We turn to social media for so many things; it touches every aspect of our lives. Be it trying to see if your high school girlfriend is single or checking out a new company you want to work for, social media has changed the way we do things. Not only does the average person turn to social media for personal use, there are many different businesses that take full advantage of this new type of marketing and consumer outreach. Fitness sites are already a huge niche and now social media site creators are starting to really take notice. There’s more than a handful of social media networks on the internet solely dedicated to fitness. Obviously, open social media sites (think Facebook, twitter, google+) are full of fitness pages.
Want to know why there’s so many sites dedicated to fitness? Because it’s interesting, and everyone wants to be in shape, but only a few really ‘get’ what it takes and how to reach their goals. Fitness is also a very peer driven issue, most people can relate to the desire to be fit, or the effort it takes to get there. The right social media site could act as your gym buddy (p.s. having a gym buddy is a highly effective way to reach your goals). One company has combined the business of muscle and social media into a company and is able to use the latest internet tools to get people in shape through the internet.
Marc D. Thompson, a professional fitness expert and personal trainer, turned to social media to grow his business. Since then, his business model has evolved to bridge distance, time and convenience as a way to obtain and retain clients, he says.
Thompson founded VirtuFit in Delray Beach as a studio operation in 1987. He worked in a variety of capacities: rehabilitation, trainer, instructor, consultant, faculty and director. He works with people of all ages and abilities: budding athletes, senior citizens regaining strength, or patients recuperating from injury to fitness clients.
He added its virtual component in 2008, serving about 25 clients a day.
Thompson emphasized that his is a business that relies heavily on personal referrals.
So, the progression to use the Internet, face-to-face visual technology like Skype, and branding through Facebook and Twitter was a “natural movement toward virtual training, being able to reach anyone anywhere,” he said.
Creating original content such as his recent online book, The Fitness Book of Lists, sharing links and resources; advertising on Facebook, using keywords for Internet searches and social media conversations, drives interest and new business, says Thompson.
The drill down:
What adjustments did you make in you business/operations model for online training? I bought new faster laptops, I pay for the top Internet speed package, I bought a large screen TV to display my clients better when on Skype. I improved my personal skills, my speech and ability to succinctly yet completely convey my directives.
Skype clients make up 75 percent of your business now. To what do you attribute that? I credit my reputation and client referrals. I’m innovative: working one-on-one with individuals. I designed numerous fitness programs. I’ve broadened my reach to train a multitude of clients around the world with teleconferencing.
Why do clients like Skype? It’s convenient, easy and takes the logistics of traffic, or a late night at the office out of the equation. In addition, the video and audio quality is wonderful and with proper skill, knowledge and articulation I am able to “be in their room” with them as they train.
How do you keep a virtual business real to your clients? Soft skills are just as important as technical know-how, such as intuition, caring, kindness, and observation. In addition, with proper articulation my clients feel I am standing right beside them, motivating and prompting them along the way.
How do you engage in the local community such as business networking? I joined the chamber and go to events, grand openings, I go to social spots such as coffee shops and restaurants, I join or attend expos and workshops, volunteer and be active in the community.
Do you train with clients at local venues, community centers, etc? Yes, I have trained at client’s offices, hotel rooms, houses, backyard, poolside, at parks, at beach, at churches and gyms…anywhere can be a gym.
Do you have competitors? Yes, there are many trainers and I’ve trained others to do virtual training and hope to train more. I welcome competition and also hope more people are exposed to and understand the validity of virtual LIVE training. It’s all about awareness.
What is the best advice you ever received? Surround yourself with people who are smart and honest.
When just starting to use Skype, what are some early lessons-learned? Oh, when the lawn guy inadvertently cut the cable line in my yard–No Skype! No Internet! Now I have Skype on my phone as well as backup.
So, this site is basically looking to intertwine social media and live interaction- thin virtual gym buddy.
Watch this video about one company incorporates social media and fitness…
Here’s a list of the top social media applications for fitness:
Gyminee – This site caters to the fitness buff and contacts users with reminders about reaching goals and staying on track.
Fitizens – This site aims to be the internet’s first social marketplace exclusively for Fitness Experts to connect with Fitness enthusiasts. It’s an online community where fitness enthusiasts can get advice, information and guidance straight from the people who know it the best.
FitLink – This site’s mission is to establish a dynamic community that lets users to live healthy lives. It also aims to connect fitness enthusiasts with personal trainers, health clubs and even event organizers.
Exercise World – This is an online fitness community and social network where you can meet people into exercise, nutrition, and health. Users can setup profile, blogs or groups while you go through your quest for losing weight or staying fit.
Are you on any of these sites?