Small Group Training – Breaking it Down

There has been a significant shift within the fitness industry over the past few years with Small Group Training growing in leaps and bounds.

In the age of quick information where trends travel fast, savvy fitness professionals are getting on board with their entrepreneurial spirit by realising the benefits of training more than one client at a time.

And when you look at bottom line, Small Group Training makes inherent sense.

Total Gym®, one of the first international fitness equipment companies to truly embrace the Small Group Training model, brought this concept to the forefront of peoples’ minds when they launched their commercial product line in 2003.

With their education programs centred around Small Group Training on Total Gym, fitness business owners everywhere quickly recognised the benefits of this highly profitable and time-efficient training model.

In the following article we break down the Small Group Training model and take a closer look at this new phenomenon that is transforming fitness businesses around the world.

Small Group Training can essentially be broken down into two formats:

  1. Team Training
  2. Multi-Client Training

1. TEAM TRAINING

Team Training offers camaraderie – a group of individuals getting together for a common purpose. With a general target of 4 – 12+ participants, this is most commonly a pre-programmed approach which may or may not be musicality-based.

Different approaches fit within this model including Circuits, Stations (e.g. 2×2 or 3×3), 50:50 set up (e.g. Total Gym and Spinning), as well as Bootcamps or Challenges.

Payment is low per person, anywhere from around $10 – 20 per session (depending on what your hourly target is), making it incredibly affordable for clients.

Fiona Caddies of FiTraining, Australia, has set up her studio with the Team Training model in full effect.

She uses two Total Gym Classic PowerTowers, TRX, spinning, dumbbells, Bosu and other training tools to train multiple clients at a time.

As a result, she ensures that she lives the lifestyle of her dreams.

“I have a four day weekend, every weekend. It’s a great lifestyle choice.” Says Fiona.
Click here to view her story.

So…if you’re on board the Team Training approach the question is – how should you charge your clients?

Within the Team Training approach the most common payment options are:

  • Class Model
  • Program Model

Class Model

The class model is based around the “pay per session” concept, with the most common method being via concession card. Whilst this leaves it open for clients to drop in when it suits them, it means that attendance is uncertain and income is dependent on all booked clients showing up.

This is an unstable model that results in fluctuation in attendance and income, which can be highly affected by seasonal changes. This makes it difficult to run a business with any form of consistency.

Program Model

The Program Model is centred on certainty and is the recommended option. With a general target of around 4 – 8+ participants per program, payment is made either in advance or by direct debit / AP.

Each program has a start and end date, often 4 to 6 weeks in length, and shows active progression. Within this model your payment per session is guaranteed and the client is more motivated to attend.

In addition, by offering “make-up” sessions every week, you increase the buy-in at the beginning and ensure that your clients have the opportunity to make up any session they may have missed, but you still get paid for each and every session, regardless. You can also use this make-up session to invite any leads to experience a free session – making the most of your time.

The Program Model also works well in conjunction with the Waterfall Structure – which has been promoted heavily by Total Gym after the success of this format was seen in a US gym.

The Waterfall Structure is all about staggering your programs. This method of scheduling is centred on five key factors that ensure your success:

  1. Book out programs in advance
  2. Stagger the program start dates
  3. Ensure progression
  4. Utilise the “Sold Out!” strategy
  5. Only schedule what you can book out in advance

So there are obvious benefits in taking a Team Training approach, but what about Multi-Client Personal Training? Where does that fit in?

The distinction between the two is quite important to your business – firstly in how you position yourself and your business, secondly (perhaps most importantly) how much you charge per session and thirdly, your preferred method of training.

So now we take a closer look at Multi-Client Training.

2. MULTI-CLIENT TRAINING

Multi-Client Training is Personal Training on a slightly larger scale. Very different to Team Training, Multi-Client training is about training around 3-4 clients at a time based on their individual needs. By creating “pockets” for each client, you break each individual down into their goal, needs and challenges, and tailor the session to each individual – replicating their goal in their exercises.

This training format is more time consuming as the preparation is personalised and not as generic as Team Training tends to be. The key challenge of Multi-Client Training is working with different clients, health histories and goals and personalising the session to each individual – all in the same room.

So what are the benefits of Multi-Client Training over Team Training?

  • You can charge more per person than you would in Team Training, anywhere from $30 – 50 per 45 or 60 minute session (depending on your one on one charge out rate). This is because you are still giving a one on one training approach in your session and offering personalised attention. At the same time you are still charging less than your charge out rate for a one on one session, making it more affordable for the client.
  • By creating “pockets” or “pods” for each individual, you have each client working in their own area and you can simply rotate from client to client to help them set up each set and monitor their progress.
  • You can stagger the starting times, meaning that you can bring one client in at a time, set them up, set their agenda for the session and have them start while you bring the next client in – maximising your time with each client.
  • You empower and educate the client.

One true benefit is that clients learn how to execute exercises properly and monitor their own form and function. For those who are happy to embrace this type of education, it is truly invaluable to their wellbeing as you teach them habits for life.

David Snively of DBS Fitness, Canada, is the owner of four Total Gym Classic GTS units and is the master of Multi-Client sessions.

“It really works well from a business perspective and from a strategy perspective.” says David, whose business is completely built on a Multi-Client Training Model.

David incorporates tools such as Bosu, TRX, Cable Pulley systems, kettlebells, medicine balls and more, all around the Total Gym GTS centrepiece.

He explains how he runs his Multi-Client Training sessions in a FREE online video on GRAVITY Clubhouse. We highly recommend you watch this for ideas. Click here to sign up for free:  and then click on this link to go direct to ‘Mastering Multi-Client Sessions‘.

This video in a nutshell teaches you the best ways to master Multi-Client sessions.

So after breaking it down, you can see there are multiple approaches and opportunities within the concept of ‘Small Group Training’. From a business perspective, it’s the smart solution to training. Just be clear on how you position yourself and what you are offering.

Shara Curlett
Shara began her career in the fitness industry at Les Mills Dunedin in 2005 and from there combined her passion for fitness with her strength in business to create a niche role for herself specialising in “the business of fitness”. Shara has consulted for gyms and small studios, developed an indoor cycling program, and continues to work one on one with fitness business owners as a sideline passion. As business development and marketing manager for HQH Fitness, Shara is focused on business development, company strategy and marketing and is passionate about helping business owners achieve their goals.

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