In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be DIFFERENT [Coco Channel.]
There is a real urgency, right now, for Personal Trainers (P.T.s) to offer different, become unique, to stage a difference and/or to define themselves as something original.
With the growth of digital services, we now have to face up to the fact that fitness is FREE! This combined with the continual growth and expansion of facilities has resulted in the end-user having more choice than ever. This means, P.T.s have to not only ensure that the client’s goals are met, they have to stage an event while delivering an offering that cannot be found anywhere else.
PT’s who offer only ‘outcome based’ services/promises (e.g. weight loss or an increase in muscle tone) are going to come under increasing pressure over the next few years. As fitness knowledge and application becomes easier to access (for free) with the general public becoming more confident and competent, access and utilisation of digital will cause a significant disruption to our industry.
The aim of this short article is to look beyond a P.T.s offering to improve personal fitness and consider how they ‘stage an event’ that is unique, supported by a story, that is under pinned by a unique set of interpreted values.
For the purpose of this article an event describes ‘an occurrence that disrupts the normal, creating something new and exciting, that put everything else to shame’.
‘Values relate to and reflect what is important to the way you live and work [anonymous].’
Values detail the type of person or business we want to be known as, which in turn is the start of creating an event. Values determine the way in which we interact and engage with others. This means for any P.T. wishing to differentiate themselves, understanding their personal/ business values must be their starting point.
Values help us to;
- Form the basis for decision making and help us decide what is worthwhile.
- Establish the relationship between a business and their customers.
- Begin to support the staging of something unique, moving away from providing just an ‘outcome based’ service/promise, to more of an exercise experience, something extraordinary, something that an exerciser would like to buy into, consume, or devour.
- Make decisions. They are our compass.
- Define and develop our behaviours and the type of P.T. event we are going to stage. Every single factor mentioned makes the difference as to whether a P.T. client stays or leaves.
Providing customer experiences (events) has been a term use over the last few decades by other industries, to define more of a personal, individual, client centric approach to business be it the creation of something new and/or exciting.
Experiences are defined by how a person feels during the transaction or service provided, the sensations they perceive when interacting and engaging. There is widespread agreement that customer experience is different from, and more complex than, service quality and customer satisfaction, and that it is context specific. 
For the customer experience to be successful context is required, as values support a context.
The way in which options are presented to us (the context) has a direct impact on customer behaviour, because it affects people’s emotions (which affects their individual feelings) [W.J.Cusack]
The P.T. offering therefore needs to evolve. It cannot just be about the outcome (weight loss or an increase in muscle tone). As achieving the outcome is available for free, there has to be something more. Utilising a P.T. and their offering has to be unique, a staged event, something DIFFERENT, filled with feelings that drive the client back for more.
Outcome based training is finished, establishing client goals (short, medium, & long-term) and proving progressive content to support the achievement of the goals is both already expected and required. Potential clients can get this for nothing. It could be argued that this has always been the case with magazines and books, but digital makes fitness far more personal and interactive.
P.T. success in the future will be a balancing act between both content (the WHAT) and context (the HOW) with a P.T.s values supporting the overall experience, helping create a unique event, that continually drives clients back for more.
Keith Smith-Partner EDT
 Measuring Customer Experience [P. Klaus]
Image credit: Goalcast