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What is Private Group Training? Successful Example Explained

People holding hand weights in a private group training session

Private or Small Group Training

Private Group Training (also called Small Group Training) is a recent trend that has exploded in the industry. What is it exactly? The format of having 4-12 people in a pre-scheduled limited class.

In a fitness class, there are typically various levels of attendees. This can be off putting for many beginners or injury riddled participants. Having a dedicated small group with the same level of fitness cures that. It first allows a personal trainer to consult with each group member. Then, plan a specific class accordingly.

Recent trends have been really focused on the uptick of online fitness. Over the past 5 years however, private group training has been a big money maker.

IHRSA’s Profiles of Success reports that 18 million health club consumers signed up for PGT in 2016, accounting for 26.6% of the total consumer base.

Generation Z had the highest participation rate for PGT, which was thought to be over a quarter of their population (4.8 million). 

Statistics from IHRSA claim that the 65 and older senior group had the second highest rate for private group training market at 25%. A good instructor can focus on low to no impact routines for this population.  

Pricing For Small Group Training

Pricing is the ultimate selling component here. Due to private group being significantly cheaper for your clientele, and conversely higher per hour for the the professional.  The price point is lower than a personal training session which drives people towards it.

In 2016, $34 was the average cost to participate in a private group training session. Now, multiply that by 4 to 12 group attendance and you’d be raking in the money. This is not a group class setting where people can show up and pay as they come. This is simply training or teaching of a particular type (yoga, personal training, pilates reformer, etc) with a limited amount of spots, and premium charges paid up front.

Your goal should be to provide as much if not more value than you do for a 1 vs 1 session. Why else would someone pay double a class price, for what is essentially a small class?

You have to make the environment personal, fun, unique, and over the top. In the long run, even spending your own money out of pocket for the clients in these particular classes is a wise investment. I am going to elaborate on a particular trainer and PGT (Private Group Training).

Private Group Training Class Example

Trainer A developed, W.O.W. (Women on Weights). It was structured around helping women over the age of 60. Getting them to feel comfortable and confident getting stronger while using weights and other tools with the primary focus of strength training. Trainer A noticed during her day to day Personal Training sessions that a host of women entering senior ages were hesitant in 2 area. First, using weights and second joining in on standard classes. Upon investigating further, she found that;

1. Group fitness instructors did not always have adequate modifications to make them feel as if they were getting a great workout safely.

2. They were simply embarrassed having to essentially take a different class then the rest of the younger population due to all of the modified movements.

3. They were fearful of falling, and wanted to increase bone density while improving balance.

Realizing there was a need, Trainer A developed a program specifically for the aforementioned population. She understood that this is typically a population who has money, and are willing to pay for a premium product.

Perceived Benefits To The Clients

Trainer A charged double the price of what a standard group fitness drop in class would be, but that was still 60% cheaper than a personal training session. She advertised the class as though only a few spots were open creating exclusivity. She then created a flyer that emphasized:

  • 60+ aged Women only
  • Small group exclusivity
  • The financial incentives compared to a one vs one session
  • The focus of strength & balance training
  • Environment of safely chosen movements

After getting over 20 people interested, she sat down with each potential client for a 30 minute paid consultation. These consultations go over health history as well as hopes or suggestions for what they’d like in the PGT.

This gave Trainer A a plethora of data and detailed information on how to structure the private group classes. It also provided 20 paid consultations that made the potential clientele feel invested as partially their own. After assessing the information gained from the consultations, Trainer A established the following preferences:

  • Training time preferences
  • Exercise preferences
  • Personalities
  • Injuries
  • Music preferences

Given that she could provide all of the requests and desires that she accumulated from the consultations, she felt as if a premium charge should and would be paid without any arguments or need to haggle. She made the attendees who were “approved” to take the PGT sign up for all the classes they planned to attend in the given month. They needed to cancel 48 hours in advance or they would be charged. Establishing the pricing precedent upfront is key. 

Going Above & Beyond

Before the first PGT, the room was pre-set up. There were names for each location and all the appropriate weights and fitness toys that corresponded to what she acquired from their individual goals and health history forms.

There were women with movement disorders, knee replacements, shoulder injuries, etc. She was ready in advance with modifications or equipment specific to their needs. There were towels set up for each attendee along with water, and an energy snack called a W.O.W. ball (almond butter based food she created for the class). She had a sheet with everyone’s name, husband’s name, pet’s name, previous surgeries, health complications, occupations, college attended, and more.

This allowed her to personally connect with everyone during the class. Bringing up topics and questions centered on the information to make it a positive and fun environment. She also used the TEA (Timed Exercise Approach) format during the first few weeks.

This has a lot of advantages but none more imperative in this environment than allowing an instructor to focus on form rather than counting repetitions. Glancing at a stop watch while letting people work for an allotted amount of time allows for casual conversation among the group.

Over the course of the next few weeks, that group started to build a strong bond with one another. They created their own W.O.W. t-shirts, and would phone any absentee immediately after class to make sure they were okay. Having the group keep themselves accountable is a huge time saver.

Trainer A was charging $25/per person. The classes were limited to 10, and they were typically full. That is $250/H in gross revenue. Even if you are giving a percentage to a facility or gym, running just a few of these per day you can make an absolute killing. Providing value to a specific population is the key.

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