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ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, Small Group Training: Benefits & Tips for Personal Trainers

Small Group Training: Benefits & Tips for Personal Trainers

Reading Time: 5 minutes


DATE: 2024-01-31

Personal training is traditionally a one-on-one affair, but this is changing. While working with clients individually will likely never go out of style, more clients are looking for group training. 

Small group training is an efficient and effective way for both clients and trainers to get results. Learn more about what it means and why you need to add it to your list of services. 

What Is Small Group Training?

Small group training is simply the extension of standard, one-on-one personal training to a group of people. Instead of working with one person at a time, you train several clients together. 

Size is important in group training. Too many participants and it turns into a workout class. You need few enough people that you can provide individualized attention to each client. Small group training is typically ten or fewer participants. 

Working with a group is different from one-on-one training in more ways than the obvious. You cannot provide as much personalized training in a group. Some degree of generalization is necessary. The focus in a group is less on education about personal fitness and more on getting in a regular workout. 

What Small Group Training Isn’t

Don’t confuse group training with exercise classes. Your clients might have this misconception, so be prepared to clarify. A class is a one-time deal. It is a group session that anyone can join and that is not personalized to anyone in particular. 

Group training extends for a longer period of time and includes multiple sessions with the same people. The trainer provides some personalization for members of the group and there is usually a common focus or goal. 

Benefits of Training in Small Groups

Small group training is growing in popularity with gym clients, which is why you need to consider it. There are several benefits to the client. The most important benefits are lower costs compared to one-on-one training and more personal attention than exercise classes. 

As a trainer, you also benefit from adding small groups to your training lineup:  

Balance Client Reach with Personalized Attention

The balance clients get from small group sessions also applies to the trainer. Group training allows you to reach more people while still providing some individualized attention. It’s a great balance between time-consuming one-on-one training and more impersonal exercise classes. 

Camaraderie and Motivation = Client Retention

Retention of clients is an ongoing challenge for fitness professionals. Losing clients doesn’t necessarily reflect on you as a trainer. It’s natural for people to struggle with motivation and finding time to attend sessions. 

A group format can boost retention by providing a more comfortable setting for clients. Many people feel more at ease when they are not the sole focus of the trainer’s attention. A group also provides a sense of camaraderie, that everyone is in this together. Social support is a powerful tool for motivation and higher attendance. 

Small Group Training is Fun and Versatile

Working with groups is often more fun than standard training. One-on-one sessions often feel more like chores, while a small group training session is social and engaging. The clients usually find it to be more fun, and that rubs off on the trainer.  

There’s also a lot of opportunity for variety when training this way. With one client, you can easily get stuck in a rut based on their preferences. Working with a group allows you to try different workouts and strategies as you try to meet the needs of each participant. 

It’s Good for Business

The bottom line is that adding this service to your offering list is just good for business. Yes, it’s fun. It’s motivating for clients, and it helps you reach more people, but ultimately it helps you earn more because you work more efficiently. 

Compared to one-on-one training, each individual pays less for the group training sessions, but your overall income is higher per hour if you get the right number of participants. 

Additionally, by offering a greater variety of services, you reach more people and have the potential to expand your business and client list. 

Your passion is fitness, but you’re also running a business. Here are some other ways to increase your revenues as a personal trainer. 

Tips for Personal Training in Small Groups

Small group training has the potential to be a great addition to your service offerings. Here are some tips to help you get started. 

1. Pick an Area of Focus

Small groups provide a great opportunity to create versatile, fun workouts, but you still need a focus to guide your sessions. Develop fun and varied programs within an overall parameter. For instance, the focus could be a certain outcome, like weight loss or getting ready for an upcoming wedding. 

Another option is a skill-based focus, like training for a marathon or strength training. Or, you could choose a type of fitness or equipment: kettlebell training, strength machines, or circuits. 

2. Figure out Session Pricing

The increased income with group training won’t work if you don’t price it right. The goal is to make it more affordable for clients while maximizing your earnings. If you don’t earn more from a group session than a one-on-one session, you haven’t priced it right. 

Exactly how you’ll price each session depends on pricing for your existing business and gym. Do the math to determine how many participants you need at a specific rate to make it work. Don’t run the training group if you don’t get the required minimum number of participants. 

3. Sell the Service

Group training is growing in popularity, but it’s still an unknown to many gym-goers. Not all your potential clients know that this is an option, so you need to sell it. 

You’ve put the time into developing a small group training program, but to make it successful requires some marketing. Create selling points, a quick and informative description, and a breakdown of pricing and session offerings. Use social media, your gym and other standard marketing avenues, but also sell it directly to your existing clients. 

4. Get to Know Each Client

If you are new to small group training, it can be easy to slide into the habit of treating it like a fitness class. Remember that this is personal training, just with a few more people. 

Take the time to get to know each of your participants. You might not learn as much as with one-on-one clients, but you still need to know some basics, such as healthy living and fitness goals, and current fitness level. Keep this in mind as you progress through each session and offer equal attention and time to each person so they all get something out of the experience. 

Here are even more ideas for making group fitness a success for both you and your clients. 

Expand Your Fitness Business: Get Certified in Group Fitness

Trends in fitness come and go, but small group training has staying power. It works for both clients and trainers, so it makes sense to add it to your repertoire. Do some research and plan how you’ll implement this new service before offering it for the best results. 

The ISSA’s Certified Personal Trainer – Self-Guided Study Program is the perfect foundational certification to begin your career in fitness. Whether you want to focus on small group training or offer a variety of services, this is the place to start. 

If you're already certified and ready to take your business up a notch, get certified as a Group Exercise Instructor. You'll master 12 popular exercise formats including HIIT, kickboxing, and bootcamp, and create electric group classes that leave folks buzzing with energy.

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