Why I Treat My Freediving Students As Investors Instead Of Consumers (And How I Give Them More Value Than Just A Certification Card)
For me, freediving is more than just an underwater activity or sport; it’s a transformative journey that demands dedication, practice, patience, and if given the chance, can be a powerful tool for personal development and self-reflection.
So when I returned to Mauritius 5 years ago after trading an established career as an international yoga teacher, to establish the first freediving school of Mauritius and pioneer the development of the discipline there, there were two things that I knew I wanted moving forward as a freediving teacher.
First of all, to attract students who would share a commitment to growth on their freediving journey, instead of the conventional customer looking for a quick holiday experience.
Secondly to have full freedom on the way I wanted to teach and not have to compromise on my pedagogy to make shareholders happy.
That meant that I had to find a way to filter my students, which was easily done by crafting a very personal website and by avoiding social media. And for the second part by staying away from investors who were eager to invest in my freediving school, as friendly as they might seem to be.
Little did I know that this interesting mix of a niche audience and organic growth was going to create a paradigm shift in the way I would approach teaching freediving courses, setting the tone for a long-term relationship and shared commitment to growth with my freediving students.
The Value of a Freediving Certification Course.
There are hundreds of freediving schools around the world that offer freediving certification courses from reputable freediving organizations. These freediving courses provide valuable knowledge and skills, giving people the proper foundations to later grow as freedivers. leading to an internationally recognized certification card.
However, it’s crucial to understand that a freediving certification card, on its own, doesn’t bring any tangible return, perks, or financial benefits. If you conclude after your freediving course that you need more time in the water to practice or fine-tune your skills, showing your freediving certification card at freediving schools worldwide is not going to give you any extra perks like access to free gear rental or training logistics. You will still have to pay for these, and it can easily add up to hundreds of dollars if you are going to train regularly.
As such the certification card can be viewed more as a proof of completion, a testament to one’s dedication and skill, but it is not going to save you money on your path to becoming a proficient freediver.
Customers expect a product, Investors expect a return.
Unlike other water sports like scuba diving or surfing, freediving empowers individuals with a unique set of abilities and insights that can be applied to various aspects of their lives, from improving self-discipline to enhancing their overall well-being, and can even be a life-changing experience.
So when students join my freediving courses, they’re not just purchasing a service; they’re investing in acquiring lifelong skills, and experiences. These skills extend far beyond the realms of the classroom and water. I have witnessed students transform into more accomplished individuals in life from conquering their fear of water, or being able overcome their long-time smoking habit, driven by their desire to excel in freediving.
Rather than viewing my students as one-time customers who pay for a course and leave with a certification card, I treat them as investors in themselves. As a result, I wanted to find a way to give them a proper return on their investment instead of just a certification card.
Numbers never lie.
A typical level 1 freediving course, offered in groups, usually ranges from $300 to $500 in price, depending on the location and the instructor’s experience. For a private level 1 freediving course, the price tag usually starts from $1000 onwards.
I charge approximately $600 for a private level 1 freediving course which a quick internet search will reveal as not only competitive but also among the most affordable rates for private freediving instruction by an experienced and knowledgeable instructor of my caliber. Even though this sounds like an insanely good bargain in itself, the interesting part is what happens once a student completes a freediving course with me.
Once their course is over I offer the opportunity to my students to come train with me free of charge under certain conditions (like being punctual and not promoting non-ethical freediving activities), to be able to spend more time in-water to practice their skills. In comparison, most freediving schools worldwide charge an average of $30 per session.
Considering the average price of $30 per session, if a student joins me for one free training session per week, in just 5 months, they would have recovered their initial $600 investment. In a year, they would have gained a remarkable 120% return on their investment. This is not just a return on their money; it’s a return on their commitment, dedication, and trust in my teaching.
Fostering a Community of Passionate Freediving Enthusiasts.
The life of a pioneer of freediving is not an easy one. Quite often you find yourself in countries with no existing freediving communities, no buddy to train with, and no diving sites yet that has been explored for freediving.
Offering free training sessions isn’t just about financial returns. It’s about building a community of passionate freedivers who support each other’s growth. When freedivers students train together regularly, they form bonds, share experiences, and inspire one another to grow. This sense of camaraderie not only enhances the overall freediving experience, it also keeps freedivers from being tempted to break the golden rule of freediving which is to never freedive alone.
Progressing Toward Mastery.
For students who are committed to advancing their freediving skills by enrolling in a level 2 course (which comes at an additional $800 investment), I offer them the level 3 freediving course (valued at $1000) at no extra cost (excluding certification and boat fees) once they have completed the performance requirements during training.
This approach isn’t about discounts or giveaways; it’s about recognizing that the true return on investment lies in the skills, knowledge, and experiences gained through freediving. By offering these opportunities, I am fostering a community of dedicated freedivers who are committed to self-improvement and growth, and not just here chasing Instagram shots with dolphins or whales.
Empowering Ambassadors of Freediving Excellence.
My decision to treat my students as investors rather than customers is rooted in my passion for freediving and my desire to see my students excel in this sport. It is not just a shift in mindset; it’s a commitment to excellence.
By providing free training sessions and courses, I give them a unique opportunity to achieve a significant return on their financial investment in a freediving course that goes way beyond what a freediving certifcation card brings, while fostering their growth as freedivers.
Ultimately, the return I get from investing my time and expertise in training my students for free after their courses is multifaceted. It goes beyond financial gains. My goal is for them to become the best versions of themselves as freedivers and to become true ambassadors of my pedagogy.
With this approach, I am fostering a community of individuals who are not just certified freedivers but skilled and passionate ones. They become advocates for the sport, mentors to newcomers, and ambassadors who spread the word about the benefits of doing a freediving course with me, and the other people involved with me who share the same philosophy.
This is no financial advice but, if you’re contemplating to do a freediving course, look beyond the certification card and seek an instructor who regards you as an investor in your personal growth and success, rather than just a consumer in the world of freediving.