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The Evolution of Bootcamp – Introducing Group Personal Training

The Evolution of Bootcamp – Introducing Group Personal Training

guest post by Steve Long

The popularity of group fitness training over the last few years has been steadily increasing.   Bootcamps and group exercise are everywhere, and for good reason.

Bootcamps are fun, effective, and a great value for the client.  Additionally, trainers are able to work with a lot more people throughout a day in comparison to one-on-one or semi private training.  It’s also a great way for trainers to increase revenue, which is always a good thing, especially when saving your clients money in the process.

The problem with bootcamps and group exercise is that due to the larger number of people, training quality is typically sacrificed making it hard for the trainer to deliver everything that client needs to be successful.  People are specific, and have specific needs. The fact is, bootcamps aren’t supposed to be personal training, but they need to be a lot more like personal training to really help people.  Hard workouts just aren’t cutting it, we need to offer more.

For the last few years, myself and business partner, Jared Woolever have been thinking of every possible way that we can make group fitness training more personal and more valuable.  We have been talking about the evolution of bootcamps into “group personal training” non-stop.  It is our goal to do everything possible to increase the quality of group fitness training, and I would like to share a few ways with you now.

One way to describe the difference between bootcamp and group personal training is as follows:  Bootcamps are designed to create hard workouts, and group personal training is designed to provide the most personal experience possible while providing a great value in a group setting.   We want to take service and details to the next level, and provide everything we can to make sure clients are successful.

Here are a few examples of how:

It all begins with a screen.

If you’re not assessing your guessing.  Screening your clients is MUST if you want to take your group training to the next level.   We have figured out multiple ways to use the Functional Movement Screen with large groups of clients, and it can be very easy.  There is no excuse to not go the extra mile here.  This is the foundation of the difference in program design between bootcamps and group personal training.

Inside –vs.- Outside

Bootcamps are typically outside and group personal training is typically inside.  It’s hard to provide the ideal group personal training program without walls, anchor points, clean floors, and some good equipment.  Sure you can still deliver amazing workouts outside, I would never argue that. What I’m saying is that a group personal training environment is typically best when inside.

Tissue quality is not just for one-on-one. 

Foam rolling is something that really sets apart general bootcamp training from group personal training.  Sure you may have to buy 20 or more foam rollers if you want to train more than 20 clients at one time But you can’t forget tissue quality due to the fact that you made the decision to train more people.  If you believe in the benefits of self myofasical release than you should be incorporating it into group training also.

Corrective Exercise

If you are doing screens, this gives you a great opportunity to zero in on each client’s weakest link in their basic movements and incorporate corrective exercise.  It’s been shown that focusing on one movement correction in the proper sequence can significantly improve movement quality very quickly.  This improves the client’s ability to be able to perform higher-level exercises correctly, which increases results, and keeps your clients injury free!

Red Lighting

Sometimes doing certain exercises can cause more harm than good.  With an FMS screen you know exactly what movements you can train hard and which movements you should hold back on, or apply corrective strategy.   It’s imperative to have a system that allows you to know which movements should be “red lighted”. This allows your clients to correct movement issues or do a low level progression during the movements that are red lighted for them, and train hard on the movements that they are cleared to train. This is a phenomenal way to set you group training apart from the rest of the pack, and let you clients know that you care.


Nutrition is a major part of the battle in most clients’ cases.  You may or may not be able to offer specific nutrition coaching, but every little thing that you do adds up.  Handouts, blog posts, emails, recipes are all great ways to increase nutrition education without a huge cost.  My studio has a dietitian on staff that supplements her down time with plenty of studio related tasks.  This allows her to earn a good salary, and be able to coach nutrition to those that need it.

Goal Setting

Somehow you need to make sure your clients are setting good goals.  Sometimes it works to give each client a free goal setting session with yourself or a staff member. However, sometimes it may just have to be as simple as giving the clients some handouts and making sure they bring them back filled out.  Regardless, setting goals is part of personal training and should be addressed in group training as well.

Client Education

Nutrition and goal setting both fall under the category of client education.  It is so important to make sure you are using every opportunity to educate your clients.  Before and after each workout, blogs, handouts, emails, posters, are all great ways to increase client education.  You don’t get the chance to talk to each client for an hour with group training, so it’s important to do everything you can to educate your group as a whole.

The key is going the extra mile!

Each and every one of us needs to make the choice to do our part to step up the quality of group training.  Just running people through hardcore workouts that make them tired is not good enough.  People need more, and you can provide more.  Please make the choice to take your group training to the next level.

It’s my and my business and training partner, Jared’s passion to help trainers make increasing the quality of their group training easy.  For more information check out our website at SMARTGROUPTRAINING


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One comment on “The Evolution of Bootcamp – Introducing Group Personal Training

Great idea! Group personal training can be more effective. With less people in the workout, the trainer can correct your form so you can improve In bootcamps, you are sometimes pushed to do more than you are actually able to.

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