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The Transformation Economy Part 2 - The Training Experience [article]

This article looks at what needs to be taken into account when delivering sessions to our clients. Our job isn't done when we write the programme. Our job is making sure that each training session is an experience our clients want to repeat.


The first part of this article gave an overview of the ‘transformation economy’ showing that economic offerings had most value to consumers when they helped guide them to achieving aspirations/goals. To do this with our fitness clients we need to do more than simply offer them a range of services, we need to spend time diagnosing their aspirations and guiding and supporting them from their current situation to their ideal ‘transformed’ state. 


This part of the article is focussed on the training experiences that we deliver in order to guide clients from ‘a to b’. First let’s look at an example of an ‘experience’ and how getting it right adds value to an economic offering. Let’s talk coffee. As a ‘good’ (pack of granules in the supermarket) it may sell at 10c a cup.  As a routine ‘service’ at a café it may sell at $1.50 a cup.  As an ‘experience’ (high quality espresso bar, comfy armchair with newspaper to read and log fire in background) it may sell at $5.00 a cup. 


Why do people pay so much more for something they could get at a fraction of the price at home? They pay for an experience that is pleasant, memorable and personal to them. There is however a flip side to providing memorably good experiences and that’s providing memorably bad experiences!  Think about the last time you experienced bad service, was it memorable?  Did it leave you thinking ‘no way will I repeat that again’?


As a trainer or a gym owner its worth asking what is the experience that clients have training with me, or at my club currently? Do they leave wanting to come back or is there a chance they’ll leave not wanting to come back? This shows in missed appointments, turning up on a non-attendees report and eventually cancelling their membership.   


The authors of ‘The Experience Economy’ consider the following 4 realms to be important when designing the experiences that will keep your clients wanting to come back: aesthetics, escapism, education and entertainment.  Let’s look at each of these realms in the fitness world:


1.         Aesthetics:  What does it look like to train with you or in your club, and how you can make it look more inviting and comfortable?  If your club is as messy as your teenagers bedroom with the same ‘teeny bop, gangster rap’ blaring from the stereo then what do you think the training experience will be like for your clients?  If staff members look surly to clients then what will their experience be?  If you’re the type of trainer who thinks everyone should balance on Swiss balls for core conditioning then what will the experience be for a nervous client who is terrified of injuring themselves or looking stupid in front of others?


When you consider the aesthetics of the training experience you should realise that everyone sees you training people and judges on what they see.

2.         Escapism:  How can you immerse clients in the exercise they do in order to achieve the results they desire.  Whether you acknowledge it or not exercise is mundane for most people. For this reason it’s important to relate every exercise they to do directly to the outcomes they seek, to set small achievable goals that can be used to celebrate success and energise further effort.

For many clients a regular session at the gym may be crucial time away from the pressures of work or family.  It’s important we know this so we ensure we don’t add extra stressors such as constantly introducing new complex exercises when all they really want is to relax and turn the brain off for half an hour.  


3.         Education:  What knowledge and skills do individual clients need help with in order to achieve their aspirations?  Often fitness professionals think their value is in teaching clients lots of new complex exercises, how to turn their ‘core’ on, or when they can or can’t eat ‘carbs’.  In most cases this simply isn’t the type of education clients need.  More helpful can be educating clients on how to fit exercise into a busy day, what foods to avoid at the supermarket, or how to minimise calorie intake while ‘out on the town’. 


Trying to educate clients on things that aren’t relevant to their goals simply equates to providing them with lots of excess ‘noise’, and doesn’t equate to experiences many will want to repeat.  Keep it relevant.


4.         Entertainment:  Clients are more likely to want to repeat an experience that is fun and enjoyable. Exercise is often seen as a chore, making it easier to avoid or ‘put off till next week’.  How many of your clients have a good laugh during their sessions?  When you look around your gym do you see clients enjoying themselves? 


If fun and enjoyment are lacking then it may help to address this.  Sometimes as exercise professionals we can get a little wrapped up in technique, nutrition, what other trainers are doing or what the gym down the road is doing, and forget that fitness isn’t actually that complicated. Remember that we can also chill out and concentrate on having a few laughs with our clients. Why would clients come back for more sessions with you or rejoin their membership if they never have any fun? 


While ultimately clients come to us for an outcome or ‘transformation’, they must go through many ‘experiences’ on the way.  It’s your job to ensure that those experiences are memorably good rather than memorably bad or mundane.  It comes down to asking yourself what you want your clients thinking at the end of their sessions as they leave the gym.  Do you want them leaving with a smile on their face, feeling good about themselves and looking forward to their next session?  If so, what are you going to do to make sure it happens? 




Pine, J. & Gilmore, J.H. (1999). The Experience Economy, Work Is Theatre & Every Business A Stage.


To provide memorably good experiences to your clients you need to perfect the basics; screening clients, design individualised exercise plans and programmes and using relevant support strategies. For help with this contact the New Zealand Institute of Fitness