Don’t Scale PT With Groups—Do This Instead!

An older gym client points to a caption that says "I don't want to train in a group."

Here’s a common mistake:

You start doing one-on-one training and then try to scale up by coaching large groups.

The math seems to make sense at the time:

If you make $60 an hour serving one client, you could make $96 an hour if you serve 12 clients who all pay $8 for a group session.

In reality, people who follow this path almost always end up with one 12-person class at noon or 5 p.m. and a bunch of two-person sessions in which they lose money.

Hard data in our annual “State of the Industry” report backs this up: Almost no gyms consistently run classes with 10 or more people.

I made the mistake of trying to scale a successful PT practice with big groups, and because many of my “group classes” had two people in them, I was essentially selling PT for $16 an hour. I had given myself a huge pay cut.

I didn’t go down this path alone.

Many gym owners came with me. Interestingly, a lot of CrossFit affiliate owners made the same mistake even though CrossFit creator Greg Glassman went from personal training to small groups, not gigantic groups in a huge warehouse.

So what’s the missing step? I’ll tell you—and it was obvious the whole time.

Small Groups, Big Revenue

When Glassman had too many clients and too few hours, he started pairing people up. Eventually, he had small groups of four people or so.

Here’s the right way to scale PT:

  • Partner people up in two-on-one sessions.
  • Then coach three people in an hour.
  • Add a fourth person as needed.
  • In all these groups, deliver customized programs and huge amounts of attention so clients receive amazing value.

You can group people who complement and push each other in the same workout (“small-group training”) or people who have literally nothing in common and train independently (“semi-private training”). Both approaches work.

For example, I’m a member of a four-person semi-private group in which I do my cycling-focused program next to other people who are doing their customized programs.

I might deadlift and they might row or do high-intensity intervals with functional movements. But we all always get great coaching and benefit from the camaraderie in the gym as we pursue our own goals.

There are three keys to these sessions:

  • Everyone in the group receives more attention than they would in a large group. A skilled coach circulates and ensures clients get a lot of attention. It should feel more like a PT session than a large group class.
  • Clients might get a small price break on the one-person PT rate—maybe 10 percent or something—but the real selling feature is the value: vastly increased direct attention. You don’t have to charge cheap rates for this valuable service.
  • Trainers who lead these sessions can earn up to $80 an hour, which is a vast improvement over the $25 most gyms pay for group-class coaching.

These small-group/semi-private sessions are now the fastest growing segment of my business—which drives up my revenue and profit.

My coaches love leading the sessions because they can do great work, earn good money and create long-term careers.

And my clients love the sessions because they get better results faster.


Get My Guide

That’s how you scale up a PT business—essentially with more PT delivered to a small number of people by a skilled coach.

It seems obvious now, but it really isn’t—and it wasn’t a decade ago.

The lure of big group classes is still strong. But more and more Two-Brain gyms are adding lucrative small-group/semi-private streams that have a huge effect on their businesses (here’s one).

Want to learn more about scaling PT? My new guide is now out.

To get “How to Add $10K in PT Without Adding a Single Member,” head to the Gym Owners United group and send me a DM!


One more thing!

Did you know gym owners can earn $100,000 a year with no more than 150 clients? We wrote a guide showing you exactly how.