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Building a Personal Training Business: Why Bootcamps are a thing of the past

Building A Personal Training Business:
Avoid the fitness bootcamp trap and be more successful with these strategies

Building A Personal Training Business

Mastermind Member, Fitness Revolution & Athletic Revolution franchisee Steve Long just put together a great guest post on the differences between bootcamp and group personal training and how you should go about building a personal training business. If you train in any type of group environment – this is for you. Thanks Steve!


The other day I was invited by someone to attend a bootcamp that they had been doing. I gladly accepted the invitation because I saw that this could be a great opportunity to learn a little bit more about what is out there, and maybe have a little fun in the process.

Now as someone who has been running “bootcamps” for over 2 years and building a personal training business for 8 plus years I know a little bit about how to execute group training. I’ve never actually attended a bootcamp before I started my own, but I’ve heard plenty about other bootcamps and I wanted to experience the difference between the norm and what I was calling bootcamp. This process has led me to consider not calling my bootcamp by that name any longer. Here is why.



My alarm goes off at 5 AM to wake me up for the workout, which is no biggie for me, I’m used to it. Although, I would have rather done an afternoon workout, I can understand that a lot of people like to get their workouts in early so I was glad to join this group of go-getters for an early workout.

I show up early at the freezing cold park where the workout takes place to meet the instructor and fill out some paperwork. I understand paperwork is completely necessary to get to know your clients. I realized quickly however that I could’ve just slept in an extra 15 minutes because the instructor didn’t get there until about 5 minutes prior to the workout beginning. The instructor gave me a sheet of paper to fill out. Contact info, how I heard of the bootcamp, and if I’d had a heart attack lately were the depth of these questions. I was a little upset to see that after I gave the instructor the sheet of paper I had just filled out he just said thank you and put it in pile along with the other new peoples sheets. He didn’t even look at it. What was the point of the health history if you aren’t going to look at it, but oh well; I’m healthy, so lets move on.

By this time I’m already a little skeptical, but willing to put it aside to get a good workout on. Ugh, I’ll make this quick. The workout consisted of the following:

1. Running laps around the park for 10 minutes
2. Forming a line and doing random amounts of pushups, burpees, jumping jacks, squats, and lunges. I love all of those exercises, but the programming left a lot to be desired.
3. Running laps and taking breaks to do more jumping jacks, jumping on park benches, more pushups, and more burpees.
4. We finally ended with about 20,000 sit-ups, crunches, and more mountain climbers.

Even better yet, I had a non certified trainer who was a drill sergeant want to be, yelling at me the entire time telling me to work harder. Naturally when I started getting too tired to do the some of the exercises in good form I dropped down to an easier regression of the exercise. I wanted to make sure I didn’t get hurt, but that’s a no go in this bootcamp. Work hard and do what everyone else is doing in bad form maggot!  That’s what it takes to get results. Sure, if the results you are looking for is bad posture and injury. This guy either didn’t know what good form was, or just didn’t care.

To give the bootcamp some credit however, everyone was working his or her butt off, and it was really cheap.


Group Personal Training

Leaving that bootcamp made me realize that I had to write this article. I had to let people know there is a better way to train large groups, but still get people to work hard, and work smart at the same time. I’ve been working hard over the last few years building a personal training business with some of the best in the industry like BJ Gaddour, Mike Robertson, Jared Woolever, Pat Rigsby, the people at FMS, and many others and have found a better way to train groups.

So what is the difference between “bootcamp” and group personal training? It’s huge. Lets begin.

Assessments:  Having someone fill out a piece of paper and throw it into a pile without looking at it is a disgrace. Group personal trainers require some sort of screen or assessment. I currently use the FMS screen to make sure I know what’s going on with my client’s bodies. I will also go over the client’s health history and goals with them to make sure we know exactly what they want and exactly what they need.

Building A Personal Training Business

Typically Inside: Workouts don’t have to be inside to be good, but it sure is nice. It also allows you to be able to have access to lots of strength training equipment, which is essential in a well-rounded training program.

Exercise Progressions: Everyone is different and everyone has different needs. If you aren’t going to do an assessment (which is crazy) you at least need to have different levels of difficulty for each exercise. At the bootcamp I tried to regress, but was yelled at. In group PT you are praised for being smart if you drop down. It’s about working as hard as you can at the appropriate level for your body.

Certified Personal Trainers:  If someone who can’t put in the effort to get certified is training you please run as fast as you can away from that bootcamp.

Building A Personal Training Business

Well Thought Out Programs: Random workouts that change by the minute may be fun, but if you want a real program that produces results it should follow some sort of training guidelines. You get results by learning exercises and tracking your progress. If you are just doing random exercises you will get random results. Programs should be based on your needs to get you the results you are looking for. How is a random workout going to give the 50 different people in the bootcamp the same results when each person is different?

Building A Personal Training Business

Less People in the Workout:  One coach can’t train 50+ people well. Indoor group PT typically has less people to make sure the coach can correct your form so you can improve.

Building A Personal Training Business 4

Nutrition Intervention:  I know a lot of group personal trainers and almost all of them include some sort of nutrition information or nutrition counseling in their programs. If nutrition is forgotten in your bootcamp, forget that bootcamp.

All of the Benefits of Bootcamp Without All of the Negatives: Outdoor bootcamps can be fun, low cost, and provide group support. That is the draw of bootcamps in the first place. Group PT offers all of these benefits without any of the drawbacks that I discussed above.

This article has been a long time coming. Anyone who knows me understands my strong dislike for generic crap training like the bootcamp I attended. It’s my mission in life to increase the quality of group training in America. I hope this article will make a small splash in that happening.

If you are reading this blog I am confident you will understand the importance, so if you know anyone that may like this article please share it with them. If each person who reads this makes a vow to increase the quality of his or her bootcamps and/or group training we’ve begun to make the difference I’m trying so hard to make. Thank your for reading and for going the extra mile to do what is right as you are building a personal training business

Steve Long



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  • Peter58

    Most of the instructor also don’t do 50 percent as good a job at dealing with their customers as many of the better qualified team coaching teachers – what we used to just contact aerobic exercise instructor ask in the day – and they depend on the kind of inspiration and team stress from peers that Bob creates about here.

    Des Moines Fitness

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