If the government introduced payments to fitness professionals and centres of up to $140 per hour to deliver weight loss coaching would you be interested?
Welcome to the perfect storm that some in the fitness industry recognise as an opportunity.
There's three fronts to the storm:
1. OVERWEIGHT & OBESITY
We're witnessing an uncontrolled trend towards obesity being an epidemic.. Story. Overweight and obesity impacts 2 out of 3 adults and 1 in 4 children. In many communities and workplaces obesity is the new normal.
Although weight loss is the most common goal for new members and PT clients, this may be the tip of the iceberg. For every overweight person who launches into exercise with the hope it will help them lose weight, there may be ten others (who knows?) whose weight stops them even contemplating exercise.
2. NO EFFECTIVE GOVERNMENT STRATEGY
Australia’s government spends less than about $0.02 of every health dollar on prevention each year. This equates to A$89 per person – considerably less than Canada or New Zealand.
Meanwhile, the economic burden of treating obesity-related diseases is estimated to rise from A$12 billion in 2014 to A$21 billion in 2025. In other words, for every dollar we are spending on prevention, we’ll soon be losing A$10 for our lack of action on obesity.
For decades our governments have sat back and allowed a preventable epidemic. Adult-onset diabetes is being renamed diabetes as it now affects younger and younger members of our community. Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver disease (NAFL), once almost unheard of in children, is now increasing. It's as if the parents were supplying vodka to their children. It is a direct result of the processed foods and sugar-sweetened drinks they buy their children. It rots their teeth and gives them disease.
The longer we wait, the longer we go without a plan, the longer we fail to invest in prevention, the longer our kids suffer needlessly. For the health of all Aussies, Aussie kids and our nation, we need a comprehensive plan for prevention.
Source: The Conversation (Comments in brackets added.)
The only thing that governments can do is to throw (invest) money at a problem. There is no indication that our health authorities have a clue what to do about our obesity epidemic that is traumatising our health care budgets. Neither do they have any will. They simply can't think outside the square. Too many politicians wash their hands of responsibility using the "nanny state" argument. This is supported by the processed food and drink industries who argue that you should be able to consume processed foods and sugar-sweetened beverages as long as you exercise enough to maintain calorie balance. Although this sounds logical it simply does not work in real life.
Plus... notice how governments will quickly come up with money to meet acute threats (terrorism) but at the same time ignore chronic threats that will kill a thousand times more people (obesity and diabetes). It's the "boiling frog" principle at work.
3. FINAL PART OF THE PERFECT STORM - WHERE HEALTH FUNDING GOES
Our health care system operates on an unquestioned belief that all health care services can only be provided by "Approved Health Care Providers" regardless of whether there is a health improvement or not. Too much of our "health care" dollars focuses on symptom relief (via drugs) and too little goes towards attacking the causes.
There are drugs aplenty for obesity-worsened conditions (diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, some cancers, asthma, depression etc.) When it comes to obesity, there’s no effective drug but there is bariatric surgery. It's unfortunate to hear surgeons argue "The evidence is that diet and exercise does not work. The only thing that is proven to work is surgery." What a lot of self-serving nonsense!
The unfortunate truth is that the simplistic diet-and-exercise, or calories-in-calories-out, strategy, simply does not work for most people, yet it’s the only advice most doctors, health professionals and government agencies provide - if they provide any advice at all.
Did you know that there's false restrictions placed by AHPRA upon doctors not to talk about diet to their patients. Most doctors have no training in nutrition and weight management... plus most simply don't have the time.
DOES THE FITNESS INDUSTRY SCOPE OF PRACTICE STOP YOU HELPING PEOPLE LOSE WEIGHT? Although the scope of practice is not a law, it does seek to prevent fitness professionals from prescribing individual diets. This is the typical consulting role of a dietitian. However the Scope of Practice does not prevent fitness professionals from coaching people in expert-designed weight loss programs. Just as with personal training, the money and results are in the face-to-face coaching, the monitoring, accountability and support.
NEW OPPORTUNITY FOR FITNESS PROFESSIONALS AND FITNESS BUSINESSES - WEIGHT LOSS COACHING FOR UP TO $140 PER HOUR
Now... imagine if the government were to release a new health care schedule that paid up to $140 per hour called WEIGHT LOSS COACHING.
WILL THIS SOLVE OUR OBESITY EPIDEMIC?
No it would not, as there's a large section of the community that are not aware or even motivated to lose weight. But it could make a difference to some. Think of three groups:
- Those who are overweight or obese and not wanting to do anything about it
- Those who are overweight or obese and may do something about it if it's free (ie the government pays). The problem here is that people who don't pay, often don't pay attention.
- Those who are overweight or obese and would be open to entering into a program and paying for the program fees - especially if they see evidence that it works
Right now, there is no government program (to fund groups 1 and 2) and so you can only address group 3 - those willing to pay for a result.
NOW THE GOOD NEWS
The good news is that there are fitness studios and centres offering expert weight loss coaching programs right now in Australia and New Zealand.
It looks like this:
- Delivered by anyone who has undergone the training by the program provider (like dietflex). Weight loss coaching does not require nutrition qualifications so can be delivered by self-employed personal trainers or fitness centre employees or instructors.
- The coaching could be delivered in the fitness centre or studio, in the workplace, in medical centres or online via Skype.
- Fees paid to the coach or the fitness centre could be
- $100 for an initial 30-45 minute induction setup session
- $120 to $140 total per hour from 4 clients per hour, each paying $30 to $35 for their 15 minute coaching session - by weekly direct debit for their scheduled coaching session
Some fitness centres have over 100 active clients paying $34.95 pw for the weight loss coaching. (At 4 clients per hour, that's just 25 booked coaching hours per week which earns an extra $3,495 pw or $181,000 pa in extra gross revenue.) Some include access to fitness facilities and services.
Be aware that if you have a non-intimidating coaching area, you may attract new clients who want to lose weight, but are not ready to exercise yet. Help them lose weight first, and they'll become more interested in exercising eventually.
As the fitness industry becomes increasingly competitive there's more pressure on centre managers to attract new market segments and increase average membership yield. Of course many fitness professionals want to add extra sources of income, especially from non-physical work. Remember that they do not require nutrition qualifications to coach people on an established program.
DO YOU WANT AN ADVANTAGE OVER YOUR COMPETITORS?
There are probably just two ways to compete:
- You're the cheapest gym or trainer in your area. There's only room for one competitor who sells on price. This is a volume race. It's not about services like weight loss. If you're the "second cheapest" your business is at risk.
- You're a premium gym or trainer that offers a premium service or a range of premium services to your target market segment or segments. If this is you, then your ultimate success depends on your ability to market (attract) and sell (convert) people into your facility and programs.
The best weight loss programming must be more than helping people lose weight, it has to have marketing that you can use to attract people who want to lose weight and sales strategies to make it easy for them to buy and pay a premium for your weight loss program. That's how some centres have over 100 weight loss clients. They combine a great program with great marketing and great sales.
The marketing and sales has to increase the customer's (and your) certainty of success and decrease the fear of risk. This way more people will sign up. They'll be happy and so will you.
WANT TO LEARN MORE? Email your details (name and contact number) to firstname.lastname@example.org to request more information and to learn how you can implement the program, the marketing and the sales process into your fitness business.