semi-private-trainingThere’s something about money that gets people talking!

That’s what happened with my first post on $100 training sessions last week. In that post I set-up the subject and it resulted in some strong input from readers.

Just like last time, I’ll open by saying that money’s not everything when you’re an independent trainer. When I first went solo I put money first and was quickly frustrated and burnt out. What I realized is that the approach to being a high level solo trainer is different. It’s about doing a few things really well – about quality. It’s at that point that your rates can go up so you don’t have to work a ton of hours to make the money you want.

But you still of course want to GET PAID! This is a free market, so if you’re doing a better job than the next guy you deserve to get paid for it. If you’ve figured out how to create a demand for your training services, a superior training product, deliver better results, or have turned yourself into the kind of person people want to be around, these are marketable qualities so yes, you deserve more money. If not, just implement a few of the principles we talk about on this blog and see what happens – you’ll be on a higher level than most of your competitors. Not taking advantage of that position makes you a communist!

Ok I digress …

Luckily for me the mental barrier to $100 training sessions was broken early. But being pretty new as a trainer and not always training in affluent areas, I had to use some unconventional techniques to get to that level.

money-out-the-aThe main thing that has done it for me are semi-private sessions. They got me to over $200 per session net during peak hours. I know, putting multiple clients in a single session is cheating, but I think this is the most valuable technique that trainers have at their disposal to raise their incomes. It’s the most reproducible in almost every situation and the easiest to pull-off for someone new to training or on a limited marketing budget.

That’s why I’ve given it this entire post. Here I’ll describe a few of the situations where I’ve pulled of successful group sessions -they should give you some ideas on how to apply them to your situation.

The “Problem”

The problem with semi-private sessions is pretty minor when you think about – it’s to overcome the fear of rejection from brining this up to your existing clients. If you’re just getting started in training this might be news to you, but good trainers are extremely rare and highly in demand. Once your client gets comfortable with you, they will be very hesitant to work with someone else.

In Studio

A studio is the easiest environment to implement semi-private sessions. There are just tons of psychological factors that fall in your favor when you have a client on your turf in a captive environment. When you have your own place you’re viewed as more in demand, more credible, and having more authority.

It started for me when I got to the point where I had a very hard time scheduling my clients for one-on-one sessions during peak hours. This was inconveniencing them and driving me crazy. I realized something was going to have to give, so one day I got over my fear and suggested to them that I would have to double them up sometimes during their sessions. Absolutely no one had a problem with it – they were actually quite happy to make things easier on me and help me make more money. It was then I realized the leverage that we really have as trainers.

As my business grew I had at least 3 and as many as 6 clients showing up to every session. I was charging only $60 per session here, but even after paying my assistants and my expenses I still regularly took home over $200 an hour during peak times.

Now I know what you’re going to say – I should have figured out way to cut myself out of the equation totally so I could make the same money without being present. But for a trainer starting out, this is a good way to bring in a good hourly until you can write yourself out of the equation.

Outside of a studio

You probably don’t have the advantage of a studio and may have no desire to open one, but you can still use semi-private training in other situations.

midtownWhen I first started training in Manhattan, I had to do it out of trainer’s gyms. There was one good place that I found around Midtown that was in a good location, had low fees, and was convenient for basically anyone to come to after work. This is when I first started using a website to get clients, so I was able to build up a little demand pretty quickly. I was sure to establish a lot of credibility through the site and in my first few sessions with the client and in just a few weeks had my sessions double booked again during peak times.

By now, running semi-private sessions was old hat, and even in a training gym with other trainers around I was able to run these semi-private sessions with the help of my assistant (this assistant was just a buddy of mine by the way). I always had two clients show up to these sessions paying $85 an hour, and every now and then I could even triple book them. The trainer’s gym charged me $15 for the first client in an hour, and $10 for every one after that – so when you take it all into account, I still pulled in at least one hundred and sometimes $200 for the hour.

The key to this was differentiating myself from the other trainers. Low-level independent trainers in general are a lazy group. This gym was packed with trainers, but they were all in jeans or sweats, with each other, not taking notes, and in general were no competition. My clients never thought about training with anyone else, even though there were a lot of trainers around. When I eventually decided to stop training in Manhattan and had to drop these clients, most of them unfortunately stopped working out altogether rather than work with one of these other trainers.

Outdoor Sessions

outdoor-fitnessIf you have a warm climate you can obviously do semi-private sessions in an outdoor setting. There’s just something about being outside that makes these sessions more fun. If you’re used to seeing clients outdoors anyway, you can just double book them in the hours that are highest in demand.

Even though I keep my training hours under control, I definitely am a busy guy so it isn’t hard for me to justify why I need to schedule multiple clients in the same hour. You don’t have to double them up every session, but even if you do for a half to a third of their sessions, you’ve still hit $100 (depending on how much you charge).

One thing to point out is that with the clients you move to semi-private, you should “warm them up” with private training first. You want them to get used to you and establish a baseline of trust, and then you can suggest sharing a session and see how they react to it. If they like you there shouldn’t be a problem.

In the last part of this series we’re going to talk about how to get your rates up to $100 for a private, one-on-one session.

Until then I recommend everyone to give semi-private sessions a shot if you haven’t already. The main thing holding back any trainer is fear. But you just need to open up and realize how valuable you really are!


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