THE BLOG
09/02/2014 10:22 am ET Updated Nov 02, 2014

Is Personal Training Dead?

I recently received a newsletter titled "Personal Training Is Dead." That's a pretty bold statement, if you ask me. And pretty interesting, given that the number of personal trainers in the United States has grown at a rate of more than 20 percent per year for the past five years. What's more, over the next few years, this rate is only projected to rise. If that's a dying occupation, I'd love to see what a thriving one looks like!

Beyond the literal interpretation, however, and even with all of this growth, I do believe there's an element of truth to the aforementioned newsletter. Only I'd revise that statement slightly to say that personal training as we know it is dead.

Looking at fitness over the last decade, we can now see how a big shift has taken place: We went from a world where expensive gym memberships accompanied by even more expensive personal training packages were the norm to a rise in boutique fitness and the notion of self-sufficient fitness communities.

People now have endless options when it comes to their fitness, and rather than doubling down on one activity, they're taking a more holistic approach and exploring options that fit their individual budgets, lifestyles and interests. The traditional catch-all approach really isn't cutting it anymore, and the days are numbered for those personal trainers who subsist simply by showing you how to work out in a gym.

So where does that leave us? The answer is easy, really: putting the "personal" back in personal training. And really, it doesn't have to have to have anything to with a gym. You can get top-notch 1:1 training for anything -- from yoga, dance, Pilates, TRX, running, martial arts, and much, much more. Rather than a cookie-cutter workout, today's thriving trainers not only customize workouts based on individual needs and goals of clients, but also place a premium of giving them the most efficient means for getting the results they're after.

Just as with everything else, fitness -- and fitness professionals -- must evolve and adapt to accommodate the changing needs of clients. Here's my advice on five things you can do to take your personal training career from dying to thriving:

1. Find your sweet spot. Take stock of your work, and narrow what you do to a niche. Put simply, it's something that you have perfected for yourself and that you can also teach well, which means you can become the go-to person on it.

2. Become an expert. Once you're found your own area to "own," focus on refining your brand and building credibility and visibility in the fitness world. You want to establish a solid reputation, so don't be afraid to offer yourself as a subject matter expert.

3. Expand your network. In order to bring in new business and help more people with their fitness journeys, it's worth exploring new ways to engage with potential clients. A company like SweatGuru can help you do just that; by joining the community, you'll be immediately connected with thousands of other fitness fanatics who are eager to learn from you!

4. Work your butt off. The power of a little perspiration never fails. Do everything you can to make sure that you're offering the best to your clients. Your work here speaks for itself and will keep them coming back for more, so be consistent in providing encouragement and effective ways in which to reach their goals.

5. Ask for help. Last but certainly not least, good old fashioned networking can work wonders when building your book of business. So don't be afraid to request referrals: People love to tip others off to something good, and it's a great way to keep growing.

Despite reports to the contrary, personal training continues to be a growing, innovative field that's always adapting to the ever-changing fitness world -- and the people within in must keep pace with that change in order to succeed. And although the profession may be dead as we knew it, it's now advancing to emphasize a more personal interaction between trainer and trainee. So be sure to stay on your toes, ready to treat each client with individual attention. If you strive to be the best in your fitness niche, market your business well through different outlets, then you can make a significant impact on the expansion of your own business.