Table of Contents

Introduction to Fitocracy Team Fitness

Fitocracy Team Fitness is an innovative way to scale your training services and brand to a very large number of trainees.

Trainers will provide a predesigned workout/nutrition system or custom plan to individuals who are placed in a group environment. Trainers will run this program for a predetermined period, typical expectations are 2-4 months. Trainers will encourage dialogue with members through Fitocracy, evoking a sense of one-to-one training with group support. In this setting, members may ask questions, share information, and engage in conversation with other members. In addition to general support, trainers can enhance the experience by prompting discussion – asking questions, promoting goal setting, sharing recipes, giving tips and tricks, and helping members overcome setbacks. Trainers may also share reading content and schedule Google Hangouts with members.

The Fitocracy Team Fitness setting breathes new life into one-to-one coaching in a number of ways:

Incredible Group Scalability

How many online clients do you typically take on at any given time? Three, five, ten, twenty? Running an online coaching business can get a bit tedious when you are writing individual plans, doing separately weekly check ins, and answers questions from each client – many of which are repetitive.

Our system allows you to control the environment in which you coach your clients because everything they need is at their fingertips. Imagine spending the same amount of time coaching 40 clients as you do coaching 10. This is possible because you will create a program that does a lot of the work for you.

Once your training system is in place, much of the work will take place in your group setting. Your members will ask questions and get answers so that other members can view them. They will provide support for each other, encourage each other, and hold each other accountable. In addition, they will all run through the same program at the same time, making tracking, check ins, and progress work in synchronicity.

Incredible Business Scalability

When coaching one-on-one, your business rate is limited by your ability to take clients. With Fitocracy Team Fitness, you can hire assistants to run your groups and focus on leveraging your brand on a higher level, such as creating content or giving weekly Google Hangouts. Obviously this requires a minimum threshold of clients, but as an example, John Romaniello is able to train 150 people simultaneously.

A Larger Viable Market

The demands of one-on-one coaching typically necessitate a monthly fee of $200/month from the client. This immediately excludes a large portion of the market that would be interested in one-on-one coaching. On the other hand, Fitocracy Team Fitness allows price points as low as $40/month, making it much more affordable to the larger market.

The Importance of Brand in Online Fitness

Our deep industry experience has taught us that your fitness brand’s value – particularly reputation and positioning – cannot be understated. The fitness industry’s transformation over the last decade has played a major role in brand importance, and it’s useful to understand why.

Online Fitness: 2000 to Present Day

In 2000, the dynamics around building a successful fitness brand were vastly different compared with present day.

Without today’s social media channels that cross the chasm into the mainstream, fitness professionals had to rely on large publishers, such as T-Nation and Bodybuilding.com, in order to reach a large audience.

A large part of success depended upon relationships with these publishers. Even then, audience reach was limited to these publishers’ inbound traffic, usually those who were already engaged with health and fitness (or at the very least, interested).

Without these relationships, it was still possible to gain notoriety, but it involved either spending money to launch a costly website or forum, or utilizing existing niche forums to build a reputation. The fitness world remained like this for quite a while.

The Internet was also swarming with one-off fitness products that weren’t tied to a particular brand. Marketers created highly optimized landing pages selling products like “The Truth About Six Pack Abs,” and successfully sold millions of dollars worth of digital products.

These products were optimized for a one-time sale and did not necessarily care about client results or reputation. This doesn’t necessarily mean they were bad products, but the incentive was to sell via highly optimized landing pages (which often meant ugly and garish) as opposed to brand building.

A well known phenomenon in the marketing world, there is always going to be a tension between marketing for conversion vs. marketing for brand. Given the nature of the early online fitness industry, this tradeoff favored conversion.

Then in 2008, a few things happened that would shape the current dynamics of online fitness. By the very end of 2008, WordPress started to gain some traction in the fitness scene, allowing fitness bloggers to cheaply host their own content. Fitness professionals planted their stake in their areas of expertise, such as Martin Berkhan with Leangains and Intermittent Fasting.

Simultaneously, the growth of social media channels, such as Twitter, Facebook, and even Reddit, allowed pros to get their content into the hands of the mainstream – not just fitness enthusiasts. Professionals were no longer beholden to relationships with large publishers. Rather, first-mover advantage became important; fitness pros could claim a large demographic by marketing to them first.

Why is all of this important? To answer that, we need to look at the online fitness industry’s present state. There are two major differences between the end of 2008 and today.

First, trainers now have tools to build and monetize a large audience at scale – the most prevalent obviously being Fitocracy. Platforms like Fitocracy allow you to get clients, see their workouts, create groups, and handle billing all in the same place.

Second, there is an extremely large amount of saturation in the fitness space. Unlike in 2008, it’s not just enough to be the first to the market. Your average 30-something-ripped-white-male trainer focusing on fat loss who is only now launching a fitness brand will find it very difficult to cut through the noise.

This saturation has also pushed down profits from highly optimized landing pages. An increase in brand transparency and longevity also means that long-term customer satisfaction is more important than ever. The brand side of the spectrum is starting to become more important in the marketing tradeoff between conversion vs. brand.

If you want to succeed, it is imperative that you position your brand correctly and build a long-lasting reputation.

It is often said that people purchase coaches, not programs. This seems to be true. Two coaches can have identical philosophies and programming, yet clients will gravitate towards them differently, based on how they are positioned.

So how do you position differently in order to cut through the noise? Here are some dimensions that you should consider, in no particular order:

  • Area of expertise: kettlebells, powerlifting, fat loss, cross training
  • Your personal demographic: age, gender, background (users will gravitate towards trainers like them)
  • Your fitness background: busy mother of three, former fat kid
  • Typical clientele by lifestyle or goal: celebrity trainer, contest prep, postpartum
  • Health/medical focus: diabetes, anxiety
  • Fitness voice: this video by Mark Fisher in a nutshell

There are an infinite amount of ways that you can position yourself differently, but the examples above are the methods we’ve seen most. The main point is that in order to cut through the noise you must find a positioning and market yourself as such.

Not all of these combinations will be viable (e.g. a male martial artist who wants to train postpartum physique competitors), so you may want to iterate and adjust along the way.

It’s also important that you build a great reputation, even if that means opting for more costly decisions, such as giving out free content or spending a large amount of time on customer service.

Positioning Your Group

Once you have your brand’s positioning set, you’ll need to create groups with congruent topics. There are three additional factors to consider: price, maximum number of members, and length of time.

It’s possible to launch a multitude of groups that are congruent to your brand. For example, Kellie Davis runs “The Next You,” a group focusing on female beginners, as well as “Sixteen Weeks to Bikini Ready,” a group focusing on intermediate women who want to look great in a bikini.

Before you launch your group, brainstorm potential topics that fit your brand and run your ideas through as many people as you can. You’ll find that some topics stick better than others.

Your Mission As a Fitocracy Team Fitness Coach

Your role as a FTF coach is two-fold:

  • Provide online guidance that gives your clients great results (“client results”)
  • Leave your users feeling great about their team fitness experience (“group experience”)

You would think that “client results” and “group experience” are one and the same; however, they are not, and this bears elaborating upon.

We have found that there are certain things that do not directly influence one’s fitness, yet determine one’s satisfaction with the team fitness experience.

An example of this is total facetime that a client has with a trainer via Google Hangouts. A client may have excellent results, but if they feel like total trainer facetime was lacking, they may not be satisfied with the overall experience.

In order to uphold both Fitocracy’s brand as well as your own, “group experience” is just as important.

Conversely, it is entirely possible for a user to have a great experience, yet not necessarily experience great results. As an example, think of the charismatic trainer in the gym who everyone loves, but does not necessarily improve a user’s fitness. Given that we have a user’s long-term interests in mind, we will want to avoid this scenario.

Both the “client results” and “group experience” categories fall under the umbrella of adding value to the client. Adding value to the client is done through the group via its course contents. Here is a list of the most value-add course contents:

Course Contents

  • Course Introduction
  • A combination of user-tailored training program/diet regimen*
  • Regular Google Hangouts and Q&A’s*
  • Answering questions promptly via group discussion (<= 6 hours) and email (<= 24 hours)*
  • Regular adjustments to diet and training program (Note: If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Programs don’t have to be individualized too much. Trainers should create a system that works well for the demographic and requires only minor tinkering for a few.)
  • Recipes
  • Video instructions (form, cooking, etc.) especially by you
  • Regular content (This does not have to be written by you. We encourage you to share articles, videos, etc, from other authors and publishers.)
  • Thematic weeks (e.g. week focusing on diet flexibility, week focusing on form)
  • Regular reminders/nudges for users that have fallen off
  • Check-ins and conversation starters (“Who hit their macros today?” “How was your Thanksgiving?”). 3x per week.

*Mandatory to include these

In the Executing a Group From Start to Finish section, we’ll go through each important item as well as best practices for each. It’s worth noting that you are not limited to this list; coaches are encouraged to find innovative ways to add value to their users.

Executing a Group From Start to Finish

There are two different phases of a group before it is fully underway: The Presale and The Sale. We’ll discuss each of these phases then move on to the specifics, and best practices, of running a group.

The Presale

The Presale is the time period before Fitocracy starts to list and promote your group. Before Fitocracy begins to sell spots for your group, we’ll need a few things.

Materials Needed

  • Group title: Should be less than 30 characters.
  • Group length: Should be between 2 to 5 months.
  • Monthly price: Current groups range from $40/month to $150/month, keeping in mind that Fitocracy takes a 30% share. The current average price for an intermediate group is about $75.
  • Maximum number of trainees per group: You should strategically limit your group size to both create demand and keep the group experience high-quality. Well-known fitness personalities should ideally not have more than 35 people per group. After that, the value perception starts to decline.
  • Short group description: no more than 100 words.
  • High resolution feature image: dimensions should be 478×478.
  • Sales copy: you will need to provide sales copy for your sales page. If you do not have experience writing sales copy, provide as much information as possible and we’ll create it for you. This may incur an extra charge on your end.

A full checklist of all the things you’ll need is available at the end of this guide.

After we receive all of these materials, Fitocracy will set up a group summary and sales page. After that, there may be some back-and-forth in order to fine-tune your pitch. Once both parties are satisfied with all sales material, we’ll move on to the sale.

The Sale

Selling your spots

Once your group spots are ready to go on sale, Fitocracy will begin promoting across email, Twitter, Facebook, and other channels. This period of time lasts for about 2 weeks, and the goal is to sell as many seats to your group as possible.

The Sales period is a joint effort between you and Fitocracy, and it’s important that you advertise your group to your existing audience as much as possible. Email, in particular, seems to be the most effective.

Fitocracy can provide you a discount code up to 40% off. You should be using this code to entice your audience to sign up. Creating an occasion around the discount code, especially with a time constraint, is particularly effective. Examples of this include “40 percent off in the next 24 hours” or “20% off for the first 10 signups.”

In the two-week sales period, it is recommended that you email your list no less than 4 times with the following types of emails:

  • An initial email, which may or may not include a discount for the first few signups.
  • A limited discount email. If you provided a discount for “early bird signups,” this discount should be of lesser value.
  • A reminder email (or several reminder emails) during the campaign.
  • A “last chance” email during the last day (or hours) of the campaign.

A more thorough document on how to “sell” your group can be found here: Sales and Marketing Tips.

Finalized group materials

Before your group begins, we will need your finalized group materials. Group materials include:

  • An example diet and/or training program.
  • The date of your first Google Hangout.
  • A list of all the necessary materials the client needs to purchase ASAP. An example of this is a food scale and measuring tape. Giving the client ample time to purchase these items prevents them from feeling like they’re “falling behind.”
  • Building expectations is important. What should clients expect during the program? How can they prepare? ie. shopping list, planning workout week, how long workouts will last, how to progress, etc.

Onboarding Period

Introduction

The Onboarding Period is when you introduce your trainees to FTF Online Coaching.

During this period, you’ll do the following:

  • Post a Welcome Message to your group introducing yourself as a coach and begin to build rapport with your trainees.
  • Allow group members to introduce each other (this is a good time to ask them about their fitness experience to date) and get a handle on the personalities of your clients.
  • Review information in the form of a questionnaire (more information on this in a bit) in order to create your training and/or diet programs.
  • Run your first Google Hangout or equivalent Q&A session
  • Post instructions as soon as you can to give your new clients time to prepare

The main purpose of the onboarding period, however, is mostly hidden from the user:

There is quite a bit of background work that goes on in getting your group underway. We’ll talk specifics shortly, but you will need to take care of this during these few days  – all while keeping your audience engaged.

During this week, you should be asking questions such as:

“What do you hope to get out of this group?”
“What’s your previous experience so far?”
“What has previously kept you from hitting your goals?”
“What’s your favorite food? Exercise? Hobby?”

This first week will be a very busy week. But this may be your only chance to engage each and every user in your group. The more engaged that users are, the less likely they are to churn out and the better results you can expect. You should focus on asking a lot of questions this week and respond to each and every trainee.

This will also likely be the period of time when engagement will take the least effort due to the nature of introductory comments and questions, so load up on as much engagement as possible. It only gets harder from here.

*Important to note, the sooner members sign up for your program, the sooner you can create their programming, and the shorter the onboarding period will need to be. 

Client Questionnaire

The client questionnaire will be used to create your clients’ training and/or nutrition programs. Everything that you need in order to determine a client’s program should be incorporated into this questionnaire.

When a user signs up for a team, a standard questionnaire is sent out by Fitocracy via email to your team members. The standard questionnaire contains the following questions:

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Height
  • Gender
  • Approximate bodyfat percentage
  • What is your target weight goal?
  • What does a regular day of eating look like for you?
  • What is your biggest struggle as it relates to diet?
  • Do you have any food allergies or any special considerations?
  • Do you have a preferred training program?
  • What are your current workouts?
  • Are you currently taking any medication?
  • Do you have any injuries or health conditions?
  • Please drop me a note!

Here’s the template for Fitocracy’s questionnaire: www.fitocracy.com/survey/take/2

This information will be useful initially to create training and nutritional programs for each team member.

Onboarding Period Checklist

  • Status post or Private Message broadcast to all team members.
  • If you haven’t already begun this process, begin building programs based on questionnaires. If you have 30-or-more clients, you may want to look into hiring an assistant to help you get through these.
  • Training/Nutrition programs go out no later than this date. It is important to keep an online tracking system that you can readily update. Google docs work best for tracking nutrition. Do not create individual files on your desktop and try to track offline. Allow users to track their progress online where you can easily communicate with them and create updates as they go along. Keeping your files in a central location also helps you better manage your time. For fitness tracking, you have Fitocracy and the trainer tools we provide.
  • You may hold the first Google Hangout starting this week.
  • Begin following up with users who have not yet filled out the questionnaire. Fitocracy provides a trainer tool that allows you to see which team members have completed this survey.
  • First Google Hangout should be held by now.
  • Post instructions for week 1.
  • Rally the troops!

Course Contents and Best Practices

As mentioned earlier, your course will consist of – but not be limited to – the following things:

  • Course Introduction
  • A combination of user-tailored training program/diet regimen*
  • Regular Google Hangouts and Q&A’s*
  • Answering questions promptly via group discussion (<= 6 hours) and email (<= 24 hours)*
  • Monitoring progress and regular adjustments*
  • Weekly instructions and content*
  • Recipes
  • Custom group videos on form, cooking, etc.
  • Thematic weeks (e.g. week focusing on diet flexibility, week focusing on form)
  • Regular reminders/nudges for users that have fallen off
  • Daily check-ins and conversation starters

*Mandatory to include these

We’ll cover the most important items – and relevant best practices – in a bit more detail.

Course Introduction

The course introduction introduces you as the trainer and tells the client exactly why they’re doing what they’re doing in anywhere from 3 to 10 status posts. Think of the course introduction as a program handbook of your own. It establishes your credibility and explains your philosophies at a high level, while allowing the client to build trust and feel like they’re receiving content right off the bat. As an alternative, videos are also very useful here as quick reference guides. They also allow for members to get to know your personality and it feels more real when they can see and hear you talking.

Your target audience will dictate the length of the introduction and all of the starting materials. For example, beginners who have busy, professional lives will likely have short attention spans. You should opt a shorter introduction that catches their attention and instead trickle in material in the following weeks. Conversely, an expert group full of fitness geeks will probably appreciate detailed lengthy explanations of hormones, mechanics, etc. In any case, it is best to have content in the form of status posts before the group begins in the event that someone signs up 2 weeks before the group starts.

Training Program/Diet Regimen

Training programs and diet regimens are built based on the questionnaires you will receive from your users. Generating your trainees’ programs from this questionnaire allows you to scale your coaching much more easily.

In other words, if you have 100 clients, it would be impossible to sit down with each of them in order to build their diet/training program.

The initial questionnaire allows you to create rules by which you can build one’s diet and training program. If your group is sufficiently large (40+ people), Fitocracy can provide you with help in scaling your training programs and diets.

Training programs should lay out a client’s training schedule, along with all of the exercises and necessary detail – weights, reps, time, etc. Typically, coaches release fitness routines month by month. You should also link as many exercises as possible to appropriate instructional videos. Fitocracy has ~200 exercise videos on their YouTube channel, though you may need to find other video resources in cases where the Fitocracy channel doesn’t have a particular exercise.

Make sure that you fully expound on certain concepts, such as how the client is supposed to warm up and how much rest time the client should have in between sets. We’ve found that it’s not safe to assume that clients know anything about typical programs, and stating this information early will save a lot of time answering questions later on.

Diet protocols should contain either one or a combination of the following: macronutrient targets, calorie targets, and/or food lists. Each of these options has its strengths and weaknesses.

Giving macronutrient targets allows for the most flexibility, however, some clients find difficulty with the fact that macro targets don’t tell them what they should be eating. In addition, if you are running a group targeting beginners, you should not expect them to be able to count macros. Learning how to count macros has a steep learning curve for absolute beginners. If your members have an iPhone, please recommend that they use the Fitocracy Macro Tracking app as an easy way to keep tabs on their intake.

On the other hand, you can create custom food plans for each client, but it will be more difficult to keep track of everything and allow client flexibility.

You might find that a combination of the options above works well. For example, Weight Loss Made Simple gives a calorie range, as well as a “minimum” amount of protein and a “maximum” amount of carbohydrates. Kellie Davis’s The Next You group gives both macronutrient ranges, as well a custom list of foods to eat.

All necessary materials that the client needs to purchase should be contained in the training and diet status posts. As mentioned earlier, you will want to mention some materials – such as measuring tape – earlier rather than later.

Training and diet material should be distributed during the first week – preferably as soon as possible. This gives the client ample time to ask questions and purchase necessary materials and groceries. Giving your client ample time is important because, above all, you always want to prevent the client from feeling like they are “falling behind.” This feeling often causes clients to drop out.

Generating this content will take a substantial amount of time, so please plan accordingly. You don’t want to start off on the wrong foot by having plans sent out late. If you are writing nutrition plans, try to have them to your members as soon as possible, even prior to the start date so they can go shopping. *It’s very important that you let your members know when to expect their workout/nutrition programming. If they think they will get it on day 1 of the program, and don’t, then this will lead to churn. If you do not have programming to give them on Day 1, let them know when you will have it, and make sure that you have given them something to do. 

Regular Google Hangouts on Air and Q&A’s

Google Hangouts on Air are a great way to improve the group experience and make your clients feel like they’re constantly receiving value. You should be scheduling this once every 2-4 weeks and letting your group know the schedule well in advance.

If you are a well-known fitness personality, especially one that uses an assistant coach, then having regular hangouts can be the difference between whether or not clients have a great group experience.

We do recommend answering member questions via video often. That really helps them understand what they should be doing, especially when it comes to exercises. There are a lot of ah-ha moments then.

Google Hangouts on Air are recorded, so users who miss your hangout will still be able to watch it later.

The Hangouts should consist of discussion around weekly reading material, any patterns from trainees that you noted throughout the week, as well as a Q&A.

Below are the instructions to run a Google Hangout on Air. If this is your first time reading this guide, you can skip these instructions until you’re ready to run your first hangout.

One drawback to Hangouts on Air is that you won’t have the link to your livestream until you start broadcasting. Because of this, you’ll need to set up well in advance and then send out the link before your livestream.

Trainees should be informed that the link will be posted in the group a few minutes in advance.

Instructions to set up a Hangout on Air

  1. 15 minutes before the start of your event, go to http://www.google.com/+/learnmore/hangouts/onair.html
  2. Click on “Start a Hangout on Air”
  3. Name your Hangout and fill out all the necessary information.
  4. Hit the “Start Broadcast”button.
  5. Retrieving the YouTube link to your livestream is a bit tricky. The link will be available in your Google Plus account – Go to http://plus.google.com and use the top left nav to navigate to “profile.”
  6. You will see the YouTube link in your profile (included SS). This is the link that you will be sharing to your students.We suggest that you delete the post on Google Plus so that no one else will be able to access the livestream.

Note: Google on Air isn’t the only option available to you. If you’d like to gather questions from your group and then record yourself answering these questions via your laptop or smartphone, you may do so. The key here is to give your team some face time to raise the perceived value of the service.

Answering questions

On most days, your role will consist mainly of answering questions. This is one of the most important aspects of coaching your group. Our data shows that your daily involvement highly impacts churn and group satisfaction. Questions should be answered promptly and as specifically as possible. Be present.

Swift responses demonstrate to your trainees that they are important to you. Many trainees are naturally dubious about how they can possibly be important to you in a large group setting. Answering swiftly will quickly dispel this notion.

Answering questions with specificity is also important, and it’s a great way to showcase your expertise. Generic responses will often leave trainees feeling like they could have found out the answer for free, whereas specific answers will build trust, as users will feel you empathizing with their situation.

Questions may either be asked publicly via the community or privately via private messaging. We highly encourage you to tell users from the very start that questions should be asked publicly unless they involve a private matter or sensitive topic. Trainees should be gently reminded that this is the only way that this type of (team) training can work.

Public questions should ideally be responded to within 6 hours during weekday work hours. One thing you will quickly realize is that users will begin to answer questions for you, sometimes with a high level of accuracy. If this is the case, make sure to praise the user (this will subconsciously encourage them to keep doing this type of behavior) and add anything that the user might have left out.

Private questions may be asked via Private Messaging and should be answered within 24 hours. Take caution, however, as private messaging can quickly get out of hand and start to encroach into one-on-one training territory. Keep an eye on how much time this takes.

Trainees should be gently told not to abuse this privilege. If you receive a generic question by private message, a simple “Hey, I don’t mind answering this via email at all, but I bet plenty more people in the group had this question. Any chance you can ask there instead?” will do.

Monitoring client progress and regular adjustments

It’s important to monitor client progress in order to give feedback and perform necessary adjustments. The metrics that you track depend on your class, but we recommend that once a week you ask for at least the following:

  • Weight
  • Waist measurement at the navel
  • Weekly qualitative feedback asking the client how he or she felt

Monitoring the progress of dozens (or even hundreds) of people may seem daunting. However, past coaches have been able to scale with relative ease using a few methods for organization. Here are some of the options available.

Method 1. Creating separate Google Spreadsheets for each trainee.

This works well for smaller groups. Create a separate Google Spreadsheet for each trainee and have them fill out important numbers on a regular basis. Every week, you will need to cycle through everyone’s sheet in order to monitor progress and make adjustments.

Method 2. Create one Google Spreadsheet with an “anonymous” tab for each client.

This method is a bit better for larger groups. Each client will be assigned a number or (anonymous) username, which you will use as the label for each tab. How you choose the username is up to you so long as it protects the real identity (in this case the Fitocracy username) of the member.

Method 3. Send out a weekly form and create your own dashboard.

This is the most scaleable solution. You can send out a weekly Google Form which captures responses (don’t forget to ask for some identifiable information like Fitocracy username). When creating this form, make sure that you don’t allow the users to view the responses (It’s a simple checkbox in the Google Form creator). The only drawback to this method is that users will not easily be able to see their results or the numbers that they have submitted, thus making it feel a bit “impersonal.” Fitocracy can provide more instruction on how to do execute this method upon request.

Method 4. Fitcoracy Automated Weekly Questionnaires.

*Coming Soon* We will send out questionnaires weekly for you with everything you’ll need to know.

Weekly instructions and content

Every week, trainees should receive something new, whether that be content, a new Hangout, etc. This brings the sense of regularity to trainees and provides value in the form of knowledge.

Pick a time and day of the week (we recommend Sunday morning) when you introduce all new materials and events for the week. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Weekly readings – You may want to theme these by week. e.g. A week on “mindful eating” or “focusing on form.”
  • Your scheduled Google Hangout.
  • Assignments – You may request that this week, a user tracks their food intake or tries a new warmup.
  • A note to your users.

You may find it helpful to create one large rolling Google Document that is updated every week. Here is an example of what we do in Weight Loss Made Simple.

Running a Successful Group

So how exactly do you run a successful group? Luckily, we’ve been fortunate enough to have enrolled nearly 3,000 trainees into Fitocracy Team Fitness and have some insight around what makes a group successful.

First, we’ll take a high-level look at the characteristics of extremely satisfied FTF trainees. Then, we’ll take a deeper dive into various metrics of success and how to optimize for them.

Characteristics of extremely satisfied FTF trainees

They display high group engagement.

The happiest FTF trainees tend to engage with the group with high frequency – posting every day or every other day. It’s therefore important to engage users at the very start of your group. You’ll also want to re-engage users who have become inactive during the group.

Creating ways for users to interact with each other, such as asking open-ended questions that get users to reveal potential similarities with others, will also work to create a community atmosphere. This atmosphere is extremely powerful for engagement, because users will start to engage each other on their own.

They feel paid attention to.

Every trainee wants to feel paid attention to by their coach. However, many trainees enter the FTF experience with a natural amount of skepticism – how can a coach remember and acknowledge my individual needs when he or she is also training 40 other people?

It’s important that you respond to questions promptly and with specific detail. Try to remember notable details about as many clients as you can and reference them in conversation. Lastly, if a client is displaying negativity or frustration, try to relate something about your fitness history or previous clientele that can give the some comfort.

Showing your clients that they’re special, while simultaneously displaying empathy and patience, will go a long way as towards the group experience.

They see results.

This part is obvious and results will ultimately come down to your ability as a coach. However, it’s worth noting that results come in many shapes and forms. For example, it’s possible for a client to put on weight in a weight loss group, and consider that a win if that means that they’ve perhaps raised their food intake or seen a decrease in bodyfat.

They perceive a lot of value from content.

Content is the “free food” of the fitness world. That is, users are delighted just by the act of you posting content; they feel like they’re “getting their money’s worth.” By regularly sharing fitness content (either yours or other writers’) recipes, tips, etc., with your group, you’re maximizing your group’s perceived added value.

The Client Success Funnel

How do we measure the success of your group?

Let’s say that a group starts out with 100 trainees. Is it more successful if it ends with 50 trainees, none of which have impressive results, or if it ends with 10 trainees, all of whom have amazing results?

In order to measure and visualize success, we are going to model a user success funnel. This funnel shows the different levels of “success” that your trainees can achieve. You’ll see that the funnel starts out with “all users,” then moves on to users who make it past the first month, second month, then finish the group, etc. It ends with users who have considered the group a “life changing experience” of some sorts (obviously you cannot expect everyone to reach this level of success).

Success means moving as many people down the funnel as possible. Let’s take a look at each group of parts and how a successful coach will move trainees down the funnel.

Top part of the funnel (light blue) – Churn

The first measure of success revolves around monthly churn. The difference between a good and a bad coach, with respect to churn, is night and day. Successful coaches will hardly see any churn in the first month, whereas poor coaches may churn nearly half of their group.

Minimizing churn

Most churn occurs at the end of the first month before the second billing phase. Users are less likely to churn after each subsequent month. Therefore, the first month is the period of time that you should be most attentive to your group, because it is the most critical.

Here are steps you can take in order to reduce the first month’s (and therefore overall) churn:

  • Make sure that everyone receives their programs promptly. This might mean pestering users to fill out their questionnaires.
  • Minimize the amount of people who feel like they are “falling behind.” If a user feels like they are behind in the first month or during onboarding, they are much more likely to churn. Make sure you reach out to potential laggards and reassure users that anyone can catch up.
  • Have clients seeing tangible results as soon as possible. This doesn’t mean that you should sacrifice a client’s long term success for the sake of quick results. Rather, clients need to see improvement in a key metric, whether it be weight or waist measurements, mile times, etc. Point out this metric and have clients keep a keen eye on it.
  • Showcase your ability as a coach. Don’t save the best for last. Clients make impressions very quickly. They need to see that you are highly competent and know your stuff.

Reducing churn in subsequent months:

  • Plan brand new, exciting content at the start of each month. Both John Romaniello and Kellie Davis, for example, introduce new programming every month.
  • Show users the value of ongoing coaching. By the end of the second month, it is likely that an adjustment of some sort will be needed. Make sure that you show your clients the value of adjusting their diet or training in order to account for their personal results.
  • Above all, keep kicking ass as a coach. If your trainees like you and see value in your services, they will keep paying for them until the end of the program – and possibly beyond.

Middle part of the funnel (purple) – Client satisfaction

While churn is a decent indicator of a user’s happiness with their results and the overall group experience, it does not tell the whole story. Many users will remain subscribed throughout the entire group, yet stop adhering to their protocol. That is, they may have paid for the entirety of your services, yet would not purchase your services again or recommend them to a friend.

In order to move users down the funnel, they ultimately have to be happy with both their results and FTF experience. Here are the steps that you can take to move users along this part of the funnel:

Best practices for group experience:

  • Maximize results: assuming that you have done everything else, this is the number one thing you can do in order to make your trainees happy. This ultimately comes down to your experience as a coach and the amount of time and effort you put towards each client.
  • Be consistent: this takes more work discipline than you think. It is natural for groups to quiet down at the end, and it’s up to you to keep engagement high. If you were a rockstar coach at the start of the group but started to peter off, you’ll leave a bitter taste in your clients’ mouths. Plan content and hangouts all the way until the end.
  • Give Adequate Facetime: even if a client has perfect results, if he or she feels like they haven’t had enough time with the “star” fitness persona, they’ll still feel like they overpaid for the group.

Bottom of the funnel (red) – Life-changing experiences

These are the folks who will provide you amazing testimonials or will act as your next coach. There aren’t many new best practices that we can recommend here. If you do everything right, you’ll find yourself with a lot of users who will say that you’ve changed their lives. Consider this your ultimate reward as a coach.

Checklists by Group Phase

The Presale

You will need to get the following information to Fitocracy:

  • Group Title – Should be less than 30 characters.
  • Group Length – Should be between 2 to 4 months.
  • Monthly Price
  • Maximum number of trainees per group
  • Short Group Description
  • High resolution feature image for your landing page – Dimensions should be 478×478.
  • High resolution feature image for your group – Dimensions should be 478×478. (These images can be the same)
  • Sales Copy

During the Sale

  1. Send out the following emails to your audience:
  • An initial email (with early bird discount code, if applicable)
  • A limited discount email
  • Reminder email(s)
  • A “last chance” email
  1. Send the following materials to Fitocracy:
  • An example diet and/or training program
  • The date of your first Google Hangout
  • A custom welcome email clients
  • Client purchase list (kettlebells, dumbbells, tape…)
  • Introduce yourself as a coach via status post

Onboarding

Make sure to do the following:

  • Engage your trainees
  • Build diet/training programs
  • Send out diet/training programs
  • Run your first Google Hangout
  • Post instructions for the first week
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