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Shaping an Exceptional Group Training Experience


Delivering a great small group training (SGT) experience involves extra attention to detail when it comes to your layout, coaching style and training practices. Coaching SGT classes should feel very different than large group exercise classes or personal training sessions, and should truly bridge the gap between the two. To give your participants an exceptional experience, pay attention to these concepts:

Differentiate Your Group Training Space

Your SGT space, whether a dedicated studio or part of your fitness floor, should feel different than the rest of your facility. It should be inviting for participants and give a feeling of elevated value. You can do this with color, imagery and equipment that is differentiated from the rest of your facility.

Arrive Early, Leave Late

A trainer should always be the first to arrive and the last to leave. In a small group, there are great opportunities to build relationships. It’s important the trainer is present to answer questions and get to know participants before and after the class.

Organize the Workout and the Space

The trainer should always prepare the workout to include only as many exercises at one time as can easily be coached, so members feel successful and are getting the attention they need. The SGT space should be set up with the equipment that will be used, in the order that will flow best. When setting up stations, offer multiple weight options so all participants have what they need and set equipment so transitions between stations flow easily.

Create a Vision for Participants — Let Them Know “Why”

Trainers should treat every class as if it’s everyone’s first time and the experience is brand new. Begin class with an introduction to the trainer, class format, equipment that will be used and the exercises that will be performed. Trainers frequently get comfortable and skip this, but it is important for both new attendees and those who have been coming for awhile. Participants like to know the “why” behind what they are doing. Consider sharing the benefits of the workout at the beginning and end of class, and the muscles particular exercises target during the class.

Camaraderie and Motivation

Trainers connecting with participants is important, but even more important is participants connecting with other participants. Individuals are more likely to make your SGT classes a part of their routine if they feel like they are working out with friends. Encourage participants to introduce themselves during warmup, and congratulate each other with high fives. When coaching technique correction, gain eye contact before making the correction but don’t call individuals out by using their name. When congratulating an individual, make it personal by using their name.


Rebecca Cofod is the group training business solutions manager at Matrix Fitness. She can be reached at rebecca.cofod@matrixfitness.com.


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