The last year and a half has forced the majority of us in the fitness industry to reevaluate, and perhaps question, our career. We have seen countless facilities close their doors and personal trainers give up their business to pursue other careers. Many of us who have been able to overcome the challenges forced upon us throughout the pandemic had to reinvent ourselves.
We learned how to do virtual training through ZOOM and FaceTime, we conducted exercise sessions outdoors, we even changed our focus to include medical conditions and special populations as COVID took, and continues to take, the lives of friends and family. We realized that the immune system plays a critical role in protecting us from disease and turned toward medical fitness as a new path.
Let Inspiration Choose Your Path
I realized that this may not be your story or your path, but I hope that I will be able to pique your interest in working with clients that that may never have been an option previously. Keep in mind that there are hundreds of thousands of personal trainers, some more qualified than others, and they are all competing for the same client base, whether it’s losing weight for a wedding, getting fit for summer, competing for an athletic event or improving sports performance.
This was me for the first 10 years of my personal training career, but it was my mother's battle with breast cancer that prompted me to specialize in working with cancer patients. I realize that this is not in everybody's wheelhouse, but I want you to think about the people in your life that have diabetes, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's, arthritis or any combination. Do you know how to safely and effectively train that person?
Now think about the fact that there are 76 million baby boomers, and that they make up one of the largest populations in the world. Maybe you're not interested in working with “old people.” it doesn't sound fun, it doesn't sound exciting; in fact, it may be downright boring. Maybe you're only interested in working with “pretty/ fit” people; they will get old and perhaps have the disease, too!
Set Yourself Apart in a Niche Market
There are many specialty certifications available today that range from sports training to alcohol recovery to maternity to baby boomers and everything in between. Why should you consider expanding your clientele to include one or more niche markets? Ask yourself why someone should hire you? What is your skill set? What is your formal education? What separates you from the other hundreds of thousands of fitness professionals?
Many of you may find it difficult to answer these questions. Now, more than ever, you have to have something that sets you apart from everybody else. The global conscience has been awakened this past year and a half to the importance of a strong body and mind in fighting disease. This is a perfect opportunity for you to capitalize on the need for specialized training that goes beyond just aesthetics.
Some points to consider:
There are 50 million cancer survivors worldwide. Studies have consistently demonstrated that exercise, proper nutrition, quality sleep and stress management are directly related to certain cancer diagnosis.
There are nearly 500 million people living with diabetes worldwide with type 2 diabetes making up about 90% of the cases. Exercise, diet and lifestyle habits are directly linked to type 2 diabetes.
By 2030, only 38.8% of the global population will be 24 years old or younger, down from 41% in 2020. They are at high risk for arthritis, obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, dementia, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, falls and Parkinson's and they constitute 77% of discretionary wealth and purchase 45% of all consumer goods.
Remember That NEED = OPPORTUNITY
The number one objective for selling fitness programs is MONEY!
“Boomers don’t want to just spend money on things they need; They have the dollars and the desire to splurge on the things they truly want.” – Bloomberg (Sept 17, 2013)
If you consider the aging population, their increased risk for disease, and the fact that they are the leaders in discretionary wealth worldwide, I hope you see the connection here. They have the need, the desire, the time, and the means to pay you for your services. While the rest of the population is working 40 to 60 hours a week, and your schedule is empty during the day, this population is ready willing and able to fill your schedule!
The next step for you is to decide what type of training you will pursue. The aging population is the umbrella, but there are so many subspecialties underneath the umbrella. You might choose to become a Cancer Exercise Specialist® because several of your clients have cancer, a family member has cancer or perhaps you have dealt with a cancer diagnosis personally. Perhaps diabetes runs in your family and you're interested in learning more about becoming a diabetes exercise specialist. Or maybe you would like to become a Functional Aging Specialist and be able to work with the aging population in general. If you think that your general personal training certification is enough to protect you and your clients to work with these populations, think again. There are complexities that you can't even begin to imagine and without understanding these, you put yourself and your client at risk.
If this last year and a half has taught us anything, it should be that necessity is the mother of all inventions. You have the choice to either sink or swim. Despite the challenges, The Cancer Exercise Training Institute had an amazing fiscal year in 2020, and so far in 2021, because we adapted to the changes imposed by COVID, and the need for virtual training. The elderly, cancer patients and other populations with compromised immune systems need your help more than ever. They have been confined to their homes through lockdown and/or fear. They are missing out on socialization and the mental and physical health benefits of exercise.
You have an opportunity to reinvent yourself, to be the best version of your professional self, and to help those that are truly in need. Take some time to explore the certifications that are available and decide the direction that you want to go. Now is the perfect time, while your client load is light, and you are confined to your geographic location, to raise the bar in your career. I can guarantee you, with the utmost certainty, that you will not regret this move. Not only will you have a more robust and financially rewarding business, but when you look at the lives that you truly impact, you will have a renewed sense of value and self-worth in your career.
In closing, I just want to say that you are not limited to the aging population, or those with disease, but medical fitness is truly the trend of the future. Another area that you may want to explore is working with children. Parents will always put their children first and come up with the funds needed to improve the mental and physical well-being of their children. This can include sports performance, eating disorders and/or mental health.
Whichever direction you choose, just be the best that you can possibly be. Get the necessary education so that you can provide a safe haven for those who seek to hire you.