Attracting the 88%

A figure commonly quoted within the fitness industry is that only 12% of the UK population are members of health clubs. Increase this slightly for those engaging the services of personal trainers (but only slightly – consider how many clients a typical personal trainer has compared to the number of members of your local health club) and you might spot a small gap in the market. A small gap that equates to 88% of the UK population, or 53 million people!

The key to tapping into this disengaged population is to identify what makes these people tick, and then consider the services you might offer to appeal to these potential clients. Many instructors coming into the fitness industry do so because of their love of exercise; they enjoy exercise and want to share that experience with others. Read that last sentence carefully, though, and you’ll spot there are two possible interpretations: does “experience” mean ‘the same types of exercise that the instructor enjoys’ or does it mean ‘the sensations and emotions that are stimulated by the exercise, how exercise makes the instructor feel’?

Appreciating the difference can make a huge difference to our success within the industry. Successful fitness professionals ensure the plan fits the client, listening to what the client really wants and enjoys, and then proposing a programme that ensures they get what they need. Listen superficially and you’ll hear “I want to lose weight” or “I want to be fitter”. Ask your (potential) client how they want to feel about exercise and you might start to hear “I want to enjoy doing it” or “I want to look forward to coming to the session”. Delve further, and you’ll often hear “I want to meet other people” or, very commonly, “I do enjoy exercise, I just can’t face coming to the gym”.

Our industry is not the only option for the disengaged many to be more physically active. Think about the people you know who regularly exercise in one way or another and the chances are their activity focuses on something other than, or in addition to, gym work – cycling, yoga, playing football or walking, for example. (A Mintel survey conducted in 2004 reported that 1/3 of UK adults would rather exercise outdoors and 70% regarded walking as their preferred method of exercise. Returning to the idea of spotting a gap in the market, this equates to 14 million UK adults!)

As the UK originators of Nordic walking, Nordic Walking UK ( has created a class structure around walking exercise. Yes, Nordic walking burns up to 40% more calories than ordinary walking and is a total body workout (akin to the cross-trainer in the gym), but this is only a small part of Nordic Walking UK instructors’ success with their clients. Nordic Walking UK won the 2014 UK Active Flame Award for its outdoor exercise delivery because it focuses very much on ‘selling’ the client what they want (social – often very chatty – outdoor interaction) while delivering what the client needs (progressive exercise that can be performed at the level that’s right for the client while bringing measureable results).

So, consider what’s going to really inspire your clients to look forward to their exercise, and then offer solutions so clients get to do what they really enjoy … and get fitter and lose weight along the way.

If you’re interested in Nordic Walking UK instructor training, setting up your own Nordic walking business or bringing Nordic walking to your club, call 01392 956856.

Alternatively if you're keen to become a personal trainer with Lifetime take a look at our courses or give us a call on 0870 120 1207 (option 3).

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