Selling Value and Quality Service–Not Session Time


If, as a personal trainer, you get caught up exclusively in selling one-hour packages instead of selling value and quality service, clients will ultimately suffer and so will you.

Picture this: you got personal training clients back-to-back to back-to-back. Your sessions are one hour long. You are going up to the very last second on each session because you feel the pressure of giving people their money’s worth and not making the next one wait. Sound familiar? Wouldn’t it be nice also to be able to go to the bathroom, make a phone call/check email, or simply have a minute to mentally get ready for the next session? This creates less stress, right?

Why the One-hour Session?

This was my life, too, before I made it about selling the workout, not time. I’ve had my best workouts training myself and clients in less than 60 minutes, some in 40-50 minutes; but for whatever reason it has become universally accepted that one hour is necessary to train someone adequately. If you are training a client and you finish in less than 60 minutes, does that make it less effective? I don’t think so.

When the workout is finished, it’s finished

Have you ever worked with a client and felt like the session was over at the 40-minute mark, but then you felt it necessary to fill the time with fluff exercises just to fill the hour? More is not necessarily better. As a personal trainer you are the architect for your clients’ well-being; helping them build a healthier, more in-shape person; if the session is over after addressing their needs fully, then give yourself permission to conclude.

Adding filler activities without a real benefit or purpose isn’t really helpful and could potentially cause injuries especially if your clients are already very fatigued from the actual workout. Not to mention, clients are generally savvy, and will pick up on unnecessary exercises. The warm-up, the strength portion (2 circuits of 3 exercises gives you 18 sets), and a finisher/cool-down takes roughly 45-50 minutes, which is plenty to give them not only a perceived value and quality time, but also impresses upon them that you are not just winging it or making them perform a circus full of exercises to fill the time.

Build Success, Not Failure

You’ll probably find if you dig deeper with your clients that they want to get out of there before the hour is up. Many of them hire you because they won’t exercise on their own. They won’t exercise on their own because they don’t love exercise as much as you do. Someone who doesn’t love exercise but is engaging in it because they know it is good for them would love to hear that they can get what is necessary done in less time.

You are not selling time, you are selling a meaningful service. If one of your clients comes in late, will that workout not be significantly less fruitful than if they came on time? Perhaps, but unlikely. By making the session time your primary barometer and they are short on it, this sets them up for feeling like a failure or a perception of depleted value. I know my clients are going to get a great workout and experience regardless of time spent; some have said it’s the highlight of the day, so focus on the experience more than the time.

How Long is Really Necessary?

If a prospective client asks me how long are the workouts, I tell them: “As long as it takes. Mostly you can expect anywhere from 45-50 minutes in duration. You might be surprised by the responses. If you get someone in and out inside of 60 minutes with time to spare the client has more time to do other things and less time away such as time traveling or other tasks during that day.

Remember, too, we as fitness professionals are in the minority of people that love exercise, and if we can take the focus off from time and celebrate with our cliets that they are there and training (and consistently with you) then that is a win in and of itself.

What if You Aren’t the Boss?

You might be thinking this attitude sounds great, but as an employee somewhere that offers 30 or 60 minute sessions, how can you diverge from those offerings? I strongly suggest broaching this topic, perhaps by sharing this very article. If a client shows up late and you are scrambling to fit everything in, what if you allow it to run over into the next session? (Different can of worms— technically if the client is late, then they lose that time and you should not penalize the next client, but sometimes green trainers feel badly about this, stealing from Peter to pay Paul),

We don’t want the next client to be penalized by starting late. Now that next session feels awkward or rushed, and possibly running into the following session, and so begins a vicious cycle. This is too stressful and will cause burnout and more trainer turnover–a true example of poor value and quality service.

Advocate Value and Quality over Quantity and Time

Only positive outcomes will result if you focus your sessions on value and quality and purpose. If you have a “why” behind your workouts/programs then the time issue really becomes a non-issue. Picture in your mind 5-6 clients back-to-back, where you have time in between to take a break and a breath, and mentally prepare yourself for your next session without feeling totally under the gun. Then you are getting closer to creating the perfect career scenario that you first envisioned when embarking on your personal training career journey.


Ian Nimblett, CFSC, CSCS, NFPT-CPT and is a functional strength & conditioning coach, personal trainer, and author. He is the founder and owner of Premier Fitness Group LLC in South Salem, NY, a world-class functional training facility that provides private, semi-private, and group training.