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Hybrid Personal Training: The New Era of Fitness?

Like many other industries, fitness is going through significant changes each year. Given the rapid development of technology and the Covid pandemic, people have been looking for tech-friendly and more flexible ways to work out and get fit.

Back in the day, gym training was the end-all-be-all to getting shape. However, things have shifted toward other workout methods, including home workouts with the help of an online coach.

The rising popularity of online coaching has paved the way for a new and more innovative way to work with clients: hybrid personal training. 

In a way, hybrid coaching represents a new way of looking at the coaching industry and offering the best for clients and personal trainers. So, let’s discuss the hybrid training model, its benefits, and how it can be the future of fitness.

What is Hybrid Personal Training?

Hybrid personal training is a blend of in-person and online coaching. Clients must meet with their coaches occasionally, but the model offers greater independence and flexibility to do each workout at the most convenient time. This approach fosters independence and provides access to coaching services at a lower price.

Hybrid Personal Training: How Coaching has Evolved

In-person sessions used to be the only way for coaches to work with clients. The client would hire a personal trainer and meet them at a gym or studio several times weekly. 

The model is great, as it offers direct communication, a more personal touch, and the ability for trainers to form relationships with their clients. Coaches can more closely monitor their clients, provide feedback in real-time, correct their technique, and much more.

However, in-person training services have always presented a few limitations despite the benefits. Most notably, in-person sessions are expensive because the coach must dedicate an hour to serving one person. The cost per session might not be that high, but it adds up for clients working with their coach three or four days a week.

Second, in-person training means the client must be at the gym at a specific time, which often means organizing the rest of the day around the workout. Plus, commuting, dealing with unexpected things, being stuck in traffic, and other unexpected life events can make the client late or miss workouts entirely.

Next up, there’s the geographic barrier. In-person clients must be from the local area, which automatically sets a limit. These issues are particularly pronounced for people living in more rural areas.

As our world became more digital, a new form of coaching became popular: online personal training. It presents a new way for the tech-savvy personal trainer to connect with clients and help them reach their fitness goals. 

All of a sudden, even people living in more remote areas had access to world-class coaches and the freedom to work out where and when they wanted. They no longer had to pick from the local pool of trainers, train at a specific gym, or organize their entire life around workouts for fear of being late or missing scheduled sessions.

However, despite the clear advantages of online personal training, there was still a gap. While the flexibility was a great advantage, many trainees missed the ‘personal’ in personal training: real-time feedback, help with learning new movements, motivation to work out harder, accountability, etc.

Thus, given the technological development and the clear need for something even better, the hybrid model was born, promising the best of both worlds for clients and coaches.

In short, hybrid personal training combines online and in-person coaching. It combines the flexibility and convenience of online coaching with the personal touch of an in-person session to bring amazing benefits.

Understanding the Hybrid Personal Training Model

The hybrid coaching model allows for a tailored, convenient, and flexible training experience that fits each client’s lifestyle. As a result, fitness doesn’t feel like a burden but a natural addition to one’s life.

At a glance, the hybrid model might seem like an unnecessary complication to something that already works well. Fortunately, that’s not true because hybrid training is simple and intuitive. 

As briefly mentioned, hybrid training leverages the best of online training and traditional coaching. It retains core elements that make in-person workouts great: the personal touch, real-time communication, support, and motivation. 

However, rather than allowing other aspects of in-person training to limit the experience, it offers the flexibility and convenience of online coaching.

To achieve these things, a hybrid personal trainer works with clients in person, but to a lesser degree. The rest of the time, they maintain open communication with the client to stay up to date with them, offer guidance, and keep track of their workout progress. 

A hybrid trainer coaches clients in person and communicates with them online when necessary. That way, the two are in contact longer, the client feels taken care of, and they are more motivated to apply the training, nutrition, and lifestyle guidance their coach provides.

Coaches must leverage the right tools, including personal training software, to make the most of the hybrid model. For example, Hevy Coach is an all-in-one platform for trainers and coaches. It allows trainers to quickly assemble routines for clients, make adjustments when necessary, and track their performance, all from a single dashboard.

The client can go in for the occasional in-person session but work out independently the rest of the time.

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The Benefits of Hybrid Personal Training

1. More Accessible

One of the most notable benefits of the hybrid personal training model is that it is more accessible. With the model, trainees can enjoy more flexibility, access their data all the time, and work out when it suits them.

In-person sessions are far less frequent, which means trainees don’t have to worry about making it to the gym at specific times and having to organize the rest of their lives around fitness.

For example, someone living in a more remote area (say, an hour away from a big city) could work out at home (or a local gym) and only travel to the big city a couple of times per month to meet with their coach.

That makes working out far more appealing as there is less friction for people to stay consistent with their training and achieve their goals.

Plus, people can stay on track with their fitness program even if they travel for business or are on vacation. The coach can modify their workout program by switching focus from traditional gym exercises to bodyweight activities.

2. Personalized Approach for Each Individual

The independence of the hybrid model might make it seem like it’s nothing more than a generic way of coaching that relies on cookie-cutter, one-shoe-fits-all solutions. Fortunately, that couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Like in-person training, good hybrid coaching is about personalization. Despite spending less time with the client, a good coach must always recognize that everyone is different and no single approach will work equally well for everyone.

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Age, gender, workout goals, nutrition, life stress, sleep, and available equipment will inevitably influence coaching decisions. For example, a forty-something man with three kids and a full-time job training at home would need a vastly different workout program than a twenty-something college student with no job or kids.

The occasional in-person sessions allow the coach to perform fitness assessments, monitor their client’s technique, and see if they are working out hard enough. Good coaches can also spot subtle errors trainees make and use all of that information to provide the best guidance possible.

Meanwhile, the online or remote portion of the coaching process allows trainers to keep track of clients through a coaching platform or good old spreadsheets. The coach can use the available data and client feedback to make adjustments when necessary by adding or removing training sets, swapping exercises, tweaking the workout schedule, etc.

3. Cost-Effective and High-Quality Training

As briefly mentioned above, the hybrid model offers one distinct benefit over in-person training: being more cost-effective. The primary reason is that clients don’t have to pay for as many in-person sessions and can instead work out independently most of the time.

The advantage over traditional online training is that this approach isn’t devoid of a personal touch or human connection. Clients must learn to motivate themselves and work hard even when they are tired, but a session with their coach is always around the corner, which keeps them in line.

A benefit of the hybrid model for coaches is they don’t have to spend as much time with each client. That means they can enjoy more flexibility and focus on other things like advertising to grow their personal training business. 

4. Promoting Independence in Trainees

Personal training can be excellent for the client because it takes all the guesswork out of the equation. 

Clients don’t need to worry about exercise selection and sequence, weekly training schedule, how long to rest between sets and countless other details. All they have to do is show up and do the workouts their coach has assigned.

That said, over-reliance on the coach can keep clients from becoming independent and learning to make decisions for themselves.

But why is that a problem? Because part of what makes someone a good coach is their ability to empower clients and foster independence. Clients should be free to make mistakes, learn, and see what works best.

The hybrid personal training model promotes independence precisely because clients have enough freedom to decide for themselves:

  • How hard to work out during a set
  • How and when to increase or decrease the load
  • How long to recover between sets

There is guidance, but clients must learn to take care of the details, which teaches them about fitness and makes them more confident.

While predicting the future is impossible, some speculation can be fun. Here are a few ways in which hybrid training might change over the next few years:

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Wearable Technology and Hybrid Training

Wearable technology is gaining popularity and is slowly becoming a big part of our lives. For example, the Apple ecosystem allows for seamless integration between a smartwatch, phone, laptop, tablet, and other products, allowing users to access their information on their preferred device and switch from one to the next.

These integrations also allow people to use the same app on two or more devices based on what’s most convenient at the specific moment. For example, if your phone distracts you while at the gym, you can log your workouts with the Hevy app on the Apple Watch and sync the data. 

The integration of wearables can impact hybrid training in the upcoming years and possibly redefine personal training services. As these technologies become more advanced, they will be more affordable, easier to use, and better able to capture information about physical activity, daily habits, and health metrics.

These things can allow coaches to keep track of clients and make the necessary adjustments, even in real-time. For example, if a client records a higher RPE than usual and the coach can see the information immediately, they can adjust the load or rep goal for the subsequent sets.

Virtual Reality (VR) in Fitness Training

Virtual reality, once a science fiction subject, is now becoming a reality in many sectors, including fitness. 

While such technologies are still new and yet to make a dent, we have already seen flashes of their potential, and it’s only a matter of time before fitness professionals adopt them to elevate their services.

VR has the potential to offer a more immersive training experience, adding a new dimension and making workouts more engaging. For example, imagine:

  • Enjoying a yoga session on a beach
  • Cycling through various mountain and forest terrains
  • Doing curls or presses and watching as a huge boulder moves closer to the top of a hill

While these ideas are far from reality and would need lots of refining, there is potential for a more immersive and engaging workout experience.

AI and ML: Personalizing the Training Experience

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) can potentially disrupt the personal training industry. These technologies are getting better at analyzing data to identify patterns, predict outcomes, and offer a far more personalized and efficient training experience. 

Professionals offering hybrid personal training can leverage AI and ML now and in the future to provide a more tailored workout experience. 

Various tools can analyze a person’s lifestyle, habits, previous workout performance, fitness experience, eating habits, and progress, combining the data with clients’ preferences, goals, and available training equipment to provide effective fitness programs.

Professionals could leverage AI in real-time to adjust their clients’ training plans based on the data they collect. Such tools can monitor for things like heart rate, rate of perceived exertion (RPE), and performance decline to make the best adjustments during a workout and for subsequent sessions.

These things could make the online portion of hybrid training far more personalized as if the coach is always next to the client.

Is Hybrid Personal Training Right for You?

It’s clear that hybrid personal training has potential and could be the best and most cost-effective way for professionals to work with clients. But is it the right fit for you?

To help you decide, we’ve put together the following section with some common things to consider. We’ll also review some simple tips to integrate the model into your practice.

Is Hybrid Personal Training a Good Fit for Your Practice?

Here are a few scenarios where it would make sense to offer hybrid personal training services to clients:

  1. Expanding your client base. Are you looking to expand your roster and perhaps work with people from beyond your local area? If so, the hybrid model could offer the opportunity to engage with new people.
  2. Accommodating busy clients. Do some of your clients struggle to make it to the gym several times per week, often coming in late for sessions? If so, the hybrid model could be the solution to their problem. With it, they still get to work with you one-on-one, but they can do most of their workouts when it suits them.
  3. Offering cost-effective training services. As discussed above, not everyone can afford to pay a trainer for multiple weekly sessions, which can discourage them from working with a professional. Hybrid training is a great solution because clients pay far less for coaching.
  4. Enjoying flexibility and business efficiency. The hybrid training model works great for coaches who want to spend less time working while still earning good money. Fewer in-person sessions mean the time commitment isn’t as significant, giving professionals more time for leisure, side projects, and marketing to grow their fitness business.

Getting Started with Hybrid Personal Training

Here are a few simple tips to help you get started with hybrid training:

  • Prepare yourself. Get familiar with fitness apps and coaching platforms you can use to train clients and keep track of them. For instance, Hevy Coach allows you to write programs for clients and track their progress. Clients use the simple and intuitive Hevy app to log their workouts in seconds.
  • Define your model. Think about details like how often you’d like to meet clients in person, how you will track their progress, and how you will communicate when. Create rules your clients must follow to work with you (communication, check-ins, etc.).
  • Set the right expectations. Create a landing page where you clearly and specifically outline the parameters of your service and communicate that with any potential client. Proper communication is vital for setting the right expectations and avoiding conflict.
  • Price your service. This is perhaps one of the more challenging parts of the process, but there’s no way around it. Since the goal is to offer online and in-person coaching, it might be best to price them separately.

    For example, clients could pay a monthly fee for online coaching and pay for each in-person session. Alternatively, coaches and clients can agree on the frequency of in-person sessions and come up with package prices.

    We’ve put together resources on pricing personal training services, workout plans, and online packages.
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Conclusion

Hybrid personal training is relatively new, but it’s already making waves in the industry and will likely be a big part of fitness coaching.

Certain technological advancements, such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the development of fitness wearables, are also likely to impact personal training significantly, paving the way for the hybrid model.

However, despite the tremendous upside, it’s best to judge the validity of hybrid personal training based on your client’s unique needs and preferences. Trainers interested in the model could perhaps implement it with a portion of their clients to see how well it works and if it leads to a more engaging coaching experience.

Check out Hevy Coach before you go. Whether you want to transition to hybrid training or stick with the proven models, this all-in-one platform is here to help. It allows you to create programs in minutes, make adjustments on the fly, and keep track of all clients from a single dashboard.

FAQs

1. How is hybrid personal training different from traditional coaching?

Hybrid personal training blends in-person and online coaching to offer the best of both worlds. In contrast, traditional coaching generally focuses on one of the two.

2. Is a hybrid personal training model more affordable for clients?

Hybrid personal training is typically more affordable because clients don’t have to pay for as many in-person sessions and might opt for home training the rest of the time, offsetting other costs like commuting and paying for a gym membership.

3. What role does technology play in hybrid personal training?

Technology is integral for hybrid personal training, allowing easier communication, progress tracking, and workout adjustments. As tech develops, it will likely play an even more significant role.

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