Blog: Personal Training Is Not 'Just Renting Friends' | Athletic Business

Blog: Personal Training Is Not 'Just Renting Friends'

In announcing that Planet Fitness will no longer offer Personal Training, CEO Mike Grondahl said that people doing personal training are "just renting friends," and he indicated that personal training - and the selling of it - disrupted Planet Fitness's "judgment-free zone." It also seems that PF will use its lack of personal training availability as a marketing point - "We'll never try to sell you anything you don't want!"

Mike, why so negative? Why so - dare we say - judgmental? Do you really have to tear down a whole segment of our business because personal training doesn't fit at Planet Fitness? Is it really that big a deal to admit that something you tried didn't work out? PF doesn't offer pools, so are you going to say that aquatic exercise and swimming are a waste of time and money? You don't offer childcare services, so does that mean that consumers who appreciate childcare at other clubs are wrong?

Ironically, just before this news hit, we were speaking at the Athletic Business Conference and Expo about how to build a personal training program. Among other topics, we discussed how important personal training's revenue stream can be to most facilities. One attendee asked, "Are there times when you would suggest a gym not offer personal training?" Our answer included how low-priced clubs (like Planet Fitness) might not want to bother with personal training because their business model is based on selling lots of inexpensive memberships. Trying to sell personal training in that environment might be difficult because your members have already voted with their wallets that they don't want to spend a lot of money. The level of expected service is also lower (Planet Fitness once described its customer service as "hello" and "goodbye") and in a very busy, low-priced club, there simply might not be room on the workout floor to accommodate personal training.

The bottom line - there's nothing wrong with Planet Fitness or any other club not offering personal training if it doesn't make sense for them. Do you know why we don't offer $10/month memberships? Because it doesn't make sense for us. Do you know why we offer childcare? Because it does.

So, relax Mike. Business seems to be pretty good at Planet Fitness. Personal training just isn't your thing.

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