Five Coaches Who Added Individual Design During the Pandemic

Five Coaches Who Added Individual Design During the Pandemic

And Have no Intention of Going Back

While OPEX gyms are all based on individual program design, many non-OPEX gyms began introducing individual design to their clients during the pandemic as a way to continue to service them through shutdowns and various other COVID-restrictions. 

But they soon discovered that individual design provides great value to their clients and their business, pandemic or not. As a result, these coaches have no intention of abandoning the individual design service even when the pandemic finally comes to an end. 

In Vancouver:

When her gym began limiting how many group classes each client could attend each week in order to accommodate the most amount of clients during the pandemic, Emily Beers began offering individual program design to her clients. 

“It was a way to allow them to either hit a fourth and fifth workout each week, either at home or during designated individualized programming times at the gym,” explained Beers, who took the OPEX CCP in the fall of 2020 and is currently working on her final project.

Nine months later, 10 of her clients are now paying a premium each month for individual design—most of whom do a combination of group classes, personal training, and individual design—and they say both their commitment to fitness and their performances have improved because of it.

  • “I don’t think I would have stayed at the gym just doing group classes in taped-off boxes and masks during this time if it weren’t for the individual program,” said Rich Fraser, a client who has been training with Beers for eight years.
  • “We focus on my specific needs and weaknesses…We recognized weakness in my squat and pulling strength and wanted to focus a bit more on that…I added about 50 pounds to my front squat and back squat, and pull-ups have drastically improved,” said her client Chase MacLeod. “There has also been a sports focus, and I’m excited to see those gains when I start playing organized sports again after COVID.”
  • Meanwhile, Katie Allen, who has been training with Beers for four years, added: “My program for the current week depends on my performance from the week prior…Each session feels like it is programmed just right because it’s based solely on me, my abilities, my goals, and my potential.”

(Coach's Resource: Learn more about individual design in this free coaching course.) 

In London, Ontario

Dave Henry, the owner of CrossFit London in Ontario, has barely seen his clients in person since March 2020. Other than a short period of time in the summer when he was able to open for in-person training, Ontario has been one of the most locked-down places in the world. As of May 2021, CrossFit London is still closed.

For both his clients and his business, adding an individual design option, which he charges a premium for, has been a Godsend, Henry explained. 

  • “It’s very helpful to the client, and the more I do it, the easier it gets. I think I have more than 200 exercise demo videos now, so that type of leg work costs extra time at first, but then it becomes a very easy tool using it as you go forward. And it’s very helpful to the client,” Henry said. 

He expects individual design to continue to be a big part of his business in the post-pandemic world. 

  • “So many clients have bought equipment and probably won't be coming back to the gym any time soon, or have seen the benefit of time-saving from training at home,” Henry said. 
  • He added: “I’ve also had a number of past clients reach out to me, many of who are out of town and realizing location is no longer a friction point. They just want a program that will work and a coach who knows them.”

In Portugal:

Coach Renato Costa, who completed the OPEX CCP in 2018 to 2019, quickly built a book of 65 remote, individual design clients in the first few months of the pandemic, each of whom pays $75 Euros a month for a training program and monthly lifestyle consults with Costa. 

Since the first lockdown, Costa has continued to build his book of remote clients to 73, and has hired a coach to help him take on the growing workload.

Costa credits the CCP with helping him become much more efficient at designing individualized training programs, and at improving his ability to sell the concept.

  • “I’m able to make more effective programs now, and I know how to help people more now…I’m more competent…so this means my athletes are better, and they share more things because they’re seeing better results,” Costa said. 
  • He added: “I’m more critical in my thinking when I see different training methods, or when I’m doing research. This has definitely made me a better coach.”

The best part is, being part of the OPEX network will allow him to keep growing. 

  • “There’s all this education available, so I can always be learning, and learning from a good source…It has made a big difference,” he said. 

In Belgium 

Stijn De Waele managed to not just change careers during the pandemic and take the OPEX CCP, but also build a book of individual design clients from scratch.

  • “(The CCP) gave me really good guidelines for every category of athlete—the starter, the intermediate and the advanced athlete—and how to work within OPEX Pain, Gain and Sustain to help them reach their goals,” he said.
  • De Waele added: “It gave me the tools I needed to explain what I’m doing to the client, too. So now I can say, ‘We’re going to do this because of that, and I saw in your assessment that you need this, so we’re going to do that.” Best of all, he now has the confidence when making coaching decisions. “It’s no longer a guessing game,” he said. 

DeWaele’s clients all pay $300 Euros a month for individual design and monthly consults. 

In Mississauga, Ontario

Alex Cibiri, the owner of the Element Movement in locked down Ontario, is another coach who has benefited from introducing more individual program design to his clients since last March.

He began rolling it out for all of his clients during the first lockdown, and then launched it as an added service on his top-tier memberships, he explained. 

It has been a huge value to his clients and to the business, as it has provided value to clients who weren’t interested in virtual classes, clients who otherwise would have quit the gym in the last year. Thus, the business has been able to retain way more clients than they otherwise could have in the last 16 months, Cibiri said. 

  • “It has also kept some people on a modified membership who moved away, which helps,” he said. 
  • He added: “We will definitely keep doing it after the pandemic. We have set it up to run similarly to nutrition coaching: custom programming based on what they need. Some need workouts, some need accountability, some need nutrition.”

Overall, offering individual design has made a huge difference to the client, the coach, and the business during the pandemic and beyond, he said. 


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