An Insight into Small Group Training


Read this interesting article below, provided by Adam Daniel (REPs member, Personal Trainer, Educator and Presenter in the UK) on Small Group Training:

Many group exercise instructors assume that because they can manage a room of 20 people they will be great at group Personal Trainer (PT). Some PTs assume that because they know how to train one person, they can train four. It’s the same thing right?  Not true.

Small Group Training is a very different animal and is becoming increasingly popular amongst PTs as it brings in greater revenue per hour. This is great when delivered effectively, however this form of training is commonly misunderstood and often badly delivered.

What is Small Group Training? 

‘A fee based, systematic, periodised program designed and configured for 2-8 people covering all aspects of exercise designed to get results with the majority of clients the majority of the time, utilising options due to the presence of multiple skill sets and goals’ (Robert Esquerre).

The take home points from this explanation are:

  • PERIODISED
  • RESULTS
  • FEE BASED
  • MULTIPLE SKILL SETS
  • GOALS

How Do I Do It?

Well let’s break down the above definition based on what I do.

  • I run 30 minute sessions 4 x per week with eight people in each session paying £10 pp. Two sessions are run back to back each time giving me an hourly rate of £160 (fee based).
  • The sessions are run on the same day and at the same time each week, with the first session being for lead-off clients and the second session being for the transitional clients (multiple skill sets).
  • As I know the skill level of each group I am able to write an eight week periodised programme for each group.
  • Because I use ViPRs I have the ability to regress or progress an exercise instantaneously if needed (Goals and multiple skill sets – meeting client’s needs).
  • As long as I know the above structure is applied then I know that results will be achieved.

Structure of Workout

Movement Preparation + Games (ViPR) – 5 minutes

Main Session – 2 groups of 4; 1 group completes a set number of Step Sprints (group A), whilst the other (group B) completes a ViPR circuit. Once group A completes the steps, the groups swap over. Repeat x 4 -20 minutes

Mobility (ViPR) – 5 minutes

Please Note – Using ViPRs allows me to differentiate myself from other small group programme.

More about Adam:

Adam has been in the fitness industry for 15 years, joining from an elite sporting background having been an international 400 metre hurdler. He currently works as a respected Personal Trainer, Educator and Presenter in the UK.

Aside from this, Adam is also  part of the PTA Global Faculty, an International Master Trainer for ViPR and a Lead Presenter for Fitpro where he specialises in the delivery and development of coaching and communication skill based courses and workshops, helping fitness professionals understand the importance of behaviour change.

Adam regularly presents at conventions and conferences throughout the UK and Europe including Register of Exercise Professionals regional conferences, he was also considered to be one of London’s top six personal trainers in the Evening Standard’s ES magazine.

5 responses to “An Insight into Small Group Training

  1. Couple of points here. Firstly when I became a Personal Trainer, we had to pass a circuit training component to become qualified. Obviously this is training more than one person! We also had to understand progression, and periodisation. So I’m a bit confused about this post.

    Secondly, I run circuits, which are real value for money sessions of an hours for a fiver. Sounds like a better deal for the client!! My circuits have progression through the programme and allow for differing levels, abilities, co=ordination etc (as do all circuit classes that I’ve ever attended!).

    Finally, the expression Personal Training gives the understandable impression of one-to-one attention. Training more than one person by default removes the word “personal”. Also, it is difficult or near impossible to find multiple clients all at the exact same level in all facets of their training.The expression group PT is an oxymoron.

    It’s either a class or it isn’t. What is being offered here is a circuit class, and frankly quite an expensive one.

    • Richard Bignell

      I have read both the article and Steve’s comments about group personal training and felt that I needed to have my tuppence worth!

      In my humble experience, i have trained some husband and wife couples and found it to be very enjoyable and effective for both parties. The clients help to push each other on through healthy competition and “banter” and this helps to give each client a little extra motivation and drive to better each other. Ultimately getting better results in a shorter period of time.

      This would still be classed as a group training session, but I am still able to create that personal feel that 1-1 training has. I agree with Steve that if the group gets too big, then when does the line get crossed from group PT to another class. I feel that i would be happy and most comfortable to train 4 people in one session and sill be able to personalise the programme to each individual. I would still do an 8 person session, yet I feel that my skill set would be pushed to its limits in this situation.

      The great attraction of group PT is that to the PT you can earn more revenue in the same amount of time, and on the other hand the session is very affordable to each client. A client that is paying 10 pounds per session with friends would not expect as much 1-1 attention as if they actually did a 1-1 PT session paying 50 pounds. The social aspect of group training as mentioned above, creates that extra added value to the clients experience.

      In summary, in my experience I feel that group PT is another tool in the toolbox to make my living more sustainable, and it opens up different avenues and emotions for the clients, which is all good in my eyes.

  2. Jim Clements

    Steve has a valid point; £10 for 30 minutes training when your instructor’s attention is split across 8 individuals is expensive. It sounds more like good business from the trainer’s point of view than value for money for the client(s)

  3. John Gray

    I am afraid I agree with Steve in the post above. I am not sure what point this article is trying to make. It just sounds like an exceptionally expensive and small circuit training class.

    I run circuits for a tiny rural village and get about 15 at people at a time. Within a week of two classes I was able to periodize the sessions, recognise who needed what specific support and what progressions to make in in multiple functional skills in a given time period. Two years later the group has improved fantastically – one member has run three marathons and another has taken up kettlebell sport as a result. Any good class leader can do the same. Plus, I only charge 3 pounds for an hours session per person and though I ‘only’ make up to forty five pound a hour that’s not bad in today’s economic climate and the bonus we have is a happier healthier middle aged group of people in a rural location who are empowered to exercise on their own.

    secondly why does it have to rely on Vipr? how does that make things easier to progress than say a range of bodybars, kettlebells, dumbbells etc? In fact what’s wrong with challenging the body with its own weight? I will assume, due to your biog, this is just a Vipr class for limited numbers. As an optimal life fitness extreme kettlebell instructor, I could have written the same programme but with kettlebells. I am sure Steve above could do similar with his qualifications

    I am sorry Adam I am sure you make a decent class but if your article had discussed the motivational climate, social physique anxiety issues and other psychological factors which are very different between large and small groups, I would agree you had something to say. I am not sure what your point is except you have found a way to make money using Vipr

  4. Jon Dowling

    I agree with all of the above. Sounds like another “celebrity trainer” saying how good they are. £10 per person for half an hour, so much for a recession.

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