Not Sure About Small-Group Training? Here’s Why (and How) to Give it a Try

Participants of small group training class doing kettle bell swings


Some personal trainers are wary of small-group training, says Chris Stevenson, owner of Stevenson Consulting, IHRSA board member and certified master trainer for Technogym®. “They feel it will either compromise their craft or cannibalize their client base,” he says.

Stevenson, however, has seen the opposite when working with groups of four to 12 people. These groups can be a gateway to personal training, allowing fit pros to build trust and relationships that can lead to one-on-one sessions. The format also provides members with extra motivation and accountability, since they feel loyal to their coach and to other members in their group.

most compelling, though: Small-group training can help trainers grow their
business. It lets them assist more people per week and, often, earn a higher
hourly rate (depending on the club’s payment structure). Here, Stevenson offers
a few tips:

Start small and simple.

Consider a preformatted program and start with just one small group.

Choose a unique theme.

Make sessions either equipment-based (TRX®, indoor cycling), outcome-based (weight loss, Spartan® Sprint) or skill-based (self-defense, Pilates).

Identify the benefits.

Point out the perks related to a session’s theme or modality, and emphasize that small-group participants enjoy individualized attention (for a lower cost than personal training).

Be clear about costs.

This is especially important when offering a free week or free session—which Stevenson recommends clubs do two or three times a year.

Invite culture ambassadors.

These are club members who are reliable, enthusiastic community builders. Ask for their feedback and consider offering them a discount if they post on social media about their experience.

To learn how to individualize group training experiences for each client’s goals, obtain NASM’s Group Personal Training Specialization (NASM-GPTS).


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