Mike Warkentin (00:00):
Semi-private training. It’s a game changer for owners and coaches. Today on “Run a Profitable Gym,” We’re gonna tell you how to get it in place fast. This is “Run a Profitable gym.” I’m Mike Warkentin, your host. Please don’t forget to subscribe. I don’t want you to miss a single episode. Now, semi-private training. Here’s the deal: You coach two to four clients through individual workouts in a group setting. Now they’re not doing variations of the exact same workout. They’re doing individualized programming with the supervision of a coach, and there’ll be other people doing the exact same thing. The coach’s attention is split several ways, but they’re doing personal training. Now, the benefit here: clients get personalized workouts and more attention than they would in a group setting, and the coaches and owners earn more. This is what we’re gonna tell you how to do. My guest today is gonna give you a streamlined plan to get this program into place at warp speed. Now, Brian Bott, he owns a Aspire Fitness in New Jersey. He has monster average revenue per member at this gym—we’ve done a show on this, and it’s mostly because of semi-private training. Brian is gonna be telling coaches about this at the Two-Brain Summit that’s coming up in June. There’s still time to get tickets. Check it out. Now, Brian, welcome. Can we get gym owners up to speed really fast today?
Brian Bott (01:11):
Let’s them let them going.
Mike Warkentin (01:13):
First I gotta get ask you, because I wanna make people understand how valuable this is, what are the rewards of semi-private training? Like what’s the main benefit for three different groups? The client, the coach and the owner.
Brian Bott (01:24):
Okay. So the benefit for the client is that they’re going to be able to get a more individualized experience. So if they’re coming from a group environment, they’re going to have a more individualized approach. So as you touched on, they’re not gonna be just doing the same thing as everybody else in class. If they have a specific goal, a specific plan is always the best recipe for that. If they’re coming from traditionally only working in a one-on-one setting, the benefit is they’re actually gonna get a little bit of a price discount. So some of them can actually train more frequently. If they can train more frequently, they get better results. If they get better results and they have better accountability, they stay longer and they’re willing to pay more.
Mike Warkentin (01:58):
There’s a huge win for the client.
Brian Bott (02:00):
Yes. And then also one of the more underrated ones is that it’s much easier to schedule. If I’m doing one on ones, I only have one available slot at a very popular time—at 6 a.m. before people have to go home and get ready for work, right? Unless I do semi-private, where I can have anywhere from two to six people at that time slot. Now I’ve doubled, at a minimum—our goal is to double your hourly rate at that time period. But as you progress and you get better at it, you can add more clients to that hour, and you can even pass beyond that. So now you’re getting you know, six hours’ worth of work done if you look long term at this in a one-block period. And everybody’s still getting the same individualized experience.
Mike Warkentin (02:39):
I love it. I love it. And so the coaches, what happens for them?
Brian Bott (02:43):
Well, the money, right? That and avoiding the burnout, right? If I can take those six clients at 6 a.m.—which would have normally taken me until noon and also would have been impossible. Because if they have to do 6 a.m. they have—we live in an area where people commute to city by ferry. The boat leaves at 7:15. So as much as you can say you have a slot open at 9 a.m., that’s great. It’s all well and good, but they physically cannot come at that time. So you’re able to condense your schedule much more efficiently and make more money and not have to feel like you’re taking somebody at 6 o’clock—“Well, then I’m waiting for the moms to do their drop-off, and then I have one person at eight or nine, and then I have another little break where I work out. And then maybe I get someone at 1 o’clock. And you have this monster day, and you look back and you’re like, “I only trained four people, but I worked 10 hours. Right? so this is a much better way to say, “Hey, I have slots available from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., and in them I can take”—we usually start people with three per hour. Cause it is a little bit of adjustment period. So I have, you know, however many, 12 slots in those four hours to work with people. So now instead of having four available slots, we have 12. So much more efficient that way.
Mike Warkentin (03:54):
Gimme an hourly rate range. Like what are coaches earning in an hour like that?
Brian Bott (03:58):
So it all depends. Cause we, we do use the four-ninths model. Mm-Hmm. So if they’re looking at, you know, depending on what the price range is, if we’re doing, you know, $50 for a semi-private, that’s getting them, what, around close to $22 an hour per client. So if they have four of them, they are making upwards of $80 an hour to do their personal training in that setting.
Mike Warkentin (04:21):
$80 an hour, which is like—you can start making a career out of this. It’s not $20 an hour. Because if you think about group-class coaching, $20 an hour times eight hours is gonna get you about 160 bucks. You could make that potentially in two hours of semi-private training, which leaves you a ton of extra time to do stuff. And, you know, even just see your kids if you wanted to. So this is a huge deal for coaches. Coaches. You cannot not take a look at this program. Owners obvious benefit, Brian, but just lay it out for me. What happens when to an owner when a coach starts running a program like this?
Brian Bott (04:53):
It makes the sales experience a little bit easier because you have more offerings. It’s not just about, you know, this one time slot. The biggest thing for owners, too, is that you get to keep your best employees. I have six clients that wanna do 6 a.m. and I only offer one-on-one sessions, I need six employees. I need to manage six personalities. I need to manage six schedules instead of having one rock-star coach who is bought into your way of doing things at your gym, and you can reward them by loading them up with four or five people in that hour. You guys can stay on the same page. They feel appreciated because they’re making more money. And you don’t have to worry about managing, you know, six coaches’ schedules in that time period. And then the financial aspects are all the same as the coaches. You’re just on the other side of it. So you get stuck sometimes looking at “well, how am I ever gonna fit more in?” And then just to touch on another benefit for a coach: it frees up time. Because a lot of times people will be like, “Well, that’s great. You know, I went through the nutrition coursework. I just don’t have—when would I ever possibly do that if I’m coaching from 6 in the morning till 1 o’clock?” Well, if you can condense that into three or four hours, you could work out, grab lunch, see your family, and then plug away at that for a few hours in the afternoon or at night—whatever your schedule allows. And now you actually have time to—it’s a multiplier effect. It’s not just what it gives you for semi-private, it’s just that it gives you more time to focus in other areas as well.
Mike Warkentin (06:21):
All right. So owners, if you’re listening, huge benefits, obviously financial. If the coach is taking four-ninths, you’re taking five-ninths, and some of that is profit, and some of that is goes to fixed costs. But you get the idea: if everyone earns more money, everyone earns more money. The other thing: staff retention. And the third thing Is it doesn’t require 17,000 staff members. You just need a few really, really good ones who will make careers at your business. And again, to reiterate to coaches, you can literally make a career by watching this show and the one that Cynthia Fotti put in place. It’s also in our archives, and we’ll link to it in the show notes. If you wanna do semi-private training for half your time and you wanna do habits-based nutrition coaching for the other half, you have a career in the fitness industry, and it’s not a $20-an-hour career. It is a high-value, long-term actual career that you can make a living on. Check these things out. Now, Brian, let’s get right to it. Drill me in. How do we get this program into place as fast as possible? Someone hears you speak at the summit and they’re fired up. They say to their owner, “I wanna do semi-private training.” How do we do this at warp speed?
Brian Bott (07:22):
The first thing to get in place is just understanding that nothing is changing from what you’re doing with your clients. If you were gonna train them on this workout on Monday, and Client B on their workout on Monday at nine, we’re simply gonna put them together, and you’re gonna train them at the same time starting next Monday. So, pricing, the simplest way to do this—and our first initial goal is to double your hourly rate. So if you’re, you know, if you’re charging $90 for a one-on-one session, and again, don’t use a one-on-one price if someone comes in off the street, whatever. If someone was gonna train with you twice a week for an hour each time, what is that price for a one-on-one session? We’re just gonna double that. And then we’re gonna divide it by the three people that you’re gonna be training. And that becomes your semi-private price. So simple as that. That’s how we get it. You can overlay that into however your gym is already doing membership. There’s a lot of other things that we can cover. But if we’re trying to get this done quick, just take that, double it, divide by three. That’s now the new pricing.
Mike Warkentin (08:21):
And that’s per person?
Brian Bott (08:22):
Mike Warkentin (08:23):
That’s your exact pricing formula. Guys, if you’re listening to this, that is exactly how you can create a quick and easy pricing formula for this.
Brian Bott (08:30):
If you look at it from a client’s perspective, they’re getting a 33% discount, right? If that person was training with you twice a week privately, technically they could upgrade at the same price and train with you three times a week. And now that’s the easy part. Because people are always like, “Well, how am I gonna get people to change?” That’s the easiest way. “Hey, Mark, what do you think about training an extra day per week.” “Okay, how much?” “Nothing, but we’re just gonna do it semi-privately. You can come in a third day.” And then that’s it, right?
Mike Warkentin (09:00):
Perfect. And it’s still a high-value service, right? Like it’s still a high-value service where the client is still getting a huge amount of a personalized attention, but it’s not one on one. So you can work with a few extra clients and they’re still getting an amazing amount of attention, more so than in a 10-person group class. You’ve got these three people, they get their personalized programs. And in that you’re saying, “Okay, here’s your warmup. It’s specific to your goals. I want you to just hit the bike for a few minutes.” And then you go to the next person. So all you’re doing is you’re just splitting your attention a few different ways, but the client is getting only a very small reduction in attention. But huge value. Take me further, Brian, this is awesome.
Brian Bott (09:36):
Right. Yeah. So that’s where we’re gonna start from a pricing standpoint. When to offer it? Your busiest time. If you do a quick schedule analysis, you’re probably gonna see a general 80-20 split. Like anything else that we see, a majority of your business wants to come in at a limited amount of time that you’re able to offer. So if you do a quick analysis, it doesn’t take a lot of work to figure this out. It’s usually before people have to go to work or after their kids go to school, right? At least in our area, right? So if you’re not sure when to offer semi-private training initially, those are the times. When are you the busiest? And that’s where we’re gonna switch over to. Don’t make the mistake of thinking, “Well, this is something new, so I’m gonna stick it in the middle of the day and hope to build it up there.” The times that people wanna train are the times that people wanna train. New people aren’t gonna know what semi-private is. They’re just gonna know “this is how we do things here.” So get it on the schedule as quickly as you can. Figure out the people that it would be a good fit for and communicate to them right away that this is the way that your business is going and this is how they can help you by jumping into this semi-private. And stress to them “your workout’s not changing. Nothing’s changing. I’m just gonna watch you guys at the same time.” And they’re your client. They like you, they know you, they trust you. For the most part, they’ve probably been training with you for a while, so there’s not gonna be as much pushback on it as you think. They’re just gonna be like, “Okay, cool. Sounds good. Let’s go.” Especially if you’re going to them with a discount, right?
Mike Warkentin (11:00):
If someone wants to keep going one on one, that’s cool, right? You just say, “Hey, try this out. And if you still like the one-on-one attention, we can still do that. The rate is this.” And they’re like, “cool.” And you’re like, “good.”
Brian Bott (11:11):
Absolutely. Yep. We just tell ’em—the best way that we phrase it is: “Hey, Mike, can you do me a favor for this next phase of programming? Try this semi-private for me, right? No cost to you, you know.” And you go straight through it that way. And most people are “perfect. I’ll try it for that amount of time.” And most people don’t notice the difference. You know, it’ll actually force your coaches to be a little bit more on their game because your coaching cues have to be that much more precise. You eliminate the “hey, did you see the Knicks game last night?” Like, you know, not that that stuff’s not important, but in general, it keeps you focused. Like this person is here for an experience, and let’s keep focused on that, and you move forward that way. So scheduling is probably the easiest part that people spend too much time on. What’s the busiest time in the gym? That’s when we’re operating.
Mike Warkentin (11:58):
Okay? So you’ve got pricing laid out, guys, you’ve got scheduling laid out. What else do you need to get this thing going? Tell me more. I’ve got a couple questions to ask you, but take me further on your plan first.
Brian Bott (12:07):
The other tactic that has to be in place is some sort of plan for programming. A lot of times when people are coaching one on one, it’s very easy to, if Mike comes in, to say, “Hey, Mike, how you doing?” “Ah, you know what? I played six hours of tennis yesterday. My knees are a little beat up.” “All right, man, this is what we’re gonna do today.” And I just coach the person through that hour. They have a good workout. We move on. You’re not gonna be able to do that with four people in an hour. You can’t manage that, and it’s not really necessary. Whatever. Start documenting exactly what you’re doing with your people, and put that into a plan. You know, we go over programming extensively when we do a little bit more in-depth coaching on this, but in general, just take what you’re doing right now and start putting it to paper so that people know “what’s my plan for the next three to four weeks?” And that’s laid out. Whether you do that digitally or on paper, it does not matter. Whatever your system is now for showing a client with their workout is gonna be, we just need to make sure that that is planned ahead of time so that when people come in, the coach knows “hey, this is what this person’s doing today.” because you’re not gonna be able to make up workouts on the fly for four different people all in the same hour. So centralized programming, whether it’s one coach that does it at the gym and the other coaches follow it, or each person has their individuals—there just needs to be a structure in place for what this client is gonna do. You know, Week 1, Day 1. So Week 4 Day 30—we do four-to-six week programs, and that gets updated that way. You can do that however you want, but it just has to be some sort of plan in place that the clients know what they’re following and that when they come in the coach knows exactly “this is what Mike’s got today. This is what John’s got today. And this is what Sally has today.” And then we’re just stepping back and coaching them.
Mike Warkentin (13:46):
This advice to systemize your business does not just apply to this exact thing, semi-private training. It applies to your entire business. If you wanna grow as a coach or owner, whatever, you need to systemize things so that it’s replicated and you deliver the same great service at the same high level to every single client no matter what. That is how you grow a business. It applies specifically in this case because now you’ve got four people or three, whatever, to manage in your semi-private groups. You have to know exactly what’s going on. You cannot just make it up because then your service level goes down, and it’s not the same high value. But if you have these programming blocks laid out, you know exactly what’s up. You’re prepared. And I’ll give you a benefit here, too: if a coach is sick, or if you wanna have different coaches come in to coach different clients, they pick up that programming. “Boom. I know exactly what Cindy is doing. I know exactly her goals. I’m gonna lay this out. This is the workout. Away we go.” It’s seamless. So it allows you a huge amount of flexibility. Brian, tell me, for coaches out there, how tough is it to get up to speed on this? Because I’ve coached group classes, and they’re chaotic with 10, 12 people. I can do it, but it’s work. I’ve coached one-on-one people where it’s laser focus. Talk to me about that in between and what kind of skills coaches need to make it happen.
Brian Bott (14:55):
That’s exactly why we’ll recommend people—when we’re bringing your new coach up, we start them with one on one. We progress into working with two people per hour. We progress into three, and so on. We don’t throw a new coach into, you know, “You got six people at 8 o’clock. Good luck, buddy.” They come up that way. So start with—it’s like training, right? Start light, add weight over time. Same thing with semi-private. Start with two, move to three. Don’t jump into four right away if you’re not comfortable with that. The preparation is where you’ll have the most success. So if you have the workouts preplanned, you’re aware of how much equipment that you have, right? If you have one squat rack, you can’t, can’t have six people on Monday that need to all squat at the same time, at least with a barbell, right? So little things like that, you’ll get better over time. But like any other skill, just start and consider it practice, right? As long as the client’s got a great workout and they were working on what they need to, you’ll learn the rest. But the skill set is really just knowing what are the touchpoints that each of these people needs through this workout to make them still feel like this was a one-on-one experience. So for example, if, Mike, if you come in and I look at your program and your main exercise for today was a deadlift and the rest of your stuff is some accessory circuit type stuff, I’m gonna say to you, “Hey, Mike, looks like we got those deadlifts today. Listen, go through your warmup. I know you know that pretty well. When you get to that deadlift, Hey, give me a shout. I’m gonna be right next to you, and we’ll figure out where we’re gonna push that today. And then we’ll go forward from there.” Now you’re doing your warmup. I go over to Susan: “Susan, awesome. Hey, it looks like we got some push presses today. All right, let’s get through the warmup. When you’re doing those push presses, I’m gonna be right by you making sure that we’re going over where we’re at and giving you that push that you need.” And then you’re just making your way around and making sure that you do that. I don’t need to stand next to you while you’re doing your band triceps pushdowns, right? Like, if you’re doing some assistance work at the end, “Hey, I can show that to you,” and in 30 seconds we can move on. You know, so spend time in the most high-value, high-risk, high-reward type exercises, right? If you have one client that’s deadlifting and another one who is doing a hamstring curl with a Swiss ball, you probably should stand next to the person who’s deadlifting and keep your eyes so that you could see the other person. And it’s always just giving feedback to people continuously. “Mike, great job with the deadlifts. All right, perfect. Hey, Susan, awesome. Hips up a little bit while you’re doing that.” And you’re giving one little tip for each exercise. We teach our coaches if you can intervene once on every exercise, one cue, no exercise goes by without at least one cue, then to the client, they’re gonna be like, “Wow, that was, you know, Brian was paying attention to me to the whole hour. That was great.” And they’re not gonna notice the difference. So if you can focus on that, it’s a lot more work for the coach, but it’s better.
Mike Warkentin (17:43):
There’s a pace to this, and, guys, you’re gonna learn it as you do it. And the best analogy I can think of is if you’re serving tables in a busy restaurant, you’ve got seven or eight tables or whatever it is, you move from table to table, you take the order, you bring the drinks, you do the stuff, but you’re checking in on each table, making sure everyone is having an amazing experience and has everything that they need. And then you’re just dividing your attention around. Great servers, if you’ve ever served in a restaurant and you were good at it, you’ll know it’s not that hard to do if you’re on top of everything. If you get frazzled and “oh, I don’t know who ordered what,” blah, you don’t check in on people, that’s when people get angry. You don’t get tipped. Same principle applies here. You’re just moving around. And in some cases, like Brian said, you’re doubling up your attention where you’re looking over top of someone who’s doing something and saying, “Hey, tuck your elbows over there, hips up over there,” and then you’re high fiving. “Great job!” Build your relationship. “You accomplished this goal”—and all the things that go along with that. I’m not gonna ask Brian to dig into more details on this because we were gonna keep this high speed. So the question that I wanna ask you, Brian, is you talked about getting current clients into a semi-private program. Talk to me about acquiring new clients who aren’t in your gym right now for a semi-private program. How does that go?
Brian Bott (18:46):
That’s the easy part, because they’re not gonna know the difference, right? So think about what people ask for when they come into your gym and you’re going through your No Sweat Intro. Very rarely does anybody walk in and say, “Hey, I saw that you guys do one-on-one training here, and I would like to sign up for that,” right? That’s never happens. If it does, great, then, you know, sign ’em up and let’s go. Right? But for the most part, if you’re saying “how can we help you?” it’s “ah, you know what? I had a couple kids. Work got busy. I’m 25, 30 pounds heavier than I want to be. I don’t have the energy.” Right? At no point is the answer to that “well, you need to do one-on-one training.” Right? The answer is training and nutrition. And then you can explain to ’em “here’s how we do training here. All of our members do semi-private training.” You’re letting them know “this is how we do business here.” Especially if they were referred to you from another member, that trust is already there, right? They’re not a brand new cold lead. No one ever comes into us asking for one-on-one training, right? They just come in, they’re looking for a solution to their problem, and you’re gonna explain to them “hey, here’s your prescription. I need you to strength training twice a week, and then I need you to do two cardio workouts per week, whether that’s in a class or on your own.” Whatever, however you do it in your gym is fine. But then you say “and the way that we do our training here is semi privately. That means it’s one to four people per coach, all with individualized programs. It saves you time, money, makes the schedule a lot easier.” Every single person after that goes “cool.” No one requires further explanation of that. They just know “this is how we’re doing business here.” So for coaches, if you can work with your owners and decide “this is how we’re doing business going forward,” then it makes it that much easier. Those consultations are the easiest because there’s no change in perception of what’s happening. They’re coming in as a fresh start. You’re just saying, “This is how we do business.”
Mike Warkentin (20:36):
Brian has laid out in very clear detail the Prescriptive Model. And what that is is you talk to a client, you find out what their problems are, you prescribe the solutions. And those solutions could be anywhere from personal training and nutrition services, very high value, to group coaching, which is lower value, but still high value. You just lay out the solutions. And one of those solutions in this system is semi-private training. Get this: it’s an incredible sales option. If someone says, “I just can’t afford one-on-one personal training,” you’re like, “Well, I have semi-private training, which will allow you to work with two to three other people in a group. Your rates will go down by this.” Which Brian laid out earlier. “’And you’re going to get this many sessions, but you’re still getting tons of attention in a personalized program.” You’ll call it the gold, silver, platinum packages. That’s a nice “gold package” that fits in between one-on-one training, which is platinum, and your group training, which would be called, you know, we’ll call it the silver or whatever. It’s not, again, it’s not a bad program. It’s just not personalized training. Brian, have you seen that? Like, just this very easy dropdown? someone’s like, “I can’t afford personal training.” You’re like, “I have semi-private.”
Brian Bott (21:39):
Yeah. I’ll continue with your restaurant analogy, right? So imagine you were the server and I said, “Hey, Mike, I’m starving. What do you recommend?” and you just point to the $300 thing. “Yeah. Oh, of course you recommended the expensive thing.” “Hey, what glass of wine do you recommend?” And you just scroll to the bottom and go “that one would be great for you.” Like, then I don’t trust you, right? I don’t think that you truly had my concern, my needs at the top of your mind, right? So for us, it gives us a little bit more of a genuine prescription because—listen, they teach people how to operate and be some surgeons in a semi-private setting. They teach people you know, self-defense. And firearms instruction. It’s all done semi-private. “So I will make sure that your shoulder is just fine when you’re doing those lat pull-downs.” I promise you nothing’s gonna happen. If someone comes in, even if they’re outta shape and they’ve never worked out before, if they don’t have any glaring major injuries or anything like that, we can set them up semi-private. And I think a lot of people appreciate it. Like they’re saying, “Hey, this guy didn’t try to set me up with the $3,000, one-on-one, four-times-a-week membership if it’s not necessary.” Right? As a touchpoint, if someone came in and said, “I was just discharged from physical therapy from an ACL repair, and I’ve never worked out before in my life,” I would say, “Hey, let’s get your first month done privately.” Because then that’s also genuine sales, right? It’s not an upsell. It’s not anything. It’s genuinely “I think you should probably do this first.” And then our goal, our end point for every member for us is “and then we’ll get you going in the semi-private training.” Right? Because for us, that is our standard operating procedure. Like that twice-a-week, semi-private package is our main membership. Most people are gonna filter to that over time.
Mike Warkentin (23:28):
Brian, I think on our previous show, you said your ARM was well over $300—that’s average revenue per member. Are you still well above that?
Brian Bott (23:35):
We’re around like $385 right now. Correct, yep. The number that we were at when we came on for that one month was $400. That was a little bit above the absolute norm, but $380 is where we’re at right now. So for us that average, you know, twice-a-week semi-private can be, depending on where you’re at and what your numbers are, it can be anywhere between $400 and $500 a month. And if that becomes your most popular membership, the math averages out from there.
Mike Warkentin (24:05):
So, listeners, you’ve got everything you need here. You’ve got the benefits—financial, huge financial benefits for everybody. Benefits for the client. You’ve got pricing. You’ve got scheduling. You’ve got client acquisition, whether it’s internal or external. You’ve got systems and programming. Brian, is there anything else? And if there isn’t, that’s cool, but is there anything else people need to know to get this thing going at high speed?
Brian Bott (24:24):
Just you have to build it for them. You just have to build it, right? You can’t wait. You can’t try to get 13 people signed up for it before you start, right? You know, it’s still if you build it, they will come. Right? The people, they already know, like and trust you. Just let them know that it’s new and that you’re, you’re working on it, and just get started.
Mike Warkentin (24:41):
Listeners, try this. If you are not running it at your gym currently, you can use this to build a career. I honestly believe that. And in the spare time that you have when you’re running this program, you can use habits-based nutrition coaching. Click the link below and you will get that high-speed implementation guide as well. I literally believe that you can use this to make a career in the fitness industry that’s more than $20 an hour and doesn’t take 80 hours a week. That was Brian Bott. Thank you so much for being here, Brian. I really appreciate it.
Brian Bott (25:08):
Mike Warkentin (25:08):
That’s how you start offering semi-private training at your gym. Do it today. I’m Mike Warkentin. This is “Run a Profitable Gym.” Thanks for watching and listening. Please subscribe so you don’t miss any episodes just like this. And now, Two-Brain founder Chris Cooper with a final message.
Chris Cooper (25:24):
Hey, it’s Two-Brain founder Chris Cooper with a quick note. We created the Gym Owners United Facebook group to help you run a profitable gym. Thousands of gym owners just like you have already joined in the group. We share sound advice about the business of fitness. Every day, I answer questions, I run free webinars, and I give away all kinds of great resources to help you grow your gym. I’d love to have you in that group. It’s Gym Owners United on Facebook, or go to Gymownersunited.com to join. Do it today!