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A Training Model for the Future?

When I was envisioning Essers of Los Angeles and what kind of business I wanted to create, I knew one thing;

It would not be a 1-on-1 personal training facility.

I believe in the value of 1-on-1 coaching, but there are several limitations;

#1: You limit yourself to helping one person in a given hour. If someone that you also train requests that time, you can’t see them.

#2: In order for it to make financial sense, you need to charge a very high amount per session. This limits the potential client pool and typically leads to being able to coach only the very well-off.
If you charge a nominal amount, you will end up working a ton of hours and the concept of “full attention for one hour” becomes more of a myth than a reality as you will be exhausted.

#3: All the pressure is on the coach to deliver the client results, motivation, and accountability. I understand you might be thinking, “Isn’t this how it should be?”
Yeah you can say that, but I actually think (and this has been proven) that having the motivation and accountability of a COMMUNITY leads to much more adherence and success in the long-term.
If you were accountable to 5 people versus 1, don’t you think you would be more successful?

Once 1-on-1 coaching was crossed off, I decided that we would primarily offer “semi-private coaching”. This is typically seen as one coach working with 2-3 people at one time.

I wanted a community of like-minded people that would be able to feed of each other and create something really special, while still being able to provide an extremely high-level of coaching.

In the 2016 fitness industry, semi-private training is a common offering, as many fitness professionals have long realized the above limitations of the 1-on-1 model and sought to make better use of their time and skills.

However, I think there are a few misguided beliefs when it comes to this type of training;

#1: It should be approached as a more intimate group workout

#2: The trainees need to already have a prior relationship (e.g. friends, family, spouse)

#3: The price should be vastly less than 1-on-1 coaching

Let’s discuss each of these and how we are differing our approach at Essers of Los Angeles. This approach is already generating a big return in terms of client results and business revenue (we opened on October 17th, 2015).

#1:  It should be approached as a more intimate group workout

I don’t believe in group classes where one program is given for all participants. Sorry for anyone who is involved in that.

But if you want to see long-term results, while minimizing injury risk, you need a custom-built program. And modifications for a program that was pre-designed for a large group does not qualify.
I’m talking about a program that is designed for an individual by a qualified coach who performed a 1-on-1 assessment on said individual.
This is possible in the semi-private model. You just need skilled coaches who have the ability to coach different programs at the same time. This can seem daunting, but with the proper set-up is not all that difficult to pull off and I’ll tell you how it can be done.
Every athlete who trains at our facility receives a 1-on-1 assessment and has a specific program for their wants and needs that is consistently updated based on their progress.

We allow up to 4 athletes to train at one time with up to 2 coaches. When they come in for their session, their program is broadcast on one of the 4 monitors we have on the wall. This frees up our coaches’ hands and avoids the situation of the client constantly waiting on the coach to say what is next.

Post TV Install

They can effectively take some ownership in their program by looking up at the screen if the coach is working in-depth with another client on a movement and keep things flowing.

With this set-up, the coach is allowed to COACH and not simply read off a clipboard and shout out instructions. In a traditional semi-private model, it’s difficult to provide individualized programming more due to the logistics of how to deliver the programs than anything.
The above strategy solves this problem, and you don’t even need expensive TVs and iPads to do it. You just need something to write the programs on. Whiteboards are a cheaper option and will take more time to write down everything. You could also print out programs and place them on a middle pedestal that the client goes in and picks up prior to training.

#2: The trainees need to already have a prior relationship (e.g. friends, family, spouse)

The number-one question we get when I discuss semi-private training to a potential athlete is, “What time do you guys offer that?”

Answer = all day

Our model is designed so that all semi-private means is there MIGHT be other people there when you are training. I’ll discuss this in a bit, but this is only risky if you set your prices too low. If you are priced properly, you can afford to offer this level of flexibility.

But this isn’t the only variable holding coaches back from being able to go all-in on semi-private training. It’s the notion that it’s weird to have strangers training with each other in such an intimate setting.
I never felt that, but that sentiment is out there. Whenever someone brings it up, I just respond that, because they are on their own programs, it doesn’t matter if it is an 80-year old training with a 22-year old collegiate basketball player or a 40-year old housewife interested in fat-loss training alongside a 30-year old bachelor wanting to add muscle.

I’ve actually only seen good things result. That’s because we have a clear vision of who our ideal client is and what our values are. We are the “matchmaker” for those who are already training with us. Therefore, anyone that we accept for coaching is bound to be a good fit because they have proven to us that they align with those pre-established values.
In fact, as I mentioned earlier, they end up benefiting from training with new people because they immediately share the common ground of aiming to make themselves better. This naturally evolves into pushing each other to do better and discussing each other’s goals and struggles.
This takes the training experience beyond a coach-client relationship to something much bigger. In terms of retention, this is extremely powerful because it’s much harder to end the journey when you have several people invested in your success versus one.
I’ve seen the proof of people looking more forward to training when they know their newfound friends will be there.

#3: There’s this notion that semi-private training is a lesser offering than 1-on-1 coaching. While I’m not in favor of a semi-private session costing as much as a 1-on-1 session, you can structure semi-private training in a way that allows you to make a profit while not going overboard on your prices.

Here is how we do it;

We have 2 options (both require a 3x/week training frequency);

3-Month Commitment @ $900/month/12 sessions ($75/session)
1-Year Commitment @ $780/month/12 sessions ($65/session)

With this model, what you lose in per session cost you make up for in training frequency. It’s a win-win because the client is going to get much better results training 3x/week and the coach is still going to make money.
You could argue that you could train someone 1-on-1 for $120/session 2x/week and come out ahead, but that’s only if you have 1 person with the above. As soon as you have 2 in the same session, you come out way ahead and the client doesn’t lose anything except maybe some idle chit-chat during their rest periods.
So far, no one has complained about that!

It’s an easy sell because the client gets to train more-often than they would be able to with 1-on-1 prices, while gaining a community of like-minded people that will make the training experience higher-energy and more fun. Ultimately, the people you want to be training are the ones who care about results, and those people love this.

I’m sure at some point soon I’ll come up with some sweet name to encompass the above, but it’s hard to call what we do semi-private training. Semi-private carries the connotation that it is less INDIVIDUALIZED, but our model is not any less individualized.

The title of this blog is “The Future of Personal Training” and I called it that because 1-on-1 coaching is going to continue to die out. It has been for a number of years as the economy tanked and the pendulum swung the other direction with bootcamps and the rise of Crossfit.

But I think more and more people are wising up to the fact that these models do not provide the necessary supervision and customization to keep them progressing over the long-term with minimal chance of injury. I know that because a lot of the people we train used to do bootcamps and Crossfit, but realized something was missing.

We are filling the gap for that population by offering the camaraderie benefits of Crossfit with the level of individualization that they would have previously only found with a 1-on-1 coach.

I have a strong hunch this type of model will be the one that crops up more and more. And I can say off of our short experience with it so far that it will happen sooner rather than later.

If you are in the Los Angeles area, we offer a complimentary assessment and can give you a more in-depth taste of what we offer.  Schedule yours today by calling 310-666-6199 or emailing us at skynet@essersla.com.

 

Dominate All Life,

Kasey, CSCS