Have you ever taken a fitness class and only two other people showed up? Remember how great that workout was and how that instructor really paid attention to you? Or maybe the instructor corrected your form in a way that really changed your workout? Then you probably already know how great semi-private or small group training sessions are. While there’s nothing more effective than one-on-one sessions with a personal trainer, semi-private or small group training can often be the next best thing.
So what really happens on the mat, bench, or lying down on the reformer? We asked Danielle Havasy Rothschild, a yoga and Pilates instructor from New York City, and Jordan Grahm, a personal trainer and health and fitness expert from Los Angeles, to tell us how it all works.
For activities like Pilates and yoga, Havasy likes to keep her classes very small, “typically 2 to 3 people max.” However, Grahm’s classes “range from 2 people all the way up to 30 people.”
Both Havasy and Grahm agree that in many circumstances, a semi-private session can be just as effective as a one-on-one. Havasy thinks the key to this is having the right instructor: “Even if the clients are not at the same level you can still get a great workout because the teacher can give very individual attention and personalized corrections without it interrupting the flow of class.”
One reason why semi-privates are so popular is that they can often cost a fraction of a one-on-one session. While clients save money, you’d probably be surprised to know that trainers can actually make more money with group sessions because it allows them to see more clients. So don’t be afraid to ask your trainer if you can switch out some private sessions for small group classes. They will probably be happy to accommodate you.
Grahm also thinks the group experience is also incredibly beneficial: “The dynamic of having a small group working out together also brings a positive energy as everyone is working hard together as a team. Although having a trainer in and of itself is a method of accountability, I have found that folks have an extra level of accountability and therefore commitment when they are training in a semi-private or small group setting.” If accountability is an issue for you, why not try to organize some small group classes with friends? You can also help encourage and support each other.
However, semi-private training isn’t right for everyone. If you have very specific physical concerns or need to work around an injury, you might need the instructor’s complete attention. It’s also an issue of safety. Without proper instruction, it’s really easy to injure yourself or make an injury worse. However, Grahm doesn’t see having an injury and needing private classes as mutually exclusive. He explains, “For clients who have some difficulty with certain movement patterns I find that doing some one-on-one sessions to help reinforce proper movement is important.” He also adds that, “in smaller groups it is easier for me to have eyes on everyone and ensure they are working out safely and effectively.”
If semi-private classes are out of your reach financially, the pe@pf program at Planet Fitness might be a good alternative for you. At no additional cost, certified Planet Fitness instructors offer small group training sessions where you can focus on specific body parts like arms or abs. They will also work with you to design a program that will address your specific needs and fitness goals.
Planet Fitness is an affordable gym with memberships starting at just $10 a month. It has over 1,000 locations throughout the U.S., so there is probably one near you.