Group training is one of the hottest trends in fitness today. But, do a typical man-on-the-street interview asking people to define “group training” and you’re likely to get a lot of answers that aren’t quite on the mark.
What Group Training is NOT:
It is not a group exercise class. Most group exercise classes are cardio-based, while sometimes incorporating strength training, and are taught at gyms, clubs and fitness studios. These classes are large – ranging from around 20 to dozens of participants – and are taught by an instructor who normally is in front of the class to give visual and verbal cues to the group as a whole.
Usually group classes are choreographed to music and the instructor is doing the workout along with the class. There may be suggestions for making a maneuver easier and participants are encouraged to adjust the pace to their level, but it really is meant to be a harmonized experience. It is exactly as the name suggests – it is a class with a teacher and the students are all following the instructions of that teacher. In this case, the teacher is a certified group fitness instructor.
Group exercise classes are very popular in the fitness industry and have been for a long time. Ranging from Jazzercise and aerobics at their inception up to the current popular classes of today like Zumba, Spin, bootcamp and Pilates-based mat classes. This is not group training.
What Group Training IS:
Group training is done with a small group of participants and taught by a certified personal trainer. When it first burst onto the scene not that long ago, it was referred to as small group training sessions. Somewhere along the way the word “small” was dropped from the vernacular.
The norm is four to ten participants but no session should have more than 15. Most group training sessions are strength-based, while sometimes incorporating cardio elements. They can be offered in smaller rooms or in the strength training sections of gyms, clubs and fitness studios. But they are also offered by independent trainers at mutually convenient locations, such as local parks and community centers. Or, if the trainer is hired by an institution or organization, the sessions can be done on-site.
While there may be music playing as background, they aren’t choreographed to music. The sessions are meant to offer individualized exercise instruction by the trainer to each client. While all the participants may, for example, be performing squats, the trainer will adapt and give individual instruction on performing a squat to meet each participant’s level and ability.
Benefits of Group Training
Affordability: While some may find the cost of one-on-one personal training out of reach, the per person cost of group training can be as much as 50% less than the cost of one-on-one training.
Less Intimidating: Especially for those new to exercise, the thought of having 100% of the focus and attention of a professional trainer can be overwhelming. But, if the focus is shared with a few others while still getting personalized attention, it can help to quiet the anxiety.
Personalized: While group exercise classes with a ton of participants and intricate choreography offer a great workout for many, it’s not for everyone. Group training still offers the social benefits of working out in a group but also allows for a personalized workout within a group setting. It really is the best of both worlds.
Group Training In Action
Clubs, Gyms & Fitness Studios: These multi-purpose environments have personal trainers on staff. Various trainers will develop finite, small group training programs with a theme or goal in mind. Participants will be capped at a maximum number and the sessions will run for a specific period of time. For example, they may offer a ten week weight-loss challenge, a six week session using kettle bells, or four weeks of core strengthening.
Independent Personal Trainers: If you have a group of people with a specific goal in mind, this is a great way to go.
For example, if you’re training with a team for a marathon or other endurance event, you could hire a trainer to meet with the team at regular intervals during your training. The trainer can keep your group on track with the cardio regimen and conduct strengthening and stretching training sessions that target the specific muscles most utilized in your disciplines.
Another example is a small business looking to save money on health insurance costs. Many insurers will offer discounts if an employer makes exercise classes available to their employees. Hiring a trainer to come in before or after office hours, or even during the lunch hour, to do light strength and flexibility training is a perk that could really pay off for an employer and employees in the long run.
But it doesn’t have to be an organized group to benefit from hiring a trainer. Five stay-at-home moms who normally meet for coffee after dropping their kids off at pre-school could substitute group training sessions for just one coffee date per week.
Now that you know group classes and group training aren’t one in the same, I hope you’ll give group training some thought. To find personal trainers in your area, go to ACE Fitness and enter your zip code.