- Pandemic has, to put it lightly, hampered business this year
- Fitness is constantly evolving
- Health clubs were the standard, then “fast fitness” franchises
- Large groups are going to be hard to get together for the foreseeable future
- One-on-One is attractive, but too expensive for many people
- Small group training is a viable and profitable compromise
- Small group as a base with other options is even better
- People will always want to feel important and cared for
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Hey, Pat Rigsby here. And in this episode, I want to talk with you about what I think one of the best opportunities for 2021 and beyond will be when it comes to offline training. So we’re going to dive deep into small group training. Let’s get to it.
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So if you’re like so many small business owners, the pandemic has really disrupted the way that you’re doing business. You know, if you’ve run a large group training business, there have been obviously in-person work stoppages and you had to move online at one point in a lot of markets, people are back, but there are real capacity issues. There are limitations to the number of people they can bring in. And some markets are not even allowed to have training in person still as of the recording of this podcast. But you know, the thing that I think that we can expect moving forward is that sure people are going to want to train in person, but the demand for large group training is probably going to really be reduced for the short term.
Now, does that mean that businesses that have focused entirely on large group training can’t survive and adapt? No. I mean, the industry has evolved so much since I’ve been a part of the fitness industry, at least on the commercial side, since about 2003. And if I look back when I started in the personal training industry most clients who hired a trainer were very fluent because training was done almost exclusively one-on-one hour-long session sold in prepaid packages. So it really required somebody having a lot of cash available at once now in my business to offset that back way back in 2004, when I started my first business immediately out of the gate, we did 30 minute one-on-one sessions. We had subscription-based annual pricing for the most part. So people would just sign up for a year and there would be a monthly payment. They kind of coincided with all the other monthly payments they had in their life. And then we immediately integrated a hybrid model. Now it took us probably a good year, year and a half before we understood the benefit or the opportunity for group training, but that was something we adapted to pretty quickly, not unlike hybrid training where you know, my background is a collegiate strength coach. And as a college baseball coach kind of helped me see a different way of approaching things. Group training was the same thing because I had worked with athletes in groups for my entire time at the collegiate level. But, you know, that was something that was happening a lot of places as well. Maybe, you know, maybe 10 times as many places as the subscription model with credit card or EFT billing on a recurring basis.
But if we think about since that point now, you know, that’s just over 15 years ago, we’ve had the emergence of boot camps. We’ve had the growth of semi-private training. We’ve had things like Groupon and Living Social we’ve had Facebook, the, the real explosion of online training. We’ve had fitness apps. We’ve had disruptive health clubs first with the 24 hour model with Anytime Fitness. And then later, you know, and then Snap and a few of the, the ones that came later we’ve had. And then more recently the, the low cost, low commitment clubs, like Planet Fitness. And then most recently we’ve had things like Peloton and Mirror. We’ve had dozens of training based franchises in the past that were primarily the franchise model really up until about 2010 was almost exclusively health clubs.
But since then dozens of training based franchises have emerged. I founded one for the adult market and then a separate one for the youth market way back around 2010. And there’ve been so many like Orange Theory and Burn boot camp and Club Pilates, and, you know, all these others that were all based on this group model because in the franchise world, you know, you want it to be about a process. You want it to be scalable. You don’t want to depend on unique skills and talents. That’s why you’re a lot less likely to see a restaurant be dependent on some ridiculously unique and talented chef being a franchise model instead of, you know, fast food or quick service food that they can just replicate a process and in staff member, well, I mean, it makes sense at that level, but with this group training kind of, I guess, bottleneck that we’re currently facing, there’s just not going to be as much opportunity as, or as much demand for a group training model in the, the immediate future.
I think that clients are still going to want to work in a way that isn’t exclusively one-on-one. I think one-on-one is certainly going to make a bit of a, it, it already has. But that’s still relatively price prohibitive for a lot of those people who are interested in group training. And that was the way that they could engage with a coach. So what’s going to be the, the viable opportunity going forward? Why think small group training is going to be a real sweet spot? I think, I think that you know, the, the opportunity to still train people in groups of four or five, six, maybe eight people a day at a time where you can still have one, one specific program that people work from that certainly has progressions and regressions, but it’s not individually designed programs like you might have in one-on-one or semi-private training. It still provides leverage for a coach to work with multiple people at once. It is certainly a good use of space. It offers, you know, offers really, appealing profit margin. Yeah. But it falls falls not only within the constraints that most markets are placing on number of people being in a room at the same time, or, you know, any of those capacity issues, but it also addresses some of the, the individual concerns of consumers, the comfort of people being in an environment where maybe they’re not, particularly excited about being in a group of 25 people, everybody breathing heavy and sweating and rotating stations. So it’s also easier to manage because keeping, you know, 25 people busy at once kind of a limit, some of the things that you can do this allows you some more flexibility or autonomy when it comes to being creative with programming.
So when, when you’re looking at building your business for the next year moving forward, I don’t think that small group training is just going to be a fad by any means. I think that it’s going to be a long-term viable solution. Just like group training has been group training is really been a popular thing for, well over a decade now, I, I ran a very successful coaching program that was a predecessor to my franchise model called bootcamp blueprint. We even had events called Bootcamp Bootcamp back in 2007 or 2008, 2009. We were doing that. And so, you know, the, the group training model certainly had some staying power and it’s not going away in its entirety. And I think small group training is going to be very much like that. It offers the best of both worlds, because I think that you can target specific markets or niche down and still populate groups more effectively because maybe if you were going to work with a specific population and it might I’d have been tough to find 25 of them to come in at once during peak hours to be profitable, you can go up the price scale a little bit with small group training, and you only need to get six or seven people in at once and still have an incredibly profitable model. So you know, I think that small group training fills that, that opportunity very nicely.
So when, when you’re thinking about small group training, let me give you just a couple a couple, couple takeaways, a couple points to focus on. So you can put this into action. The first is like any, anything you need to have a target market, right? You need to have somebody that you want to serve. The, this is going to be a viable solution for, so the type of person that you can train in a group environment safely and effectively. So it’s obviously not going to be somebody with severe physical limitations or constraints or somebody that definitely needs one-on-one training, but it probably does allow you to work with somebody who may need a little bit more individual help than just throwing somebody into a group of 25 people where the, the instructor to client ratio is a much better, much bigger bigger ratio. So the next thing to think about is, okay, we we’ve got a specific target market. Do they have a big enough desire that maybe they’re willing to pay a little bit more than those typical group training prices, you know, 99, 129, 149, because obviously you want to make each session profitable and still provide you the leverage that you, that you need. So you need to determine the appropriate pricing structure. The other thing to consider is you don’t need as much space for this. So if you are in a position where you’re going out and securing a new location, plenty of real estate available right now, and that’s not going to dry up anytime soon, you don’t need as big a footprint.
Or if you have a big footprint, you can be running a small group class or small group session, then running one-on-one or semi-private concurrently. You know, you’re still gonna have to do the lead generation that you’ve always done. You’re still going to have to do the, the selling that you’ve done, but you may not need quite as many leads because this is not as much of a volume play. This is a, you know, higher ticket or a higher value exchange proposition than $99 a month group training. And then when it comes to programming, you’re going to have a template ID system, a template approach that is probably more like group training than it would be semi-private one-on-one, but it does allow you to probably integrate a little bit higher skill movements. It allows you to probably do some, some more creative things, because again, you’re not having to deal with such a high volume of people. So for clients that are more interested in, you know, not just being a face in the crowd, not just being a number this is going to be a really appealing model for business owners that want a way to continue to enjoy leverage in their business. But, you know, they They’ve really been kept with the, the large group training experience and they can’t really see themselves moving into entirely like zoom sessions or classes. This again is a really viable solution.
So I think that your opportunity with small group training is, is massive. Now, I don’t want you to assume that this means that there aren’t other viable options going forward in 2021 or beyond. I just did the prediction episodes. There are a number of things that I think are going to be viable and attractive. I think one-on-one, and semiprivate will. I think that, you know, online and hybrid are going to be viable. I think that we’re just going to see a real throttling of group training probably for all of 2021. And, you know, it’ll probably make it come back in in a bigger way. It is, we get into 2022 and beyond.
But still people like personal attention, people like to feel special and important. That’s not ever going to change. And small group training offers you a viable and lucrative way to do that. So if you’ve not considered small group training as a coaching deliverable option for your business, give it some thought, put, put some time into it, run the numbers, tweak the pricing and make sure those sessions can be profitable. I think you’re going to be impressed with, with the opportunity that it presents for you and also the reduced footprint that it needs to deliver. So again, one more thing that you can look towards when I’m putting together your business for the foreseeable future small group training.
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