What is Semi Private Personal Training?

Semi private training is a cross between private training and small group. Learn more about semi private training in this article.

Small group of three women standing in a gym smiling

What is Semi Private Personal Training?

Semi Private Personal Training or semi private training involves working with a trainer and up to 4 other clients in a session.

It's a cross between traditional training and small group. Semi-private training allows you to make friends while getting an effective workout.

What is a Private Gym?

A private gym is a gym that specializes in personal training or group fitness classes.

Free of traditional memberships, private gyms are typically smaller and may specialize in one type of training philosophy.

Some examples of fitness studios and boutique gyms include:

  • Yoga studios (like Moon Yoga in Columbia, Mo)
  • Pole fitness programs
  • Jazzercise
  • Pure Barre
  • Orangetheory
  • Soulcycle

Some specialty gyms offer aerobic training while others are aimed at strength training or calisthenics. To stand out, gyms may introduce some flair like Mark Fisher Fitness, a place for unicorns.

If you pay for personal training or a class at a gym like Planet Fitness, you're being charged for two separate things:

  1. Access to the gym space and its equipment.
  2. Training services or group fitness class instruction.

Depending on what you want to get out of exercise, studios offer a more private training experience.

Why Are Boutique Gyms Popular?

Boutique gyms and private studios are popular because they're versatile and profitable.

Smaller studios began out of necessity. In larger metropolitan areas, commercial lease spaces can be expensive. Space is also limited.

In 2015, in Columbia, Missouri, the average rent price per sqft was around $16 per month.

For comparison, commercial rents in Chicago's newest and best-located office buildings averaged $32.40 in 2015.

Private gyms have distinct advantages. Studio owners can control the fitness offerings and need fewer clients to stay open.

Everything in the business can be tailored to different segments of the exercising population.

Benefits of Semi Private Personal Training

Semi private training may be more motivating for you than a typical personal training session.

Semi private training has a unique benefit over private in that it also addresses relatedness.

Relatedness is one of three core aspects of Self-Determination Theory (SDT) one of the leading theories of motivation.

For more on SDT, check out this article on goals and motivation.

During semi private training, you may grow fond of the other clients who train with you during a session.

Having a trainer in the room allows the social aspects to stay in balance with exercising.

(No pressure if the social stuff isn't your jam)

Some other benefits of semi private personal training include:

  • Training is often done in a private environment away from the gym floor.
  • Workouts are built around you and not a generalization of what works for a group.
  • A session is kept small enough for your trainer to pay attention to detail.
  • You have some say or autonomy in the exercises that you perform.

Semi private training is also typically significantly cheaper than personal training.

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How Much is A Typical Personal Training Session?

Because gyms come in different shapes and sizes, prices vary. To stay in business, trainers need to price differently.

In 2020, personal training cost anywhere from $27 to $70 and up per session in Columbia, Missouri.

Semi private training usually costs about 60% of what a gym would charge for personal training.

For two semi private sessions a week, you could pay anywhere from ~$216 to $678 per month.

Gyms and studios may offer a discount for signing up for multiple months at a time.

Some trainers charge separately for sessions and additional contact is a separate service. Others include everything in one price. Some trainers work with you on your nutrition. Others refer out.

Gyms often charge trainers 40-60% of what a client pays for overhead and expenses.

In my experience, I've never heard of training cheaper than $200 per month. Call around to find out what each gym and trainer charges.

How Do You Structure A Semi Private Personal Training Session?

Designing successful semi-private training programs involves individualizing by;

  • Goals and Motivations
  • Health history
  • Skill level
  • Current fitness level
  • Number of exercises performed
  • The volume of exercise performed (sets and reps)
  • Time available
  • Frequency of training

You may share a room with someone but, you're both getting a different program. Your friend might bust out some squats today too but, maybe for different reasons or with a bar instead of a dumbbell.

You respond to training differently than other people around you.

There are ways to individualize a routine within a small group.

For comparison, here's what a group training workout might look like with and without adjustments:

Small Group Training Workouts:

Workout - as planned:

Core Exercise - Perform all sets of this exercise before moving on to the next:

  • Back Squat | 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps

Rest: 2-5 minutes between sets.

Paired Set: Perform one set of each exercise back to back:

  • Barbell Goodmorning | 3-4 sets of 6-12 reps
  • One Arm Dumbbell Row | 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps

Rest: 1-3 minutes between sets.

Accessory/Isolation Exercises:

  • Single-Leg Hip Thrust | 2-3 sets of 12-20 reps per side
  • Push-Up | 40 total reps in as few sets as possible
  • Rear Delt Fly | 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Straight Leg Raise | 2-3 sets of 15-25 reps
  • Dumbbell Side Bend | 2-3 sets of 12-20 reps

Rest: as needed.

Workout - with adjustments:

Core Exercise - Perform all sets of this exercise before moving on to the next:

  • Goblet Squat | 2-4 sets of 8-12 reps

Rest: 2-3 minutes between sets.

Paired Set: Perform one set of each exercise back to back:

  • Dumbbell Goodmorning | 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps
  • One Arm Dumbbell Row | 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps

Rest: 1-3 minutes between sets.

Accessory/Isolation Exercises:

  • Single-Leg Glute Bridge | 2 sets of 12-20 reps per side
  • Hands-Elevated Push-Up | 15 total reps in as few sets as possible
  • Rear Delt Fly | 2 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Hanging Raise | 2 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Side Plank | 2 sets of 20-45 seconds per side

Rest: as needed.

The adjusted workout uses less overall volume and higher rep goals. Novices need fewer sets to make progress. You might not need to lift as heavy to get stronger.

Exercises variations are also simplified. Increasing the number of reps allows you to use less overall weight while practicing and building muscle.

Here's What Semi Private Personal Training Is:

  • Semi private training involves individual training programs with a group of one to three (or four) other people.
  • Keeping groups small allows quality to be kept high, without intimidation, at a lower cost than traditional training.
  • You may increase your motivation (and attendance) by making friends.
  • Training may be performed on the gym floor or at a private gym or boutique studio.

This article was originally published on 1/28/2017

Last updated: 1/20/21

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Steven Mack is founder and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist at the private training studio, Simple Solutions Fitness. He consults for Stronger by Science, a leader in fitness research dissemination, and is a former Mizzou football walk-on. Steven dedicates his professional life to helping people through his writing, speaking, and role as a personal trainer.