The Profitable Potential of Small Group Training
Almost everyone in the fitness and health club industry can agree that small group training (SGT) is one of the fastest-growing areas of group exercise due to its affordability and ability to achieve results for members. If performed properly, an SGT program could also be a successful profit center for any club.
According to Chris Salisbury, the owner of Hive Lifespan Center in East Amherst, N.Y., small group training is very profitable. “It’s also the most affordable option,” he continued.
At Hive, SGT is defined differently than at most other health and fitness clubs. “For us, SGT is groups of eight to 14. Groups of more than 12 become a challenge,” Salisbury said. “It becomes more of a class, with less coaching.” According to Salisbury, the number is key for Hive’s personal trainers. “It’s still a workout, and allows coaches to progress and regress clients,” he said.
An $96-per-month membership is the first price point where a client can experience small group coaching at Hive. “That’s why SGT is so effective: it’s the most affordable option,” Salisbury said. “We also use [SGT] as a value-added to help sell higher and more expensive memberships.”
When it comes to implementing an SGT program at your health and fitness club, Salisbury stressed the importance of “creating a staff of certified fitness professionals that are able to work synergistically together.”
Katie Kroshus, the director of group fitness at Mountainside Fitness agreed. To create synergy, Kroshus recommended an “on-boarding and communicating with all club employees, [including] front desk staff, club managers, member services and instructors and trainers, so if questions are asked, they can give the proper details.”
At Mountainside Fitness, SGT is operated through Core Concepts, Mountainside’s personal training company, and through the club’s group fitness program. SGT is also set up as a monthly program.
“Most programs are [held] two times per week for four weeks for a flat fee,” Kroshus explained. “Members have a discounted rate. Non-members can also participate at a higher rate.”
In addition, some of the club’s more popular SGT programs, including TRX® and barre classes, are run on a punch-card system. “Members can purchase a punch card for the same monthly rate, but have the option to choose which sessions they will attend,” Kroshus said.
At Mountainside, sessions that run twice per week for four weeks cost $99 for members and $119 for non-members. “Punch cards are the same price for eight sessions, but have an expiration date of 60 days from the date of purchase,” Kroshus said. “Members have more sessions to choose from with the punch card.”
While the percentage of profit varies from location to location, SGT has been very successful at Mountainside Fitness. “We have experienced growth every year since implementing SGT programs,” Kroshus said.
In terms of creating a successful SGT program at your health and fitness club, Kroshus said, “SGT programs are constantly evolving to get members to keep coming back.” “Once they have achieved their goal with a specialty program, creating the need for them to continue is important.”
Kroshus also advised club owners to hire trainers or instructors who do not currently have many clients or teach many group fitness classes, thereby creating the need to participate in small group training because of what it offers. “Hire dynamite trainers who are willing to go the extra mile to make new programs work,” she said.