Practice Better sat down with Fiona to hear her story and learn more about her business FIT by Fiona. A personal trainer, Nutrition Coach, and Eating Psychology coach based in the Alberta Canadian Rocky Mountains, Fiona is passionate about the mind-body connection and supporting her clients in developing a positive relationship with food.
She’s been in the wellness business since 2010, and has recently transitioned all of her offerings (fitness, nutrition & lifestyle coaching) online in just three days. We were inspired by Fiona’s ability to adapt so quickly during the pandemic and we think you will be too! As a result of transitioning to a fully virtual business model, Fiona can continue to do the work she loves and help her clients who are based all over the world.
— A Conversation with Fiona —
You transitioned your fitness classes online in a matter of 3 days! What went into that decision to pivot, and how did you do it so quickly?
During the pandemic, one by one the facilities where I coach began closing. I knew if I wanted to continue to teach that I had to act fast and transition to online classes and personal training. This was a totally new territory to me since I hadn’t used the group booking feature in Practice Better before, and I had never hosted a zoom call! I knew there would be a lot to learn and new groundwork to cover, so I offered my classes to clients for free for the first 2 weeks. This allowed me time to get set up, experiment with best practices, learn from my mistakes, and get feedback from clients.
To be honest, though I couldn’t have done it without the Customer Service team at PB. I’m a pretty good tech person, but time wasn’t on my side because of the pandemic and social distancing. So I reached out to CS multiple times with questions both simple and complex, so I didn’t waste precious time trying to figure out how to set up booking my availability, group sessions, booking widgets, etc. I couldn’t have done the quick transition without them!
Have you continued to gain new clients since transitioning online? What strategies have you used?
The last thing I expected during the pandemic was to have new 1:1 clients come on board. I offer a Mind-Body Nutrition FITness & Lifestyle coaching package which can be done 100% online through Practice Better. Coaching notes, workout links, online check-ins, 1:1 video sessions, food journals, and so much more! It has generally been through word of mouth, rather than a promotion that my clients reach out to me. I feel that many people have become more aware of the importance of self-care during this time in order to stay physically and mentally healthy, so people may have been thinking about it for a while or this ‘new normal’ was the little push they needed to make the commitment.
What advice would you give to other practitioners who are looking to take their practice online, but are new to this business model?
I have had a part of my business online for several years but never thought that in a matter of days it would become 100% online. In the past I wasn’t using software so it was very tedious and not as interactive with coaching through emails, texts, shared docs, etc. Investing in Practice Better was the best thing I could have done! Everything is now in one place, so this means that my coaching is more streamlined and interactive, I am more efficient with my time, and I am also able to reach people on a greater scale.
What are your favorite Practice Better features that have helped you run an online coaching practice?
When I first started using Practice Better I was mainly just using notes and bookings, and forms for food journals. Now I am using Practice Better for everything! Being able to set up digital waivers in forms has been key for me so that I can ensure everyone doing my classes has signed a waiver (sometimes I have 30 people in a class). The booking widget has been amazing so that I can allow people to register for drop-in classes. I think payment plans have been the best feature and a complete lifesaver! I have a package that requires weekly billing, so I was able to set this up quickly for everyone that signed up.
You also coach clients beyond food and exercise, with a certification in Eating Psychology. Can you tell us a bit about Eating Psychology and why are you passionate about it?
Eating Psychology allows me to coach clients beyond just what they eat. It’s finding out who they are as eaters, what influences their choices and behaviors, and coaching them on how to improve their relationship with food and/or overcome challenges surrounding food and eating. This also includes body image as the two are often connected. My goal as an Eating Psychology coach is to help as many people as possible overcome their disordered relationship with food and with their bodies.
You recently ran a virtual group workshop on Emotional Eating. What inspired you to run this type of session in a group format?
In the first few weeks of the pandemic, I had many friends and clients mention to me that they were struggling with food. Routines and emotions turned upside down meant that many people were turning to food to cope. So I decided to offer an intimate (8 people) virtual workshop where people could share their struggles, and I could offer them tips and strategies for their emotional eating behavior.
What would you say to other practitioners who may be fearful of all the uncertainty right now? How can they begin to look for positive growth opportunities?
If we can get past the immediate fear and uncertainty, there is an opportunity in this extraordinary situation. People need guidance now more than ever for both physical and mental health and wellbeing. Working virtually allows us to provide the services people need, and for some practitioners, this time may even be a time to thrive. I believe that even after the pandemic, there will be more demand for online coaching than there was beforehand. We don’t know what the NEW, new normal will be, but if we support others through this by working online and provide them with what they need now, there will be an opportunity to continue this work after the pandemic as well.
Do you have anything coming up and where can our readers learn more about you?
I am continuing to run virtual classes for as long as fitness facilities are closed in Alberta. There is a good chance that I will continue to offer some online classes even after the pandemic as this is a good fit for many people doing my classes, and I feel that the need will still be there even when gyms reopen.
I am also hoping to run more virtual workshops in the future, and I am currently accepting new 1:1 Mind-Body Nutrition, FITness & Lifestyle clients for June!
Thank you so much, Fiona!
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