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Semi Private Personal Training – How to Manage a Program and Session

I’m sure you’ve heard it before…one-on-one personal training is dead.  I don’t necessarily believe that to be the case, but that’s beside the point.  Today I want to talk a little about training more than one person at a time, or semi private personal training as some may call it.  Understanding the differences between the two, one-on-one vs. semi private personal training, will help you create a better experience for the client.  Not only will it help improve the experience your client receives, it will help you keep your sanity during the busy times of the year and your peak hours of training.  It can be quite stressful if you’re trying to give three people a new workout all at once.  Having a game plan, or system, will make or break your ability to give an extraordinary experience each and every workout.

Semi Private Personal Training St. Louis

Semi private personal training is basically training multiple people at the same time.  Each person is doing their own personalized workout, but the coach is managing the session and guiding each person through their own workout.  It’s not done by having a WOD (workout of the day).  This is PERSONAL training.  There’s nothing personal about a WOD.  Since you may have anywhere between 2-6 different routines going on at the same time, understanding how to progress and regress each client is vital.  I’m going to tell you right now that trying to teach 3+ people a new routine at the same time will not lead to an extraordinary experience.  We need systems in order to do this.  So let’s look at some of the ways to help systematize your semi private personal training so you can always be on top of your game.

Plan Ahead – Having a game plan is vital.  Do you think Phil Jackson, the Chicago Bulls/LA Lakers head coach, got 11 championship rings (as a coach) without a game plan?  I doubt it.  He had to control and manage several different people with different personalities, strengths, and weaknesses all at the same time.  Simply put…he had to be a coach.  Part of being a good coach comes down to planning and preparation, so if we want to be successful, it’s absolutely 100% necessary.

Plan each client’s programs well in advance.  Map out an attack plan with each session.  I advise to have each session planned out before starting your shift…Each and every day.  Once planning and preparation start to become more routine, you’ll start to notice each session becomes more enjoyable for both you and your clients.

Teach New Exercises Slowly – Do your best to have each routine laid out well in advance.  This comes back to the first point…being prepared and planning ahead.  Don’t wait to the last minute to write each phase for your clients.  Try to have a game plan of where you’re going with the program, and try to have that all planned out 1-2 weeks beforehand.  If you plan ahead, you can start to teach new exercises accordingly.

Instead of teaching people an entire routine, try teaching one exercise at a time.  If you’re programming in advance, you can easily look ahead and start showing them what’s coming up.  Rather than teaching them 4 new exercises in a day, wouldn’t it be easier to teach them one new exercise each session?  Then they would already have done the exercise before the program has ever gotten there.

For example, let’s say I’m progressing four different exercises for the next phase.  I’m going to progress one exercise a week or two ahead of time.  We will go right back to our original game plan, but for that one session, they’ll switch one particular exercise with the next progression.

Personal Training

This pre planning and teaching process does three great things.  First, it allows me to see if they’re ready for the next progression, or what needs to be done to get them ready.  Next, it allows the client to perform and feel the new exercise that will be coming up in the next phase.  Finally, sprinkling in new exercises allows the coach to only have to show a couple new exercises each session.  Using this approach will help you “spread the love.”  You won’t be giving one person a majority of the attention to go over a whole new routine.  Spending too much time with one person takes away from their experience, so this approach will help you be a better coach and continue to give each person in the session equal attention.

Use Breathing as a timer – This is one is pretty new to me.  I just started using this method recently, and it’s made a substantial impact on my ability to deliver an extraordinary experience at all times.  So what exactly does this mean?

Crocodile Breathing in Group Training

In nearly all of our programs, we usually have some sort of isometric exercise that uses time as a general guideline for “reps”.  This is usually in the form of a Plank, Pallof hold, Birddog hold, etc… However, using time requires a watch or timer to monitor where you’re at.  I found this to be a little annoying.  Here I am trying to deliver a killer session, and yet I’m stuck looking at a watch or trying to time somehow.  It never failed, either my attention was taken from another client, or the client performing the exercise ends up asking “did you forget about me?” as their form substantially decreases.  This was unacceptable, so I had to find a solution.

Breaths!  That’s it.  I’m always checking breathing during isometrics, so why not use the breath as a timer.  It gets the client to start to think more about their breath, and it works as a damn good timer too.  My rule of thumb is that it takes about 3-5 seconds to take a full breath, depending on where your heart rate is currently at.  The more fatigued you are, the closer I would put that to the three second mark.  Give them a breath count to shoot for and just monitor their capacity for holding good form.  Give the cue to drop when form is broken and just ask them how many breaths they got.  There you have it, a great marker for where they’re at currently, and how well they will progress.  Add an additional breath each session, and you just found a way to progressively overload, control their breathing, and you just gave yourself more time to coach others.  This is a great little trick I highly recommend using right away.

So there you have it, a few really good tips that will help make your semi private personal training sessions a little more like one-on-one.  These were little things I learned along the way, and hopefully they will help improve your training immediately.  The hardest part is staying up with the planning.  Good planning and preparation will allow you to give more personal attention each and every session.  As I always tell my clients…

Fail to plan…Plan to fail.

Jared Woolever