Hybrids Are the New Normal

A man wearing a horse mask lifts an atlas stone in a gym with cinder block walls.

Whenever we post a picture of a gym owner selling a $600-per-month membership, we get comments like this:

“I’d never pay that for a gym membership!” and “There’s no way that’s true!”

It is true, of course. But it’s concerning that gym owners doubt their own value so much. The key to selling high-priced memberships is to:

A. Know what your clients actually want.
B. Match your service to them.

There are many ways to sell “hybrid memberships”—a combination of personal nutrition coaching and fitness coaching:

1. Personal nutrition and group exercise coaching.
2. Group nutrition and group exercise coaching.
3. Personal nutrition and personal exercise coaching.
4. Group nutrition and personal exercise coaching.
5. Nutrition “challenges” and group coaching.

And so on.

Most gyms entering Two-Brain’s RampUp program are selling exercise but not nutrition coaching.

If you’re just adding a nutrition component to your coaching practice, that’s fine. Below, I’ll tell you what to charge for nutrition coaching, how to launch the program, how to determine who should deliver it and how to package it to create “hybrid” memberships.

What to Charge for Nutrition Coaching

Start by asking, “What do my clients need to adhere to a nutrition program?”

The answer will be different from coach to coach, but remember this: A diet is never enough. Your client won’t just read a diet book and follow the plan. You might; they won’t. You need some kind of accountability in the program. That accountability could come through daily texts (“Send me a picture of your meal!”), weekly check-ins or bimonthly appointments. That part’s up to you (we help you build your system, with pricing, in our program).

In general, charge as much for a nutrition session as you would for a personal training appointment. Two half-hour nutrition check-ins should cost as much as two half-hour PT sessions.

Then add the time necessary to provide accountability. Many of the big chain gyms have an “accountability” option, where the coach checks in on a client list daily. Listen to Two-Brain Radio with Allison Schrager here: She pays for nutrition accountability (and, full disclosure, so do I). We both know what to eat. I’ve been giving nutrition advice for over 20 years. But we both need someone else looking over our shoulder—and we pay for it.

For example, your gym’s “wellness” program might include two 20-minute check-in sessions done over Skype or in person. Then, for clients who struggle with accountability, you might have a text-in option available for $50 per month. I actually pay far more (around $150 per month) because accountability will get me results far faster, and $50 per month isn’t enough for me to take things seriously.

What your clients need might change over time. Adopting the Prescriptive Model of client Goal Review Sessions will help you adjust to their changing needs.

Final note here: You can’t just “give nutrition advice” for free. People won’t take action. Real nutrition coaching requires as much time and planning as exercise coaching does.

How to Launch a Nutrition Program

Start with a 28-day or 30-day nutrition challenge for your clients.

Get them excited by selling a program with a clear beginning and end point.

Then add ongoing nutrition coaching at the end of the challenge.

Charge for the challenge to establish proper buying behavior.

Who Should Deliver Your Nutrition Program?

While anyone with a passion for nutrition can learn to be a good nutrition coach, you have to be careful about what you prescribe.

First, a good nutrition coach should understand how to change human behavior. Nutrition isn’t sexy. It’s easier to get someone to show up for a hard workout than it is to get him or her to prepare meals for the week.

Second, some states actually require you to be a registered dietitian to tell people what to eat. There’s all kinds of debate and litigation over these laws, but you should know your limits. Here’s a state-by-state guide:

If you’re in one of the “red states” on the map I linked to, nutrition coaching is going to be tougher for you. But you should still do it; you’d just partner with a registered dietitian to do so. And when you do, you can set up an agreement to provide exercise to the RD’s clients, too.

You can also work with a program like Two-Brain Coaching to have your nutrition coaches trained and mentored by registered dietitians. That’s what I do in my gym!

How to Package Nutrition With Exercise

After you’ve determined your rates, add them together and put them into a printed pricing binder.

Your packages might change depending on where a client is in his or her journey: New clients might need more accountability, more knowledge or both.

The important thing is that you don’t offer a discount for purchasing both services. We’ve proven it in hundreds of gyms: Discounts don’t help you sell more hybrid packages. They don’t make people feel better about purchasing. Discounts only satisfy the gym owner’s personal bias about money. Because most of your clients earn more than you do, discounting your service just shows you don’t value it as much as they do.

Present your options at your first meeting after you make a prescription. Follow this format:

1. Goals
2. Measurement
3. Prescription
4. Package
5. Price
6. Purchase

After you’ve sold one “hybrid” package, you’ll start to look at your other services differently. Gym owners tell me all the time that they now consider their exercise-only option to be an incomplete offering—an “a la carte” option for people who can’t afford their real service. And they now consider their group memberships to be the “budget option” for people who can only afford the bare minimum—even though it was their premium option less than a year ago!

As always, our value is determined by the change we make.

Hybrid options—with nutrition and exercise coaching—create the greatest changes possible for our clients and the most value for our businesses. Soon, we won’t call them “hybrids”—we’ll just call them normal.

Other Media in This Series

Why You Need a Nutrition Program
Mike Doehla: Why Nutrition Coaching Isn’t Always About Food
Nutrition Coaching: Challenges Vs. Appointments


One more thing!

Did you know gym owners can earn $100,000 a year with no more than 150 clients? We wrote a guide showing you exactly how.