Everyone in his family tree had died around the age of 57. So, when the member approached Fortune Santos about one-on-one training, it was for longevity purposes.
“The reason that we offer private work is two-fold,” said Santos, the owner of CrossFit Port St. Lucie in Port St. Lucie, Florida. “One, there are certain individuals that come into a CrossFit gym and they can’t do the movements even though it’s suppose to be where it’s modified.”
The second type is for those athletes that want extra work. However, Santos stated most of the one-on-one training focuses on the rehabilitation side. Many people at the Box are now without pain and move better than ever, including the above member who is now 59 and a CrossFit Games athlete. “The longevity of their life is because of us,” said Santos.
One-on-one training has become a staple at places like CrossFit Port St. Lucie. However, other Boxes use it for more than just an add-on to membership. At CrossFit Harpoon, one-on-one starts from the moment you step inside the Box located in York, Maine.
“We knew from the very beginning we wanted to start with a more personalized environment just so as people were easing their way into class they were more comfortable with the movements and not feeling like they were inundated with too much information and/or overwhelmed with the very high level movements that a lot of CrossFit gyms introduce off the bat,” said Madeline Senkosky, the director of media and co-owner of Harpoon.
CrossFit Harpoon is a year old, but its owners knew from experience that they were going to have people go through one-on-one training from the get-go. Harpoon’s director of coaching and co-owner Justin Mahan said that its sister gym, CrossFit Portsmouth, which opened in 2009 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, had seen the results of group introduction. People had not been comfortable in class and were unable to be fully invested, he said.
“So, we were just going through this cycle where we had a revolving door of these satellite members that just couldn’t really find their feet in the classes,” said Mahan.
But, when one-on-one training was introduced the retention started to rise. Members were more comfortable with the Coaches and the idea of CrossFit. “They were much more comfortable walking in the gym knowing that that Coach understood their ability level and a little bit about themselves,” said Mahan.
Upon opening CrossFit Harpoon in 2013, one-on-one training introduction sessions were implemented from the start.
At The Fort CrossFit in Hampstead, New Hampshire, new members also go through one-on-one training. “Any new person that comes into the gym, they’re going to get personal training,” said Kyle Rochefort, the owner of the Box. “That’s our introduction to the gym with that individual person so we can get to know them as athletes, as people, see where their deficiencies are and start the path as far as correcting these deficiencies.”
It took a few years for one-on-one training at The Fort to really take off, but now that it has, Rochefort said he is in a much better spot to do one-on-one than he had been when the Box first opened. He said he had a lot to learn and advised to continue educating yourself.
Harpoon gives members a 60 to 90 minute free intro session with a Coach. From there, the member can sign up for a commitment of 10 sessions and three-month membership at the gym. Jason Goulemas, the owner of CrossFit Portsmouth and co-owner of Harpoon, said the commitment to membership ensures the member will stick around until he or she sees results. “While we’re putting a lot of energy up front for them, we want them to also know they need to make a commitment back to us and the community,” he said.
Santos also has a free first session, showing members the value of the product she is offering them. Plus, while it can be exhausting to do one-on-one training, it’s essential to give everybody the same amount of attention. “[If] you’re consistently giving them the same care, the same product, then they’ll never leave you,” said Santos.
At Harpoon, the sessions don’t come cheap — they average $65 per hour, even for the first 10 — but that hasn’t hindered Harpoon’s growth. “It’s much more expensive to join our gym. That intro or that threshold is much higher than the other 10 gyms in our immediate vicinity,” said Goulemas. “We’ve closed probably, I’m going to say, over 90 percent of the people that come through that intro class. They get it. They understand what we’re doing.”
In fact, Mahan said pricing the sessions at full personal training prices reiterates that they are trying to professionalize the industry. And since they started, they haven’t looked back. “You have to stand behind what you’re offering and own it,” he said. “We’ve made up this program. We’ve decided to go this way. We understand the group model didn’t work well for us and we want to do this private or PT model and we put it out there and we stuck to it and we built it and we just believed in it.”