Developing a Great Small Group Class Format

Personal Training

Developing a Great Small Group Class Format

by Hayley Hollander


Small Group training is on the rise in the fitness industry and is creating a shift in how operators run their business and how coaches must evolve to deliver exciting and attractive programmes that keeps exercisers engaged.

When it comes to small group training there are many options consumers have in their exercise choice. They are looking for unique, cost effective, convenient, and motivating workouts to help them reach their goals.  Not every studio, club, or class checks the boxes, so they continue to shop until they find just the right flavour for them.

With a vast array of competition and a consumer seeking an individualised experience at an affordable price, we’ve pinpointed five key components that create the best group training experience and keep people coming back for more.

1. Community

People don’t join a gym to workout by themselves. They are looking to be surrounded by like-minded individuals, and to be supported and inspired by others who are striving for similar goals. 

Providing classes that unite fellow exercisers creates camaraderie amongst a group of people who would otherwise not have had a chance to interact.  It could be as simple as a high five, or as competitive as a group challenge; when we create situations where people in the class can engage with one another, we help to establish a social aspect to our programme offerings. 

Participants become accountable to one another, and have reason to continue the conversation even after the class finishes.  Accountability to one another creates consistency in exercise attendance and can lead to results for the exerciser.

Interaction leads to Camaraderie.  Camaraderie leads to Accountability.  Accountability leads to Consistency.  Consistency leads to Results.  Results lead to Referrals. 

Building community and interaction into your small group programming not only helps to create a group of people who enjoy being together and working out together, but leads to a profitable business.

2. Personalization 

We all come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, and stacking on top of that are a plethora of personalities.Taking this into account when creating exercise experiences can be overwhelming for some.Yet, having a system in place to help provide an individualised experience for all who come to class can set your programme apart from all the others.

When a coach can take any movement and map it to each exerciser, they create success amongst participants and a build an environment where exercisers have autonomy.

Precor uses a movement classification system, taught in our Queenax™ Foundations course, and woven into the fabric of all of our programming.It seamlessly gives coaches the ability to teach any movement, and then bring it to life for any exerciser.

Layering this movement technique into the class provides choices for exercisers, allowing them to steer the direction of their exercise experiences, and subconsciously showcase our ability to personalize our classes. Feeling like the coach created the class JUST FOR YOU will help to build a loyal group of attendees.

3. Intensity

Every exerciser has expectations of how they should feel when working out.  Secondary to that, every exerciser walks into a class with a different level of fitness.  Is critical that every coach has the ability to map the intensity of the class to the expectations of the exerciser while respecting where they are starting.

Precor has a vast array of programmes that sit in several different categories, from Goal-Oriented to FUNctional to Therapeutic. Each of these programmes comes with set strategies to amplify or modify movements to meet each exerciser where they need to be met. Additionally, the Queenax equipment is scalable and intuitive, allowing the coach to create exercise experiences for every person that might walk into class that day.

Having the ability to scale movements to everyone, while allowing them to work at their own pace, means EVERYONE will cross the finish line!  This variability within the programming for individual success leads to an overarching success of the entire programme.

4. Variety

Variety is the spice of life! Without it we become bored and less engaged in what is taking place.

Great group training experiences keep the participants guessing.  They are intrigued at what they will get to attempt and try in each class.  Within Precor programming for Queenax we’ve provided the ability to give the programmes new life with variety.

Whether the coach implements new movement options from the Movement Classification System, or applies a movement to a different tool altogether, or takes that movement and amplifies it; there are endless ways to create variety.

By following the skeleton of the programmes, coaches can implement their own personal take on these programmes in order to best accommodate those who attend their classes.  Ultimately this leads to a novel experience for the participant EVERYTIME!  This experience makes them want to come back for more.

5. Coaching

Think of all the great coaches in your life. Now think of the characteristics that made them great.

Great coaches are people who have the ability to motivate others to try to do really difficult things, and whether or not you fail or succeed they make you feel really good about what you do. Those great coaches have more than likely helped you to accomplish things you didn’t believe you could. Great coaches stand out! 

Behind every successful group training programme is a coach who relentlessly implements the above four things (community, personalization, intensity, and variety) while sprinkling in motivation, purpose, and affirmation.

Giving praise, encouragement, and specific feedback are skill sets that when applied invite participants to give it their all, no matter how difficult the task is.

Collectively when we bring all five of these components together we bring programmes to life and we create an environment for others to thrive in.  Take a look at the programmes you teach to a group and see if there is something that you can implement to keep the crowds coming back for more.

Author Information

Hayley Hollander
Hayley Hollander's picture

Hayley Hollander is an international coach, educator, business leader, and overall passionate mover. She is an Education Director for the Gray Institute, a Precor Master Coach, Power Plate Master Coach, and Co-founder of Pivotal; a global development company empowering people to fulfill their greatest potential.  

With 19 years in the movement industry she brings experience as a Fitness Director for Midtown, Director of Training and Education for PTA Global, Business owner, and International Educator. Her in-depth knowledge and experience has helped to develop and create curriculums and programs that are used all over the world.  She has taught over 500+ workshops, educated over 5,000+ coaches around the world, and helped to develop and train 150+ Educators in the movement industry.

Hayley holds a Bachelors of Science in Physical Education with a minor in Mathematics.  She is a GIFT Fellow, CAFS, 3DMAPS, EXOS Performance Specialist, and is PTA Global Certified.

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