Group Fitness Classes - Pros, Cons and How to Successfully Run a Group Class

Andrew Props | 13 Jul 2018

Group fitness classes are on the rise. They provide a different environment than the typical individual training session for many reasons. Accountability, motivation, structure and variety are just a few of these reasons. Many people seem to be flocking to these different classes to see what the ‘latest and greatest’ thing in the fitness world is. According to self.com (Tucker, 2018), group training ranks number two of, “The 10 Biggest Fitness Trends of 2018, According to 4,000 Fitness Pros.” Group fitness classes have many upsides, but they also come with some downsides, depending on how you run a class. Here are some of the pros and cons of group fitness training, as well as how to run a successful class.

Probably the main pro of group fitness classes is the accountability aspect, especially if the class is not part of the normal gym schedule and you have to pay for it. Taking classes with your friends or making friends at the gym can help you stay accountable to your fitness goals. Let’s face it, we have all hit that wall where we just really don’t feel like going to the gym. So, we either go anyway and don’t get much done because we don’t want to be there or just skip the gym all together. But, telling your friends that you will meet them at the gym will at least get you in the door.

Your friends not only help provide accountability, they also provide a source of motivation. Having a gym partner can make your trip to the gym more productive, and they also help to motivate you. More weight, another rep or a few more minutes of cardio, your gym partners help push you through it. A good trainer should also provide some sort of motivation.

Not all trainers are good at teaching group classes. There are a lot of different things going on at once and it can be a lot to handle. However, there are a few things you can do to help you become a better group instructor. In my opinion, the most important aspect of teaching a class is being prepared and organized. Just being prepared with what you are going to do will make your life much, much easier. Don’t try to, “just wing it,” because it will not go well.

Having clear, set goals will help you with the organization and preparation of the class. It shouldn’t just be another workout but there should be a goal that either you have, or the group has that helps drive the class. From these goals there also needs to be progress towards these goals. Whether it be progressing to a goblet squat from a bodyweight squat or adding in a few minutes more of cardio, there should always be progress towards a goal. This will help keep you motivated as well as the members of the class.

When creating a group exercise class, you should take many different things into consideration, such as location, time, number of people in the class, class demographic and price.

Is your class going to be in the weight room? Outside? In a fitness studio? If the class is in the weight room, is there enough space? Enough weights? Will you be in the way of others? If the class is outside, you need to consider what materials you will need beforehand, so you don’t have to keep going back inside to get something you forgot. This is where proper organization and preparation come in. Will it get too hot during the time you are teaching class? Do the members of your class want to be outside? If you decide to use a fitness studio, you need to consider the fact that you probably need to reserve one of the studios for the allotted time.

You should limit the number of people in your class, so you can give everybody the attention they need and for the sake of space. Determine what you are comfortable with and then see how many people you can realistically have. Will the number of members determine price? Having the price per person drop for each person in the class can be a great recruiting tool because they want a lower price, so they recruit another member for your class.

Most importantly, know your class demographic. What age is it usually? How fit are they? What is their experience? You don’t want to have a class designed for older adults and have a bunch of youth in your class because the goals are going to be different and you need to prepare differently.

The group setting can be a great way to get in a good training session. With others around to motivate you and hold you accountable, it can be a great tool. But, with many people in a class setting, you, as the trainer, need to make sure you are paying attention to everything going on. Determining the location, goals and number of people are just a few of the things you need to figure out when starting a class. Once you get a class up and running, it isn’t the time to slack off. You still need to pay attention to everybody and work on progressing everybody towards their goals.

References

Tucker, A. (2018). The 10 Biggest Fitness Trends of 2018, According to 4,000 Fitness Pros. Retrieved from: https://www.self.com/story/biggest-fitness-trends-of-2018.

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Andrew Props

About the author: Andrew Props

I graduated from Lynchburg College in 2015 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sport Management. I have my Personal Training Certification through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and have had this credential for over three years. I am also a Level 1 Sports Performance Coach through USA Weightlifting. I played baseball at Lynchburg for two years before injury forced me to ‘retire,’ which is when I found my passion for health and fitness.

While at Lynchburg I completed my internship with the Strength and Conditioning Coach where I worked with numerous sports teams. I worked with men’s and women’s lacrosse, softball, baseball and field hockey. The men’s lacrosse team played in the Division III National Championship Game and the field hockey team won their ninth straight Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) championship.

I have been working at the YMCA for three and a half years as a wellness coach and as a personal trainer for the past two years. Recently I started a group personal training class called, ‘Own The Gym,’ where I actually teach the class how to train.

I am a Sports Performance Coach at Elkin Sports Performance where I work with people in elementary school through college, as well as some adult groups. We do speed and agility training as well as weight training, starting them with the basics and progressing them to Olympic lifts.

I also plan on taking my Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist certification through the National Strength and Conditioning Association in the coming months.

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