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Fixing Group Fitness Training

When I began coaching in the fitness industry 25 years ago, the idea of group fitness was something that was generally looked down upon. The majority of coaches believed that if you really wanted to get someone results, you needed to work with them one on one. Group fitness was typically seen as something you did if you didn’t have a space, didn’t have equipment, basically those that would do bootcamps at a park (we also saw them in aerobics classes). Yea, yea, it was nice these people were working out, but in the late ’90’s and early 2000’s, the idea group fitness could produce great results for people wasn’t an accepted idea. It fell into the category of, “if you didn’t have the way to REALLY train people.”

Fast forward to today and a form of group fitness can be found in just about any commercial gym or training facility. Like so many things, it has been interesting to watch the pendulum swing from one end to another. So, were we wrong then and right now? Are we wrong not and right then?

group fitness

Even though group fitness has become way more popular, the way we approach, program, and teach group fitness hasn’t come along nearly as well or fast. That leaves the earlier question hard to answer, but we can give some perspective that we really didn’t consider previously.

The Elite Use Group Training

One of the things that really got me to shift my own perspective about group fitness (before we got to the bigger issues of programming) was hearing fitness coach, Alwyn Cosgrove, speaking about this very subject. Alwyn pointed out that almost every sports team trained as a group. That made me stop and think back to my basketball days and time I worked in Strength & Conditioning programs and I was “holy cow, he is right?!” The point being if these athletes that need to be trained to do and endure much more difficult things that most of us in the general population and they could be trained in groups, why are we doing one on one?

Even when I thought about the police, fire, and military units I have worked with, they all trained in groups. Can’t be that bad if all these people that need great fitness and injury resilience are doing it! We could even say the same about martial arts studios and a million other environments, heck, school tends to be a group environment too.

group fitness

The one on one model probably stemmed from commercial gyms that used this model to train people in the gym for additional revenue but a group fitness program in the middle of your local commercial gym isn’t going to work so well for the gym members. That makes sense that one on one works.

There are other times that one on one, or at least more of a semi-private group (where everyone is on their own program and the coach supervises a group typically no larger than 6) are the right option. If someone is coming off an injury, if someone has a lot of health issues, if someone is HIGHLY de-conditioned (I have had such clients and for a variety of reasons group fitness can be difficult), a different model should probably be used. However, for probably the 95% of people, group fitness is something they can and should probably have use for in their goals.

But The Group Fitness Problem Is….

As a general model, group fitness can be very helpful. The coach can earn more money per hour, the client can spend less per hour which increases their frequency of working with a coach, and we know there are psychology studies showing us that people tend to perform better in group environments. There has to be a catch right? Oh there is and it isn’t a small one!

Group fitness exploded in the last 10 years or so, but guess what, how we create programs for group training have not! What are some of the biggest mistakes?

Poor Programming: Bad programming for group fitness can show up in a lot of different ways. The easiest to show people is picture after picture when you Google group fitness how everyone is doing the same exercise. It would be wonderful if the group of 25 people you have all have the same goals, the same ability, the same health history, etc. that would make group fitness programs significantly better! However, anyone that has done group fitness coaching knows that isn’t even CLOSE to the case!

That is why one of the biggest struggles coaches have with group fitness is having people of different ability levels, goals, and health histories training at the same time. So, what do you do? Check out the video I’ve done for you guys below!

In our upcoming posts we will address some of the additional topics and issues that I raise in the video below. However, today’s video will cover some absolute KEY foundations to having a good group fitness program. We will be having sign-ups start tomorrow for our Thursday online seminar about group fitness and how to build success and give YOU an opportunity to ask your questions! There isn’t much time left to save 30% throughout DVRT, not only can you save big, but when you invest in any of our Ultimate Sandbags you will ALSO get a code for 50% off ANY of our online certifications/courses. Don’t miss it HERE with code “laborday”