Small group training – the missing link between personal training and classes
The Head of the Future Fit School of Personal Training, Paul Swainson, looks in to why the high price barrier for personal training might be a blessing in disguise
Up until recently, personal training has largely focused on one-to-one sessions with clients in order to provide bespoke programming, advice and support to the individual. The perceived high price has always been cited as a significant barrier to people taking up PT and with the economic downturn the demand for more cost-effective ways to engage the services of fitness professionals has risen.
This has perhaps been a blessing in disguise as not only has it unearthed a business model that allows trainers to significantly increase their income, it has also created products and services which more closely match the needs of many people seeking help with their health and fitness.
It is becoming increasingly more evident that people adhere to exercise programmes and healthier lifestyles when they are part of a group with a common aim. The accountability to your fellow 'team members' and ready-made support provides additional motivation to that offered by the trainer, which in turn hugely increases the chances of sticking with the programme and achieving results.
Consequently bootcamps have been gaining popularity for a number of years, but more recently small group training has emerged as a viable ‘middle ground’, allowing the social aspect of exercise to be combined with more tailored programming and reduced costs to the client. Although one-to-one and one-to-three training has existed for a while, its full potential is only just being realised. This ranges from ‘semi-private’ training, in which up to 3 clients follow individual programmes supervised by the trainer, through to groups of around 6-8 who go through structured drills and routines that emphasise interaction with other group members, utilising partner work and games for example. This is distinct from traditional group exercise or classes, where the numbers involved often require everyone to perform the same exercise together, as in aerobics, or separate exercises individually (e.g. circuits).
In terms of cost, where clients might for example pay £35 per session for personal training, a group of 4 people may only pay £12 each. This is a significant saving for the individual, yet the trainer generates £48 for the session, thereby increasing their profits considerably.
Small group training also makes it easier to provide results-driven training as regular progression and assessment is simpler to manage with fewer people. This is another key element that separates this form of training from classes - the ability to actually write a programme that incorporates carefully planned overload to ensure each individual group member makes ongoing, sustainable progress. For this reason the skills of a personal trainer must be combined with those needed to coach and motivate a group. Indeed, this has led to the term ‘hybrid trainer’ being coined to describe what many believe to be the future for the fitness industry.
All of this means that clients not only benefit from a more personalised service that they enjoy, they can also get tangible evidence of progress towards their goals. In many ways it is the perfect solution - a service that people want and like, which works, is affordable and yet generates more income for the trainer.