We’ve all seen videos of people in group fitness classes, supervised by a trainer, with terrible technique on the internet.
You may have even see it in your own sessions.
It happens because in a one-on-one session you can spend oodles of time teaching clients how to improve their technique. But in a group session we don’t have that luxury because we are juggling 5, 10, 25 clients at once all with different bodies.
One approach to fixing this could be to spend a large portion of your session lecturing the campers on the correct form for a squat.
Ha! That would go down well right?*
The fact is that we love the nitty-gritty of exercise way more than our clients. That’s why we’re making a living helping people exercise while they are just here to move and get fit.
After trying this approach and alienating their clients a bit, what I see a lot of trainers do at this point is just give up and stop teaching good technique.
I get it. It makes total sense. Alienating clients is not good for business and you don’t want to sacrifice the overall intensity and flow of the workout. You’re understanding what your clients want but it’s also (really, really) important to not injure our clients. Their safety is in our hands and so we need to be on top of bad technique.
A better approach to help your clients improve technique is to use some clever trickery to build it into the workout.
Let me explain how to do this with an example. What is an exercise that we often see campers do with poor form?
Jump Squats? Oh man, have I seen some abysmal jump squats in my time!
Despite being very easy to demonstrate, jump squats are actually a really complicated move and should never be given to beginners.
Why is it complex?
We’ve got campers leaping around who probably haven’t jumped since primary school basketball. Then they are landing on hard ground and going straight into a squat movement which they probably can’t do properly thanks to tight calves and hips.
What this ends up looking like is campers jumping 1 inch off the ground, landing, bending forward at the hips, then repeating the whole mess again. I know you know exactly what I mean.
So how can we get a group of people doing Jump Squats nicely in a short period of time? By using that old tool they taught us back in PT school. Regression.
For our Jump Squat, campers need to be able to do several things:
- They first need to be able to do a regular Squat
- To be able to do a regular Squat they need to be able to get into and hold an isometric Squat.
- To be able to hold an isometric squat they need the leg and core strength and mobility to do so.
By using some exercise sorcery we can run them through those movements throughout a workout and thereby set them up for some awesome looking Jump Squats.
Here’s one way:
- During the first part of the warm up do some mobility exercises including Frog Squats which will teach campers what a squat feels like.
- Follow that up with a game of tag where those tagged have to hold an isometric squat until someone comes and shakes their hand.
Main Drill: For your main drill include squats, add a DB or KB for Goblet Squats for advanced clients.
Finisher: Your finisher is designed to use up that last bit of energy so here is where you can include Jump Squats now that your campers are squatting experts.
We can do the same thing with something like Spiderman Push Ups.
Include a High Plank in your warm up. Followed by Hand Release Push Ups on the knees. Followed by Spiderman Push Ups.
Just start with the movement you want to do and work backwards from there. If campers aren’t ready for a movement, it’s always easy to say ‘That’s OK, just do the [insert regressive exercise] we were doing earlier.’
My last piece of advice is: When you plan your sessions, don’t just wack a bunch of drills together.
Think about the flow and the journey, nay quest, you are taking your campers through during your sessions.
If you plan your sessions with this kind of attention to detail, you will absolutely see an improvement in technique across your campers.
*To the correct audience it would go down well. For example clients who have signed up for a Squat Workshop, which is a great idea too for improving technique with your clients.
P.S. Some other articles to help you if you’re new to planning group fitness sessions:
- The Simple Guide To Planning Sessions For Mixed Fitness Levels
- My Secrets To Planning Awesome Workouts Time After Time
- The 4 Pillars of Great Bootcamp Planning
- The Dungeons and Dragons Handbook for Group Fitness Planning
- Avoid These 3 Mistakes I Made When Planning Workouts
Kyle Wood created Bootcamp Ideas in 2010 when he was hunting around on the internet for workout ideas. He ran a successful bootcamp in Victoria, Australia and spends his spare time managing this site, adventuring (or lazying) with his wife and find new ways to make bootcamps even better.