4 Must-Haves for a Successful Group Training Program

For Gym Operators

4 Must-Haves for a Successful Group Training Program

In the current fitness climate, people are searching for personalized workouts and one-on-one attention, but sometimes without the hefty price tag of a personal trainer.

Exercisers need affordable guidance and personal trainers need clients. As a club operator, how can you serve the needs of both parties? Group personal training is the answer.

The following is a summarization of an education session from the 2015 IHRSA Convention, produced with full permission from IHRSA. The full-length video is available for purchase at ihrsastore.com.

About the Speaker

Vic Spatola is currently the Director of Personal Training at the Greenwood Athletic and Tennis Club in Denver, Colorado. He has over ten years of experience in the fields of rehabilitation and training. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science and Wellness, and is a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) certified Performance Enhancement Specialist. He is a qualified martial arts instructor and has taught at the Inosanto Academy of Martial Arts.

What Is Group Personal Training and Why Is It Valuable?

Group training consists of small groups of three to 15 people who receive specialized and focused training. Its strongest appeal—aside from the localized attention—is specialized personal training, albeit in a group setting. The fact is that group training is less costly than a personal trainer.

Why Should You Implement a Group Training Program?

Group personal training motivates clients and encourages results. The group environment often evokes competition, which fuels motivation. The more engaged and motivated your clients are, the more time they will spend at your facility, thus enhancing retention and revenue.

  • Group training offers your club and trainers the opportunity to reach more people and grow your business.
  • Offering your members or non-members the opportunity to train in a group creates a non-intimidating and social environment, while still providing specialized and valuable training. People like being in groups; it is human nature.
  • Group training creates a revenue stream for trainers, which in return increases their longevity with your club.

Who Will Find This Program Appealing?

Group personal training offers valued training at a fraction of the price of an individual trainer. This appeals to members who cannot routinely afford a trainer in a one-on-one setting.

Specialized training in a group setting creates a social motivation to make lifestyle changes. Those who generally require more guidance than can be found in group fitness (larger groups of 50 to 60 people) benefit from specialized training. Additionally, a group training program can attract new prospective members as part of an introductory fitness package.

Small group training

Characteristics of a Successful Group Training Program

Unique Equipment

A group training program sells the club experience in addition to training. Provide unique and challenging equipment used specifically for group training. This includes speed and agility tools, stability tools, self-myofascial release tools, and Olympic lifting equipment.

Qualified Trainers

Your trainers should be certified and preferably possess college degrees in a health and wellness field. They should be organized and prepared. Hire energetic trainers who can inspire and motivate while demonstrating a genuine concern for a client’s results and wellness. Attention to detail and providing exercisers with the level of guidance they expect is important in group settings.

Dedicated Space

Make a point to differentiate group personal training programs from group fitness. Generally, group fitness caters to large groups of people while group training is limited in numbers. Group training allows for the implementation of more creative exercise programs and personalized attention.

Reserve a particular space for group personal training. Include specialized equipment in the space and allow access exclusively with trainers. This enhances the program’s exclusivity and focuses on its uniqueness for personal training class members.

Structured and Specific Workouts

In group training, the average workout should be approximately 50 to 60 minutes. Set aside five minutes for a functional warm up, and five to ten minutes at the end of the session for a cool down. Organized and prepared trainers become immensely valuable in this environment. A structured workout segment allows clients to understand the club and recognizes their time as valuable.

Specific workouts include: heart-rate training, body weight training, self-myofascial release classes, sports performance training, power lifting, and body transformation classes.

Group training should provide greater attention to detail than group fitness, as well as increased guidance and correction from trainers. To maintain a sense of exclusivity for your clients, there should be different trainers and exercise programs for paid and complimentary classes; a client will not find value in paying for a service that is available for free.

Although your goal should be to differentiate group training programs from group fitness workouts, group personal training can borrow from the group fitness programs.

Group fitness and group personal training should both include:

  • Upbeat music
  • Fun and engaging environment
  • Sense of belonging that being in a group workout creates
  • Motivation and competitiveness that come with being in a group setting

Challenges and Infrastructure for a Successful Program

Group training program challenges include finding the right ratio of socialization and actual work. Dealing with clients who need more attention can present difficulties for trainers as well as the group.

Solutions to Group Training Challenges:

  • Offer different levels of classes; this will allow clients who need more attention to receive it, while also catering to the more advanced clients who don’t need as much guidance.
  • Get buy-in from your training staff and the rest of your club. This will foster a sense of trust and your clients may be more inclined to try a program that your staff is also actively involved in.
  • Market to your specific target audience.
  • Build group training into your intake form – offer free trials and package pricing.

Group personal training is a rapidly growing avenue of fitness. Proper group programming can bolster your regular personal training programs if clients perceive value in your workouts. With group personal training, you have the opportunity to reach and positively impact more people. Adapt these strategies to the unique nature of your facility and client base, and soon you'll have a great start to a successful group personal training program.