“I feel like I’m the one who loses out in this equation…”
This is what a leading Strength & Conditioning coach said to me back in 2018 when we were exploring how we could better support and serve health and wellness professionals.
What he meant was it feels like the current industry model is rigged against the professional. In his instance, he almost worked in a form of vassalage; needing to pay off a monthly sub before he could start to profit from his endeavours. In that equation, the gym wins and so does the client as they still receive a great service.
This is one of scores of stories I heard, across a multitude of professions, all different variants of the same theme – the professional is the one that loses out.
But here’s the contradiction. In health and wellness, the quality of the service you receive is defined disproportionately by one factor - the quality of the professional treating, training or coaching you!
Go figure! That contradiction told us that change was needed and that we could help lead it.
Covid, the catalyst
But just as we were about to birth Until into the world in March 2020 by signing our first lease on a building, along came Covid.
As we all sat at home anxiously huddled around Zoom calls, we, like all businesses, were wrestling with the existential questions those early days of lockdown posed:
“What does this mean for wellness professionals?”
“Will their businesses survive?”
“How will they be working with things going back to normal?”
“What does ‘normal’ even mean anymore?”
Ultimately, we were asking ourselves if what we were doing was still relevant or needed.
But as the curtain to the post-pandemic world started to be pulled back something fascinating came into view. All the small shifts we’d seen pre pandemic started to explode like a charge had been detonated under them, creating a new paradigm.
The rise of the personal brand
Whilst the pandemic was undoubtedly tough on freelancers it also created a seismic rebalancing of power away from brands and towards the professional.
Not only did 2020 see a 19% rise in the growth of health & wellness freelancers (IPSE), it was also the year that forced them to find their voice.
Locked at home with nothing but a laptop and phone, wellness professionals were forced to draw on their own personal brands to grow their businesses. With many millions of us turning to them as a more personal and tailored way of getting in shape, staying mentally fit and fixing our bodies.
Professionals are loving their new-found power and freedom and clients are loving the closer, deeper and more authentic connections. The genie is out of the bottle and it’s not going back!
Skill diversification & personal development
One of the things I noticed back in 2018 was the number of wellness professionals I spoke to who were learning a new skill, whether it be a Strength & Conditioning Coach learning Nutrition, a Physio learning Energy Healing or a Life Coach learning to PT.
But looking back on it now, it makes perfect sense. Not only is the passion to learn and develop the hallmark of a top professional it also felt like a response to the constraints of the industry – a side hustle being yours and yours alone, revenue that’s protected from your employer.
Like the rise of personal brands, this doesn’t feel like it’s a flash in the pan. That’s because learning another skill has potent benefits for the professional – according to upskilled.com learning a new skill improves your brain health and memory, increases your mental wellbeing and happiness, fosters connection with others and keeps you relevant.
It’s also beneficial for their clients who are increasingly seeking our more holistic interventions to get better results and protect their bodies and minds against tomorrow.
Leading the shift
Fast forward to Jan 2021 and Until Soho is emerging into this new world armed with a mission to create more freedom for wellness professionals so they can build thriving businesses, keep growing their skills and find strength and security through community.
We’re creating a home where professionals can get help building their personal brands, deliver more than one service under one roof and even get help learning another!
It feels like ours will be the first of a new generation of wellness business that place their emphasis on serving the professional, not just the customer.
We hope so. It’s long overdue.
Time will tell if our hunch is the right one. But why not come and see what you think?