Running your own Group Fitness Class can be incredibly daunting. Where to even start? Here's FIVE things we've determined shouldn't be overlooked before you kick off your class, and a few ideas about how classes should run from Geoff Girvitz, founder of Bang Fitness in Toronto.
1. A thoroughly vetted waiver, preferably HR/legal reviewed.
2. A large roll of sanitizing wipes to clean equipment after class/during breaks
3. A water and cups station/area
4. Enough mats and modifier equipment for users that need adjustments (including lighter weights, small boxes, push-up bars, or other items).
5. A speaker or amplifier for your voice, music, or both!
Geoff Girvitz suggests (by way of theptdc.com) that good classes should do the following:
Offer a movement continuum: This means that a beginner should be able to work side-by-side with a performance athlete and that any injuries or movement issues are seamlessly accommodated. This is done through to modifying existing exercises to suit skill levels and injury profiles. As an instructor, you should do this automatically. Don’t trust your own eye, though, encourage people to approach you with questions or concerns. Have 3 stages of progressions and regressions ready at all times for each exercise.
Acknowledge that not everyone is ready for group exercise: Although more detail will help you make better-informed decisions, you should perform at least some kind of preliminary screen – even if it’s just an inventory of contraindications. This may result in telling someone that they actually need one-to-one instruction or clinical support, even if that means sending them elsewhere. Always remember that you’re in the business of helping people.
Make it clear that it’s cool to work at your own level – whatever it may be.
Make it clear that it’s not cool to work at less than your own level: This isn’t Tiddlywinks.
Incorporate a basic knowledge of exercise science: This ranges from properly cueing movement to incorporating logical structuring of exercises. For example, how many bootcamps actually offer a 1:1 ratio of pulling to pushing or bilateral to unilateral movements? This also means having an inverse relationship between technical detail and flat-out effort. In other words, more detailed exercises should be presented early, have less overall volume and longer recovery periods.
Balance risk with reward: Nobody can burn fat at maximum efficiency if they’re nursing a torn ACL or a dislocated shoulder. Your job is to produce long-term results, not short-term gratification.
Girvitz goes on to say that great classes can elevate themselves by providing these 4 things:
A low client-to-trainer ratio: If the instructor is unable to correct every major movement issues as it presents itself, there are simply too many people. Proper ratios can be maintained by capping class sizes or adding assistant instructors. A 5:1 participant to instructor ratio is the maximum ratio you should have.
Planning: Whenever possible, instructors should assess incoming participants and create a progression that will provide them with exactly the right starting point. This should be followed up by a movement progression based on demonstrated proficiency.
A beginner stream: There is some basic body awareness and coordination that – in a perfect world – would be a prerequisite for intense group exercise. Helping all beginners develop a base level of competence means that people in other classes will be able to execute on a consistently high level.
Recovery: While it is often impractical to plan recovery (for reasons outlined in this article), it is possible to monitor for excessive training volume. It’s crazy to add to a person’s workload when the most effective thing you can do for them is to take away from it.