Behind the Scenes

I was asked recently, “What goes on behind the scenes after you meet with a client?” This individual was curious about the work involved when a trainer isn’t face-to-face with her trainee.

As a gym owner and trainer over the years, I’ve seen that the answer to that question has always depended on whether the client does 1-on-1, small group, or large group training.


A trainer spends most of her non-facetime thoughts on her personal training clients. This is simply because the 1-on-1 client generally has very specific goals.

For these athletes, a good amount of time is spent thinking about and preparing movement progressions and workout programming. But the most amount of time is spent thinking on their nutrition.

A good trainer is consistently asking herself, “What’s working well?”, “Where is my client most compliant?”, “When do they struggle?”, and if they are struggling, “Why are they struggling with this?”

Great trainers know that nutrition is the secret sauce to fitness. Therefore, these trainers spend most of their time helping their clients stick to a nutrition plan that gets them to their goals.

Small Group

Small group (2-5 people) training is exciting for a trainer because the group is super consistent. The athletes view themselves as a team in pursuit of a specific goal. When someone doesn’t show up, everyone knows. This also focuses the time not in-person for the trainer.

Generally, the trainer of a small group spends her non-gym time thinking about skill progressions and workout programming. The trainer may help with nutrition, but it’s usually general advice to the group. If she notices that one athlete is falling behind, she will temporarily take them on as a 1-on-1 nutrition client.

Large Group

Large group (6-13 people) training is where the majority of “micro gyms” like Orangetheory and F-45 reside. The trainer is generally less specialized but very motivating.

These trainers’ primary job is to make sure you have the best hour of your day. The athlete is less concerned about a specific goal and is simply working out to either “feel better” or “lose some weight.”

The time outside of the gym for the trainer is minimal. Maybe they’ll send a text or two to an athlete, but the group is large enough that people start to fall behind others.

The group has different interests and goals, so if the trainer is writing workout programming, its design is to keep people moving the whole time (rather than develop skills or get better at a movement).


Over the years as a trainer and gym owner, the trend I’ve seen with myself and my staff is that the more intimate the setting, the more time we spend thinking about the athlete after hours.

And I don’t think that’s wrong. We simply spend more time trying to help those that want it the most.



4 Rounds For Time:
400-meter Run
3 Heavy Back Squats (90%+ of your 1-Rep Max)

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