Personal Training in a Group

Exercise Ladder
The personal trainer is able to individually monitor each client’s workout in the group and make appropriate adjustments on the fly.  In many ways, individuals are getting the benefits of individual personal training with the advantages of the group exercise class.  The group times where we typically have more people – 12 or more – we have two personal trainers providing two sets of eyes.  We try to keep a trainer-to-client ratio of no more than 6:1.  We also try to partner people up that are in similar strength and intensity levels so they can work together at their pace while we have a couple of grandparents paired up in the other corner working at theirs.

Each time we lead a Group Exercise Class it’s a little bit different.  We try to get a feel for the people in the group as to what they’re going to need from one day to the next.  If I have a bunch of firefighters or pro surfers or some category that’s at a higher level of intensity, I’m going to step up the workout for that class.  If I have some people that have significant limitations and still want to go into the routine, then I might spend a little more time in corrective exercises to clean up people’s movement patterns.  Even within that structure we can regress and progress exercises based on the people in the class.

During the Group Exercise Class I’m observing multiple things.  One of the primary things I’m looking for is whether everyone is owning their exercise.  What I mean by “owning” is do they accomplish the exercise as perfectly as they can.  When I see a breakdown in form, that’s really what I’m looking for.  I’m always looking for ways to clean up people’s movements.  Everyone’s muscles have their unique origin and insertion into the body.  Two muscles do not start and end in the same place.  Therefore every movement draws in specific muscles into the action.  If we want to train movements, the goal is to make those movements as clean as possible.  So that’s one of the things I’m looking for – do they have the ability to own their exercise and if not, that’s when we step it back a little bit or if they’re showing proficiency, we’re going to challenge them to see how much better they can do at that particular exercise.

Balancing Attention

There are number of ways we can balance our attention to accommodate the varied needs of the group members and provide a personal training experience.  We can do intervals where we pair people up and one group works together while another rests.  We can go back and forth with individuals so while one is working the other is resting.  The result is that the attention required to supervise the group is cut in half.  Also, it allows somebody the rest period which is equally as important as the exercise period.  We want to regain composure to recover in the muscles – their energy – so we can push them a little further.  One personal trainer can help those that are in the higher end of performance and the other help those that are in the lower range of performance.