Nik Hanley & Ant Park: How to Add More Value to Your PT Offerings?

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“You’re going to have PTs across the industry now, compared to last year, with a business that’s probably a hundred times better because of that distance product — the online product, the support they give, the communication, the active listening — all of that is going to be huge to take back into their gyms.”

 

Welcome to the second series of mPowered! We are dedicating the next couple of episodes exclusively on The Future of Personal Training. In this episode, we’ll be talking about how PTs can scale up their offerings to deliver more value to members.

With over 30+ years combined as personal trainers, today they manage hundreds of PTs as the National PT Managers for Pure Gym. We welcome two absolute fitness legends, Nik Hanley and Ant Park, to talk about their own PT Mentor Academy and how trainers can begin to add more value to their offerings.

Listen to the full episode now:

We have more personal training insights in our next episode with Paul Swainson, Research & Development Manager at Future Fit Training where we will be talking about how educators are helping develop the PTs of the future.

Discover more mPowered episodes on Spotify or Apple Podcasts, click on the icons below to browse and subscribe.

 

. . .

Read the full transcript below:

Craig McNeill: [00:00:00] Okay guys, welcome to mPowered I’m your host Craig McNeill, and I’m with our cohost Jack Malin for this series. How are you doing Jack?
Jack Malin: [00:00:09] Yeah good thanks mate, how are you?
Craig McNeill: [00:00:11] Really good. I’m excited. We’ve got two legends with us today Jack we’ve got Ant Park and Nick Hanley, who are the national PT support guys at PureGym and also run their own PT Mentor Academy alongside.
So they’re busy chaps fully submerged into PT, live and breathe it. They’ve walked the walk as well. So they don’t just talk a good thing. They they’ve, they’ve got really good practices behind them, whether they’ve done it themselves and been very successful. So, Ant, Nick, how are you guys?
Ant Park: [00:00:40] Very very good
Nick Hanley: [00:00:41] Yeah. Good. Thank you.
Craig McNeill: [00:00:42] Do you like my intro?
I’ve been practicing that for ages for you two, 
Ant Park: [00:00:46] Yeah. You’ve done alright there. You’ve done alright you didn’t say pivot. You didn’t call us a different name for the brand name of the Academy, you’ve done well.
Jack Malin: [00:00:55] You’re a legend, as requested.
Ant Park: [00:00:56] You’re a legend, yeah. Despite the fact that everyone just throws that word away for no reason these days, but yeah, I’ll take it anyway.
Jack Malin: [00:01:04] It’s a good start. Good start that Craig, five out of five. 
Craig McNeill: [00:01:07] Excellent, that’s what I like to like to say. So Nick, I’m going to go to the, I’m going to come to you as the best one out of the two first. Um, give us a little bit more background of Nick Hanley and most importantly, an interesting fact?
Nick Hanley: [00:01:20] Background? Been er, industry, PT industry for forever. It’s the only thing I’ve ever done. So started out like a lot of other trainers in small little gyms, doing fitness testing and doing pool tests and all that interesting stuff. And, um, took a little bit, bit different route to, I would say a lot of PTs. I traveled a lot. Spent about a year or so in the UK, once I was qualified, then, uh, always wanted to travel, but still wanted to work, so I went off on cruise ships for about four years, four and a half years, something like that. Um, worked as a fitness director and, you know, traveled the world and, and gained loads of cool experiences and, and whatnot. And then came back to the UK, uh, was self-employed. And I was self-employed on the ships as well, I was kind of tendered in then obviously meeting lots of different people from different places whilst being on the cruise ships, I got a bit of a, a niggle to go to Australia and that side of the world.
So I buggered off there. So I went over, over, over to Oz, worked as a PT in lots of variety of different gyms, very different over there than it was here. Here. It was. You either work in a leisure center or you work in a Fitness First or an LA Fitness or, or whatnot over there. Lots of small, independent gyms, boutique gyms were very big over there.
So I was there for about another four years or so. Came back, did bits and bobs self-employed and then found PureGym about just over 10 years ago. Now. Can’t believe that just over 10 years ago and basically thought, right, I can go in and can be a manager. And I can PT all day because the model was extremely different back then. You didn’t have classes, you didn’t have functional areas, you didn’t have anything. It was just literally gym, kit, 24 hours and that was it. But then obviously that turned into lots of PTs coming in, not knowing what to do, transitioning those kinds of coaching skills that I had developed over the, over the years, we work working with general population, helping them to lose body fat performance and whatnot, and just transition those coaching skills into, uh, helping the PT, build a business.
And then we’ve been doing this full time, more than full time, for the past, six years? So, yeah, that’s, that’s kind of me in a nutshell. An interesting fact? Not many people might not find it interesting, but I trained a couple of celebrities on the cruise ship, some old eighties pop singers, Gloria Estefan and, uh, Belinda Carlisle. Right, that’s me.
Jack Malin: [00:03:56] Good man
Craig McNeill: [00:03:58] Nice, it just shows that the fitness industry gives you these opportunities that you can go and travel and do a job as well. It’s pretty amazing isn’t it? Ant? Follow that one. 
Ant Park: [00:04:09] I’ll do a shorter version, mate. Been in the industry for about 17, 18 years and started out as the norm, I think the good route, which is the fitness consultant on the gym floor doing inductions, machine work and all of that type of stuff, cleaning machines and, all of that stuff that you do when you get that job within Fitness First. I combined that with like a coaching role, so spent a lot of time kind of working in youth sport. And that was the route I always wanted to kind of go down really just to stay in kind of working with youth sport coaching, and then go into kind of strength, conditioning and look into teamwork and stuff like that. And then the Sport England funding got cut for that. So it kind of threw me in the deep end to become a personal trainer. So I personal trained within Fitness First for eight years, within two different Fitness Firsts for eight years, done a bit of fitness manager work as well at the same time as that, qualified as an S&C coach, started to work with, um, some athletes, so worked with a few MMA athletes, but quite a bit of rugby league athletes as well, within a private facility, so I’ve done the private facility thing. And in the process of that, actually worked with Jack on building courses for Fitness First. So, whether they were business courses. I wrote lots of content for them, uh, for their members as well. So like programming for their members, they used to have cards that they put on reception and all of that.
I actually really enjoy that type of work. Me and Jack used to deliver that business courses, s’like proper Ant and Dec. Yeah. So delivered a bit of that. I’ve got quite a good passion for that and I never thought I would to be fair, um, started writing some courses myself took one of them to PureGym and I was like, I want to come over here and develop and support your PTs. They basically said, because at that point, there were only about four or five gyms, PureGym, I thought, right, let’s get them whilst they’re growing. So I knew someone in there. And I was like, let me put me in front of someone who will listen in regards to PT support and education, sat down with them and they were like, right, well, this is all well and good. But right now we’ve only got. Can’t remember how many gyms they had at the time, let’s say 10, 11, go and prove your worth with a group of PTs in a gym that Jack actually used to manage out of as well. Um, which was the Gorton gym, actually. It’s lovely people, great people.
And I loved every minute of that. I never thought I would. I didn’t want to manage a facility apart from managing my own. Um, I never seen that side of it as something I wanted to do because I always seen it as kind of health club management. And I was not down for that. I just wanted to. Concentrate on the, on the kind of personal training side of it, the coaching element and so on.
Um, and the way I’ve seen it was similar to what Nick’s just said. You basically transfer the main elements of coaching, what you do with general population, or you do with athletes. And you use that with personal trainers. Coaching is coaching, isn’t it. And I really enjoyed that. Like, I absolutely loved a) proving a point that the support would work,    and b) just being in a team of coaches that were coming to a gym, that actually was a really deprived area, has a low uptake of PT but then have a team that was really thriving off the back of the support and so on. So yeah, really enjoyable time, I never thought it would be. And then that took me, we proved our worth a little bit, and that took us to writing course development and education support for PureGym for the past, like Nick’s just said, the past six years and that’s now, like I’m happy to say it and blow smoke up our arse, but that’s by far the best support structure there is across Europe, from what we know of from a, from a commercial gym perspective right now, because the amount of support the PureGym PTs get is incredible.
Jack Malin: [00:07:30] It’s awesome    isn’t it, I think that’s, that’s a massive journey from where I guess like Nick’s had at PureGym at the start where it was a case of let’s just throw all the PTs on the gym floor, it was a case of how many can you get in? And there were so many members that PTs were probably successful based, purely on volume and, the reality is the market’s become so much more competitive since.
Nick Hanley: [00:07:48] It’s almost a bit of a product of its own success in a way. So I wouldn’t say it’s not competitive in the slightest, in my opinion, it’s just the ratio of members to client to trainers is just unreal. But back like 15 years ago, it would have been great to have 50, to a hundred members per trainer.
That would have been insane, you’re talking on average 500, and that’s in saturated members as well. So it’s almost a bit of a product of its own success. Yeah. Because like you say, people do come to the PTs, but then that’s that, you’ve got to rest on your laurels a little bit and get comfortable with that scenario then.
And you don’t have that habits and practice, which you need, no matter how many members you’ve got in front of you day in and day out to sustain a business that you want. So, yeah, it’s a bit of a, it’s a double-edged sword in a bit, in a way, but yeah, it’s interesting to kind of compare the, the two different kind of, I would say generations of PTs from, from the different models that were available, uh, obviously Pure and the Gym Group bringing in volume of members available just changed things a little bit. I think. You know, 10, 20, 30, 40 people a day would join every day of the year, you know, in, uh, uh, I remember I did a small stint with Esporta before they got bought out by Virgin when I came back from Oz. 50 people a month would have been a fantastic month. You know what I mean?
Like new 50 new members a month. It would have been insane, some days you’re getting that, you’re getting that in a day in 24 hours. So yeah, it’s a big change. Big change. 
Craig McNeill: [00:09:22] Definitely. Um, Ant, you said that was a short version. So give us, uh, give us your interesting fact, if you can mate?
Ant Park: [00:09:29] Sorry mate, my interesting fact is that Jack once came to me for a job.
Jack Malin: [00:09:35] I knew this was going to be your interesting fact.
Ant Park: [00:09:40] No, this is not, this is an interesting fact. This young lad came to me for a job one day. Um, he was more bothered about the mirrors in the gym and the angles that they were at, than really the, the actual job itself. And,
Jack Malin: [00:09:56] Can you sense the jealousy ain his voice here!?
Ant Park: [00:09:58] As I walks around the gym. Um, and yeah, walked him through the gym, I just didn’t get a good vibe from him, so I actually turned Jack down for a job. So, yeah. Um, that’s an interesting fact that I had to share with people. He kind of loved, he loved himself more than the role basically Craig. 
Jack Malin: [00:10:14] I said, I said to you the other day it wasn’t, he didn’t turn me down. It was like, when you go on a, you go on an average date and then neither of you text each other so you presume the other person’s not interested and it gets too long then it becomes this awkward thing where you can’t text.
Ant Park: [00:10:29] What it was is, we were very close PT team and all the other PTs were like, you’re not letting that self-obsessed idiot come into our team are you? So I couldn’t let it happen Craig, I couldn’t upset the Apple cart and the team to be fair. So I chose not to.
Jack Malin: [00:10:43] No-one’s bigger than, no one PT’s bigger than the team eh Ant ?
Ant Park: [00:10:46] That’s the one yeah.
Craig McNeill: [00:10:49] Brilliant. So…
Jack Malin: [00:10:50] We’re ten minutes in and that’s come up – that’s what I thought!!
Craig McNeill: [00:10:56] Right chaps, come on. Let’s get, let’s get into the detail in terms of what I want to ask you guys first and foremost is over the last 12 months. And from your expertise from the last, well, Nick has been working since the 1980s, Ant from the early two thousands.
Well, what’s your thoughts in terms of what are the opportunities now? Let’s, let’s look positively of. It is what it is. We’re in 2021, PTs may have been working through habits. Obviously they’re jumping on the back of what you just mentioned about. W w we’ve now got super gyms. We’ve got online sign ups up members are just literally signing up to to new gyms in hundreds and thousands.
And that means we’ve got different challenges in good ways. What’s your thoughts about the examples of how PTs have needed to change in providing services, and what has that meant for them? And most importantly, the clients, you know, let’s, let’s    look at the clients at the end of the day in terms of how different clients are we now reaching out as a possibility of, of what’s happened in this new dawn of looking outside of our gyms, as well as in the gyms. 
Ant Park: [00:12:02] I think it’s been, I’ll just kind of start, I’ll let Nick fill in the gaps. I think I said it at the very start at this point last year, we kind of looked at it and gone, right.
Obviously, once you react to the situation and see what’s what was going on and what was evolving over time, we kind of sat down and was like, well, actually, as bad as this may sound, this could be a massive blessing for the majority for a lot of the industry. And especially for a lot of personal trainers.
And I said that in a sense of, at that point, we were battling, right I’ll be truthful on this, battling against personal trainers across the industry, not just from within PureGym, in a sense of just exchanging time for money, and expecting that to be good enough for the average member of the gym, to be able to be accountable and therefore stay within the business and get results.
So there were solely exchanging time for money. Um, there was very much a blame culture in a sense of if the clients wasn’t getting results, it was very much the client’s fault, not the PTs fault. And I think what’s ha what happened was literally overnight over a matter of months, personal trainers who were just exchanging time for money, had to switch on this online kind of product that supported their client from a distance.
They started to realize how important it was to have the fundamental skills as a coach, which is to be an amazing communicator and an amazing listener. And I think they are forgotten about from a lot of personal trainers. It’s not really something that a lot of people coaches on courses and all of that type of stuff.
So it would come fundamental that they supported their clients away from the sessions and kind of switched on this online slash hybrid model. And obviously overnight, you brought in remote PT, which was this Zoom kind of coaching, um, one-to-one and all of that. So essentially what I’m getting at is from a positive way, like you’re going to have personal trainers across the industry now, compared to where they was at this point last year, if they’ve managed to survive to have a business, that’s probably a hundred times better because of that distance product, because of the online product, because of the support they give, the communication, the active listening, all of that is, is going to be huge to take back into their gyms.
Jack Malin: [00:14:12] Do you see it like, well you’ve    mentioned the word hybrid already, do you see, do you see it as like their online tools they’re using are now supporting their face to face customers better. So it’s a case of rather than paying me 30 quid an hour, you’re you, you market that as 30 quid a week and you get an hour of my time and you get the support outside or do you see it more, or do you see any of them having kind of sole online products where it’s whatever 30, 40, 50 quid a month and you’d get purely my, my time online?
Ant Park: [00:14:38] Well a mixture of everything you just said in the sense of like the way personal trainers were were when I said exchanging time for money to put it in context before is if they were training one person, one session a week, their hourly rate was upon an hour. They, they still, some great personal trainers still incorporate the support away from the client, which was the check-in the nutrition information, the client group, the recipe, all of that stuff.
They still, they never charged for it. They never charged for it. So now you’ve got this package, this service that crosses over against you’ve got an online product where they don’t see you’ve got hybrid product where they see them, maybe once a month, you’ve got face-to-face. So they’ve got multiple products and options.
Whereas before it was very much, one dimensional 
Jack Malin: [00:15:18] That’s where the industry surely has to be where PTs PTs have have multiple products. And that’s one of the biggest challenges we’ve had over the well over the last 10 years, particularly, is that PTs previously pre pre pandemic, or pre-technology had one product that was premium price and therefore 5% of people take it.
And 95% of people can’t or don’t justify the investment in PT and therefore don’t get support from the trainers. And then we wonder why we churn our whole membership base as an industry. And I think with digital, it gives them that option to have different ways of supporting more members    doesn’t it. And wherever that is, you just need a program and you can get it online, wherever it is, you do need that face-to-face motivation. It starts to, we start to have much much more sustainable PT products when they can get to that point. It’s just that the challenge is whether have they got the skills to do that? Can they just transfer? You go on a premiere PT course. You learn how to be a PT. It’s all about standing next year.
And then suddenly overnight, they have to shift that online and still get results. Maybe not as good results with the same results, because they’re not charging the same amount of money, but. How do they then flip that business completely online and take away all that face-to-face element. And has that been successful for them, have they seen, is it kind of.    Has it really got results.?
Nick Hanley: [00:16:33] I think it’s been a harsh reality. Forget the fitness side. I don’t want to say, yeah, I’m going to say it’s been very easy for a lot of trainers over the last 10 years for the reasons we pointed out previously. I think whether it’s online, whether it’s face-to-face, whether it’s a blended approach, whether you label that hybrid, whether you label that online coaching, whatever you want to label it as effectively, I think it’s forced the good trainers. If they didn’t do before, didn’t have value of delivering their service in just a different way. It certainly has made them have to do it now. And. Has it been successful for a lot of people like wildly successful in, in, we know we’ve spoken to, I mean, obviously hundreds and probably thouands of PTs over the last year, like directly and a lot, you know, there’s a certain high percentage that, you know, I’ve got this online service I’m delivering now.
My clients love it. I love it. And I’m not, I don’t need to go back to the gym, so I’m not going to anymore where then you’ve got another, another pool and segments of the industry, which are like, actually, this has enabled me to claw some time back. So I don’t have to get to 60 hours in the gym to earn the same money.
So I’m going to go back in a blended approach. And some people that have essentially stopped PTing when lockdown happened and will start PTing when lock down lifts are just going to always be just, face-to-face a bit of a one dimensional approach, which is. You know, you could say it’s right or wrong, but that’s what they want to do.
It’s their business. They’re happy doing it. They’re passionate about it. But you know, when it comes to diversifying and adapting, instead of pivoting, um, you know, they’re going to call in a bit of a situation. And it’s funny because in the courses me and Ant run for the past five-year pre lockdown, question we always used to ask every single session is what if 50% of your clients leave you tomorrow? And it was a bit of an arbitrary thing to try and trigger people but then it actually happened when the gym’s closed and, and I think it’s that it’s forced people to look at it as a business and be very much more client centered, versus I love being in the gym and love training people. And I can train people around how I train and blah, blah, blah. So yes, in a lot of ways, but then there’s a big spectrum of variants between all that I think. 
Jack Malin: [00:19:00] And that first group, you mentioned this the other day when we we’re chatting, the one I can’t get my head round, so that you’ve generally spoken to loads of PTs that aren’t coming back to the gym?
Nick Hanley: [00:19:09] Yeah. Yeah. It it’s from a perspective of, you know, a lot of. A lot of people have now kind of gone well, uh, I wanted to do this online    thing that I kept hearing about for a couple years. But I think because they’ve been forced into that and actually their clients now have been able to fit in more volume, more frequency, been more convenient for them.
They can work around things easier. The PT doesn’t have to get up at 6:00 AM and travel into the gym. You know, they’ve got more freedom around that. So for a lot of people, not everybody, for a lot of people, it it’s, it’s worked out on both sides. Whether that, then this is my kind of question up in the air a little bit, I expect more so on remote coaching.
Um, when people have got a business full of remote coaching, is that going to be sustainable throughout? It could be. I think once the gyms open up, people feel safe. Everyone’s vaccinated, all that kind of stuff. I think that might be. That pool of people might get a little bit smaller, but I think it’s still a viable business model,    yeah?
Jack Malin: [00:20:15] And it’s interesting ’cause right, we, we run a digital fitness company, so we should be advocates of this, but I still struggle to see that we get back to a place where personal trainers who ran self-employed PT businesses in health clubs end up completely running their business from their bedroom training people online.
And I think we’re still in this position where people are still locked down aren’t they, people are work from home. People have, people are still kind of conscious that they can’t go out and about? It’ll be really interested to see in six months time, whether there are, we are still back in a position where people are running truly, and you’re always gonna have to kind of the odd exception that people that grow businesses all over the world, coaching people online and stuff like that.
But yeah. The vast majority of PTs, you’ve got to think end up with some face-to-face contact, wherever that ends up being more studios, but members will get back in gyms.
Nick Hanley: [00:21:01] Yeah. And there will be the a hundred percent will be. I think what you’ll probably find is that those people who are doing a large amount of remote sessions, now, like during lockdown, like you said, cause it’s for, we’ve been forced to, I think that will naturally transition into probably a little bit more hands-off like more, a bit of a more online coaching, maybe group online offerings, et cetera. So I think that we’ll go through progressions again over the next kind of 12 months or so, but the, the industry going to have a lot more people that, a lot more trainers that actually don’t work out of a gym, out of this pandemic. Definitely.
Craig McNeill: [00:21:36] And over the years, I’ve kind of witnessed people when they come into the fitness industry, they jump onto a PT course, maybe in the wrong way, and actually group exercise is their passion is their love and actually their sweet spot. So there’s, there’s been, there’s this divide where there’s been group exercise instructors, the very, very good ones. And then the PT, the one-to-one PTs, the very good ones, has this been the divide? Do you guys see that there’s going to be this divide of you kind of do the remote online PT, and then you have the face to face, or is there this new section in the middle where we’ve just been talking about there that and I’ll get the words in where all PTs need to pivot to become a hybrid PT, two big words there Ant in one sentence, do you like that, see what I did? So is there, is there that space or are we going to see the same split more and more?
Ant Park: [00:22:27] I think it’s difficult to say. Um, see, I’m sat here, when Nick said, with regards to, obviously you’re going to have an influx of personal trainers who are going to do more of an online and hybrid?
Absolutely. But I also think there’s going to be a bigger appetite and this is just my personal opinion to be a personal trainer. And when someone comes into the industry now, they are more aware of an online hybrid type of model than they were a year ago, because I think we’re going to have, and again, I’m just looking at stats and look starting to look at the data of kind of people coming back and wanting to come back and the appetite for it.
I think there’s going to be a huge appetite for fitness. I think there’s going to be a huge appetite for them to get, um, for people to become more health focused. That means then it goes hand in hand with gyms. So therefore I still think there’s going to be a huge appetite for gym floor PT, but I also think, and include including class instructors.
I also think there is an opportunity for them still to have a digital product or a hybrid or an online. I think that will just become part and parcel. Whereas this time, last year, if you were coming into the industry, you are coming into the industry, it’s a one-to-one face-to-face PT. Or if you like group exercise, you go and smash a lot of the Les Mills and then go and teach that.
The difficult thing with that is that obviously a lot of group-ex. People have then have to also adapt and then move online. Um, so it’s the same, it’ll be the same for them, they’re just going to, the group-ex, you look at group-ex instructors are the stalwarts of, kind of the, the health club industry, where they go around different health clubs and different gyms and so on.
And they teach the way the Les Mills classes or whatever classes that relate to. They didn’t know any different. Now they can run an online product and get paid per month from an audience that can do it in their front room. Well, that’s huge for them, isn’t it?
Craig McNeill: [00:24:15] Yeah. 
Jack Malin: [00:24:16] Yeah, you touched a really interesting point as well, I think it’s like, it’s just going to be the norm now. Isn’t it? I think if we’d had, if we’d have had this for the first lockdown and then the world had got back to normal after two or three months, I think that the huge rise of digital fitness would have just been seen as a kind of pandemic fad. It’s now ingrained into what consumers are expecting. And I always joke about it.
My mum, my mum’s 65 and she’s doing online pilates classes at the moment and still wants to go back to the gym, but will carry on doing her online pilates classes. And I think it’s now the consumers are expecting it and you’re right, PTs, but we’ll just be the norm. And it’d be interesting to see how, I guess, education PT education changes, because that’s surely where that’s got to start.
If PTs are coming to the industry fresh, they’ve surely got to be educated now on how digital fits into that. So that they’re still seen as. Kind of beacons of knowledge within gyms rather than members knowing more about digital than them.
Craig McNeill: [00:25:14] Yeah. So Nick, I want to come to you with, with our next question, in terms of jumping on what Jack’s just alluded to there, how, how do we now provide the tools and the information for the PTs to be successful within those different streams of revenue compared to where we were two years ago?    Obviously you guys have, have spent the last six years working on. On tools to provide to the PTs. What, what are you guys doing to, to change those tools? 
Nick Hanley: [00:25:43] I think adapting to the market like PTs have, I mean, obviously we spent four years traveling the UK and, you know, getting people in conference rooms and whatnot to deliver the courses and obviously that was taken away 12 months ago. So we had to adapt everything and provide everything online and whatnot, but so yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s definitely meeting the market where they’re at, a hundred percent, it’s definitely giving them what they want, but absolutely making sure they get what they need as well, because what they want a lot of the time isn’t actually, what’s going to be productive and keeps them ultimately the business that they want, they want.
Um, so I think it’s, it’s very much about diversifying how, how you deliver the content. It’s a hundred percent like any type of selling or service. It’s building the relationships. It’s building the value behind that. It’s triggering the hell out of them because they’re very proud and some could say egotistical sometimes.
Um, so…
Jack Malin: [00:26:41] No way, no, PTs aren’t-
Nick Hanley: [00:26:45] It’s been known, a few, now and again, it’s been thrown around. So, yeah, I think it’s, I think it’s the same as just meeting the market where they’re at, but like, I remember when you were asking that question, me and Jack and Ant and used to have some meetings back in the day. Like I think that was like three years ago was it, about three years ago?
Jack Malin: [00:27:06] Yeah, it I was gonna. I was gonna bring this up t’cause I, three maybe even maybe in four years ago?
Nick Hanley: [00:27:12] Yeah, cause then there was one, there was only one very newly released. Uh, course to teach, train as hard to post online or how to build an online business. There was one because we were kind of battering ideas around doing one.
Now, now there’s hundreds. If not thousands. Yeah. It’s just gone crazy because there’s, they’ve seen this little thing over here and look at all the kind of frustrations that typically PTs go through. It’s long hours. It’s getting up early. It’s. If you’re not a passionate PT, it’s doing the same sessions for 12 people, 10 people, eight people in a row.
And then this online thing means we don’t have to get up early. We don’t have to put as much work in w’ere we’re location independent. It’s all of that kind of passive income dream. And so, again, it’s just meeting the market. 
Craig McNeill: [00:28:03] There’s a, there’s a frenzy at the moment and that goes from PTs to, to gyms that for some reason, all gyms have got to do everything. They’ve got to be online, offline. They’ve got to, they’ve got to provide the best classes in the area. We’ve got to provide the best gyms floor space, the best spa facilities. Are you seeing the same frienzy in PT? They feel like they have to be online or is there more of a confidence around PTs that they know their own space and what they’re good at, and actually still own what they’re good at?
Nick Hanley: [00:28:39] I think with the ones that have been in the industry and got sustainable business and responded to the scenario to the situation 12 months ago, rather than reacting to the situation 12 months ago, they will know their space. They will probably have diversified, not down to a, a need, but probably more recognized as a bit of a market here and actually, I’ve got a bit more time to do the things, to set me up on that. I think when newer PTs come into the industry or, you know, PTs within the first two years. They’re just confused and you’re constantly confused as a new PT, cause you don’t know what right is what wrong is because there’s a million different voices going, you should do that.
You should do this. You shouldn’t do this. So I think there’s a bit of a spectrum, but I think definitely feel the newer PT or the lesser experienced PT. When I say that I don’t mean brand new, maybe within the first two. Two three years. There’s a lot of confusion around what should I do? What shouldn’t I do sh I should really go online because I can see everybody else kind of putting out these free classes and using this software or, or whatnot.
So there’s a bit of a spectrum in my opinion. 
Jack Malin: [00:29:48] And the ones that are doing it well, um, or at least doing it and kind of make it part of their business, are the majority of them kind of using software and apps that are on like, kind of the download and sort of rebrand as your own, or people just getting scrappy with it and still kind of creating PDF workouts and doing Zoom and like. How are you finding what are the successful ones doing? I guess from our listeners, if they speak, was I thinking, well, I want to get my PTs doing this. Or PTs are listenings going I want to get into kind of running a much more sort of hybrid or online model. How, how are the successful ones doing it?
Ant Park: [00:30:22] The majority are investing into an app now. So yeah, the majority of successful ones are a a hundred percent invested into an app. I think there’s always that level of apprehension to do it because they’re so used to, I don’t know, a Google form or an Excel document and all of that type of stuff. Some of them didn’t even do it beforehand so, um, the fact that they’ve gotten now, you can more or less leap into a client management system, uh, like some of the best apps that are out there for a small investment into their business.
It’s huge for them. It’s a massive time saver. It makes it for the consumer. It looks it’s easier. Like we talk about the convenience of. Um, you look at the problems from the personal trainers have, or hot now in regards to clients, not doing their training away from them or being, not being accountable or struggling with adherence or and so all of that type of stuff, the app really starts to solve all of them problems for, for the PT. As long as it’s been delivered clearly, um, from day one. So, yeah. And the majority of the good PTs are all on apps now. Um, and I’d strongly advise, like for that to happen. Yeah. I find it really strange.
You go into any other industry and it’s a startup, there’s some startup costs and don’t get me wrong. You’ve got a license fee and stuff like that in most commercial gyms. But you have some start up costs for your tools, for your business or for your equipment and all of that. PTs have winged it for years on free Excel and all of that.
And then wondered why their clients struggle to stay adherent to certain programming or whatever. We used to laugh. Well, I found my very first program the other day that I give my missus erm from like, I’m talking 11, 12 years ago and it had like, stick men on it. Like what, uh, how it drawn on the program.
Jack Malin: [00:32:01] Reps used to sell those, sell those booklets and you can re you get, you’re always stick man, and rip out the page and give it, give it to people. 
Ant Park: [00:32:07] Yeah. Yeah. So it’s brilliant for what they have now, the fact that they can also customize that, put their own videos on they can have their own branding on certain things.
Yeah. I think it’s just huge. It’s massive for the industry. And it’s massive for PTs from which the industry seems to be really pushing numbers, revenue, sales, marketing, and all of that. Let’s talk about the product and service and let’s nail that because that’s going to be the biggest retainer, right. For clients and members.
So yes, the majority of really good PTs are using software now. 
Jack Malin: [00:32:37] And you touched on it there, but we do as an industry or PTs specific specifically seem to be so scared about investing in anything that adds recurring cost to their business. But you’re talking, some of these products are 10 quid a month. 
Nick Hanley: [00:32:51] Yeah. It’s that mindset from being a trainer, I like being in the gym to I’m a business owner, business owners have costs. Businesses have costs but again, like the industry is so set up to make it really easy for PTs to come into the industry, you know, no fault of their own, but it’s, it’s just made it easy. It’s made it really simple. So when you goOh, this is 10 quid a month, this is 20 quid a month. How about, have you got any marketing budget? Per month to put into like ads or whatnot, what what’s, what’s a marketing budget, you know what I mean? It’s, it’s, it’s just that easy 
Craig McNeill: [00:33:26] Marketing budget? My course didn’t tell me about that!?
Jack Malin: [00:33:32] This was going to be, this was going to be easy, but, um, I think you touched on an interesting point that Nick, about kind of the mindset that the trainer’s in, and I think that the successful self-employed PTs, um, I guess there’s massive generalization, but I presume this is the same in PureGym, are the ones that come into it with the mindset that they’re running their business out of PureGym, and you’re there to support them in setting up their business rather than coming in and seeing it as, this is a job where I’m gonna work 40 hours a week, charge 30 pounds an hour and, and ride off into the sunset. And I think as soon as they’re in that mindset, then, like I said, paying 10 to 50 quid a month for software is an irrelevant cost if it’s going to help you scale your business. While it’s a job that you almost see it as just another expense that you shouldn’t, you don’t believe you should, you should have to come out of your own pocket. 
Nick Hanley: [00:34:17] Yeah. A hundred percent mate, a hundred percent. It’s a, I think it’s really difficult because we’re all in the industry.    Cause we, we. We either played sports in the past. We’re passionate about movement. We like helping people. We don’t want to sit behind a desk nine to five, which is ironic because most of us end up in that position, later down the career. Um, but it’s born out of passion, isn’t it? And that passion doesn’t often involve looking at business metrics and, and, uh, planning and having a business plan and, you know, Looking at what you need to do to take care of the tax responsibilities and all that kind of stuff, you know?
Yeah. It’s really challenging. It’s really challenging from, from all aspects, because if you come into this, as in, I’m a business owner, I operate my business from a PureGym, from a line perspective, from this versus I’m working out and working out of PureGym, and/or the Gym Group or whatever. And I expect almost like employee benefits and rights.
Like you should like the, the amount of comments we’ve had over the years I was in, or why don’t you give us clients, why don’t you give us leads? Why aren’t you doing that? Why aren’t you doing this? And it’s, it’s mind boggling to me because, and probably same as all you guys is that fit 10, 15 years ago.
You were dropped into a gym with 800 pound rent to pay at the end of it, whether you did one PT session or you did 200 and there’s Oh yeah, they’ll help you. Here’s a call list of all the new members of last month. Give them a shout. That was it. That was about, that was the level of support and help.
Jack Malin: [00:35:55] Exactly. And I’m not speaking from really recent knowledge, but surely some of these problems with that mindset starts with, I guess, the story they’re sold for their education process, because. When we worked at Fitness First, we had PTs turn up going, but I thought this was a guaranteed job and it’s, it’s not a job.
It’s not, it’s pushing my self-employed PT business out of the gym. And it’s kind of like a dream that sold and because PT is sexy, isn’t it? I mean, I wouldn’t look at Ant and say PT was sexy, but for the rest of us, you say PTs PTs sexy. It’s a fun job to be involved in, but the reality can be so different. If you come into it with that mindset that it’s just going to be really easy – walk around the gym following clients. 
Ant Park: [00:36:33] Yeah, I think, um, from that side of things, I think we can, all, I get bored at this point. And then you just kind of brought it up then, but as an industry, we’ve pointed the finger back at training providers for years, and it’s never changed and it’s probably never going to change.
Right. Don’t get me wrong. Like Craig said at the start and I know Craig, you’ve got your background is in this, but, you said at the start, the regards to, um, training providers, setting them up with the right, and maybe even adjusting their delivery now because of what’s happened,    and I think that’s going to happen.
It’s like, Premiere started to do that even before all of this happened anyway. Um, from what we know of, I think we’ve got to stop doing that. Yes. We’ve got to aim to improve the education in one way or another, but there’s still going to be an influx of people that just want to come here for a quick buck, short term gratification and all of that.
And I think shed the light. It’s probably controversial me saying this, but I think that the entry level into the industry nine times out of 10 is commercial gyms. So if anyone’s got to improve it’s it’s, in my opinion, it’s commercial gyms. When they take on personal trainers or when they hire personal trainers to make sure their expectations, are kind of met from the start in a sense of whatever you’ve been told on the course, and I know this has been limited now that a lot of people don’t say it, that you’re going to earn 30 to 40 grand in your first year. But actually it’s not saying that they’re not going to be, can’t do that. It’s just in most cases, that doesn’t happen. So when are you coming to the commercial gym? That commercial gym. It’s up to them in my opinion, to have the structure and the framework, knowing they’re going to bring in an influx of personal trainers to set them up to succeed, which is investing into personal trainers from day one, like the hiring process, even like the recruitment side of things, the hiring process going through like kind of understanding business plans, breakeven goals, profit goals, taking them into a bit of a coaching and mentorship and so on.
And that’s why we were so passionate about doing the role for PureGym and still are. And obviously we’ve got a PC Mentor Academy and stuff, and by that’s why we’re so passionate about it, because we seen that volume of PTs coming off courses, going into commercial gyms, doing the same old stuff, leaving after eight months and that can’t continue.
So commercial gyms have got to stand up a little bit and private facilities and go, am I honestly setting them up to succeed from day one and throughout their first two, three years. And the majority of commercial gyms don’t do that in my opinion. 
Craig McNeill: [00:38:52] Yes, it’s a great point Ant and it’s something that absolutely, we’ve all witnessed that the blame culture is there, isn’t it in terms of, well, we’ve got the wrong kind of skill set to begin with, or they’ve not been given the right information, but actually Gym’s, uh, Gym’s uh, have got to think about the member experience will have an impact on that.
What you’ve just said that, that cycle, what we sadly see over the last 10 years. The member experience will be harsh because the members need to see that same face and get confident with that same person. And actually, I wonder whether PT came about, because gyms wanted to earn more money from the rent from five, 10 PTs, or actually they understood that the member experience required someone to get more tailored, structured training. And I think it’s the latter, but we forgot about that because of the commercial side of it.
Ant Park: [00:39:43] Obviously they go hand in hand, fly up this always a commercial element to PT for a commercial gym and for a private facility, always going to be there. And these also like understandably, it’s hugely important for the, for the PTs then whether they’re self-employed or not to have a really good impact on the member experience within the gym. Like we’ve got it. They go hand, hand. But the thing for me is that, yeah, we’re quick to point the blame at new, er training providers at new personal trainers, not owanting it enough, not trying hard enough, not being in the building enough, but actually are, we setting them up with the right framework to be developed and supported, and I think there’s always been a, quite a gray area that, well, they’re self-employed, it’s not our opportunity to develop them. Um, it’s up to them to develop themselves and all of that type of stuff. And that was in my experience at Fitness First until they introduced the 
I think it was a bit later in our careers for me and Jack but the stuff that they introduced. So yeah, I think don’t get me wrong. This is not me slagging every single commercial gym and so on, but I’m thinking in my, in my opinion, from what we’ve seen, like there is not that I suppose, that PT journey that the majority of the PTs need to then help them to be consistent, sustainable, and flourish going forward to whatever it is that they want to do.
And if we’re going to improve the average of the average lifespan of a PT within commercial gyms or within the industry, That entry level has to be a focus on that now more than ever. Yeah, 
Jack Malin: [00:41:07] And it can be mutually beneficial right can’t it? If, if the PTs get the right level of support, they’re successful, they support more members.
They become that regular face on the, on the gym floor. And I think there is a reality in a lot of commercial gyms at the moment that everyone thinks it’s everyone else’s responsibility for that PT to be successful. The PTs think the gym, the gym, the gym think, well, this PTs self employed it’s their responsibility and everyone like you say eight months in, when it’s not successful, everyone looks around at each other. And blames, and blames each other. You get that right. And you get the PTs goals aligned with the gym, wherever that is around engaging members, supporting members, keeping them longer. And then it is mutually beneficial for both at that stage.
Ant Park: [00:41:45] Yeah. And I think obviously there’s been a gray area for years. Obviously. You’ve seen a lot of gyms now, commercial gyms, specially go to an employed model, like PureGym has like the Gym Group has and like and other commercial gyms will have to follow or go fully self-employed. It’s just a fact, that’s what we’re looking at from a blog perspective, but erm, then you’ve got private facilities will have to react to that type of changing model and adapt, so what’s got to happen over the next, at least 12 months, in my opinion is there’s no longer that confusion. It’s, it’s clear from day one, we will help and shape and support your business with this type of framework or if you’re a private facility or if you’re a commercial gym and who haven’t got that in house, we’re going to outsource it because there’s enough companies out there that can be outsourced to bring into commercial gyms to make that better, whether that’s sports websites, lift the bar, whether that’s PT collective, the frameworks there already.
Craig McNeill: [00:42:35] Absolutely. In terms of closing our episode, I want to get your, your final thoughts and kind of what would be the biggest one takeaway from the topics that we just talked about for our listeners and our listeners, uh, kind of across the industry where w w. operators themselves club owners, PTs self-employed PTs employed PTs. What would be the one takeaway from what we’ve discussed or it could be something separate and while I’m coming to you first, Nick, if that’s okay. And what would be the one book that you would say you need to go and read or listen to in the next, in the next month or so?
Nick Hanley: [00:43:14] One takeaway, I think, understand the market you’re positioning your business to. I think that’s the, I like to just summarize all that. It’s just understanding your market and being in a position to adapt versus pivot, um, your business so that you can respond to situations rather than have, rather than react and panic.
Um, one book? I won’t jump on Ant’s because I know what he’s gonna say, so I’ll choose another one. Uh, I’m,    only ’cause I’m reading it right now and it’s literally staring at me, Never Lose a Client Again by Joey Coleman.
Jack Malin: [00:43:50] S’a good one 
Nick Hanley: [00:43:51] Really good one.
Ant Park: [00:43:53] Is it my turn?
Craig McNeill: [00:43:54] Go for it, mate. Yeah.
Ant Park: [00:43:55] My book is Where’s Wally. Um, that’s really good.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Shut your mouth. Put him back on mute. Listen, I think advice-wise. I think Nick hit the nail on the head, but I think second to that, we’ve become an industry focused very much on marketing and sales and driving numbers and revenue, which is fine. We’re obviously a commercial industry and so on.
And. I think personal training as a whole, then seeing all of these six figure seven figure idiots online and, and feel like that that’s the only focus. And it gives them a really warped view, a really warped experience. Yeah. So I think let’s strip this back and go back 10, 15 years because that’s where I feel like the industry needs to go slightly and that’s look at us. Our products, our client experience, our member experience, our service. And build out our products and our service as the key component to you being long-term successful within the industry. Because if you’re not doing that and you are just focused on sales and numbers and marketing, your expectations won’t be met and your service will be crap and so on and so on.
So yeah, I think, yeah, the focus has to be there.    Book-wise, I’m just looking at a few, depends who it’s for, Conscious Coaching, by erm by Brett Bartholomew. So that’s, that’s a big one from a coaching perspective. And I, but I think from, from everyone, so like if gym owners listened to this, I think like Psycho-Cybernetics is good as well for them to listen to.
So that re. So yeah, that too, they’re two of the better ones I reckon. 
Jack Malin: [00:45:28] It’s interesting that your takeaway point about kind of focusing on service and Nick’s book, which is about focusing on the service you deliver, it shows that’s obviously where PTs have got to be looking at the moment. Isn’t it? Whether that’s services online, whether that’s in the club, it’s like you said Ant, there’s so much focus on sales and marketing bullshit. And if we deliver good quality service, the PTs will be able to build businesses off it.
Craig McNeill: [00:45:53] Ant, Jack. Do you know that you’ve also got another thing in common? 
Ant Park: [00:45:59] They’re both exceedingly good looking, um, both 
Craig McNeill: [00:46:02] of you and 
Jack Malin: [00:46:04] your family. Yeah. 
Ant Park: [00:46:05] It’s really good to bring that up, actually. Yeah, I forgot about that. Yeah. Yeah. I’d recommend Craig to my sister. And she’s been very average since now. I’m joking. She’s really good.
Jack Malin: [00:46:21] Everypone introduce your sisters to Craig. What can go wrong? 
Craig McNeill: [00:46:28] That’s another episode I think!
Guys, if our listeners want to reach out to you, where can they get in touch with you guys for, for kind of anymore kind of discussions and topics around what we’ve been talking about today. 
Ant Park: [00:46:41] Mainly. Um, obviously if you ever in and around the PureGym area, we do a lot of talks and a lot of webinars and a lot of education for them.
So you’ll see us in there. We run obviously the PT Mentor Academy, which is basically giving more PTs, the one-to-one support that they need to, to develop and thrive so you can find us on, um, it’s currently antptma on Instagram but it’ll soon changed just, uh, just PTMA upon the next group program. So you can find us there.
And then obviously, Nick does our weekly emails. So once you’ve got us on Instagram, you’ll probably be pushed into the email list and he’ll support you from there. So, yeah. 
Craig McNeill: [00:47:18] Amazing. Awesome guys. Keep doing what you’re doing. Sounds awesome. 
Ant Park: [00:47:21] Top man, thanks for having us on.
Jack Malin: [00:47:23] No, nice to chat to you
Nick Hanley: [00:47:26] Cheers guys
Craig McNeill: [00:47:26] Cheers guys.   Thank you for the chat.
Craig McNeill: [00:47:30] Thanks for listening to mPowered with your hosts Jack Malin and Craig McNeill. We have more personal training insights in our next episode with Paul Swainson, research and development manager at Future Fit Training where we will be talking about how educators are helping develop the PTs of the future.

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