Episode 351

How to Make Millions with Small Group Personal Training with Vince Gabriele

In this episode, Vince Gabriele joins me to talk about how to make millions with small group personal training.

[00:00:00] Hello, my friend, before we jump into today’s episode, I wanted to let you know that we have a handful of extra spots for our next Unicorn Society retreat happening in Boston, September 14th and 15th. It’s really a retreat for our Unicorn Society members, but we have a handful of spots for folks like you who want to come and spend the weekend with us.

So if you want to spend the weekend with the whole business Unicorns team, me and Mark and Pete Dupuis and Ben Pickard and everyone else, plus we have a special guest star, it’s Kevin Carr from, from Mike Boyle and he is going to be. speaker at the retreat. So if you want to learn more and come join us for a spectacular weekend retreat, just go over to our Instagram and DM us the word Boston for more information.

Let’s move on to today’s episode. Today’s episode is actually another special guests in our business unicorns world today. I’m speaking with Vince Gabriel. Who you all know is a gym owner, entrepreneur, speaker, author. He does it all. And he has a brand new book called the ultimate guide to small group personal training.

So in today’s conversation, we talk about what small [00:01:00] group personal training is, why it’s so popular, how to sell small group personal training, and how to make the shift. Two small group personal training. If you don’t currently offer it, it’s a fantastic episode where Vince really pulls back the curtain in to his book and shares a lot of really practical tips for how to make the most using small group personal training as your model.

So it’s a great episode. Keep on listening.

Welcome to the Business for Unicorns podcast, where we help gym owners unleash the full potential of their business. I’m your host, Michael Kehler. Join me each week for actionable advice, expert insights, and the inside scoop on what it really takes to level up your gym. Get ready to unlock your potential and become a real unicorn in the fitness industry.

Let’s begin.

Hello, fitness business [00:02:00] nerds. What’s up. Welcome to another episode of the business for unicorns podcast. I am so frigging stoked for today’s episode, because on the podcast, we have gym owner, entrepreneur, speaker, author, superhero, Vince Gabriel. Welcome to the podcast, my friend. Thanks, Mike. Appreciate you having me.

I don’t know. I don’t know about that superhero one. No, that’s what the rumors have told me. So I’m just going to go with it. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast. I’m so excited to have you. And I’ll start with a big congratulations because you’ve just launched another book of your library of books you’re making throughout your, this lifetime.

And this one’s all about small group personal training. It’s called the ultimate guide, small group, personal training, how to make millions with small group training. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today. So congratulations, my friend. I know how much hard work goes into these things. Thanks, Mike.

I was really happy to see Mark writing his marketing book too. I’m excited to read that one. A hundred percent. We need lots of great curated, thought out content in the world for gym owners. That’s created by people who are fucking doing it. Who can give us, give people real actual advice. I’m going to talk exclusively about this book [00:03:00] today.

Cause I think, I think it might be the first one I’ve ever read. That’s really focused on small group personal training. That’s all about small group personal training. And I think it’s a fantastic roadmap for people. So I’m going to cover. What the heck is smog or personal training? Why are some people doing it?

I want to cover how to sell it. Cause there’s a little different strategies for selling this versus other things. And I want to talk about all those people listening to the podcast who might want to switch to smog or personal training, but haven’t, and what that switch might look like. So first things first, what the hell is smog or personal training?

Why’d you write a book about it? I wrote a book about it because I spent the first five years of my career as a personal trainer doing one on one and it, while be it good and I learned a lot, it was very taxing on me from an energy standpoint to be able to line up one on one with people so much and the telltale sign for me was I trained a lot of athletes and many of them were high school athletes, many of them were males and Many of them did not say many words.

And so we were getting strength [00:04:00] training. We’re doing strength training and we do a set of squats instead of five. And Mike, you got to rest three to five minutes after a set of five, of course. And so after I asked them what they ate for lunch, how was school? And we had four minutes and 55 seconds left to rest.

I was like, there’s got to be a better way. So when I moved to New Jersey and opened my gym, I was fortunate to hang around guys like Tom Plummer, Rick Mayo, the Cosgroves. And I started my gym, I think like you guys too, with this model of small group training. So I think I got lucky that like, right when I started my gym, People were starting to do it more and it’s been, I don’t have any aspirations to change the model.

It’s been 19, 18 years or something like that, that we’re running this model. So we have a lot of experience with it. And really the book was about one, how to implement it. Profitably and successfully, but two, and I think we, you want to talk about this. There’s a lot of [00:05:00] people doing different models that are looking to switch and looking to do it.

So that’s why the big reason I wrote the book. Yeah, 100%. I think it’s so critical. I think the timing is great because like you said, we’ve also been doing small group personal trading since 2011. And so we’ve been doing this model for a long time and we started with three on one. Now we’re six on one, uh, ratio.

But why do you think it’s caught on? I feel like in the last few years, I see more and more people moving to this model. Why do you think it’s become so popular in the last few years? I think a few reasons. I think the amount of competition in large group is really big and it’s getting harder and harder to differentiate yourself in the market.

When you have big players like orange theory and F45 and yeah, maybe they’re not as strong as they used to be, but they’re still really strong and they have a lot of money behind them. And I think that. When you want to go head to head with those kind of guys, it gets challenging for the small businesses like, like you and me.

And I think that small group training, I don’t think [00:06:00] anyone’s done it really well on a really big scale. The only person right now obviously is Rick and what he’s doing with alloy personal training, which is absolutely amazing. Just alloy and you’ll. Probably start liking small group training, but I think, so there were some challenges with that, but there was also the challenges, like I mentioned, with one on one and I think people getting burnt and with it, but also the amount of money that you can make is limited, right?

I guess you guys are in a different store. You can charge oodles and oodles of money in New York city for one on one training. I haven’t heard the thousand dollar hour and the 800 hour, but for most places, like most of the guys open up gyms, there’s only so much price elasticity in one on one training.

And regardless of your market, the higher you go up the price pyramid, the less and less of an audience you have access to. And so it just gets a little harder to find those people. So I think those two things, I think people were looking to, uh, To make it financially in this business. I think there was a lot of people that, [00:07:00] that kind of started a gym and they did it for a long time, but they weren’t successful financially.

And I think that the small group model kind of gives you that opportunity to be able to, Make more from less and I think that’s like what I talked about a lot in the book. It’s make more from lesson Yeah, Dan Kennedy wrote an incredible book that I don’t think a lot of people have heard of but it’s called almost alchemy And it’s basically all about making more from less and when you do small group training, you’ll make more money from less people You’ll make more money with less square footage You’ll make more money with less trainers.

And you and I both know that’s a really tough thing right now to find a lot of personal trainers. And absolutely the one on one model, it’s like when you get 10 new clients, you got to hire another trainer. And in the small group model, you can get 80 new clients and then you got to hire, you know, another trainer.

So it’s, uh, it’s not the end all be all I wrote the book, but it’s, I’m not saying it’s the only [00:08:00] way to have a gym, but I, but I do believe it’s a really good, profitable way. To have a gym and A lot of the guys in my mastermind right now, they’re opening up like small 1500 square foot facilities, high end, really strong price point.

And these guys are making 50 K a month with 40 percent margins. It’s like a really nice. Business and they’re not, you don’t need a lot of space. You don’t need to find a lot of space and you don’t need a lot of people to run them. So it’s, it’s a real successful model. Yeah. I love that. The, I love the way you explained that Vince, cause I think it’s a really underappreciated aspect of small group training is that people forget the amount of complexity that comes with more bodies in the building.

Right. When you need more trainers and you need way more clients and you need more staff to service all those, and you need all this backend help and administrative help, because there’s so many people to keep track of. And so when you can have a model like this, where you just need less people. [00:09:00] It’s gets rid of so much complexity that I think really bogs down our days as entrepreneurs and Jim motors.

Yeah. And so I think that’s a really underappreciated part of this model. In addition to the fact that you could make more money, et cetera. Yeah. So let’s talk a little bit about selling it because I don’t think small group personal training requires a whole new marketing and sales playbook, right? Or I don’t think it requires people to reinvent the wheel.

But it is different than selling to the masses at a lower price point at classes. And it’s a little different than a super high price point one on one. It’s somewhere right in that middle spot. And so how do you think about marketing and selling this differently than you would any other service? So when I was with Perform Better, at Perform Better with Mark just a couple days ago, they had this thing where we would sit at a table with a few different people.

And one of the guys that has asked me questions had a really big box gym. And he was saying, he was like, we’ve tried small group training. We’ve tried small group, but none of our members want [00:10:00] to do it. And I said, how much is your membership at your gym? And he was like 27. And I was just like, you’re trying to get people that signed up for something at 27 and trying to sell them something for 500.

Yes. A lot of times it’s a different buyer. And that’s what I think that the number one thing about selling and marketing small group is clarity around who is going to buy this. Who is the person? And it’s like the basics in marketing, right? It’s who’s the target market. What’s the message and what’s the media?

How are we getting the message out there? It’s real simple that pyramid of Marketing is never gonna change no matter what new technology comes out. It’s always gonna be about who’s your market? What’s the message and how you gonna get the message out there? Which will change? I think that the most important piece if I could give someone a piece of advice is To go really deep On the market and to know them on a level that [00:11:00] is well beyond what most marketers know the person and I think that’s how we’re going to get into higher level marketing when we can put a message out there and someone can listen to or read that message and just be like, all right.

This is for me. This gym is for me. This model is for me. This is whatever. And I think that’s where we’re going to really reach people. And I think a lot of people don’t do the work. They don’t do the hard work of getting into the mind of who is buying it. And they stay surface level. And they asked me questions like, how do I market the small group program?

And they’re thinking that they need to put a sign up that says small group training for sale. And that is not going to do it. That’s not going to help you win in marketing. What’s going to help you win in marketing is to put out things that people really want, that people really need, and then put that message out there.

And probably the best thing. [00:12:00] Honestly, that you can do is tell stories, right? Tell success stories of people that are just like them, right? And then all of a sudden they look at that and they’re like, okay, yes, that is for me. And I’ll tell you a quick story. We were athletes, adults for the first time.

seven, eight years of our business. We knew we wanted to make the shift to mostly adults, 40 plus. We ended up doing this thing where we created a call to sweepstakes and we gave away six, six week memberships to people. And we had people apply and it was like a whole big deal in the community. It’s really successful market.

And that’s a separate conversation. We could do a whole podcast on that. Great. But we ended up getting this woman named Kathy and Kathy was your typical New Jersey. You know what I’m talking about? I know I’m Jersey. Yep. She was as Jersey as Jersey gets wonderful person, but she was pretty overweight and she ended up doing really well.

And one of the things that we were going to do with the [00:13:00] people that we picked was to start making little videos and following them along to see what they were doing with their life and during the program. And we’re filming the video one time and. You know, I was like, alright, this is Kathy, she’s gonna do a squat today and she’s gonna push her knees out and she looks at me and she’s like, what is this shit?

She’s like, what are we doing here? She’s like, this is so boring. She’s like, no one’s gonna watch this. And I was like, no, we’re making videos. And she goes, no, you get down there, you get down there on the floor and you do it and I’ll teach you how to do it. And he’s like, all right, this is Vince Gabriel.

He’s doing a plank. He’s got to squeeze his ass and do all that stuff. And then she starts talking like this and she starts doing the videos. Wildfire. Yeah. Facebook post 440 comments. Yep. Never seen anything like that. Never seen any engagement. And it, we did a video every month, Monday for 52 weeks in a row.

Yeah. And I’m telling you our business absolutely exploded. And the reason was they resonated with her. Yes. Yes. They [00:14:00] said, all right, I need, I know these gym guys and these trainers and all of that, but that’s intimidating. If Kathy can do it, yes. Then I can do it too. And that’s when we started getting phone calls from people just like, yeah, I just want that Kathy thing.

Deal. Whatever you did with Kathy, whatever Kathy doing, that’s what I want. Yeah. . And it absolutely exploded from that reason, because it’s almost like the say Jared subway situation. Mm-Hmm. Like you had that spokesperson. Yeah. You had that person that kind of defined it. And she was the definition of our market.

She was right smack in the middle of it. And she found a way to, she is, and she’s still today, she ended up losing 82 pounds. Wow. And she has kept every pound off. This is now almost a decade. Wow. A decade later, she ended up being on the Dr. Oz show twice. She was on the cover of Women’s World magazine. Wow.

She started her own healthy recipes group, Facebook group, that has like 10, 000 members. Wow. And she was [00:15:00] You found a rock star. What a superstar. A rock star. She was asked to be on the Rachel Ray show and she goes, nah, I hate that bitch. I ain’t going on that show. That’s so Jersey. That’s amazing. I love this Vince, because what you’re putting your finger on right here is that so many people think marketing is about telling people who we are as a gym.

And that’s not what marketing is about. Marketing is about letting other people know, we know who you are and we have a solution to a problem for you. Like we, that we understand enough about where you come from and what your needs are and what your pain points are and all the things you’ve tried and our marketing is going to be about proving to you that we know how to work with people like you, and that’s exactly what you did with Kathy is she’s sharing her opinion, her, her sense of humor, right?

Like her humanity in a way that resonated and told other people, Oh, they would get me because I’m just like Kathy. Like that’s so fantastic. I know you guys are marketing purists and students of the game. And one of my favorite lines [00:16:00] is to enter the conversation already going on in the prospects mind.

And I think that’s, I think it’s Eugene Schwartz. I can’t remember who said that, but, and I think that’s what gym owners need to do to really get better at marketing is just lots more conversations with their clients, lots more conversations with their prospects, lots more thinking. About it. And then the marketing will eventually come.

Yeah, the thing that really stands out to me, even about how you first started that process with Kathy was what she was not interested in helping make the content you thought you needed to make. And I think that in and of itself is a fantastic hack for anyone listening, which is if you’re in the gym making content for social media and your clients aren’t immediately, Oh, what are you making?

What is that? What are you saying? If they’re not interested. Stop immediately. Just don’t do it anymore, right? Cause they’re your audience. And if they’re not interested, lowest level marketing is you doing an exercise video of teaching a goblet squad, right? That’s that is not marketing, [00:17:00] that is not marketing, and that is not going to get anyone to be inspired to come to your gym.

Yeah, last question about kind of marketing and sales for small groups. So small group training, I think you could go off or go after many different kinds of avatars for this model depending on your market, etc. But, If you had to generalize, what are the kinds of benefits someone cares about that is makes them right for small group personal training?

What are the kind of avatars out there that I think that you think are really a great fit for this model that might not be such a great fit for one on one or large group? Yeah. So I think the first thing is that. Most of the people that we work with are going through a specific demographic of age. And a lot of times, even just the age is really going to point them in the right direction from 40.

I don’t know if you’ve read the book, the fourth turning. Yeah, but it’s phenomenal. But it talks about like different seasons of life. And when you’re 40 to 60, you’re typically going to make the most money in your life from 40 to 60, right? [00:18:00] Usually 20 year olds are just trying to find their way. Maybe 30 year olds in the city have the money, right?

But really from 40 to 60 is where you almost hit your financial stride. So simply by going after that market of demographics, You now reach people that have the disposable income to be able to afford on a regular basis four, five, 600 a month. So I think that’s the first thing. And I think that when you’re dealing with that kind of market, that’s a more sophisticated buyer.

That’s a little bit older there. really caring about longevity. They’re really caring about health. They’re really caring about long term habits, sustainable habits beyond losing weight. Now I’m not saying that weight loss is not something you should use in your marketing. I do believe that even though they’re 40 to 60 and even know [00:19:00] They’re married with kids like they don’t just not care about their body or how they look anymore.

I don’t think that’s true. And I think people say they almost take the habit thing too far where they use that on the front end marketing. And that’s also a big flop is to use a habit building. on the front end. And so no one’s staring at the ceiling at night thinking they want better habits, right?

Exactly. They’re staring at this. And it’s funny because I was in Mark’s Q and a, and Mark said that he’s exact words. He’s sell them what they want and give them what they need. Yeah. And I truly believe that. So I’m not saying you shouldn’t give habits and you shouldn’t train your habit based. But at the end of the day, these people still want to get lean, get strong, look better, feel better.

All of that stuff and that should be rolled into your mark. So I think it’s that find the buyer with the most money. Honestly, like it is a little bit that simple. It’s like, if you want to start charging 600 a month for a membership, you can’t go after [00:20:00] people that are making 40 grand a year, you have to go on to the high end buyer and the people that are men, usually people that are in that age bracket.

They’re there. Now there’s going to be some messaging that’s going to have to go along with that, but that’s a great start for people. Yeah, I think that’s a great start. I love that Vince. So last question, and we’ll try and do this in a few minutes. We won’t go that deep, but we’ll at least scratch the surface here of for all of our listeners out there who are like, yes, I’ve been wanting to switch to small group personal training for a while.

Maybe even they did a pilot or a demo and it didn’t really work out. They, to your point earlier, they, their people quote, weren’t interested in small group personal training that are already at their gym. Let’s just talk to those folks for a minute who want to make the transition to small group personal training.

What are some things they should be thinking about? So the first thing that, that I’ve seen people that have shifted, they don’t believe in the shift yet. And I equate it, Michael, to the steak restaurant, [00:21:00] that the steak is their main thing. And all of a sudden they make the veggie burger. They start trying to sell the veggie burger.

And what they do is they made small group training the veggie burger. And instead, if they really want to make money there, if they’re a steak restaurant, the small group needs to be the steak, not the veggie burger. So they can’t sell it when it’s this, Oh, this is the biggest mistake of it. We also have small group training.

Yes, we do one on one we do large group. We do. We also have small group. Do you want to try that? And it’s just like, it’s like this afterthought. And I do believe if you’re going to make it really good in this industry, in this small group world, it’s got to be your main thing. I agree. And you got to work towards that too, if it’s not your main thing now.

And I’ve had helped many gyms transfer from one on one to small group. Many gyms go from large group to small group. The [00:22:00] number one thing you need is a little bit of patience. Because I don’t think she remember you’re shifting, you’re changing something and sometimes changing something overnight is not the right thing.

And what I would suggest they do if you’re looking to shift and looking to change is they get a, have a goal of getting a certain percentage of their existing members. To test this program, whether that’s one on one, whether that’s small group, you’re not going to get everybody. That’s a guarantee, but a goal to get a certain percentage, say you have a hundred one on one clients.

All right, let’s set a goal to get 30 percent of those clients doing smaller. And then you slowly start to build that small group you raise your price of one on one So it gets a little tougher To train with you one on one and some of those people will start shifting to small group And then you shift around your sales system so that all new people Are doing smaller versus saying you can do small group.

You can do one only. No, everyone goes through [00:23:00] this funnel. If you want to grow this funnel, everyone’s got to go through this funnel and they at least got to try it for the first time. So that’s how I’d say if there is a shift. Now, the book has like a whole chapter on it. So there’s a much more step by step.

Process to it. I didn’t want to, I don’t think we have enough time to do the whole step by step process, but if they read the book, they’ll get the step by step process, 100 percent in existing model. 100%. But I think your outline, I think is fantastic. And I think people should go get the book and do the whole step by step.

And also say the biggest pill for people to swallow that I’ve talked to is the fact that you emphasized it twice, that they have to come to the realization. They’re not going to bring everyone. Over this bridge, the other side, not everyone’s going to come on that journey, and that’s okay. I think that’s where they get a little frustrated is they come to that realization, or they realize that if they want to only do small group training, they want to completely switch and let go of everything else.

They might lose a few people, and that may be part of the process as well, which is To your point, why they might not want to do it overnight. They might want to spread out this change over time, slowly [00:24:00] raise their rates on the other services they don’t want to keep doing. And that can be hard. It can be hard to know how passionate we all are and we should be about maintaining long term relationships with clients.

But sometimes our models have to shift in ways that everyone’s not going to be excited about. And that’s also okay. And a message to the people that have tried and didn’t work. You could always try again. 100%. 100%. All right, let’s wrap things up here. Is there anything else from the book that you, I didn’t ask you about that you want this audience to know?

I think that they should get the book solely for the marketing chapter alone. I went really, it’s funny. I wrote my first book, which was the ultimate guide to marketing your gym. And I wrote that seven years ago. And in the last seven years I’ve been learning about marketing for an hour a day, almost every day.

And I know so much more about marketing than I did when I wrote that first book. And I’m going to do a part two of that book at some point, but this was like my, so the marketing and sales chapter, and I do know that’s what people struggle with most is [00:25:00] how do I get, I do have a chapter on how to program design and how to train it.

And there’s all stuff in there for the book, but really at the end of the day, what I think people need the most help with is like, how do I get more small group clients? And the marketing and the sales chapters combined. And there’s also a pricing chapter that tells you how to price it, how much to charge for small group.

And then I have a formula that I created of figuring out how much to charge. So those are all kind of good insights that would help them. 100%. I found all of these so helpful. And I agree that the marketing and sales chapters, I think are so actionable, really full of really good insights. Clear playbooks on what to do, step by step instruction.

So where do people get the book Vince? Yep. They just go to small group, personal training. com and they can get, uh, get a free copy at the book. I love it. We’ll leave a link in the show notes down below. Thank you so much for your time, Vince. It was so great as always. I’m sure we’ll have you back at some point to talk about all kinds of things we didn’t have time for today, but thanks for your expertise and your passion and for bringing such great [00:26:00] content to this industry that we all need and can use.

So thank you. Thank you. Thanks, Michael. I appreciate what you guys are doing too.