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Over the past decade, small group training (SGT) has continued to rise in popularity as a more affordable alternative to personal training. As a result, YMCAs, JCCs and community rec centers across the U.S. have begun carving out space and purchasing equipment specifically for small group classes and programs.

This includes The Y In Central Maryland, which recently purchased the Precor Queenax — a functional and suspended bodyweight training system — with SGT in mind.

Here, Kelly Lepley, the executive director of fitness at The Y In Central Maryland, shares additional insight into the Queenax and SGT trends:

CR: Why do you think SGT has risen in popularity?

KL: SGT is growing in part due to the fact it’s a more affordable option for personalized training programs, but also due to the social component associated with this form of training.

CR: How is your YMCA responding to the SGT trend? Did you feel it was important to carve out a dedicated space for SGT?

KL: We have been working on ways to reallocate space utilization, but also determine which trainers are most interested in leading this form of training, as it requires a more outgoing personality — similar to group exercise in nature, but more of a coaching quality. We have added multiple specialty SGT options in the past two years and are looking to continue expanding our SGT offerings.

CR: Why did you decide to purchase the Precor Queenax, and how will it be used?

LK: Queenax is a tool to offer functional training in a structured environment with many components to meet a variety of interests, needs and training modalities. It will be used specifically for SGT.

CR: Are there any other SGT programs you’re offering?

KL: We offer many freestyle SGT programs that are trainer developed and multi-faceted, and some that are more formalized and structured, such as BoxMaster, Gravity, GRIT and TRX.

CR: What tips can you share with other rec centers on how they can run a successful SGT program?

KL: Make sure you have the right director in place with the ambition and drive to lead and put in the time to grow SGT programs. You have to be methodical in how you present, demo and expand SGT.

Start with demos in the exact time slot you will offer the program, promote and create a lot of energy around it. This sometimes requires significant behind the scenes work with personal invites to new members and trainer commitment.

Once you have classes reaching their max of eight participants, add new classes. Don’t add 15 classes at one time. Let one to three classes start the program, and create a sense of urgency that spaces are limited.

It takes time and effort — once and done doesn’t cut it in the initial phases — but after a base is created, word of mouth spreads and more members want to be a part of the energy around SGT.

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