2020 The Year Personal Training Died

Golds Gym & 24 Hour Fitness have both filed for bankruptcy in 2020 (Valinsky 2020), (BBC 2020). The first gym I worked in as a CPT was a 24hr Fitness, during my time there four years ago I already saw the writing on the wall.

An online survey conducted by Morning Consult, released in April 2020, found that over 68% of gym-goers are much less likely to return to their gym. Only 11% of those survived were indifferent to a post-COVID gym sesh.

There has been a push for people to integrate their fitness goals into their lifestyle for years now.

I suggest ‘Eat This Much – The Automatic Meal Prep Generator’ for that first step into modernity.

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The sneezing did not cause the collapse of the industrial bodybuilding complex; it began shifting the second the average consumer lost confidence in the supplement and gym industry.

Most people are aware of the fact that supplements are trickery, many diets are fads & most coaches are too expensive to fit the average client’s budget. This is why people are taking this year as an opportunity to rethink their approaches to fitness.

I remember the day I learned about Freeletics. I was climbing the Jacobs Ladder in my 24-hour fitness while waiting for a client to arrive at 6 am. My friend was working out with me and showed me the new program he was using instead of the typical bodybuilding.com fitness plans that were all the craze.

As I scrolled through the app and tested its capabilities, my first emotion was envy. Why didn’t I think of crafting an app so brilliant? This app is not reinventing the wheel; it is just providing more accessibility to exercise!

This app was sleek, freemium, but most importantly, it fulfilled the needs of a casual bodybuilder that would otherwise pay me upwards of 800 USD a month for the same fitness advice. As my middle-aged client came in, all I could think of that day was that I am essentially a paid buff gym buddy. For me, that was the day personal training died.

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‘Yo bro, you need a spot?’

Can you replace your trainer with a fitness app?

Well, let us evaluate what a certified coach can provide you.

Typically, a CPT will sit down with you to discuss your goals, evaluate your current physique, and then discuss any diet and workout restrictions you may have. This typically comprises of a laid back conversation over a smoothie and measuring tape. After you get your custom diet and workout guide, the CPT shifts their focus to supporting you by teaching you proper exercise form and do our best to keep you consistent.

After the diet and workout guide is produced, you are left with a buff cheerleader without the pompoms that cheer you on as you do push-ups.

What makes Freeletics better than traditional personal training?

As a CPT, I understand most people’s goals are out of reach because of a lack of accessibility to the instruction and finding guides that work. The market of fitness apps is littered with quick-and-trashy apps that provide no real solutions and vibrate your phone to death as they push ads for a quick dollar.

Freeletics is built to be free FIRST, and any additional paid features only enhance what is already excellent service. The program was founded by Joshua Cornelius and raised over 45 million dollars in their first round. With a massive budget in his gym shorts, he crafted a solution that utilized AI to helps engineer community participation, quick exercises, and, most importantly, easy access.

The biceps of the app consist of mindset coaching, personalized training, an exercise database. For the freemium users, you have access to the community and a handful of free programs. I should add, they also offer a nutrition app, but I do not believe it is robust enough to be considered the best app-based custom diet planner.

If you are looking for an effective curated diet, you get everything a trainer could offer without stepping into a gym with ‘Eat This Much’ the automatic meal planner.

Created by Louis DeMenthon, it is an online tool that creates meal plans that meet your diet goals based on your preferences, budget, and schedule. The best part of this app is that it even produces a weekly grocery list!

It is not the only solution online, but it is the best. They produced a sharper, more robust app than any of the competition. I previously discussed how V Shred advertises itself as a ‘custom’ diet solution but peddles premade guides that are based on old nutrition science. ETM does not peddle any gimmicks; it uses an algorithm geared to give you a delicious custom meal plan that fits the required macros for you to gain or lose weight and muscle mass. Best of all, they are not focused on drowning you with protein shakes and supplements.

Between Freeletics and https://www.eatthismuch.com/, Most people can achieve their goals without even speaking to a nutritionist or certified trainer. Albeit I would suggest people who have particular medical restrictions speak to a nutritionist before making any other decisions.

However, I need a trainer to keep me motivated…

We have not even scratched the fitness world’s SaaS potential. New applications are being produced in Silicon Valley that removes the need for a gym but still allows you to keep an accessible human personal trainer in your pocket. ‘Bright,’ for example, does not rely on AI or automation to craft your fitness and nutrition plan, it allows coaches to join a database, and the client goes on-site to choose who best fits their goals. You can keep that certified smile in your life to help you maintain proper form, build workouts and diet plans.

This advice may seem counterproductive to my job security, but I commend the market for finding solutions to allow more people to live healthier lives. Any reputable, certified personal trainer or nutritionist approaches the field with a desire to help others avoid the landmines of age by keeping them healthy with their knowledge. We all need to get a paycheck; I guess I will have to make my app to get my piece of the digital pie. 🥧

So is personal training dead? Well, no, but it is quickly being phased out to make room for a more individualized and accessible form that will probably run on AI, not sweat.

Works Cited

BBC. 2020. Gold’s Gym files for bankruptcy protection. 05 05. Accessed 08 28, 2020.

Valinsky, Jordan. 2020. 24 Hour Fitness files for bankruptcy and closes 100 gyms. 06 15. Accessed 08 28, 2020.

Brice Mansa - ISSA Certified Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach

Brice Mansa is a certified personal trainer from the ISSA. He took his knowledge from college to provide a more broad education method (blogging) to enhance the lives of thousands of people. Tired of being limited as a personal trainer in a gym with a single client, he stepped up his game. ASCVS.org is proud to host him and the team of 4 other certified personal trainers and kinesiologists. When Brice isn't training or writing he likes long walks on the beach, puppos & motorcycles. We hope you enjoy his content, tips & stories!