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Choosing the Right Coaching Format

14 Mar 2008

Once you’ve decided you’d like the help of a qualified fitness professional, you’re ready to shop around for the right format for training. You can choose from three options: private, partner, and small group instruction. All three can help you reach your goals, and the best one for you will depend on your personality and specific needs.

With a private trainer, it’s just you and a fitness coach you have chosen after going through all the filtering checkpoints I described earlier. Having one-on-one instruction can be very advantageous—you don’t have to share the professional’s attention with anyone else, giving you complete personalized instruction. If you have any special medical or health issues, private instruction would be ideal because your specialist will need to put together a program specific to your goals given those existing conditions. Also, if you need to reschedule an appointment, which happens more often than not, you don’t have to worry about a partner or group training member’s schedule to do that, you can find a time that works for just you and your fitness specialist. If you work better with one-on-one attention, have any specific health and medical concerns, or have a very busy schedule, private training may work best for you. Keep in mind that since private training grants you customized instruction and undivided attention, it’s more expensive than partner and group training. If you’ll need to work with a coach at least three times a week, your investment can get a little pricey. Consider private training in combination with partner or small group training.

Partner training offers some of the same benefits of private training for a more affordable price and the company of a fitness buddy. Having a friend can give you some additional help with accountability, someone to commiserate with, and even a small dose of healthy competition. Partner training works best if you have a friend with similar goals and a comparable fitness level, otherwise you may find training sessions too strenuous or easy and some exercises may seem less relevant to your goal. If you have a likeminded friend in fitness and you’re looking to save a couple bucks while getting a personalized exercise plan, partner training may be right for you.

Lastly, there’s small group training.With small group training, you work with anywhere from two to five other exercisers with a similar goal or to master a particular fitness modality. You can join a class or workshop designed by your facility’s training department or you can get a few friends together to form your own small group with a common fitness goal. Group training can also work well if you have a couple friends with a similar health condition that requires specialized instruction, and you can all save a few dollars from private training costs. Exercising with a few friends as you are guided by an expert fitness coach will give you some of the benefits of partner training with the feel of an informal support group.

You may not know right away which of the three formats work best for you or you may expect that all three may work well with your personality. Make the investment into trying a few sessions of each until you find the right one or combination. It could be that meeting with a trainer once a month for customized program updates along with group training once or twice a week will give you a good mix of personal attention and motivation. Give them a chance and let me know what’s worked for you.

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