When we publicly released TrainerMetrics earlier this year we knew that individual personal trainers as well as ‘Mom-and-Pop Gyms’ would appreciate the ability to track client progress using little to no additional equipment. What we didn’t realize was that there was another segment of the personal training market that absolutely needed some help.
As an undergraduate student studying kinesiology, many of my classmates that worked part time did so at the University Rec Center.
Another thing we didn’t realize was how many different programs the Campus Rec Center had; aquatics, outdoor activities, intramural sports, indoor rock climbing, fitness, etc. We learned that fitness programs typically include personal training, small group training, group exercise classes, and wellness services. It’s like a friggin’ gym inside a gym!
This meant one thing to me, we absolutely needed to learn everything about University Recreation. More specifically, all about how they structure and improve their fitness programs as well as communicate with their member base.
Connecting With Our Roots
First, we started by emailing every Division 1 university that had a Rec Center and asked if they’d be willing to have a 10-minute call. Over a 3 month period, we spoke with more than 75 assistant directors, coordinators, and/or graduate students that were in charge of fitness programs.
Let me be clear, the goal of talking to these professionals was NOT to sell them software. The goal of this exercise was to learn everything possible about University Rec fitness programs, period.
We quickly realized how organized each program was. Without going into too much detail, 3 key takeaways were:
Most managers (assistant directors, coordinators, grad assistants) had a background in kinesiology.
Most trainers were kinesiology undergraduate students and NCCA certified.
Standardized fitness assessments were widely used.
So big deal, most everyone had a background in kinesiology or another related subject and the staff took fitness assessments. We could have just assumed that, right?
Wrong. (Quick tip of the day, never assume anything.)
Developing Relationships Are Important
Had we assumed that managers and staff were kines-nerds like ourselves, we wouldn’t have attempted to reach out in the first place and absolutely would not have had the chance to make a proper introduction. Most importantly, everyone that we spoke with seemed to appreciate our willingness to learn about their team and business.
This made it incredibly easy to touch base a second, third, or anytime.
Making friends with academia was a very important first step for us as we were trying to learn how teams of personal trainers would systematically use TrainerMetrics, as well as what types of outcomes management were interested in.
Outcomes? Yes, outcomes. Unlike most private gyms, Campus Rec departments and programs have to prove the value and need of their services. If they are unable to prove value, they don’t receive much funding to expand their program.
That said, even though we only had a handful of Campus Rec customers early on, these relationships helped refine and build more robust functionality that impacted the types of services we offered.
Some of these “white-glove” services we built out included setup and configuration of accounts, one-on-one live walkthroughs, training and onboarding, and periodic virtual workshops.
Another thing we didn’t understand at first was how close-knit the Campus Rec community was. Regardless if someone is in their first year or their twentieth, these professionals keep in constant contact with either other. We quickly realized how important our custom success processes and onboarding services were, when our first Campus Rec customer referred us to numerous universities without hesitation.
Becoming part of the Family
Again, we thought it was going to be very difficult to find our first customer that would be using TrainerMetrics with their entire personal training team. Within a matter of days, our transparency and persistence landed us our first Campus Rec customer. In the last year, we have worked with dozens of Campus Rec personal training programs, helping them deliver more value to their member base than ever before.
The biggest takeaway for us was to blow away any and all competition by providing top of class service to any and all prospective customers.
Point. Set. Match.