Jackie Wright: What quality group exercise should provide
March 12, 2015
Well-designed, structured and managed group exercise programs provide tremendous health and fitness benefits to those that regularly participate. Millions of people participate in group exercise every day and group exercise programs are a mainstay of many health and fitness clubs as a result.
Therefore, while not exhaustive, keep in mind the following list of components that quality group exercise programs should provide when seeking a program. And, as always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
A program director: There must be a specifically designated fitness professional certified and qualified to coordinate a safe, effective, cutting edge and fun program. Without this level of professional management, it is unlikely that the program will survive or thrive. The program director interviews, hires and trains the certified/qualified group exercise instructors/trainers, designs the group exercise program, which includes creating class formats, the days/times that those formats will be offered, tracks the participant numbers to ensure safety, enjoyment and results within each class and makes the decisions to modify the class schedule when the need arises. The director should be an integral part of the club's broader management team.
Constructive feedback process: This should be available to the clients so that productive input is provided to the director regarding the program. This is a crucial aspect to all programs in order to address the specific needs of the clients. Otherwise, even a well-designed and directed program may begin to deteriorate.
Variety: The group exercise program should provide the type of variety necessary to operate that specific business model. If it is a boutique club that specializes in indoor group cycling classes, then the variety would be reflected within those class formats. For example, a variety of endurance, strength, and HIIT cycling formats to address the needs of all of their clientele. If the club is a full service facility, then the program should have a broader base of class formats to choose from such as indoor group cycling, Zumba, yoga, Pilates, weight training circuits, HIIT formats, boot camps, aqua, outdoor training, older-adult, youth, etc.
Specialized programming: Or small group training (SGT) may include specialized offerings such as session-based programs (i.e. Winter Training for Cyclists, Ski Preparation, etc.). If this type of programming is important to you, then make certain SGT programs are offered throughout the year.
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Well maintained variety of small equipment: All group exercise programs benefit from a variety of small equipment such as tubing, dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, sandbags, steps, BOSU balance trainers, agility ladders, medicine balls — the list is almost endless. However, the equipment must be kept in safe condition and cleaned daily. Compare small equipment to the child care toys — it can never be too clean!
Personal attention: This is an aspect that is possible regardless how large the group exercise program may be. The program director should create a class schedule that enables the instructors and trainers to get to know their clients. This may happen in many ways such as arriving early to welcome each client into the class, staying afterward to get to know each client or an introductory class in which the instructors/trainers are introduced to their clientele building and then maintaining those relationships from the beginning.
Jackie Wright is the owner/manager of Mountain Life Fitness LLC in Granby. She may be reached at her website at http://www.mtnlifefitness.com, her email at firstname.lastname@example.org and her Facebook page at Mountain Life Fitness.
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