... and why my business model is to take people from 1:1 and into groups, even though it loses me money
So this is another very honest and frank blog post that will almost certainly annoy other personal trainers and coaches and cause a bit of debate. From around 16 years in the fitness and rehab industry it is just my brutally honest opinion and what I have found from all of my experience.
This will be a really good article to read if you are looking for a change in your personal training or you are thinking of investing in a trainer or group training program. I will be bearing all and talking very honestly and bluntly from my experiences and from the experiences of my clients over the years.
1. Most "individual training programs" are not really that individual
So there are going to be a few controversial things in this email but this one is the one that will get me in the most trouble so I thought, I may as well get it out there early.
1:1 training is often marketed using words or phrases like bespoke, individual, your needs, specialised, tailored and/or anything else that helps us make you think that what you are getting is truly unique. In reality, the chances of you actually getting this are not really that high. There are a lot of trainers that use template programs that are slightly adjusted by just tweaking sets, reps and weights. In reality, most trainer don't know how to proper;y assess your fitness or ability levels to do this to any great degree anyway, so they couldn't do it even if they wanted to.
You think you are the only person who is receiving that "tailored" nutrition plan too? Sorry but all their other clients are probably getting the exact same one.
Now here is the thing, this is not necessarily a terrible thing. If the training plan is good, you are still gonna benefit from it. Same with the nutrition plan too. It is also important to say too that not all trainers do this, there are some exceptions who can properly assess your fitness, how you move and create bespoke plans accordingly.
So what am I really saying here then? Well it is pretty simple and it is this:
"If you do not have a current injury or specific needs in the form of a disability or condition then you will probably be coached just as well and just as specifically in a group training setting as you would be in a 1:1 personal training setting".
This is exactly what I tell my clients too in the consultation. If they have no injuries, if they have no specific condition that requires bespoke coaching and if they are confident enough to train in a group, then I always tell them to choose the groups, because I can coach them equally as well there as I can in the much more expensive 1:1 environment.
2. Group Training is way more cost effective
So my group training is a bit less than 1/3 of the price of my 1:1 training costs. On the current program, you even get the exact same nutrition resources and coaching strategy as all of my 1:1 clients, so if money is a bit of an issue, then it is a no-brainer.
All of my group training packages com in less than £15 per hour compared to £35 per hour for 1:1 training, The most cost effective packages are around £10-£12 per hour training in group sizes of no more than 8 people. For some trainer it will be even cheaper than that but be careful of going too cheap, because like most things in life, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
3. you still get a great coach but you also get loads of other people to keep you motivated
I'm gonna start this one with a bit of a revelation.
"As a trainer and coach, I do not know everything".
Now, for those of you who are amazed by my knowledge, skill and just general coolness on a daily basis, this will come as a shock to you. It is however very true. I may also not be the right person to really light a fire in someone that gets them to realise their potential. For me, this is what is probably the coolest thing about the group PT programs I run. I have realised that I don't have to know everything or motivate everyone.
Quite often the group can answer some questions better than me and sometimes provide the motivation a client needs to achieve their goals. So as the coach, my job is to create the environment, to create the support network and to provide the little push it needs to build and flourish and continue.
So in 1:1 personal training it is just me who is responsible for providing you with all the motivation you need, planning all the workouts, coaching you through the entire process and keeping you on track. In a group coaching program however, you still get all of that from me as the coach but you also get help and support from a load of others, people you can relate to who are facing similar challenges as you, your team mates who will help you push harder and be your own personal cheerleaders.
So for me it is very simple... "Why settle for one coach when you can 5, 6 or 7"?
4. fun, banter and teamwork
Our group coaching unwritten rules...
1. Leave your ego at the door
2. Be friendly to everyone
3. Help everyone out as much as you can
4. Only the coach is allowed to be sarcastic (just kidding)
5. Don't take yourself too seriously
6. Have fun!
This has helped us create an awesome atmosphere at Faster Fitness Solutions where everyone feels comfortable, takes the piss out of each other a little bit and has a whale of a time doing so. Having 2 young children means I am often flagging by 5.30pm. Feeling tired and bit sorry for myself, the group atmosphere really lifts me up though and gives the energy I need for the rest of the evening. The guys and girls on the program never fail to bring an awesome energy to the room which is hugely helpful for me as a coach and makes the sessions fly by.
This is without doubt, my favorite aspect of group coaching compared to 1:1 training. While i really do love building that close relationship with 1:1 clients, the group training programs are simply an awesome laugh. Always great fun and I am almost always absolutely buzzing, leaving the building at the end of the night. I am pretty sure that this is what my clients find the most valuable and keeps everyone coming back.
5. new friends
I am looking forward to the Christmas socials this year and really looking forward to the whole gym social I have planned in the new year. This really is an awesome opportunity for you to meet new people and make great new friends.
The type of training we do is hard, I am not going to lie and tell you it isn't. You see your team mates at their best and sometimes at their lowest. I tell you what though, you get to find out a lot about yourself doing this type of training as well as the people you are training with and for me... "Nothing helps you build bonds like the motivation you get from pushing yourself to your limits and having others in the group willing you on to do the same thing".
For those of you who have played team sports, you know exactly what I mean and for the guys and girls who haven't, they are discovering how cool a thing that can be.
Darren has over 10 years experience in the fitness industry as a personal trainer, sports injury therapist and most recently as an educator to other trainers. Originally from South Wales, he went to Liverpool University to study Sports Science and liked the city so much, he decided to stay. Since finishing his degree he set up a thriving personal training and injury rehab business which continues to this day. He has recently moved over to Denby Dale in West Yorkshire and has opened Faster Fitness Solutions, a multi-purpose training and rehabilitation facility located in the heart of the village.