Financially it makes perfect sense, why train one person for £35-50 per hour, when you can train five people for £15 each and earn £75? Group training can allow you to work less hours and earn more money, but it can also come with a lot of headaches that are often swept under the rug by its promoters.
If you’ve been a personal trainer for a while, and are quite successful you will know how difficult it is to schedule your time. Everyone wants 6pm on a Monday, and nobody wants 7pm on a Friday. Oh and guess what your 5pm client wants to change to 5:30pm which throws your entire schedule off. Either you move every single one of your evening sessions by half an hour, or you lose a client for the day (and possibly forever).
Then you’ve got the last minute cancellation that leaves you sitting down waiting for 60 minutes earning £0 and leaving you susceptible to “helping” any gym member who wants a spot or help finding the 20kg weights.
Wouldn’t it be better if you could group all of your Monday clients into one session and hold it at 7pm? Obviously you’d offer a discounted price, but you could still end up making more money while only spending one hour in the gym on a Monday.
Group training is also a really good way to build up an atmosphere in your sessions, and a sense of community within your client base. Usually clients see themselves as separate from everyone else, so group interaction in your Facebook group can be non-existent. But when you look at any bootcamp or group training Facebook group all the members know each other and create a communal feel.
Happier clients, more money, more free time, and less time spent creating custom made training programmes. You will also have more free time to market your business, concentrate on client’s nutrition, and working on programmes for them to follow on their own. You are combining the many benefits of a group class with personalised programming and nutrition. A win-win situation for everyone.
Why did you get into personal training? If you said to help people then think again – because a free exercise class can help people. You became a personal trainer to offer a step up from fitness classes, a unique experience, one-on-one trainer and client. In these sessions you can talk to that client, build a relationship with them, and eventually get to know everything about them.
You can spend time correcting their technique, listening to their issues (both fitness/nutrition related and social/family), and you can make changes to their training programme based on their individual feedback.
It can be harder to do any of that with group training - if you have five people who need to finish an exercise within five minutes then you can’t spend twenty minutes working on Anna’s deadlift, nor can you devote much time listening to Paul’s issues at work.
In fact you may struggle to communicate at all with the more introverted clients. People who paid you month after month because you made them feel special and important, and because you actually listened to them, could feel isolated if you spend their hour of training talking to the resident Alpha about their squat technique. Something to bear in mind.
Also, to make group training successful you will need to gain more clients, otherwise you will be earning less. That means more marketing, more trial sessions, more last-minute cancellations, more sales conversations.
You’ll also have scheduling issues (though this will go away with time) and you should be prepared to lose at least a couple of clients. But the biggest issue will be space. To make group training a success you will need to find the right balance of cost per client, and clients per session.
If you can find a way to train just 3 people then that’s great. But even finding space for 3 people in a crowded gym can be a nightmare. Jumping onto a bench press on a Monday with one client can involve lots of negotiation with other gym members, but trying to get 3 clients onto a bench press could be impossible.
This means that you may have to think about hiring a studio, or training them outside. This will automatically lower the amount of equipment that you have available to you, and if it’s outside your entire business will become weather-dependant. Anyone who has taken a group session in a cold, rainy park where only 2 people turned up (just enough that you can’t cancel but arguably not enough to make it worthwhile) will understand this pain.
If you are a personal trainer who needs more clients then group training may not be the answer. Filling your diary is the real challenge, which means that you should be investing your time in learning about marketing and sales.
If however you are a successful trainer who is struggling to fit all their clients into their diary then group training could be the perfect solution – provided that you mitigate for all the above issues. Creating a hybrid of personal training and group training could be even better. Putting on group training sessions at quiet gym times such as a Thursday or Friday evening, while continuing to train regular clients on (a now less-congested) Monday.
Group training can revolutionise your business, but make sure that you recognise the differences between it and personal training. Don’t treat it like the solution to all your problems, but don’t be afraid to give it a go. Just decide what type of trainer you want to be first.
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