Although personal training is not just for the rich and famous, it can still be pricey. Another option is to try group personal training.
The Ups and Downs of Group Personal Training
Group personal training is a small group of individuals, possibly two to five, who meet with a personal trainer at a cost that is much cheaper than one-on-one training.
Share a personal training session with just one other person and you will probably see a 25% reduction in fees compared to one-on-one training. Add more to the group and you will pay even less. Cost is not the only advantage.
Start exercising with workout buddies, and you will probably be more motivated to exercise and less likely to cancel workout sessions. "When you train with someone else, you have a better chance of sticking with exercise," says Paul Kennedy, EdD, vice president of personal training services for Bally Total Fitness, which has dubbed this service "buddy training."
Not only are you more motivated to show up to workout sessions, but you may be more willing to challenge yourself a little harder when you train with others.
Intimidation also disappears when you do group personal training. Kennedy says many people are uncomfortable about approaching a personal trainer and then learning new equipment and exercises. With a buddy, though, you have someone to share your experience.
You have to understand that you are simply one member in a group. Because the trainer must work with everyone in the group, you will get only a part of the trainer's attention. "It's still personalized attention, but the trainer's not focused on you the entire session," says Martha Coopersmith, owner of the Bodysmith Company in Manhattan, New York.
For example, if your group consists of you and another person, the trainer might set you up on one piece of equipment, show you what to do, and then set the other person up. While the trainer is away from you, you will be expected to work on your own.
If you perform poorly working alone or if you want constant attention to your form, group training may not work for you. Consider signing up for one-on-one sessions with a trainer to learn the basics and then get into group training when you are ready.
How Group Training Works
Group training sessions are formatted by the trainer. There are several options.
For instance, after you warm up together, you may start on different exercises and rotate through a circuit that might involve a strength station followed by a cardiovascular exercise. The trainer would assist as needed. Or you may take turns doing exercises on one piece of equipment. While you are waiting, you might do a cardio activity or stretch.
Selecting the Right Trainer
Choose your personal trainer and workout buddies carefully. If you have bad chemistry with either, you may begin to skip workouts.
When searching for a group personal trainer, ask the same battery of questions as if you were working one-on-one with that person. Find out, for example, about his or her educational background and fitness certifications. Then ask these questions:
- Have you done group personal training before? If so, could I speak with clients who trained together?
- Do you evaluate each participant individually before the first group training session?
- What options do you offer (eg, number of days a week or package deals)?
- What is your cancellation policy, especially if one person in the group cancels?
- What happens when one person in the group goes on vacation? Will the sessions still run, and if so, how will you charge for them?
Choosing Workout Buddies
Choose your workout partner with the same caution. Look for someone who is close to your fitness level, shares similar weight-loss or fitness goals, has a compatible work ethic, and has a personality that agrees with yours, Coopersmith says. Although men and women can train together, she suggests against it because of the difference in body types.
If you do not have a workout partner or partners in mind, your club may be able to help you. Some clubs post sign-up sheets for group training sessions. In some cases, the personal trainer may even have workout buddies in mind for you.
Consider a trial period with that person or persons, especially if you have never met. And if all goes well, as Kennedy says, you may have just started a lasting friendship.
Ask your health club if group personal training is an option for you. If so, you and your budget can get in shape together.