Small Group Personal Training; The Biggest Bang for Your Gym Membership Bucks

Chair Stretch class with Tricia Thompson

There’s a new trend sweeping the fitness industry. Born out of recent economic shifts, influenced by the new “sharing” economy — the same mentality that’s made Uber and AirBnB so successful — small group personal training is now officially a THING.

The idea is to spread the typically high cost of hiring a personal trainer out among 4-5 individuals. This little group works out together, each spending far less than he or she would on a private training package. (They also reap the additional benefits of working out with a group — accountability, camaraderie, socialization.)

Meanwhile, the trainer can accommodate up to five times as many clients, with a higher opt-in and renewal rate, because she’s not asking for $80 a pop per client.

That’s what we call a win-win. And now, fitness centers all over the country are embracing small group personal training as the Next Big Thing.

Which is funny…because the entire class schedule at Asheville Family Fitness has been devoted solely to small group personal training since we opened over three years ago.

It ain’t easy, bein’ a trendsetter. 🙂

One thing we realized along the way was that calling our classes “classes” was doing a major disservice to the level of personalization and expertise we offer on a daily basis. Joe Schmo gym-goer doesn’t know the difference between a “class” at a big corporate gym vs. a “class” at AFF. We’ve had to do a lot of re-education in this department.

And one thing that’s become clear to us is that we haven’t done a great job of communicating the value you’re getting in one of our small-group functional training classes, compared to what you’d spend on a one-on-one package.

We’ve already covered the difference between our smaller, more personalized classes vs. larger, “big-box” classes.

Today we’re going to look at the similarities and differences between private personal training and small group training.

Cost. Let’s just get this one out of the way first, shall we? Private personal training can run you anywhere from $60 – $100 an hour, depending on where you live, how experienced your trainer is, and what types of package discounts are offered. (Our member rates at AFF are on the low side at $55/hour.)

Ongoing training can become quite the monthly expense, when you consider that 1-2 sessions per week are the usual recommendation for best results.

In a small group scenario, the trainer will accept anywhere from 5-10 participants (10 is a little high; it’s usually more like 8) and charge each person a much lower rate, starting perhaps at $30 per person.

So you benefit, because the cost of your training just got sliced in half (at least), and your trainer benefits because the more people she can bring into the group, the more money she makes per hour. (Like I said, win-win).

But there’s a less tangible benefit, and that’s the energetic shift that happens when you go from working one-on-one to working in a small group.

Energy. The group dynamic changes everything.

In a one-on-one relationship, yes — you’re getting your trainer’s undivided attention. And yes, your exercise routine adapts to your abilities and preferences in more immediate, real-time shifts. When you find the right trainer, it can be a wonderful relationship.

BUT. (There’s always a ‘but,’ right?) It can get boring. Your relationship can stagnate over time, through no fault of the trainer or the client. 

Also, in a one-on-one relationship, your trainer is solely responsible for keeping your energy up, holding you accountable, and boosting your spirits when you get discouraged. Trainers are good at this.

However, a small group spreads that role across several people. Now, the group members support each other; they hold each other accountable; they encourage each other when spirits are low.

Which means your trainer won’t get burnt out and can devote more of her energy toward designing a kick-ass workout for you…week, after week, after week.

So. Cost and energy, big savings. Yay.

Most gyms that are adding small-group training as an option are pricing it out similarly to what we talked about earlier. Which is a savings over private training, but still an additional cost to your monthly membership fee.

Since we opened over three years ago, we’ve included small-group training in your membership fee at AFF. We wanted everyone to have access to this level of instruction, and we knew that most members wouldn’t be willing or able to shoulder an additional fee.

In that time, we’ve learned a lot about what you like, what you want, what actually works, and what doesn’t work as well as we thought.

Which is another way of saying…we have some exciting changes coming down the pipeline that we think will make your gym membership even more valuable.

Keep an eye on our class schedule over the next few weeks.

And be sure to check your inbox next week for a special announcement!


Written by Damon

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