Small Group Training Yields Big Results

By Peter Twist

Challenge your clients to experience how Competition + Play = Hard Work + Fun using an up-tempo, dynamic workout style that builds athleticism and burns max calories!

Small group training presents a perfect blend of the exciting dynamics of a group exercise class with the performance improvements from one-on-one personal training.  “Sport inspired” small group training provides tremendous growth potential for fitness clubs and entrepreneurial trainers, but training results can’t be compromised for profits!

Expand Client Value

  1. Training is Affordable – many potential clients view the $50+ hourly investment required for individualized training too steep for their budget.  Add a club membership on top of personal training and the fees quickly grow.  Paying $15 to $20 per session as a small group fee makes access to this type of training more manageable.
  2. Commitment is Increased – working out with friends in a small group increases personal commitment, drives up the workout energy and fosters a stronger work ethic than training solo.
  3. Competitive and Fun – creating a team atmosphere that builds athleticism for real life promotes healthy challenges and builds leadership qualities in all group members.

Trainer Growth Opportunity

  1. Increased Revenue – training 1 client at a time has a fixed revenue potential of possibly $75 to $100 per hour, but training 6 clients who each pay $15 to $20 increases the revenue per hour up to $90 to $120 per hour making the time spent on small group much more valuable for the trainer.
  2. Inspired to Lead – training   a group challenges the trainer to create exciting, multi – level workouts that motivate everyone to succeed regardless of their age or ability.
  3. Results build Referrals – sharing energy, enthusiasm and a competitive spirit means that everyone in the group has a blast working out driving metabolic cost and performance gains up continuously.  Client success fuels referrals to friends to get involved too!

Trainers who aspire to create exciting small group training experiences need to develop some very critical coaching skills.  Consider all of these aspects of workout development to create a results driven environment: 

  1. Create a Road Map – workouts must be clearly designed and purposeful.    The flow of the workout will be most effective if space, equipment, and participant logistics are all clearly mapped out.
  2. Know Your Group – each participant has individual needs that must be accommodated in a group setting.  Trainers must be well prepared to quickly adapt an exercise to make it harder or easier on the spot.  Encourage group members to work together for support, camaraderie and commitment.
  3. Engage in the Workout – have adequate space and equipment ready to keep everyone moving with minimal down time in the workout.  Keep an eye on safety and movement mechanics using active coaching.  Encourage leadership within the group and plan competitive experiences to keep everyone working together – team work!
  4. Deliver Results – do not sacrifice results for revenue.  Help clients set measurable goals, keep the number of group members to a 1:8 trainer client ratio reasonable to maintain effectiveness and remember to create workouts that progress from week to week to continue to ramp up the intensity and the challenge for everyone.

Designing a Small Group Workout

Consider the following ingredients in your small group workout design and introduce them to your group in this order for best effectiveness:

  1. Balance Exercises – activate the balance receptors embedded in muscles and joints, fire up the core stabilizers for better body control, excite the mind to muscle communication systems, rehearse force production and force reduction mechanics for safety as intensity grows and develop both static and dynamic stability for application to real life.
  2. Speed, Agility and Quickness Drills – challenge the anaerobic energy system combined with movement fundamentals to develop agile, coordinated footwork, focus on fast skill execution with increasing movement complexity as ability levels improve.
  3. Strength and Power – chose high tempo whole body strength exercises that require muscles to work in sequence, combining large range of motion with strength and balance to drive caloric expenditure, complex lifts that require full mental engagement, train in a standing posture to obtain strength results that transfer to real life with exercises that are exciting to keep every one motivated.
  4. Core – choose exercises that challenge standing core stabilization and rotational power to maximize performance gains, add balance and strength challenges to increase core activation and improve core development for real life demands.

Small Group workout design

Design: A 60 minute session that includes a 15 minute Dynamic Warm Up, 3 rounds of a 4 station circuit (40 minutes) and a 5 min stretch / cool down to finish.

Circuit Set up:  Work with a partner (groups of 2) and 4 stations (1 Balance station, 1 Speed, Agility and Quickness station, 1 Strength station and 1 Core station)

Equipment:  2 pieces of equipment at each station to allow everyone to work at the same time (for this workout:  2 BOSU for Balance, 2 Hurdles for SAQ, 2 ViPR for Strength and 2 Smart Toners for Core)

Work to Rest Ratios:  Each station is timed to run no more than 2 minutes.   This allows for a 15 second transition from 1 station to the next, 15 sec to get equipment ready and 1 min 30 seconds to complete the required number of repetitions at each station, short rest and then transition on to the next station.  To complete 1 round or 4 stations takes a maximum of 8 minutes.  At the end of each round, allow a maximum of 5 min to teach / demonstrate / set up for the next 4 exercises and get ready for the next round (total time is no more than 13 minutes per round, so 3 rounds = 39 min).

Small Group Circuit

Station #1 is Balance:  BOSU Flat Side Up Tilts

Equipment:  BOSU Balance Trainer

Set Up:  Prone push up position, hands under the shoulders, feet shoulder width apart, core engaged

Execution:  using a slow controlled tempo, push 1 arm down as the other arm pulls up on the BOSU, hips and shoulders remain parallel, pause at the bottom then slowly return to neutral before pushing down the other side.

Repeat:  12 repetitions with slow tempo

INSERT 2 images:  BOSU #1 and BOSU #2

Station #2 is Speed, Agility and Quickness:  Hurdle Lateral Shuffle Drill

Equipment:  1 Agility Hurdle

Set Up:  begin standing beside the hurdle with weight on the outside foot in athletic ready position.

Execution:  inside foot steps over the hurdle followed by the outside foot and then on to the inside foot again to make 3 foot contacts before moving back across the hurdle again.

Repeat:  as many as possible in the 1 min 30 seconds timeframe

INSERT 2 images hurdle #1 and hurdle #2

Station #3 is Strength:  ViPR Squat

Equipment:  1 ViPR (10 Kg or greater)

Set Up:  Begin in athletic ready position holding the ViPR at shoulder height with both arms

Execution:  Lower into a controlled squat with triple flexion of hips, knees and ankles, pause at the bottom of the squat before extending with hips, knees and ankles to finish on the toes.

Repeat:  12 repetitions at controlled tempo

INSERT 2 images ViPR #1 and ViPR #2

Station #4 is Core:  Smart Toner Rotary Chop

Equipment:  1 Smart Toner anchored in a mid position

Set Up:  begin at hip height with tension on the toner, hold the handles with both hands, in athletic ready position

Execution:  shift the weight from the outside foot to the inside foot, extend hips / knees / ankles and rotate through the torso to finish with hands at shoulder height increasing the tempo through the rotation

Repeat:  8 repetitions on each of the right and left sides with explosive tempo

Action Strategies

Small Group training provides excitement for every one that engages – both the trainer and the clients are all focused on hard work within a team atmosphere.  The energy shared in this environment is cumulative motivating every participant to work hard!  A well organized workout design with “sport inspired” exercises that build athleticism and burn maximum calories not only delivers a great experience, it also helps each person improve their personal performance level.  Trainers are encouraged to be creative with equipment, exercise choices and training location to keep every workout fresh and exciting.  Before you know it, your small group training demand will explode along with your revenue.

Peter Twist, MSc BPE CSCS TSCC-Gold PTS IDEA 2010 Program Director of the Year is President of Twist Conditioning’s 3 divisions: franchised Sport Conditioning Centers, product wholesale and the Twist Smart Muscle® Training System and Coach Education program and the official education provider for Combine360 (  To learn more about the Twist training methodologies, education and equipment available in Canada contact