I wish I could say that this is a new trend, but unfortunately it’s not. However, with more and more practitioners transitioning their business online, due to pandemic-enforced lockdowns, we have seen an increase in the amount of free programs and e-books circulating the net of late.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that people want to help those in need. Some are looking to make a real difference to the lives of many, by offering out information, that if taken on-board, could be truly transformative. However, I believe that this technique is not actually helping the masses of the general population, or the health and fitness industry, as much as it could be.
It’s common knowledge that the vast majority of practitioners that offer this kind of free service, are only using it as a marketing tool. They don’t have the client’s best interest at heart. Their main goal is to give the client a taste, in order to get them to take a full bite of the pie in the future. It’s an age-old tactic, and it works. I mean, it’s all that you see online these days and if it didn’t work, people wouldn’t be doing it.
The reality is, that health and fitness professionals have to give away a certain amount of information for free, for marketing purposes. The vast majority of us have gotten into this industry in order to help other people. We gain value from it. They gain value from it. Everybody wins. But as we scale up our model, and attempt to help ourselves more, in a financial sense, than we’re helping other people, in a practical sense, that’s when the water is muddied and the change we illicit is significantly reduced.
See, the truth is, people absolutely love free stuff, but they don’t value it. By giving all this stuff away for free, the only person that you’re truly serving is yourself. It’s clear that it’s an act of shameless self-promotion and it devalues the health industry massively. It devalues your own work and the work of others equally as much.
You see, when people see something being given away for free, they immediately and instinctively believe that what’s being given away is of little “value”. No matter if it’s the best program in the world, they likely won’t bother adhering to it. After all, it’s not tailored, they’re not held accountable and sure, they got it for free for god’s sake. They’re under no obligation to get value for money out of it.
Unfortunately, they then won’t get the results that they want from the program, and may become disenfranchised as a consequence. This may in turn make them unlikely to commit to the actual product or service that will make a real difference. They didn’t get value out of the free one, so why would they want to waste their money?
If we continue to offer out free, quick-fixes to complex problems, people aren’t going to see any real value in what we do. They’ll deem our work to be virtually worthless, as it comes across that we treat this job as more of a hobby, than as a serious profession. Who knows? It may be even a reason behind why the fitness sector was not considered to be an “essential service”, and as part of, or an extension of, the health sector. How can we be trusted to make real changes to our clients health, when we only do this for a laugh?
See, true coaching is all about the process, not about the product. The goal is always to make yourself as redundant as possible. You’ve got to collaborate and develop a meaningful relationship with your clients. Then your aim has got to be, to provide them with the necessary information, and guide them to the more appropriate habits, so that they can take ownership of their own health. If you truly care about people, you’ll want them to be entirely self-sufficient and autonomous, within their own lives.
Teach them the “why” behind it all first. Then teach them the how. If you treat them incredibly well and they see the real “value” in what you do, then they won’t leave you anyway. You won’t have to put out a new booty-building plan every 12 weeks. And in the end if they do leave, then you’ll hopefully have made a real change to their life. They’ll be singing your praises and you’ll have people banging on the door, just for the chance to work with you.
By focusing on lifestyle, as well as their “fitness”, and using a client-centred and empathetic approach, your work will go beyond a meaningless metric of how lean the client has been at a specific moment in time. If your client wants to attain those specific goals, then they will happen as a consequence. And if you’ve made a real change to their lifestyle, then those changes won’t disappear overnight.
So, let’s stop with the free workouts, stop with the free programs and stop with the free bullshit. Transient change is not effective change. Free shit sucks for everyone. Do better, make a difference.