By now, most trainers have heard it from at least one client—prospective, current, or former: “Why do I need a fitness trainer anymore, when I have my FitBit?” (Or any other downloaded app that tracks various points of data, suggests exercise, caloric intake, collects and plots health metrics, etc.)
Understandably, trainers get frustrated hearing that. And with so many people out there turning to apps to help them in their quest for fitness, losing clients is a very reasonable fear.
- There will never be an App that replaces a Fit Pro
- Leveraging technology makes you more powerful
- Expand your impact on clients by offering more, while doing less! HA!
Ally, not Competition
But here’s the good news—actually, what may just be the best news of all. Not only are apps not the enemy, they essential can be your ally and a critical tool in both keeping your current clients, by keeping them very happy and satisfied. Here’s why.
What some clients don’t understand when they try and replace their trainer with an app is that there are certain key functions that only a human can do right in the training scenario.
Can an app analyze and properly risk stratify and client? Nope. Can an app look at an individual client’s risk of things like heart disease, diabetes and customize workouts based on that? Again, nope. And nor can an app assess proper movement and form and help adjust that in an interactive way, to prevent injury and help get the best workout possible.
Intelligent Exercise Selection, Progression and Regression
An app also doesn’t know how to properly progress (or regress, in some cases) a client in their exercises—i.e., to transition them into increasingly more challenging workouts based on their body's reaction to their current regimen.
What about Apps that provide exercise selection? An app that suggests box jumps or plyo-metric exercises has no idea if a person using the app is even ready to perform that athletic move. Right?
Informing client who use apps of this risk and the many ways this could manifest is quite frankly part of our job as a trainer now. It is a whole new World out there and embracing the reality of it and how best to leverage it to our advantage is the difference between those who take on a victim mentality and run a huge risk of failure … or those trainers who take control of the situation by seeing the bigger picture.
And then there’s one of the most important things that an app can’t do on its own: Motivate a Client. What about that? That is critical to the training process and this is one of the reasons we call it Personal Training.
Sure, an app can send text messages, reminders and seeing progress in the numbers an app can record will always make a client feel incentive to keep going. But the limitations of that are many, compared with the interactive motivation supplied by a hands-on expert, who talks to you about your lifestyle, knows things about your life and job and family, knows how to get you going in the morning for a workout, knows what makes you laugh, or how your fitness goals fit into the rest of your life and relationships.
An app will never be able to press a client’s hot button like a trainer can!
In short, nothing inspires like real human interaction. Moreover, with a trainer, there’s real accountability. It may be easy to blow off a machine for a workout, but it’s far less so to blow off a human being--partly because that’s just rude, and partly because you've made yourself accountable to them by committing to a time to meet.
So the real question isn’t, “Why do I still need a trainer if I have an app?” it’s “How can I use both to the best advantage?” So glad you asked.
Info from apps gives you more power
Rather than compete with apps, trainers can use apps to leverage the information they collect about a client. When a client uses something like a Lose it!, or a Nike Training Club, or a My Fitness pal, they’re entering all sorts of data in each that tracks how they’re doing with eating and exercising. Trainers can act as experts or consultant with a client to sit down and interpret this data. Having this information at their fingertips allows trainers to sit back and look at the big picture of someone’s progress, and assess any problem areas, or success areas. This is information that trainers would never be able to get on their own, and many clients aren’t that excited to write down themselves. So looking at and analyzing that big picture helps make you and your client more conscious of their habits.
Where it’s all going
The most technologically advanced device/app out there is a wearable patch called Metria that collects over 5,000 data points a second with a proven algorithms for 90-95% accuracy. Your client would wear it for a week. It is designed to collect and interpret data as a means of Lifestyle Assessment. This is meaningful data you can use to educate your clients.
All of these things regardless of whether it is a wearable device or a downloadable help trainers help clients to drop the drama, and look purely at the numbers and facts that reflect a client’s habits, and that additionally helps keep them on track and focused
Our World is changing rapidly with the blitz of technology and information. Our job now and in the future will include helping our clients interpret all of this info and break it down so a client can understand. Counseling clients on their next small strategic step is how the trainer will apply that info in a meaningful way and personalize it for the client.
Don’t discourage – Encourage!
If a client or a potential client is interested and motivated to us an App, you should highly encourage it as long as you confirm it is appropriate for them at this time. Don’t take the wind out of a client’s sails by being discouraging. If using an app is going to excite and motivate them and help them hold themselves accountable to something, which is a lot better than nothing. Taking an interest in their interest only solidifies their trust in you as their council. That alone will help you attain and keep them as a client. Just make sure it is the right app at the right time and make personal modification that directly pertain to the client if need be.
Your New Personal Assistant
In this way, the app becomes almost like a personal assistant to the trainer, takes notes and information for you, and giving you a valuable tool you can regularly talk over with the client. And in effect, the trainer becomes not just a trainer, but something even bigger: a client’s ultimate consultant on that major project, which is their health.