Daniel  J. Green by Daniel J. Green
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As you and your clients cope with the ever-changing reality of COVID-19, you may be wondering how to price your services now that your in-person business is shifting online. This can be a difficult topic for many health coaches and exercise professionals even in the best of times, and the current uncertain economic situation seems to only enhance that difficulty.  

Many of you are employees of fitness facilities and therefore do not have to set hourly fees for your clients, so you may not be aware of the many factors that professionals who work as independent contractors must consider when establishing their per-session fees, including personal costs, taxes, and business and insurance costs. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, health coaches and exercise professionals must understand their local communities and what their target market can afford. The rates will be very different in San Francisco than in a small town in rural Pennsylvania, for example. 

In a recent ACE live panel seminar entitled “Take Your Coaching & Training Business Online,” three virtual coaching/training experts suggested that you get creative when thinking about how to charge for your services. You might want to charge per session, offer monthly payments that represent a discount off the per-session fee, or offer a subscription model where clients pay for a series of sessions with a custom theme. If many of your clients are older adults, for example, you can offer a three-week fall-prevention series for a flat fee.  

Of course, all of this is infinitely more complex in these unprecedented times. You may have some clients who are working from home and whose personal finances have not been directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, while others may be struggling to make ends meetThough potentially uncomfortable, this should be a topic of conversation during your initial communication with clients. 

Offering Discounts 

While it may be tempting to offer steep discounts or even some free sessions to clients who are struggling, especially if they have become more like friends, you should remember that your time and expertise have value regardless of the setting. You might consider leaving your rates exactly as they were prior to onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, or you might want to be more flexible in consideration of your clients’ uncertain finances. It would be a good idea to do a quick search online to find out what others in your area are charging for virtual sessions. The value of virtual coaching and personal training is high right now because of the lack of other options. 

You can also add value to your programming by allowing spouses and children to participate in sessions after filling out appropriate pre-participation forms If you charge a couple the same fee you used to charge only the husband for his in-person session, they will feel like they’re getting a bargain while your income doesn’t change.  

Be Flexible with Timing 

Another option is offering 30- or 45-minute sessions rather than being rigid about scheduling 60-minute workouts. Many people have had their entire lives turned upside down. They may be homeschooling their children while trying to learn how to effectively manage their time working from home. They may be experiencing psychological or emotional struggles as a result of being isolated from friends and family. Many clients who consistently made it to their personal-training sessions twice a week on the way home from work may find it tough to find a 60-minute window now that the whole family is under one roof all day long. 

Remember, you want a session with you to be a welcome distraction and a form of self-care during these troubling times. Being creative and flexible, not only with your programming but also with your pricing and scheduling, should allow you to maintain your income while strengthening your relationship with your clients. 

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