Pete McCall by Pete McCall

Trends come and go in our industry, but one recent trend that has some staying power is small group training.

What exactly is small group training? Let’s define it in context of other types of training.

Traditional personal training: one trainer working with one client

Semi-private training: one trainer working with two or three clients

Small group training: one trainer instructing a group of four to 10 clients.

Obviously, the number of clients in a small group can be larger, but when the number is too large, it’s more difficult to give proper attention to the participants.

Which would you rather do: Work with one client for $60/session? Or, run a small group program for six people who each pay $20 for the same amount of time?

Offering small group training allows a personal trainer to work with more people at once and drop his or her price point to make fitness instruction more affordable. Small group training has provided a cost-effective way for people to experience the benefits of working with a fitness professional during the recent economic turbulence.

Another reason small group training has become popular is due to the benefits of working in a group. When people start exercising in a group, they establish relationships and make friends with other people in the group — helping them become regular participants in group activities.

Marketing guru, Seth Godin, refers to this as creating a tribe — each of us wants to belong to a group, which connects us to others who share similar traits and characteristics.

Let’s face it, those of us who work in the fitness industry love and live a healthy lifestyle making us a part of a tribe with others who are committed to the same interests. Running a small group training program allows a personal trainer the opportunity to create his or her own tribe based on a specific approach to fitness.

The best example of small group training that creates a dedicated tribe is Crossfit. Crossfit’s particular approach to exercise program design has created some controversy, but one of its aspects that is not controversial is the fact that people who enjoy Crossfit’s unique approach to training become die-hard fans who are then dedicated to that brand of fitness.

If you run an exercise program that is challenging, fun and creates a spirit of friendship among the participants, you too can start your own fitness-based tribe.

Small group training has become so popular that I have heard of studios that greatly increase their traditional one-on-one personal training price points during the early morning, lunchtime and evening prime time rush hours — all in order to generate more business for small group training programs.

During the slower periods of the day — late morning, mid-afternoon and late-evening — the one-on-one price points can be at a standard rate, but the idea is to have variable pricing that provides a higher rate of return on the most popular hours. In this model, the price for one-on-one training at 6 a.m. or 6 p.m. might be $150/hour in order to generate more interest in a small group training session that offers a $25/hour price point.

If you’re looking for a way to increase your business in the new year, consider adding small group training to your service options. The January rush might be a great time to start a new small group program.

You can either develop a program for people who might already know each other like an office or a team, or you can start one that caters to a specific demographic like new moms or the recently retired. Be creative, have fun and most importantly, get out there and get people moving!

If you are interested in learning more and getting hands-on experience with small group training, attend an ACE Small Group Training workshop. Get more information, including details on registration, at

Creating Connections: Speaker's
Academy for Fitness Professionals