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Five creative ways to keep clients engaged, retained and interested in virtual workouts

Keep clients engaged in their virtual workouts

Pilates, yoga and meditation have all seen a boost in popularity during the pandemic as more people have sought mindful movement practices for stress relief that they can do at home with limited space and equipment.

Pilates has been the third most popular style of virtual workout booked on the MindBody platform during the pandemic after yoga and HIIT. Not only that, but clients have embraced virtual fitness with a 73% increase in exercisers using pre-recorded video versus 17% in 2019.

That’s great news for mind-body instructors as they continue growing their businesses virtually, but it also means that a hybrid model of in-person and online teaching is here to stay.

Among the many challenges for instructors in this new environment is dealing with Zoom fatigue— their own and their clients’.

“I was pleasantly surprised at how well people adapted to virtual training at the start,” says Merrithew Lead Instructor Trainer Jennifer Dahl. “It’s probably because people were doing less movement in their daily lives, so they were making more of a concerted effort to tune in and focus when they booked a virtual session with me.”

While there was a lull during the summer as people went on vacation or opted to do outdoor workouts instead, Jennifer saw client numbers rebound during the fall and winter.

Here’s how she’s staying focused and keeping her clients engaged, retained and interested in their weekly virtual workouts.

1. Create a teaching template to guide your week

For many instructors— and even some clients— getting used to working on and looking at a screen all day has been a challenge. “I’ve devised ways to keep myself interested by jazzing up and being really creative with my programming,” Jennifer says.

At the start of each week, she creates a template, or program design that informs her classes and sessions. This template is a jumping off point; it provides some structure, sequence ideas, and a theme or focus area to her week ahead, while still allowing her to be spontaneous and adjust her programming for her individual clients’ moods, strengths, weaknesses and fitness goals.

“It’s lesson planning with freedom and flexibility. I can still spice up or dial back the programming design depending on what my clients need. Now I’ve built a library of content templates that I can refer back to and rejig whenever I need.

“This really helps keep me in the game and stay excited. It ensures that I remain on track and don’t drift while I’m teaching,” she says.

2. Experiment with different workout times

If clients are starting to feel bored, switch up the time of day when they practice with you. If they usually practice in the morning, talk to them about moving their time slot to the afternoon after they’ve gone on their daily walk. A little change in routine is good for everyone and it might just be a matter of stacking the right activities in a row so they have more energy and enthusiasm.

3. No equipment? Leverage all the props

Props are a great way to add challenge, instability, weight and resistance to any workout routine. Jennifer trains competitive athletes as well as regular Pilates enthusiasts, so props like the Halo® Trainer Plus with Stability Ball, Mini Stability Ball and Sliding Mobility Disks come in handy to progress and regress clients through the repertoire.

If she feels like they’ve hit a plateau or they’re struggling to stay engaged, a new prop can go a long way to reenergizing them.

4. Move your ‘studio’ setting around

Day 3 - Image 2

As an interior design fanatic, Jennifer pays a lot of attention to her ‘studio setting’ on camera.

“I am constantly changing where I locate myself in my living room for class to ensure the setting is pleasant for my clients. Not only is it practical— I want to be comfortable and make sure they can see and hear me properly— but it’s also for fun and to keep things interesting so they don’t feel like they’re always in the same corner or just seeing a blank wall. I also do the same with my outfits.”

It also creates a more intimate environment for her clients. “I’m getting to meet their pets on camera and they’re being welcomed into my space.”

5. Focus on what more you can learn to improve your offering

To keep her clients coming back week after week, Jennifer not only taps into her Merrithew training, but also her dance background and her personal training skills.

“It’s incredibly important to keep learning, practicing and exploring new forms of exercise as a fitness professional to ensure your programming doesn’t get stale. By adding new skills and ideas to your toolbox, you’ll keep your clients on their toes, so their workouts never get repetitive.”

She also recommends doing a quick check-in with clients at the beginning of every session to see where they’re at mentally and physically.

“Sometimes, you’ll have to go off template and that’s fine. If a client is really stressed out, I’ll make sure we take more time to do some focused breathing exercises and meditation. It’s all about being flexible so you can meet them where they’re at.”

Enhance your teaching skills, develop movement mastery and gain new programming ideas to take back to your clients on Merrithew Connect. Start today >

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