Large group training can offer a business owner a lot of freedom and reach that they normally do not have following a semi-private or private training business model. In the following weeks, I am going to share my experiences with the large group model in hopes to help those considering making this jump or perhaps help those that already have. It’s not rocket surgery, but there are some key points throughout the process that are vital to success that would have saved me a lot of time and effort had I been aware when I started. My goal in this series is to allow you to leap frog some of the pitfalls that I faced and hopefully get you off to a good start if this is something that you are looking to accomplish.
Let’s get to it!
1. Why large group training?
Rebell was born with the intention of bringing my product to a larger audience in a more financially accessible setting. My clients to this point in my career were spending anywhere from $75-$95 per session, this large group model afforded them to get quality training for as little as $195 per month for unlimited class access. There is the risk of a revenue dip starting out but the end goal was worth it to me.
Group training frees my time up to work on the business. Instead of being piled up with clients from 6am to 8pm, I can reach more volume and only coach 4-5 sessions a day. If you’re lucky enough to have a staff, that number goes down and possibly disappears. You always hear business coaches say that owners need to work on the business instead of in the business. This was an opportunity to free up time for me to do that even when I did have to teach all the classes.
What I’ve found through the past 5 years of working this model is that general population clients tend to work better in a group environment which means better results for them. This environment naturally cuts down on distracting chatter during sessions. You will hear less about your client’s weekend debauchery and see more work getting done. Nobody wants to be the distraction in this environment and that tends to keep the group focused and working hard.
Another ancillary benefit that I did not see coming when I started was the effortless formation of a strong community. Community is a heavily misused term these days. It’s something that I believe shouldn’t be forced but rather be born through the personalities that you attract to your business. It’s an ever-evolving culture that revolves around what you set out and emanate as your core values. I’m proud to say that I have very little to do with what Rebell’s culture is today. Sure, it started with our core values, but the result is the sum of all the people that have walked through our doors since. For me, that’s a huge advantage because a lot of our success has spun from things that I could not have seen on my own or worked toward without the help and drive from the people that make up our community.
Last but certainly not least, financially it made more sense to me to institute some sort of large group training. It expanded our “net” and gave us reach to candidates that otherwise could not afford this kind of training. There is a whole bunch of people out there that are one experience away from realizing that good training is very accessible. The tough part is getting that message through all the bullshit advertising and disinformation that is out there. We’ll get to that later.
So, you’ve made the decision to give it a shot. Let’s talk about some things that you might want to consider before getting started.
Space and Equipment
This is the low hanging fruit here. Square footage is going to dictate a lot of the overall outcome with this venture so you must take a good, honest look at what you’re working with and figure out how it will work for you. I have 4,000 sq. ft. at Rebell that is split into 2 rooms. You start throwing equipment into the mix and space fills up quick. The advantage that I have in this case is that I have a simplistic approach to training that doesn’t require a lot of equipment. Here is what I have:
- 80 kettlebells ranging from 10k to 48k
- 4 Barbells
- 3 Racks
- 3 Benches
- 2,000 lbs of plates
- Dumbbells up to 55lbs
- 10 medicine balls
- 4 Heavy Ropes
- 3 Rowers
- 1 Assault Bike
- 2 Pullup rigs w/ 4 stations each
- Bands/slide boards/yoga bricks/etc. that don’t take up any space at all.
- 2 Sleds and 20 yards of turf.
- 10 Jump ropes
As you can see, we’re bare bones. This allows us to have a relatively large open space in both rooms that we can transform into whatever we want depending on what our programming calls for. Flexibility is key in all aspects of large group training and nowhere is it more important than your space and how you can use it. When picking a space, or planning for your existing facility, take a good amount of time to lay out a floor plan. Consider your training style and what you will have your clients doing from day to day and things should become clear for you. Often, your space tends to be much bigger in your head than it is, so measure and remeasure before you put that equipment order in or set your class size limits.
3. Can you coach large groups?
One of my billets in the Marine Corps was a marksmanship instructor. That’s a fancy way of saying that I taught people how to shoot their weapons in an effective manner. It was one of the best jobs I will ever have. It was also the most dangerous job I will probably ever have.
The range could host up to 300 shooters for a qualification week. 50 on the firing line, 100 on deck, and 150 in the pits working the targets. Each Marine carried their weapon with them always. Throw live ammunition and complacency into the mix and you are guaranteed to have at least one instance per range that would force you to clean your drawers out at the end of the day.
I was chosen for the training because I performed well on the range during my qualifications. I was chosen for the job because I handled stress well and was not afraid to take control of a situation if that is what was needed. They weren’t letting in people who were just good coaches. There were plenty of good coaches who could not work in that environment. They demanded good coaching on top of mental acuity and a good sense for safety.
My point in telling you this is that not all good coaches will make good large group coaches. There’s more to it than just implementing the perfect cues and calling the right audibles. The large group training environment is infinitely more dangerous than the private or semi-private environment and it calls for a coach that can do a whole lot at one time. You have a room full of all types of insecurities and uncertainties, you cannot be one of them. You must be able to take control of the room at the drop of a hat and with confidence. I will talk more about this in the Coaching segment. For now, let’s just be aware that it’s a big jump from coaching 1 or 2 people at the same time to having 15 people performing swings in a confined area. This is something that you should figure out before you put a lot of effort into starting the program.
That’s it for now, folks! Next, we’re going to talk about some finer points of Coaching for large group training. If you have questions or requests for this series, feel free to hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org.