Fitness: Personal Trainers & Exercisers

Reaping the Benefits of Small Group Training


2016 is shaping up to be an exciting year in fitness, and it's going to be all about personalizing exercise to meet the unique needs of every exerciser. Small group training is a key piece in the puzzle to delivering personalized results in 2016.

Small group training runs the gamut in terms of the size of the training group. The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) defines small group training as shared/partner training with two clients, small group training with three to five clients, mid-size training with six to 12 clients and large group training with 12 or more clients.

Small group training will continue to gain steam in 2016 because of its versatile format that is beneficial to exercisers, operators and personal trainers. Below are a few ways that each key stakeholder of a training facility—exercisers, operators and personal trainers—can take advantage of small group training in 2016.

Exercisers Excel in Small Group Settings

The main reason exercisers decide to join a fitness facility is because they want to accomplish a fitness goal. Small group training is the perfect format to help exercisers achieve their fitness goals, whether they want to lose weight, improve physique or gain cardiovascular fitness. Small group training benefits exercisers in several ways.


First, a small group setting creates accountability, which is a key component to achieving fitness goals. When an exerciser works out with the same group of people from week to week, the group bonds and members feel a responsibility to show up to both the trainer and their peers. Small group fitness classes also create a bit of friendly competition, which pushes participants to work out a bit harder and achieve goals a bit faster than they would if they were working out alone.

Second, exercisers are supervised by a fitness professional who can ensure a workout is safe. When exercisers are able to learn proper form, they are less likely to injure themselves, and are more likely to enjoy their workout and keep coming back to work out.

Finally, in addition to ensuring a safe workout, a small group training setting encourages an effective workout. When the average exerciser walks into the gym, he often struggles to build an effective workout plan. This often leads to frustration, which can cause an exerciser to stop pursuing a fitness goal, or even worse, cause a member to cancel a membership altogether. A small group training setting can help exercisers fend off frustration and achieve their goals because the personal trainer is responsible for developing and deploying effective programming. When a personal trainer is in charge, and the exerciser has confidence that each workout is tailored to his exercise goals, he is better able to focus on the workout itself.

Small Groups Give Personal Trainers Big Gains


Personal trainers are always looking for ways to increase their client roster and bring in more money. Small group training is a great option for gaining exposure and building a personal training business. Since small group training sessions are generally less expensive than a one-on-one training session, small group training is a great way to introduce gym members to the benefits of personal training at a lower price point. Once a gym member experiences the effectiveness of working with a personal trainer in a small group training setting, they will be more likely to explore, and pay for, one-on-one training or ongoing small group sessions.

The small group training setting lends itself to building a personal training business. Whether a personal trainer is gym-based or owns his or her own business, training people in a group is an efficient way to reach multiple clients at one time. Trainers can also earn a higher hourly revenue through small group training since they are training multiple clients at once. Finally, when clients have an exceptional small group training experience, they are more likely to spread the word among friends and family, ultimately bringing in more business.

When it comes down to it, the flexible nature of small group training makes it the perfect training tool for fitness professionals looking to differentiate their services and set themselves apart from the competition. It brings accountability, engagement competition and camaraderie into a fun exercise environment that benefits the exerciser and the personal trainer.



Erica Tillinghast is global education manager for Precor, which designs and manufactures premium end-to-end commercial and at-home fitness solutions. For more information, visit


Erica Tillinghast