far, as everyone is doing more of what serves them and less of what they don’t want to do,” he said.
Altamont Performance Lab:
Chris Williams is another who switched to an individualized model during COVID-19 at his gym Altamont Performance Lab in California. He calls it a “semi-private, semi-customized programming” model.
Prior to COVID-19, Williams ran classes with as many as eight people. Now, the coach to client ratio is one to four and clients follow an individual program. He has also increased his rates considerably.
Doing this has allowed Williams to retain every single client since the global pandemic caused him to shut his doors.
Having been to a few OPEX summits, he explained what he has learned from OPEX has “definitely played a part in my choice to maneuver to a four-to-one, customized model,” he said.
Williams added: “I definitely agree that individual design and the ability to create customized results for each client is becoming more and more crucial as a way to stand above the competition.”
And having TrueCoach makes the process of delivering these programs much easier for both the client and the coach,” he said.
“We can easily track their adherence to the program and adjust it at any time. I love the ease of use for both my trainers and our clients,” he said.