American Council on Exercise by American Council on Exercise

Personal trainers provide an important service: direction, guidance, supervision and accountability for clients looking to improve their health and fitness. Traditionally, personal trainers have packaged all of these elements together into one-on-one sessions lasting 30 or 60 minutes.  

However, as the industry has evolved and the demand for personal-training services has grown, it’s become increasingly important to rethink the many ways you can offer your products and services to help clients achieve their fitness goals. Read on for an overview of options for providing your expertise as a personal trainer.   

Program Design 

Customizing programming for each client is the ideal, but it’s not always possible, or even necessary. Many clients share similar goals, so having pre-designed workout programs can save you time and allow you to attract and retain clients. Consider these two options: 

  • Customized workout programs: A client meets with you for a fitness assessment and based on the results, you design a personalized workout program that can help them achieve their goals. This is perfect for individuals who have specific considerations (e.g., a disease or disorder that requires program modification) or who desire truly customized programming.
  • Pre-designed workout programs: Many clients have commonly held goals, including weight loss, muscle building or preparing for an athletic event. Investing the time to create pre-designed programs allows you to market solutions to individuals who are motivated to exercise and need to follow a program to reach their goals, but who may not need a personalized program.

Workout Supervision 

Next, you might consider traditional training, which typically involves being present for each workout session and providing on-the-spot modifications, corrections, motivation and encouragement. Or clients may want to use your expertise but in a self-guided manner. 

  • Direct supervision: Traditionally, personal training was marketed as a directly supervised interaction. The client and trainer may be in the same physical location or working together remotely. While the workout is pre-planned, the trainer leads the client through the exercises and helps select weights, keeps track of sets and reps, monitors form and intensity, provides motivation and encouragement and may even modify the workout in real time.
  • Self-guided programs: Some clients may not require constant supervision and prefer to use your expertise to create the workout, but then execute some or all of their workouts on their own. These clients may benefit from providing data for you to review regarding workout performance (e.g., written records or data from wearables or similar tracking apps). Suggestions, modifications and feedback typically come via text, voice memo or a phone call.

Number of Clients Serviced 

Finally, for sessions that are under your direct supervision, you might consider the number of clients you train simultaneously. In all of these scenarios, sessions can be conducted in-person, virtually or via a combination of the two. 

  • 1-on-1 personal-training sessions: This is the traditional model of service delivery where personal trainers work with clients during 30- or 60-minute training sessions. 
  • Semi-private training sessions: Semi-private personal training refers to working with two or three clients at the same time. It is often easiest to provide this option for a small group of individuals who have similar training objectives, are available to train at the same time and have a desire to offset the cost of personal-training services. This is financially beneficial to all parties, as each client pays less per session, but the combined payments mean you earn more for your time.
  • Small-group Training Sessions: Small-group training involves providing fitness services to groups of three to eight individuals at the same time. While your ability to fully customize workouts is somewhat limited when groups move beyond three people, you can create general fitness programs that are easily modified and capitalize on clients holding one another accountable and bringing energy to the session. 

In Conclusion 

It is important to note that these variables can be mixed and matched to best suit your needs and the needs of your clients. For example, you may choose to offer a group of clients direct supervision of a small-group training program using a pre-designed weight-loss program. And you may offer another client a more traditional one-on-one training program with personalized goal setting and programming but provide the sessions virtually. The point is, every client is different in terms of their goals, needs and desires, so having a variety of ways to serve clients is essential.