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Confessions of a Certified Personal Trainer


WEB-PICK-(5)I love personal training. Over the course of my 20-plus year fitness career, I’ve been able to help exercisers achieve their health and fitness goals, one person at a time. But my new passion is small group training. It’s great for members, trainers and facility operators alike, improving member satisfaction, retention and revenue. Best of all, I can reach more people in the same amount of time as a one-on-one session.

In case you were still on the fence about the benefits of small group training, here are a few reasons why I’m so passionate about it.

Strength in Numbers

With each small group session, as a trainer I get to interact with multiple people at a time. Each member brings an energy to the group that further motivates me, but it also motivates other members in the group as they have a team of cheerleaders and partners all working toward similar goals.

Valuable Time

From a financial perspective, small group training just makes sense — and cents. My time is worth more in a group setting. We’ve all been there at some point — pumped for a day full of personal training sessions only to arrive at work to a stack of cancellation messages, effectively blowing up the day’s schedule. Things happen and I understand that. But with small group training, one cancellation does not drastically alter my day, because there are other smiling faces waiting for our session. And, I can earn more money for the same hour because I have multiple people to train. If I’m earning more money, the club is earning more money.

Dollars and Cents

Personal training is a powerful tool, but it can be cost prohibitive for some. In a group setting, however, people are paying less than a personal training session (sometimes up to two-thirds less) while still getting near one-on-one attention and a workout customized to their goals and skill level. It’s a win-win.

Retention, Retention, Retention

A happy client is a repeat client and a repeat member. Small group training is one of the best ways I know of for a facility to really make its members happy. First, offer people the chance to reschedule if they need to, but limit it to once a month. Second, the sense of community that small group sessions afford members is irreplaceable, as members are now part of something special within an expansive fitness environment. There is accountability, camaraderie and motivation to keep coming back. Finally, small group training clients get individualized service from an often-times faceless facility. As their trainer, I become another friendly face to encourage them, check in on them or just greet them. The sense of inclusion will go far when it comes time for membership renewal or adding another personal training session.

New Programming Opportunities

Small group training can be the reason to introduce a new workout option to a fitness facility. Take CrossFit for example. It started out as a great small group workout program that exploded into a bona fide fitness phenomenon.

Let small group training be the excuse to introduce high intensity interval training, sports specific programs or weight loss programming, just to name a few. These options can be a key differentiator that sets a facility apart from the competition, while adding a new revenue stream.

Why do I love small group training? As a fitness professional, personal trainer and facility operator, I can introduce tailored programming to more members to help them reach their fitness goals, while making a bit more money for my trainers and facility, and improving the image of our business. The question should be, “What’s not to like about small group training?”


Sonja Friend-Uhl is the lead master trainer for Star Trac and a certified personal trainer. Sonja is also a successful club operator and businesswoman. She can be reached at 877.782.7872 or sfrienduhl@startrac.com.

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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1 Comment

  1. Sal Pellegrino August 4, 2014

    Perfectly stated Sonja! You are on top of your game and list some compelling reasons why clubs should embrace this trend


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