6 Tips to Help You Better Plan Your Class
As you know, with group training there is an opportunity to make more money while clients spend less. The motivation coming from a group is fun and can be more challenging than working alone with a trainer. It is a plus for both the trainer and the client when it comes to diversity in programming, as different styles of class can be implemented and the atmosphere lends itself to more conversation and expression of mood etc. Sometimes the group situation can even result in more consistent adherence to exercise, as people do not like to disappoint their group by not showing up. With these benefits, however, we must work harder by planning better so that we can be successful and ready to handle all limitations, individual strengths, weaknesses and imbalances. The better we plan, the less injuries we can expect.
As trainers and coaches, we know that group training is a dynamic, fun and affordable way for clients to stay engaged and committed to their workouts. I remember back in 2009 when small group training was all the rage … fast forward to 2016 and it is still very much the “in way to train” and it’s going in all kinds of directions like CrossFit and boot camps which is exciting. That being said, it can be a lot more work for us if we want to make sure that we provide a safe environment for all concerned. There is definitely more planning needed for a group class than a one-on-one session, so it is important to have as much information as possible so that you can plan properly and everyone can benefit regardless of fitness level.
Measures to take to be preventive and stay away from injuries
Know their history
I have taken small group classes before elsewhere and was surprised to not be given a client questionnaire to fill in at the beginning of the class. As a trainer you should have as much information as possible about the people that you are coaching. A history gives you solid information so that you can be ready to provide a good mobility warm up and accommodate limitations. Failing to plan is planning for failure. The more information available to you, the more thorough you can be. And with that knowledge you can take any exercise and demonstrate the necessary modifications, as all exercises are adaptable.
With the client’s age and past history you can cue better and plan your choice of words and tone of voice. Safe and effective cuing along with eye contact is very important too. Injuries tend to happen when clients have to strain their ears and eyes to figure out what is going on. Cuing should be smooth and flow well with the progression of exercises. Participants should be told that they can modify their exercises at any time, and feel comfortable about alerting the trainer if they have a concern or a question.
Prepare the equipment
Having your circuit ready with all products neatly and safely placed is a must. I know that sometimes this may not be possible due to class scheduling but I think that at least for the first class, rather than have participants go and fetch their own props, there must be some preparation in place. Anything can happen, like picking up the wrong resistance band or weight, that can easily result in an injury.
Warm up and cool down
I cannot stress the importance of taking time for warm up and a cool down stretch afterwards, as we all know that these days everyone is always in a rush and people do not take enough time to warm up and stretch on their own.
The introduction and warm up can demonstrate modifications for those with injuries and provide good mobility exercises. This is also the best time to mimic the exercises that will be done in the circuit / workout part of the class. I always like when circuits and exercises are shown before the class starts. Even if there is a chalk board with a list as not everyone has the same interpretation of names of exercises or were taught the same way. It just takes a few minutes to demonstrate the exercises and it lets everyone know that they are not there to compete with their neighbor but to challenge themselves.
Remind them that forcing repetitions when they are tired or trying to keep up when they do not feel right, will not accomplish anything. Although these tips may sound childish or unnecessary, providing the instruction with gentle reminders throughout the class helps everyone when the music is going and hearts are pumping.
Set the necessary limitations
If someone has decided to take your small group class with a new or persistent injury, you must help them fit in. At the same time tell them to be mindful of their limitations. Let them know that you are there to help and accommodate. Knowing ahead of time can help you guide them in the right direction.
Plan your schedule
Plan your schedule well so that you do not have to disappear right after the class. You should be there to answer questions – it’s professional and a great way to show your clients that you care. The more you are there for them, the stronger and healthier your classes will be!
About the Author
Frances Michaelson is president of exercise equipment company Muscle Up Inc., a licensed naturopath and a personal trainer. She is passionate about helping people attain optimal health through proper diet and exercise. A self-described health-o-holic, she motivates others to move well and eat well to keep their bodies’ cells dancing and singing. Based in the West Island of Montreal, Frances is a frequent conference presenter, is author of BYOB: Bring Your Own Band and Replenish, Regenerate and Rebuild Your Cells, blogs for Total Gym exercise equipment, and is a regular contributor to IHRSA’s “Ask an Industry Leader.” With her broad knowledge base and over three decades of experience, she is widely recognized as a leader in the health and fitness field. Frances is committed to helping others make positive lifestyle choices that create stronger bodies, healthier minds and more fulfilling lives.