How Fitness Gamification Will Change The Way Personal Trainers Get Results

Why do some people get better fitness results than others and how do you boost client results and retention? While expertise and skill set are critical, we need to take a look into the wonderful world of games like Candy Crush for the answer.

I worked on national video game magazines in the UK from the age of 16, but took a turn into the fitness business world in my later years. Now I find myself going full circle.

While accountability is important, I’ve learned that there’s one important word missing: consequences. What will happen if someone doesn’t follow through, or more importantly, fails to reach a goal? What will be the punishments or reward?

In this article, I’ll show you how to boost client results, increase retention and make you the most sought-after trainer in your area in ways you may not have thought of.

The truth is, in business, you have to look at optimizing all areas, and whilst you may spend a lot of time focusing on leads, what about the clients you already have? How many are upgrading or continuing?

This is a huge piece of your revenue as it doesn’t cost you any more to acquire the business.

Starting to include more advanced strategies around accountability will help you separate yourself from other trainers and give you a good name for yourself, but you must be willing to hold your clients to their commitments.

Very few fitness business owners are using gamification to boost results, and it’s one area that I’m predicting will see a massive interest spike over the next few years.

One of the world’s leading experts on gamification, Yu-kai Chou, talks about the importance of a complete gamification framework. His book, Actionable Gamification, is a must for anyone looking to master this area. (Check out his TEDx Talk here.)

His Octalysis framework opens up gamification beyond leaderboards and badges, and the opportunity for personal trainers and fitness business owners is huge, especially if combined with apps and more complex studio/facility-based tracking systems.

The principles that have made games like Candy Crush addictive and fun can also help to cultivate positive behavior change in those looking to get fit and healthy. “Since games have spent decades (or even centuries depending on how you qualify a game) learning how to master motivation and engagement, we are now learning from games, and that is why we call it gamification,” he said.

In order to create lasting change, habits are essential to this progression, and gamification is a way to help facilitate this.

I recently told a client that if she didn’t produce a video every day for 100 days, she couldn’t work with me anymore.

Harsh? No. It worked. Not only did she get over her fears, take more action, and get results, she created new behaviors that she was able to pass on to others. It’s something we’ve committed to do more of from a coaching perspective. Everyone wants more accountability, and I’m happy to push it harder.

While the possibilities with gamification are endless, here’s a few different ideas on how you can start implementing gamification to boost accountability with some fun consequences.

1. The Money Burn: On enrollment, ask your client for an extra $500 or so that acts as a security deposit. If your client fails to show up to sessions or submit photos etc., you can start burning money in front of them.

2. The Public Video: For each milestone not reached, have the client post a video to their personal social profile explaining why they didn’t follow through.

3. The Session Chop: For every session missed, take off an additional session toward the end of the client’s package. We do this now for coaching, and you’d be surprised how well it works.

4. The “Pay It Forward:” For reaching their goal, the client gets to credit sessions to a friend to start their own transformation.

5. The 250 Burpee Penalty: If a client doesn’t send their meal photos, is late, or does not follow through on agreements, start each session with a 250 burpee penalty. Bucket to the ready!

6. The Accountability Form: Data showed us that if a coaching client doesn’t complete an accountability form one time, it affects results. Weekly accountability forms work great, especially with online personal training.

7. Public Progress Pictures: If your client fails to send in their weekly pictures (on Sundays for example), you can have them post them on social media.

Try these out, then brainstorm other ways you can start to implement gamification in your fitness business. By doing so, you’ll start to notice big changes, not only in your income, but most importantly, in client results.


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