Many of us at Skype are starting to enjoy the indulgences of the season a little too much. The story’s familiar: jeans get tighter and holiday party attendance outpaces trips to the gym.
An entrepreneur in Florida has come up with a clever way to use Skype to help people’s fitness stay on track, all year long. Marc Thompson is a personal trainer. More specifically, he’s a self-proclaimed Virtual Personal Trainer (VPT), who is the sole proprietor of VirtuFit.net.
“Today, seventy-five percent of my personal training happens over Skype video, and I hope to get it to 100 percent,” says Marc, who was profiled recently in the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. “I started training this way four years ago. I’m a single dad, and I really needed to find a way to work that allowed me more time at home.”
“We get a lot of ‘snowbirds’ down here in Florida. I first thought about training over Skype when one of the other trainers at the gym where I worked was trying to help two of his clients from Maine stay fit when they went home. In the past, he gave them videos and other things, but nothing worked. It dawned on me: why not keep training them using Skype video?”
“I actually ended up training that couple the whole summer, and my business just grew from there,” says Marc, who relies on referrals to find new clients and, increasingly, on visitors to his company’s website and Facebook http://www.facebook.com/virtfufit page.
“Some people just search ‘personal trainer and Skype,’ on the web and find me,” he says.
Marc credits Skype’s reliability with helping his business thrive.
“I have run into virtually no problems with Skype video,” he says. “I have a great set-up on my end, but it’s more important that I see my clients than they see me. My biggest hurdle is convincing clients that they can use Skype for this type of activity. A lot of them have used Skype for work or for talking to grandkids, but just haven’t thought about Skype video for training.”
Whenever possible, Marc meets a new client in person at least once, to ensure he or she has Skype installed on his or her computer, and knows how to video call. Only about ten percent of his more than 50 clients reside in Florida, however. The rest are in other Eastern states, in California, and a few even live outside the United States.
“One of my clients is a top thoroughbred horse trainer. He’s never in one place for long,” says Marc. “There’s just no way he could train in person. I train him in hotel rooms, in New York, Kentucky, wherever he is.”
Marc is passionate about teaching other professionals to expand their businesses with Skype. He’s started an accreditation program for personal trainers who want to become VPTs. And he’s even spread the word to other industries. Among those who’ve followed his example: one of his clients, a psychologist, now uses Skype for appointments with her out-of-state clients.
Are you transitioning your real-world business to one that takes place on Skype? Tell us about it in the comments, below.