The following is a guest post from Jon Reid. If you’re interested in submitting a guest contribution, please refer to our contribution guidelines.
Pretty good advice for all occupations. If you only have a limited amount of time, you need to get the most out of it. Personal training time management is no different.
Before and after work slots are the most popular times to exercise for professional 9-5Ê¼ers, but as personal trainers we can only train one person in each of these slots and will generally charge the same hourly rate.
That gives us two or three hours of time slots in demand by way more than two or three people. So do we have to turn business away as we canÊ¼t control the clock? Enter small group personal training.
Small group personal training gives us the chance to offer several clients the opportunity to exercise at the time they desire and at a fraction of the cost. This can turn your $50-60 one-to-one hour into a $90-150 hour.
By charging $15 per person and taking up to 10 clients at once you can massively increase your revenue. A couple of small group sessions a day and you could be walking away with $300 for a few hours work, all the while keeping several clients happy.
The options for small group training are endless. The group could be on the same program altered to their specific needs or each person could be on their own very specific program.
It can work in a health club environment and is particularly effective if you operate out of your own facility or have a studio booked.
Specialist hours such as Olympic lifting, strength training, and strongman hours can also be used to group more advanced clients together. These hours allow you to charge a little more and reduce the size of the group to ensure attention is paid to the more technical exercises.
The potential for small group sessions to snowball into adding more group sessions and gaining one-to-one clients is also huge. Give everyone a good session and you’ll have 10 people (20 if you do two a day) talking, tweeting, and Facebooking.
Small group clients often seek to further their training by supplementing with individual sessions and itÊ¼s also a good way for people unsure about trying PT to give it a shot in a social environment at a reduced cost.
The concept can take a bit of time to get used to for both trainer and client but once you get going youÊ¼ll love the sessions, specifically the social aspect and the additional benefits without adding any costs.
How do I get people there, how do I know who’s coming, and how do I plan a session?
Simply advertising and packaging the small group personal training, as a more personalized service at a reduced rate within your facility will attract people. This can be promoted from within your health club if you run group exercise classes — the smaller nature and more personalized service will be appealing if you make members aware of how each session is structured towards their needs, injuries, level of training, and ability.
Arranging and setting up the first session will depend on many things such as whether you’re self employed, the facility you operate out of, and your availability.
If you’re self employed and operate out of your own facility then you have more flexibility with timing of sessions and what you can do. If you’re health club based then it’s between you and the club to determine timings and advertising strategies, and payment.
However, a couple of good starting points are:
- Free taster sessions for already existing one-to-one clients, health club members, and staff.
- Bring a friend for free to encourage already existing clients to gather new clients for you.
- Discounts based on the number of sessions attended — every tenth session free for example, or for bringing a certain number of new clients.
So how do the sessions work? Lets look at the three most popular and most productive in terms of quality of session and finance.
Weight Loss Hours: A huge (no pun intended) market with the potential to include clients who are looking to drop weight. The beauty of small group training is that each session can be tailored specifically to the individuals who are there regarding goals and exercise selection.
For example, you have eight people in your session all of which want to lose weight. Partner them up and have one person on a cardio machine and the other complete a two exercise resistance circuit — switch over every two minutes to give them short, sharp blasts of high intensity cardio and resistance training.
The four people doing the resistance circuit could all do the same two exercises or you could have four different resistance circuits that they must complete and link each one to a certain cardio machine.
Run through each circuit twice and the first half to three quarters of your session is done. The remaining time can be spent on partner work e.g., boxing, group circuits, etc.
Each session should be structured differently and the list of ways to structure a session is endless. Be creative!
Strongman Hours: For more advanced clients and males looking to build muscle and improve body composition. These are typically only feasible when working out of your own facility and incorporate partner work, farmer’s walks, pull-ups, sled pulls, tire flipping, etc.
The session formats can again change all the time. An example would be one pair of members sled pulling whilst another pair does pull-ups and deadlifts. The sets, weights, reps, and rest can be altered depending if it’s a more endurance or strength based focus. These sessions are brutal but clients usually take to them because they enjoy the challenge.
Minimal Equipment: Only got a studio and some skipping ropes? Use body weight exercises, sprints, and skipping to create a high intensity bodyweight circuit. These sessions can be molded into brutally intense workouts with some careful planning and preparation.
Health Club based: Explain exercises at the start of the hour, giving sets, reps, and weights and then monitor each clients form and progress. Distances can also be set for cardio machines and times noted to improve on for the next session.
These sessions allow people to go at their own pace whilst having several targets to aim for within the hour, and a trainer there to motivate and help with exercise technique and provide alternative options based on training level and injury history.
Payment and Booking
It’s important to know exactly who is coming so a session can be appropriately tailored. In the early stages this can be done simply through text or email to the trainer. He/she can then respond depending on if space is available.
When sessions become established and “set in stone” then an online booking system works well with automated emails to confirm time, location, and a person’s spot in the class. This also makes payment clean cut and easy.
Cancellations can then also be dealt with through email and if there’s a reserve list for a session people can be told when a spot suddenly becomes available. People are charged by booking in and are only refunded if they cancel more than 24 hours before the session.
If there’s no online booking system then payment can be made by cash, cheque, or bank transfer. If paying in this way then it’s important to keep a detailed record of who’s paid what. $15 per session is a good starting point with other options available for more regular customers.
For example, $60 a month could allow a client to attend as many sessions as they wish each month, provided they’re going to be attending regularly and there is more than one session a week available. Or a block of 10 sessions could be bought for $100 and used whenever the client likes – again, careful record keeping is essential for this to be financially productive.
GO DO IT!
Small group personal training sessions are appealing, affordable, and a great way to generate income and attract more business. The social element is enjoyed by those who like to train in a group, are attractive for those who feel one to one is too expensive, and provides the trainer with an efficient way of maximizing his or her time.
The ultimate goal is to have a base of one to one clients and a base of small group clients. Although there will be a cross over at first, once word spreads it’s entirely feasible to have two separate client bases — leaving the trainer with more clients, more sessions, more money and more fun!
About the Author
Jon Reid (ASCC; CSCS) is a personal trainer based in Edinburgh, Scotland. He excels at improving body composition and enhancing athletic performance. He owns Panthera – Performance and believes everyone, regardless of age, experience or ability, can improve their strength, mobility and nutrition. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org, his website www.panthera-performance.co.uk, and on Twitter @PantheraJR
If you’re interested in time management tips but not in small group training, the below two articles are great for you:
The Block System – Jonathan Goodman
Personal Trainers Shouldn’t Periodize – Jonathan Goodman