"People Aren't Ready for Semi-Private Training in My Market" is Bullshit

I can’t remember the last time a week passed without someone telling me that semi-private training models are a foreign concept in their market. It’s always the same thing: Personal training is the only commonly accepted practice where I operate. My clients would lose their mind if I took it away from them. 

So what is it about this training format that they’re so in love with?

I’d be willing to bet that if you were to ask them, they’d reel off a list of perks that looks a little like this:

  • I love that you individualize my program.

  • I love that you supervise every movement so that I don’t risk injury while exercising.

  • I love that you keep me on track and get me in and out of the gym in a reasonable period of time.

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You know what they don’t say?

  • I love that you’re the only person I get to talk to between sets.

  • I love that none of the other quality coaches in the gym know that I exist.

  • I love that I never have to engage with other people with similar goals.

You see, properly structured (and delivered) semi-private training takes everything that is great about personal training, tosses out the flaws, and mixes in some additional perks.

Personalized programming? Check.

Eyes on me while I lift? Yup.

Efficient use of my time in the gym? Yeah…that too.

Your clients are unlikely to resent losing your focus in between sets if you mix in a few fascinating people working hard alongside them and looking to make small talk during downtime.

Your clients aren’t going to walk out the door feeling any less “worked out” after executing the EXACT SAME training material, using the EXACT SAME equipment, under the supervision of the EXACT SAME person.

The biggest problem you’ll have when you effectively make the change is having long-time personal training clients come to the realization that they were previously paying 2x (or more) for the same amount of supervision during lifts. Little did they know that for years they’d been paying for roughly 8-minutes worth of lift-offs, spots, and coaching cues in a given 60-minute window. The rest was just fluffy interaction meant to pass the time during recovery.

The mistake you’re making

The best way to mess up communicating the benefits of shifting your training model is to emphasize what is being taken away from a client (start-to-finish face time), instead of celebrating the benefits that are being introduced – more for less:

  • Affordability in training packages

  • Motivation that comes with having training partners

  • Improved social component to the gym experience

  • Potential exposure to new coaches (depending on your model)

  • Engaged coaching from employees who thrive on variety in exercise supervision

Sometimes two is better than one. And, no, these aren’t my boys.

Sometimes two is better than one. And, no, these aren’t my boys.

Converting personal training clients to a semi-private format is like convincing your only child that he’s going to love having a little brother.

You don’t say to him: Bad news, buddy. I’m going to stop making sure we feed you breakfast, lunch and dinner. I’m also pretty much done with making sure you get down the slide safely at the park. I’m all about your little brother moving forward. Best of luck, friend.

Any sane parent paints a pleasant picture in this circumstance. You’re always going to have a friend to play with. You’re going to make each other laugh. You’re going to teach him how to ride a bike, and swim, and be a big boy. You’re going to LOVE it.

So, when it comes to shifting your personal training clients into a new format, why is it that you feel compelled to do so by cushioning some sort of expected blow? These clients’ attitudes relating to semi-private training aren’t the problem. Your positioning of the service is.

Tell a better story.


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