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A Business Model With Merit

Over the past several years, personal fitness trainers (PFTs) have quietly broken a barrier of sorts. Although one-on-one training still rules as the most popular form of client programming, partner and small-group formats have gained ground and taken firm root in the landscape. According to the 2007 IDEA Fitness Programs & Equipment Survey, the percentage of respondents offering sessions for two clients sharing has increased to 71%, while three- to five-client sessions have stabilized at 44%. In a business where “personal” used to mean strictly one-on-one (a format still offered by 82% of survey respondents), PFTs and the way they conduct business have certainly transformed with the times.

And why not? It’s smart economics for all involved and provides multiple incentives—
including the often-elusive motivation factor—for clients. At Body By Design personal training studio in Cairo, Egypt, partner and group training now form a major part of the business. “I have been fully booked since I started freelance personal training 8 years ago,” explains Body By Design owner Anna Louise. “A waiting list quickly built up, and existing clients asked if their friends, siblings or spouses could share their workout time, as I had no more hours to offer new private clients. I started partner workouts first, and this developed into small groups. These two services now make up over 50% of my workout time.”

Jon Hinds, founder and owner of Monkey Bar Gymnasium in Madison, Wisconsin, has also seen his partner and group training programs increase significantly, because they offer two things all clients want. “[The programs give clients] a good deal for their investment and offer more private attention, which yields greater results,” Hinds says. “About 60% of our sessions are still one-on-one training, but the small-group training is growing rapidly.”

Although the logistics can be challenging, business owners, trainers and clients alike are reaping rewards from partner and group training. To learn more about why this model is so popular, to find out how colleagues are setting up sessions and to puzzle out solutions for the potential challenges that can arise, turn to page 38 for contributing editor April Durrett’s full coverage on this bona fide business model and growth opportunity. You may just find the information you need to give your business a shot of adrenaline for the fast-approaching new year.

Meanwhile, if you are looking for any ideas of the purely inspirational variety, take a peek at what your colleagues around the world are doing to get their clients to embrace and live fitness and wellness lifestyles. Starting on page 46, contributing editor Shirley Archer, JD, MA, takes you on a journey from North America to Europe, then to the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East, and on to Latin America.

In this exciting era of globalization, world cultures are increasingly connected not only across geographical boundaries but also across cultural, economic, social, technological, political and ecological differences. We are more and more dependent on each other for survival. In a time when much of the world is struggling with obesity and the accompanying problems of inactivity and diminished sense of self and quality of life, fitness and wellness professionals need a world bank of inspirational ideas more than ever. Read and learn more about how the most pressing public-health issues worldwide provide the greatest opportunities for fitness entrepreneurs. Your opportunity can easily equate to your client’s one chance to become his or her best self. Seize it and run with it!

Yours in good health,

Kathie and Peter Davis

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