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Six Steps to Turn Small Group Training into Large Group Training

Small group training—fee-based training for three to four members at a time—has been a great addition to fitness facilities and trainers. It allows you to offer members the value of personal training at a reduced rate and to generate an additional revenue stream for your facility. What if you could offer this same value and results driven programming to 20, 30 or even 40 members at a time, reduce the member’s fee by more than half and generate four times the revenue? Well, you can, by offering large group training.

When most people hear the suggestion about doing large group training, they say they cannot offer this type of programming because it will confuse members or because a trainer cannot lead 40 people at the same time to do a squat or that no one will pay for large group training if they can take classes for free.

But I would counter by saying that you can offer large group training without confusing members, your trainers can lead 40 people in doing squats and your members will pay for large group training.

To make this happen, though, you need to take these six steps:

1. Be clear. When implementing large group training, be clear about the purpose of the program and its value. Ask yourself the following questions: Why are we charging for this program? What extra value does this program offer our members? Does this program really deliver the results we are promising? After you answer these questions, share the answers with your members. They will then understand the program, the value and the benefits without confusion.

2. Scheduling. Placing large, fee-based group training on your schedule can sometimes be tricky. To be successful at it, intersperse your free classes with your fee trainings. For example, if you offer free classes at 5 a.m. Mondays through Fridays, allocate two of those days for fee training and three of the days for free classes. When adding a fee group training title to your schedule, place a clear demarcation on the program. For example, next to your fee trainings, have a large asterisk and then a clear definition below. Start with just one large, fee training program on your schedule so that you minimize the impact of shedding free classes. If you take off all your free classes and add only fee-based classes, your members will feel betrayed. Allow them an opportunity to choose free or fee.

3. Choosing the right facilitators. Choosing the right staff to lead your large group training is critical to its success. As a club operator, you may look to personal trainers to lead any type of fee-based program. Although personal trainers may bring a wealth of knowledge to the program, they may struggle with facilitating more than three people at one time. If this is the case, consider putting group exercise instructors in charge of these classes. They are trained to lead large groups.

4. Charge properly. When choosing a price point for your large group training, consider the value and the results of the program you are going to implement. If you are not sure what your members will pay, survey them. Will your members pay extra for nutritional guidance? If the answer is yes, include it in your large group training. Will your members pay extra for assessments? Then include them in your large group training. If you want to know the answer to a question, ask the question. Never assume.

5. Where to implement. If you are open to change, try implementing large group training in your group exercise department. Personal training departments have been extremely successful at creating and providing additional monies to facilities. If you launch large group training in the group exercise department, it just may do the same for it.

6. Make it a “must do.” Do you know that feeling when you see all your friends trying something new and you desperately want to join because you know you are missing something? Generate that same excitement in your large group training program. Take the time and energy to market your large, fee-based training program. Be bold and tell members they have to bring their friends or they will miss out. Create a marketing campaign via social media and pay attention to it. And lastly, market this program as if it will change their lives because, in reality, it will.

Lori Patterson, owner and CEO of VicteliB LLC, is the creator of successful fee-based programs that include Boot Camp Challenge and Kids Kamp Challenge. She served in the Army and has been in the fitness industry for 27 years. You can reach her at, at 636-734-8594 or through the website at

TAGS: Step by Step
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