It’s safe to say that at times the fitness industry gets a bad rap. Why on earth would that happen, you may ask? It’s an industry focussed on people’s active lives, well-being, feeling and looking good. It’s endlessly fuelled with positive, inspirational language and images of healthy people who are motivated to pursue perfection.

Mainstream and social media are largely responsible for this perception. They paint an image of lithe bodies, confident personalities, fierce determination and physical feats of greatness! What’s not to love?

True or not, this is how the industry sees and presents itself. This would be all very well if the target audience was our peers and the fitness community generally. We can all perform feats of strength or endurance together and wildly high-five each other all day long! Great!

But imagine the fitness industry from the outside looking in. Endless images of well-groomed, fashionably sweaty bodies filtered and edited to within an inch of their lives; more ‘diets’ or eating plans, than you can count; individuals that appear to exceed any physical condition available to mere mortals, who are eternally bright and cheerful.

It’s not too much of a stretch to suggest that the vast majority of us do not earn a living training our industry peers. Instead, we work with the general public; people of different backgrounds, shapes, sizes and abilities but who are trying to live a healthier, more active life.

How do you think the ‘average’ person feels, looking at these images? Someone who may not be very fit, but is trying to summon the courage to enter the intimidating fitness world? Someone who may juggle work with raising a family and still try and have some semblance of a healthy, active life? These ‘someones’ form the majority of a PT’s client base.

It’s critical for fitness professionals to empathise and embrace these differing perspectives and not just the peer pressure or perspective of industry peers. The most successful PTs are the ones who cater for these real-life differences.

While I certainly don’t suggest that this is how the entire fitness industry operates, it is a perception widely held by the public. This perception is likely to lead to an even greater reluctance for potential clients to take the plunge, and it does little to assist in the battle against an increasingly sedentary and unhealthy community.

So how will you manage your business to appeal to the greatest possible audience to support your success? How will you empathise with the regular human; the person whose incremental improvements will not only delight them and keep them coming back, but offer increased work satisfaction to you?

Perhaps when promoting your work personally, through social media and other platforms, you might consider your audience’s perceptions and vulnerabilities and what might realistically attract them to you and your business. Using images and quotes, you could demonstrate the sort of physical feats that a new starter would feel are achievable. Or you could communicate simple eating habits aligned with the National Dietary Guidelines within a PT scope of practice.

Being authentic and approachable is incredibly valuable to prospective clients and likely to provide more sustainable opportunities in an industry that many fail to remain in for long.

Ben Cooper, General Manager