Powered by Fitter: How going online is helping Nick Longhurst scale his training business

We chat to Realm Fitness owner and head coach, Nick Longhurst, about his pivot to online training to help him scale his business, and how creating an app with Fitter is part of that plan.

Hey Nick! Tell us, how did you start your training business?

I started the business almost a year and a half ago. It’s actually a crazy story. I was working at a gym where I was one of the full-time coaches at their biggest facility. When the pandemic hit and Melbourne went into lockdown, I lost my job.

What are you most excited about going forward?

Just exploring different opportunities and having the freedom to do so. I’ve written a book, ‘A Recipe For Fitness’, and I’m now preparing it for launch. And obviously the app too — really just exploring online opportunities.

The problem with my job right now — and this is a problem for fitness trainers in general — is that we trade time for money. There comes a point where you max out your own capacity and it becomes really difficult to scale.

That’s why I had to hire another coach to help. I could follow the formula and hire more coaches for the number of clients I have, but then I’d need my own facility, and that’s not what I want anymore. Not long ago, I went to a business mentorship conference in Sydney with a trainer who has nearly a million Instagram followers. He does his whole business online — he coaches thousands of people every day through a monthly subscription, and he just continually uploads new content. I really admired and wanted to emulate that. So, what I’m most excited about is exploring these new opportunities. I think it’s going to give me a lot of freedom, and my app is a big step in the right direction for that.

What initially inspired you to take your business online?

Once I started filling my own hours, I realised that it was going to be extremely difficult to scale. So going online was a great way to be able to scale — quickly. And, the great thing about the online model is that you can still provide solutions to the exact same problems that you have face-to-face — you just do it online. People still want help with their technique, they still want to know about nutrition, and they still want to learn how to stick to a good training regime. You can do all of that online, which I didn’t realise before.

If I’m able to turn my online presence into my business — and gain a better work-life balance — that’s such an attractive business model for me.

You’ve built up a great audience on social media. How did you build such a large Instagram following?

It’s taken a long time to get to where it is now. Initially, I got a lot of advice saying “you’ve got to add value”, “you’ve got to be consistent”, etc. — which is all true. But for me, growth mainly came from trying to connect with other people and build relationships within the platform. So, yes, you have to post regularly. You also have to think about how you are going to solve problems that your audience is having. But for me, I’m also sharing my own training journey.

You have to try and think about how you are going to solve problems that your audience is having. But for me, I’m also sharing my own training journey.

It was a lot of grind work initially. I was connecting, following other accounts, liking posts, commenting, sending messages, that kind of thing. At the time, it seemed so tedious but the number of opportunities that have come from it has been crazy. I was able to land a protein sponsorship; I was able to connect with a guy who had almost 100k followers and a couple of months later, I ended up doing work with him. He then introduced me to another trainer who is quite famous and had been on TV. I kept thinking, “Wow, this all stemmed from the hustle work I was doing initially.”

You’ve just launched your new app that you built with Fitter — congrats! What did you find was the hardest part of building an app? What was the biggest challenge you had?

The most challenging part, or the most time-consuming part, was definitely creating the content. Firstly, I had to work out what programs I wanted to include in my app. The programs needed to be quite versatile since I’m trying to cater to an audience that is any experience level, any sporting background, and any fitness goal. We spent two months putting together just three programs, which are the ones I have on the app now. After the planning phase was finished, we filmed all the content — about a hundred and fifty exercises — and wrote descriptions to accompany each exercise. Next, it was ready to put all together in the app. Learning how to use the platform was a bit challenging at first. But, like anything, once you get familiar with how it works, it was easy — especially since Fitter released the new program builder and app builder! I knew what I wanted the programs to look like, and I am pretty confident and content with how it is now — it’s come a long way.

The content was definitely the most time-consuming part, but it’s not ‘hard’ because I knew exactly what exercises I had to film since I’d done the planning already.

Comparing Fitter to other platforms that you’ve used, what would you say are the top three benefits of using Fitter?

Definitely the self-branding, that’s the first standout feature. The second standout would be that the app you create can be whatever you want it to be. You don’t have to adhere to the platform’s structure, you can create your own structure. A lot of apps out there have their own thing that you have to conform to, but not with Fitter, that’s been sweet! Because of that, I’ve been able to design my own pages. For example, if I want to do a nutrition page, I can do that. If I want to do an exercise page — which is one of my biggest content avenues — I can do that. I think that makes the platform so much more versatile. It’s also great that you can create something that’s not just a generic app for all users — you can customise programs for individuals as well. That’s a really important feature for me. I think for trainers like me that want to make an impact and make an individualised program, that’s a really important feature to have.

You don’t have to adhere to the platform’s structure, you can create your own structure. A lot of apps out there have their own thing that you have to conform to, but not with Fitter, that’s been sweet!

Did you look at any other platforms to take your training online?

There were a couple that I considered. The main function that I was looking for was a platform that I could use with my face-to-face clients. I wanted to be able to provide them with software that I could program for them, and we could both access. There are a couple of solutions out there — TrueCoach is the one I’ve been using. There’s also Trainheroic and PTMinder — those platforms also give you their own content database, and some allow you to customise and upload your own videos. But they’re quite limited in allowing you to brand the app as your own — it’s their brand and you’re just using their service for your clients.

I showed one of my clients the app this morning and she said “Oh wow, this looks great!” Clients don’t realise that it’s created through another platform. It’s my own app, and it’s fully personalised to me and my brand, which I think is absolutely going to be a standout for my business.

Check out the Realm Fitness app here or follow Nick on Instagram here.

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