Around the world the trend for Small Group Training is still growing. From a Fitness Professionals’ perspective, the ACSM 2017 trends still show Body Weight Training at #2, HIIT at #3, and Group Training at #6. So we can presume that the Small Group offering from the Fitness Professionals is still going to continue. From a member behaviour stand point, perhaps will have to wait to see if Small Group Training is going to support the growth of exercise adoption, increase adherence and support member retention.
What is in no doubt, is that the more the Fitness Industry continues to embrace new concepts and trends, like Small Group Training; the more reliant the facility will become on highly skilled instructors to create a unique and different experience. As the Fitness Industry becomes more populated with facilities, it will be the experience that keeps members from moving to the competition. Members will no longer be buying products and services, they will be buying experiences, supported by products and services .
There will be a time in the near future, when the Fitness Industry will have a realisation that the content, the exercises and equipment, will not be enough to create a unique and different experience, and they will start to recognise that the context, the skills, behaviours and the personality of the instructor is key.
The content is the exercises, the exercise order, the exercise intensity, the work to rest ratio and the choice of equipment. All of this, when used appropriately can support the creation of a unique experience. However, content is not unique: anyone can copy content!
The way to be unique, is context. The context is about HOW something is delivered, and as an industry that has the opportunity to engage with customers face to face, the context of a session or group class is massively important. The HOW cannot be ignored anymore .
Members can get fitness anywhere. They can go for a run, or walk in their local park, they can go for a swim, they can buy some free weights or purchase a fitness DVD to use at home. So why would they join a fitness facility, participate in a Small Group session or employ a Trainer? There are probably many reasons, and all of the reasons are personal. For some, it may be for social reasons, while, for others, it could be about support, confidence building or education. It may be that they want an EXPERIENCE in fitness than they cannot get anywhere else.
Whatever happens moving forward with Small Group Training, the industry will continue to use content to make a difference, and that is important. We must never lose sight of new and improved methods of training. But content can always be copied, context is unique. The way the instructor builds trust, adds value, builds self-belief in the member and is able to put the member, and their wants at the centre of the process, is always going to be massively important in the experience, because the buying process for the individual is an emotional choice, it is never logical.
 adapted from a quote by G. Yankelovich
 adapted from The Coaching Process by N. Cross