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Getting Personal in Group Fitness

Getting Personal in Group Fitness-DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training

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It is the struggle that many of us fitness professionals have with the fact that fitness in moving to more group based programs. When I think of group fitness it is hard not to think of choreographed routines, or giant programs that people are thrown into with cookie cutter programs. Neither that is really my cup of tea.

Group was and is the basis of what we do a Quest Fitness in Guilford, CT. However, I made a promise to myself pretty early on that we could make group still personal. Even though I wasn’t sure HOW we were going to achieve this, I knew it was something we were going to have to figure out. That is when took a DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training certification and the light bulbs really went off. DVRT really is a perfect fit for group training. With multiple ways to manipulate intensity and an emphasis on regressions and progressions of movement, it offers nearly limitless options for group programming.

Unfortunately with so many options to choose from in DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training it can sometimes be difficult to know where to start and how to put it all together.

Having introduced DVRT to our group classes at Quest Fitness nearly four years ago, I understand how challenging it can be. Over the years I have experimented with a number of different group class formats, sometimes successfully…….sometimes…..not so much. However, there is no replacing real world experience to learn some great lessons about programming and coaching. 

So when DVRT Master Chief Instructors Steve Di Tomaso and Kari Negraif presented their DVRT Group Training Template at our Master Instructors Summit this year, I was thrilled. I was eager to see what they had come up with. To say that I was impressed would be an understatement.

What they shared can best be described as a road map for integrating DVRT into group training. Paired with their Ultimate Sandbag Stoplight loading system to help systemize and label USB’s according to weight, they had developed a simple format that made setting up and programming DVRT for groups a breeze. Check out these loading parameters recommended for your Ultimate Sandbag HERE

ultimate sandbag training

Hey, i’ll admit, I was skeptical at first. It seemed almost TOO easy. I had questions……….Would it really work with Large groups?……….. How hard would it be to program for different skill and fitness levels? ……….Would my coaches and clients be able to grasp it? Most important………would my clients like it? There was really only one way to find out!

So we put out an invitation to our Quest Fitness members and asked if they would help us take the DVRT Group Training Template out for a test drive!
We got a terrific response. The class quickly filled to capacity, with a wide range of ages (25-72) and skill levels and a couple of people eager to try our DVRT workout for the first time. I knew we were really going to be putting Steve and Kari’s Program to the test.

Ultimate Sandbag

Following the template we set up our stations by dividing the exercises and the body into four sections or quadrants. The order was set up so that each movement would not compete with the one before. For example if our first station was a lower body posterior chain movement, the next station was set up to be an upper body anterior chain, followed by a lower body anterior and then an upper body posterior movement. This would ensure that we would get the best quality work from each muscle group without overly fatiguing the opposing group for the next movement.

The workout was programmed in a Density format with two 12 minute rounds. The class was asked to perform a prescribed number of reps for each movement before moving on to the next station. This would allow everyone to move at their own pace, control their intensity and rest as little or as much as needed.
We set up a different sized USB’s at each station, and paired them with movements appropriate for their size and load in each round. Here is what our set up looked like.

Station 1 – Burly and Strength : Round #1 Deadlifts / Round #2 Bear Hug Squats
Station 2 – Strength and Power : Round #1 Bent over Rows / Round #2 Clean and Press
Station 3 – Power and Core : Round #1 Suitcase Lunges / Round #2 Rotational Lunges
Station 4 – Core: Round #1 Around the Worlds / Round#2 Lateral Bag Drags with Push-ups.

After our group R.A.M.P. warm-up everyone was ready to go.

We explained the workout format and the movements, and armed our coaches and clients with at least one regression and one progression for each movement. After dividing up the class, we set the timer………. and away we went. The first minute or so we ran into some traffic jams, but they quickly broke up as people began to move at their own pace. Thanks to Steve and Kari’s Stoplight loading system people were able to easily identify the appropriately loaded USB’s for them and get right to work! 

By the start of the second round the group had found their groove and things went super smooth as the sweat really started to fly!

Twenty four breathless minutes later, the smiles on our clients’ faces and the high fives that were passed around the room let me know that the class and the template was a huge success!

During our cool-down I circulated the room and asked our clients for some feedback on what they thought about the new class format. The response was unanimous……..

Everybody LOVED it!

Our DVRT veterans loved it because they could work at their own pace and didn’t feel like they were being held back. The novices in the group really appreciated being able to control the intensity and go at their own pace. They were able to rest and get coaching where and when they needed it.


ultimate sandbag training


Everyone, especially our coaches, REALLY appreciated the new stoplight labeling system, and though it took a little while for them to get used to it, they did so fairly quickly, and made quick work moving to the appropriate USB’s! I loved the fact that we got everyone to use and try ALL the different sized USB’s as well as the different loads in each, and experience how unique each one is!

Most importantly, this was SUPER easy to set up and program. I could explain it to my coaches in a matter of minutes. We managed 22 people with relative ease with this system and everyone got an AWESOME workout!
All in all our test drive of Steve and Kari’s Group Training Template was a huge success, answering all my questions and relieving any doubts.

We have adopted this template as our standard for DVRT Group training at Quest Fitness. I highly encourage you to give it a try and let me know what you think! I know you won’t be disappointed!


Want to know how to use the DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training for YOUR group training? Try one of our DVRT educational courses HERE or check out some of great in depth DVRT Programs HERE