Whether you’re just starting out in the fitness industry as a personal trainer or are a seasoned veteran with years of experience, this thought has probably crossed your mind: “Am I maximizing my time for money?” Training one client at a time puts an undeniable cap on earning potentials since there are only so many hours a day; however, when a trainer begins to multiply the number of clients served rather than increasing the hours spent working, income can skyrocket.
For some, working with one client at a time may be the best option, as they get comfortable instructing, coaching and motivating. Others may feel that working with a group is too overwhelming and requires too much energy and planning, or they don’t have what it takes to lead a group of people. But if you’re someone who is organized, energetic, adaptable and creative and want to see your revenues soar, group training can provide one of the most enjoyable, lucrative and rewarding experiences in the field.
Tips for Going Group X 
So how does a trainer accustomed to doing one-on-one sessions plan to take on a group? Here are some Group X tips:
Know your strengths and passions. If a boot camp with sports drills is not your thing, then don’t try to create one. What’s your athletic background? Are you a triathlete? Great! It’s a perfect idea for group training, complete with goals and skill development. Maybe you love working with kids. There are many group training skills and guided, active play that you can do with children.
Pick your target market. You need to know what type of crowd you want to draw in so you can market to them accordingly. For example, women over 40, busy businessmen, sport-specific (skiing, baseball), teens, pre- and post-natal mothers or older adults would demand a different group product as well as varied marketing approaches.
Get organized. Except in matters where you just want to train three or four similar-ability clients at a time with no particular focus, you need to have a plan to be successful. - ink about price, type of training, training location, number of people you can accommodate, equipment needed, short-term versus long-term, etc.
Market it. “It’s all about marketing,” as they say. Online marketing through Exact Target or email notices is a great way to reach people. If you have a website, great — post your new group right on the homepage. Even some inexpensive fliers around your gym or studio will do, but you need to get the word out every way you can. Make it look professional with a catchy title, photographs and a call to action, such as “Sign Up Today!”
Keep your prices low but competitive. Say someone down the street is offering their large-group training program for $20 a pop. Even if you think your talents far outweigh theirs, don’t charge $22 or $25 a session, charge $18. The key is volume ($18 x 10 clients = $180), making it a win-win for both you and your clients. And you want to create exceptional value so people can’t refuse what you have to offer.
Start networking. Tell everyone you know what you’re doing — current and former clients, colleagues, friends, people you meet at a party, the mailman — anyone you know can benefit from what you do and help bring you business. Talk about benefits of your group, not just features. For example, rather than saying “We’ll do a circuit of cardio and strength moves,” you might say, “You’ll get the workout of your life… out in the fresh air!”
Offer the first session for free. This is a great way to bring in new business. Everybody loves to get something for free, and this way, they can try it out without having to make a commitment. Even if your group has been running awhile, allow prospective clients to come in for a free class. It takes little to no extra effort on your part and can make a really big impression on those clients.
Have fun! Groups provide opportunities for interaction and camaraderie for you that private training doesn’t. Be a serious professional, but don’t forget to laugh and smile. Positive energy and enthusiasm are infectious; if you are having fun, so will your clients.
Once you get set up, group training can provide many benefits to both you and your clients. They will have more variety in their training with you, and you will be able to maximize time and bring in more revenue. If you are someone who wants to change it up and breathe life into your existing personal training business, consider starting with even a simple group of three or four. Before you know it, you’ll be wondering why you kept things so small with just one client at a time!
Linda Kennedy, CSCS, LSN (www.lindakennedy.net) has been in the fitness industry for over 15 years as a personal trainer, nutrition coach, post-rehabilitation specialist, fitness competitor, class instructor, speaker and mentor. She first started doing group training in 2004, which currently provides over 50% of her income. You can contact Linda at 619.306.0124.


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