There are 4 different types of gyms that you can join
- A Budget gym: £10-£30 per month
- A High-End Gym: £40-£100 per month
- A Small Personal Training Studio with 1-1 classes: £5 pay as you go -£200 per month
- A Hybrid Training Gym with small group personal training and classes £200-£300 per month
Over the next few weeks, we are looking, at each gym and scoring them based on our “Training Experience” criteria.
The sales team at each gym will tell you that their gym is best, but that is not based on any sort of clear, customer-based experience.
Here we are going to review each kind of gym to give you a good idea of the experience you will get in each of the gyms.
Our intention is that this should help in making an informed choice when working towards your health and fitness goals and finding the right environment for you to thrive.
Last week we looked at the Budget Gym, this week it is the High-End Gym that gets the review treatment.
The criteria –
Training Experience Score: The quality of the training experience using 4 criteria each scored out of 5 points.
- Environment: Feeling safe from judgment and feeling safe from harm – scored based on a gym that feels friendly and accommodating which would be a 5 versus intimidating and unwelcoming, which would be a 0. Safe from harm is scored based on the safety of the coaching, set up, and kit to keep people free from potential injury.
- Kit: scored by usefulness and quality of the kit along with its availability through the day including peak times, not necessarily amount of training kit
- Coaching: scored by professional coaching qualifications and experience of the coaching staff – higher professional qualifications equal a higher score and experience of coaching throughout the session.
- Cleanliness & Amenities (changing facilities) – unavailable or dirty amenities scores a 0, great amenities and cleanliness is a 5
The total score for each gym is out of 20
This week, we will look at the 1-1 Personal Training Gym
1-1 Personal Training Studio: £5 pay as you go -£200 per month
All gyms are businesses that aim to make a profit, but they go about it in different ways.
The small personal training studio can vary greatly in price points, business approach, and customer service because it is usually run by a single Personal Trainer that has gotten tired of working out of gyms that are overcrowded at peak times, paying a large chunk of their revenue to the gym and generally having to work within the parameters that the gym set.
The 1-1 Personal Trainer with a studio is usually a little more established and can be 3-5 years into their career so they have built up a reliable client base that will follow them from the gym to their new studio.
The personal training studio is driven by profit per gym member in comparison to the larger gyms we have looked at that are driven by profit per site. Here the number of members is lower than a larger gym but the value per client is or at least should be higher because of the close personal contact and coaching from the trainer. Here the trainer has available 1-1 slots that clients can book on a weekly basis to get personalised service.
The costs are usually done per session at around £30-£35 so people tend to do 1 or 2 PT sessions and then join in 1-2 classes per week usually investing around £150 per month.
If the Studio has 30 clients than the trainer can turnover £4,500 per month and £54,000 per year which allows them to run a useful lifestyle business. The drawback for the clients is that not much of this money gets reinvested back into the business as the 1-1 Personal Trainer running a small studio is not usually interested in pushing the business forward do much as ensuring they have enough money to live off month to month.
This can mean the kit and amenities are usually limited and lacking in comparison to the budget or high gym environments. Therefore the “sell” of a Personal Training Studio is usually based on the personality of service of the trainer that runs the studio rather than the environment. Clients usually sacrifice the amenities and kit based on their relationship with the trainer.
Depending on the business acumen of the Personal Trainer the business side can sometimes be unstable which can affect the longevity of the Studio and reliability of the trainer.
The Personal Trainer aims at a target market that usually makes up 2-3% of the budget or high-end gym environment that want the programming and personal attention that a trainer provides.
The Personal Training Studio obviously usually has a low budget because the cash flow is contingent on a single Personal Trainer or a few in a small space. The 1-1 Personal Trainer usually tries to keep the bills under control and turn a decent profit whilst looking after their client base in a more personal way than a normal gym can provide.
The Studio may also offer group classes at various times and larger group events such as mud runs and 5k or 10k events that all clients can meet up together and join in on.
The schedule can be a limiting factor as there are only so many 1 hour slots available in a day. So availability sometimes becomes a factor worth considering.
The characteristics of this gym tend to be
- A single Trainer or 1-3 Personal Trainers depending on size and schedule – The PT sessions and classes are all coached for personalised service for each of the clients that attend
- Minimal kit, and it is usually cheap or home-based kit as commercial kit is expensive and beyond the budget of a 1-1 Personal Trainer running their own studio.
- The 1-1 Pt studio usually has a toilet and perhaps that doubles up as an ad hoc changing area. There are not usually any changing rooms, showers or seating areas.
- The professionalism of the studio is subject to the professionalism of the trainer running it this can sometimes be limited due to the low standard of personal trainers across the industry
Essentially you are paying a higher monthly fee than a budget gym or high-end gym for the 1-1 coaching and personal contact that is lacking in the bigger gyms.
You can choose to hire a PT in a gym alongside your membership or you can choose to go to a 1-1 PT studio. It really depends on what you want out of your membership and whether you will go to the gym and use the facilities outside of your Personal Training sessions.
Here the problem with big gyms is negated in that you move away from essentially renting access to a big room of nice kit, in favour of your motivation and ability learn to train properly being taken care of in a safe progressed manner
The studio offers a safer more personal environment to train rather than the disorder and overcrowing of a gym.
Environment Score 3/5
The 1-1 Personal Training Studio scores higher on the “emotional safety” factor than the budget gym or high end gym because of the type of person this gym tends to attract and the small personalised environment.
This type of gym is largely associated with building confidence due to the personal contact providing the trainer matches your preferred approach. It is important to find a trainer that understands what level you are approaching your training.
So research is needed to make sure you won’t be overwhelmed by the trainer’s expectations including training difficulty and diet plans. Sometimes 1-1 training involves non-negotiable diet restrictions because the trainer follows a set system themselves.
The environment is set up to be more comfortable but you must ensure the trainer also makes you feel at ease and builds your confidence. See our article on how to choose the correct personal trainer for you.
Kit Score 2/5
Depending on which one you go to, 1-1 Personal Training Studios don’t usually spend money on great kit. This is one of their most significant shortcomings.
In comparison to the big gyms, this can be small space sparsely dotted with a few bits of budget kit.
The amount of kit is not the selling point for this gym.
1-1 coaching and the personal contact that affords is.
Because there are only 2-3 clients in the gym maximum at any one time lots of kit is not the priority but it can create the appearance of a shoestring budget or garage gym which lacks appeal for some people. Largely the comfort of the environment outweighs the lack of kit for the type of person who wants to get 1-1 coaching.
This is a trade-off.
In the large gym, you get lots of kit but little assistance on how to use it and progress your program. In the 1-1 gym, you get little kit but are instructed how to use it within a training system that the gym uses.
Again, because of the budget 1-1 Personal Training studios usually have limited to no measurement tools in place to track your progress. They may have weighing scales and tape measures and progress pictures. Don’t expect heart rate tracking and accurate body composition measures to come as part of the package. There are some high-end studios that have a higher profile and bigger budget because they are part of a chain of studios. The independent trainer, however, won’t have the more in-depth measurement and tracking methods in place.
Coaching Score 4/5
The 1-1 Personal Training Studio is, of course, all geared around the coaching you will receive. This is the main if not the only selling point of the small 1-1 Personal Training Studio.
The coaching is the 1-1 Pt studios biggest strength but can also be its biggest limiting factor, because the service doesn’t extend much beyond it.
As with the budget and high-end gyms, it can be a bit of a lottery in choosing a good trainer. You will often trainers have been going for 3-5 years before moving into their own studio.
The trick is to find an enthusiastic trainer that implements a training system progressed over the year rather than just a trainer that comes up with a different training session every time you turn up. Trainers are still normally fairly new to the industry which means the good trainers will be high on passion and energy.
On the downside, the business ability of many Personal Trainers can be limited leading to a poor to average product or service for their clients. This coupled with no CPD requirement in the PT industry for ongoing certification and limited time for a 1-1 trainer to undertake coaching sessions, running the business and having enough time for ongoing professional development can leave you open to poor levels of professionalism and service when hiring a Trainer.
Cleanliness & Amenities Score 2/5
The 1-1 Personal Training Studio is usually significantly lacking in this area. The changing facilities are usually non-existant or consist of a toilet cubicle. This again comes down to budget. Expect to arrive and leave in your training kit.
The 1-1 Personal Training Studio can be a step down in the quality of your surroundings and environment including training kit and amenities. Where it far exceeds the budget and high-end gym environment is helping you implement your training kit and get the best out of your programming through 1-1 personalised coaching.
It is the opposite of being left to your own devices to progress your training as in a normal gym.
Personal Training Studio Overall Score = 11/20
Training Experience Score 55%
Jack & Patrick have worked out of Gyms for the last 15 years and now own and run Thrive: Optimal Human Performance Personal Training Gym in Bamber Bridge, Preston PR5 6EW. Momentum Business Park next to B&Q.
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