Small group training (SGT) has recently lit up the fitness industry. The ideal SGT program should deliver unique, motivating and effective experiences to members, drive retention rates and result in a steady stream of non-dues revenue. Unfortunately, many SGT programs offered on the market today don’t arm you with the tools necessary to do this. Believe it or not, launching a SGT program actually can be simple and successful if you take the necessary steps.
1. Identify your audience.
Three main targets group to aim for include:
New members — often times considered the low-hanging fruit of SGT prospects, SGT offers a “middle of the road” solution for individuals who aren’t necessarily interested in personal training or Group X. Consider a multi-week, progressive boot camp-style program ideal for engaging and delivering real results. This can be a “new member insurance” program of sorts that, at a very minimum, gets them using the club for the first six weeks of their membership.
Group fitness buffs — they already love group and they’re probably some of your most loyal members. In this case, it’s all about creating the right experience, with great instructors. The key is differentiating your SGT programs enough from your group programs.
“Do it yourself” members/“Unassisted exercisers” — you find these people on the same machines every day. Although they may visit the facility 100 or more times per year, at some point you have to ask, “What’s really keeping these members here?” The demographics in this group will determine what types of programs will work best.
2. Creating the experience.
Consider the following:
What type of SGT program format will work best in your facility? Are you selling a multi-week boot camp-style program or will you be building an entire SGT schedule and selling drop-in style classes and packages? There are advantages and disadvantages to both, so you must weight your options and implement the program that speaks to your member demographic. For instance, boot camps are less flexible for the member, but easier to sell and drive real results, while drop-in style is more accommodating, but harder to drive efficiency in sales if SGT is new to your facility.
What programs to run? – Is your member base going to CrossFit on the weekends, barre classes after work or some outdoor boot camp at 5 a.m. twice a week? Know your competition and know your members and therein lies the answer on the types of programs to offer. The key is to find something that scales across the bulk of your member base.
3. Integrating SGT as a new line of business.
Systems are key. Just like you have clear, targeted strategies on how you approach membership sales, personal training sales and group fitness participation, integrating SGT into your process is the key to driving long-term success.
Sales integration — Offer free demos, collect lead information from prospects and reach out to them personally. Make sure sign-ups are available online and most importantly, your staff can talk about and sell your programs, including front desk staff.
Marketing integration — It’s all about communicating success stories and getting members, trainers and instructors talking. Furthermore, place your marketing materials in highly trafficked areas and tailor your message to appeal to the goals and values of your members. If you are introducing a new training modality, your marketing collateral needs to be informational. Lastly, use social media and e-mail marketing to share information about your classes, showcase success stories and offer promotions.
4.Who are your SGT coaches and how are they delivering experiences that will justify the fees?
For years clubs have relied on their popular trainers and instructors to drive success within their programs. Although this model has yielded success, it’s not a long-term solution.
The bottom line is if you want your program to take off, you must invest in the proper education for your instructors. Ideally, SGT instructors are a hybrid of a personal trainer and Group X instructor, balancing good attention to detail with high energy. A good education platform should lead them in this direction.
Small group training is hot and it’s here to stay. When done properly it will help motivate and retain current members while attracting new ones. Above all, it should enhance the culture of your facility and drive revenue.