With the beginning of the new millennium, a comforting increase in the expenditures of Italians related to wellbeing and self-care had started, and these factors helped to create a need for the service that was previously considered too exclusive and the prerogative of VIPs only: personal training.
The first Anglo-Saxon chain of fitness centres brought to Italy a model characterised not only by the quality of the environments but also by innovative services such as a video library, free drinks and coffee for the subscribers and a figure present as an alternative to the instructor in the gym: the Personal Trainer.
The key element that has allowed the development of the personal training sector in Italy for example, has been the inclusion of marketing activities and initiatives aimed at making the quality of service known not only to the limited circle of athletes and stars, but to the "normal" people who represent the largest proportion of the fitness population. And that's how the new practitioner, like the expert, started to receive the proposal to add to his subscription one or more introductory lessons not with a simple trainer but with a real personal coach, who could follow them step-by-step for the entire duration of the training session.
For clubs that have been able to apply this try before you buy strategy, the numbers already in 2005 had grown significantly. It seems that out of 100 subscriptions purchased by new subscribers about 30 included the knowledge package of the PT service, which is relevant if we consider that it was not free of charge but offered at a promotional price.
Lessons and services
The Personal Trainer became a coveted profession and even the most technically well-trained ones struggled to be noticed compared to large communicators or sellers. Nevertheless, until 2007 they significantly increased in both supply and demand, especially within the many fitness centres that were able to seize the opportunity supporting the push with marketing and communication actions. The main type of service offered was the classic 1 to 1 ratio, with 60' training sessions, a program of 2 or 3 sessions per week and sold through the classic and timeless package of 10 lessons. Achievable targets were made possible when the economic climate was stable, however, analyzing the reports and interviewing the professionals, it was already possible to notice a threat on the horizon: after an initial period of introduction and start of training, almost 40% of clients left their PT for different reasons but often related to economic commitment. In the 3 years following the economic crisis, there was a risk of further worsening the result of this division of the fitness centre and it was at that point that a progressive change in the type of proposal began, which made the service more suitable and accessible to a higher number of users.
Today, after 15 years of Personal Training observation, we see a proposal for an accessible service that can reach 30% of the subscribers of the centre and whose characteristics are represented by the correct mix of individual training, on variable fractions of time, with a flexible frequency that adds or leads to the small group.
Having overcome its beginnings as a service reserved only for the VIP’s, it is a real pleasure to finally see particularly professional figures become true professionals in the personal training industry.