Communication is at the core of personal training. Fitness professionals must understand body mechanics and muscular function, but the most important thing they do all day is communicate. With clients—particularly in a virtual environment—that means articulating exactly which muscles should be engaged when doing an exercise. As entrepreneurs, trainers have to communicate business needs and goals with stakeholders like staff, landlords, and vendors.
Communication has been a frequent topic in our ongoing TRX Roundtable series, so we’ve compiled a few of the best tips from the pros on how to approach communication in this rapidly evolving business environment.
Communicating During Crisis
Never before has good communication been more critical. In a recent TRX Roundtable, TRX Founder and former US Navy S.E.A.L. Randy Hetrick said that communication was one of the primary crisis management tactics used by elite military units. He emphasized four key elements that can apply to any high-pressure situation:
- A predictable and deliberate cadence of communication should be frequent enough to keep all parties properly informed and create a level of certainty, without becoming a steady barrage of ever changing information.
- Communication should be targeted at detailing what we know, outlining what we don’t, and informing what actions are being taken to expand our knowledge.
- A calm and straightforward style of communication that is true and trustworthy is critical to steady reactions and inspire confidence of those around us.
- The chain of command should be methodical in dispersing information across an organization. In this way, information cascades down and through the organization via the appropriate leaders at each level, and facilitates buy-in and alignment as a whole.
Applying these concepts of communication can help calm clients and staff, encourage them to join in virtual offerings, and prime them to return once it’s safe for businesses to physically open.
This is a great time to evaluate how you are communicating with your members and staff, and determine if there is room for improvement.
Communicating Your Brand
The rapid rollout of the virtual fitness industry has accelerated the globalization of fitness in a way that is poised to forever change the industry. It provides fitness professionals with an opportunity to scale beyond a physical location in a way that many never thought was possible.
At the same time, a global fitness community brings global competition.
The importance of a well-defined personal brand is going to take on an importance like never before. This is the moment to define your brand. What do you stand for? What are you known for? What are your brand values and why do you do the things that you do?
Answering these questions can help trainers identify their brands. Once you define your brand, stay on message: Ensure that everything you put out in the world is a direct reflection of this articulation.
Communicating With Stakeholders
As a business owner, the worst thing you can do is give your vendors and staff the silent treatment. Ignoring your problems will not make them go away.
Many small businesses across the country are suffering through the coronavirus pandemic. Those with a brick and mortar presence and staff are dealing with matters like deferring bills and furloughing or laying off workers. Proactive communication, while stressful, can actually make the situation better.
Can’t pay your bills? Reach out to your landlord or vendors to work out a payment deferment plan. Companies understand the unique nature of this crisis, and most will work with you.
Did you furlough your team? Consider sending your staff a weekly update about what you’re doing in your effort to re-open, and any timeline updates you may have. Those communications can also include unemployment resources they can lean on in your community. Even if you’re unable to re-hire your full staff, those good faith efforts foster loyalty and buoy your reputation within the community.
Most importantly, stay in touch with the people who pay you: the clients. TRX Training St. Augustine owner Chris Cygul believes the eventual re-openings will present an opportunity for gyms to solidify their client base. “I think there will be more loyalty in some ways—especially if you make those things a priority. People will still do ClassPass, but they’ll be sticking to maybe three, instead of six, places in order to limit their exposure,” he said.
In his own business, Cygul began signaling his commitment to cleanliness and safety in the gym by posting photos on social media showing how the gym was being cleaned in preparation for re-opening, and how classes would be arranged to ensure physical distancing.“[Clients are] going to be more conscious about the studio’s policy on cleanliness and virus spreading and social distancing, etc.,” Cygul predicted.
Regardless of what type of business you own, there are certain things you must communicate during a volatile time: how you’re ensuring client safety and satisfaction, how you’re prioritizing your clients’ needs and concerns, and how you plan to meet your financial obligations. If you’ve been slipping in any of those areas, now is the time to get back on track.
Want more business insight from TRX professionals? Check out the TRX Roundtable Series —presented via Zoom— every Monday. You can watch previous Roundtables and sign up for future ones here.