As club owners and operators, it is a constant battle to figure out new and innovative ways to get and keep members in your club. Over the past year, a rising number of operators have embraced small group training as a way to engage a wider audience, but also increase revenue.
Erica Tillinghast, a certified trainer and Precor Global Education Manager, explained small group training has numerous benefits for personal trainers, club operators and members.
“For fitness professionals, they are going to be able to generate more income,” said Tillinghast. “For the exerciser, they are going to be able to pay less per session, so they will be able to meet with the trainer more often and they will get better results in the long term. Finally, for the operator, they are also going to generate more revenue through the trainer being able to make more money per hour. It really ends up being a great success all around.”
As with launching any new program in your club, developing a small group training program takes a full commitment from all club personnel. “Transitioning from one-on-one to small group may mean that some clients start to pay less per hour, but long term you are going to keep them for a longer period of time,” she explained. “Initially that transition can be a little bit tough. I think that is part of the reason it is taking a little while for small group training to fully penetrate clubs: They are trying to figure out how to manage that transition.”
Since small group training can be offered at a lower price point, it will open up access to a lot more members in the facility to work with fitness professionals. Tillinghast explained this will lead to better results for members and better retention. But in order for the program to be successful, complete buy-in from staff is essential.
“Even the front desk staff need to know how to communicate the value of that kind of program because they are the front line when a member walks in the door so they need to have an understanding of it,” added Tillinghast. “Then the personal training staff themselves needs to understand how it can be a real value to their business and why it is worth investing their time in training multiple clients.”
If you are contemplating offering small group training, Tillinghast suggests looking around the facility and creating small group training programs around equipment already in the club. “See what products have coaching value. A treadmill even has coaching value,” she said. “Trying to find things that have interest and bring services to the area of the club where exercisers are enjoying training is a really great opportunity. The more we can come to members and meet them where they need to be met, the more successful we will be in growing small group training.”
As for the future, Tillinghast expects small group training will only continue to grow in popularity. “I think we are going to start to see a definition of a true small group, which I would say is four to six people, versus the mid-size group with is six to 10 people and then large group,” explained Tillinghast. “Reaching out to each of those audiences is a little bit different. I think we are going to see a lot more targeted pricing and targeted marketing toward different groups. There is potentially more money to be generated in the true small group environment that is more about coaching.”