Additional Insights from Professionals on Small Group Training

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The key to a successful SGT program is it has to be fun! You can have the best program around, but if the participants are not looking forward to seeing you, the other participants and training with you, then forget it. In addition, you want consistency in your approach — clean attire, greet everyone, be prepared and give information to the group on what to expect during the workout. I also like to connect with every person in the class — touch them in some way, ask them at least one question, give them a tip during the session, say their name and give a lot of encouragement. I also like having great music going and making anyone new feel welcome!

In order to create additional revenue from SGT, you have to have the right person leading the class. They must be energetic and enthusiastic. They have to love teaching groups and connect. If you have this, then you have a group that shows up and refers. During stretch breaks, I also make it a point to talk about the club’s added revenue streams. For example, the importance of a protein shake after a hard workout.

Marketing SGT can be as simple as training where people can see you! We train outside when we can, and have a sandwich board with us and flyers for any passerby who asks questions. Also, ask for referrals. I am not shy about asking for referrals. If you love us and the workout, please tell your friends. When they do bring them in, we give them a Starbucks gift certificate on the spot!

I have seen many people attend small group training who could not afford personal training, as this is a great way for them to get some personal attention and enjoy the benefits of a group environment. My club, Fitness NATION in Toronto, Canada, is based on the concept of group training, as research shows that the majority of people are more motivated and get better results working as a team than they do by themselves. These same people who join a small group are more likely to be encouraged to try other classes the club has to offer, thereby keeping their workouts fresh, keeping them engaged and getting results. A feeling of belonging and all of this of course makes them more likely to stay!

Insights provided by Marc Lebert, the owner of Lebert Fitness. He can reached at or 905.785.062.

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Over the past few years, I have seen an increase in the type of small group training that teaches and requires specialized skills. Members are no longer just interested in a workout that makes them sweat, but something that allows them to expand their knowledge and skills, and enrich their lives. It turns the gym into much more than a gym.

The trainer is key to a successful small group training (SGT) program. The person standing in front of members and guiding them through the experience is why they are paying. Trainers have to be much more than “fitness gurus” — they have to make the kind of personal connections that keep retention high for small group training programs, and they have to possess knowledge and experience that members admire. Marketing is also a huge factor in the success of a program that requires added fees. You have to have something that draws people in and seems like a value-added, exciting experience.

Look for programs that are eye-catching, different and show your members that you are always on the cutting edge of fitness. To turn these programs into revenue generators, you have to offer much more than an ordinary Group X class, with a focus on individualized results and a trainer who has experience and passion. It’s also important to keep the classes truly “small” — fewer than 10 members works best to cultivate a sense of value and differentiates the program from Group X. This will allow you to charge a premium, ideally combining an awesome trainer with specialty equipment and a unique program that teaches a skill, in addition to the fitness element.

To successfully market the program, it’s important that you have good visuals, marketing materials and you are able to excite and reach people through social media. Post photos of members doing the training, give away a free eight-week session for the program in a social media contest, or offer a week of demo classes to show members what the new program is all about. Look for programs that have a lot of buzz and excitement surrounding them to make the marketing job a lot easier.

Insights provided by Sarah Ponn, the co-founder and training director of SurfSET Fitness. She can be reached at or 209.819.SURF X 101.

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