Using Balls, Tubing, Weights & Steps in Class

by Patrick Goudeau on Oct 22, 2009

Instructors: Are you getting maximum use out of the equipment you have? There are numerous approaches to designing a group exercise class using equipment. The first thing you want to do is take inventory and know what you’re working with. Make sure you fully understand the intended purpose of the equipment and can communicate this effectively to members. Then look around and make a mental note of how much space you have to work with. Will members have enough room to execute movements properly? When the equipment is not being used, can it be set aside so that no one walks on it or trips over it? Is there enough equipment for each person to have his or her own, or will members need to share? Make a list if it helps you get a good handle on what your equipment matrix is.

Utilizing Common Equipment

Let’s take a look at five common pieces of equipment and ways to incorporate them into strength training and interval-based classes:

Stability Ball

  • Use the ball as a base for chest press, back rows, abdominals, etc.
  • Try wall squats, an effective way to teach a proper squat.
  • In pairs, stand back to back with a little space between you. Keeping the trunk steady, pass the ball, rotating back and forth.
  • Try jumping jacks: bounce the ball when you jump out, and catch it overhead as you bring your feet together.


  • Combine tubing with weights to add resistance and to control the deceleration phase.
  • In a seated position, with legs extended, secure the band around the feet to create an anchor; this will allow you to do a number of exercises for the back and rear delts.
  • Hold a handle in each hand, and step onto the band with both feet, keeping the tubing equal in length on each side. Cross hands to increase resistance, and then hop onto one leg, pushing the other leg out to the side, creating a pendulum effect.


  • Use the weights during push-ups to increase difficulty and range of motion.
  • Integrate one dumbbell to add intensity to any power move or to add resistance to abdominal work.
  • Use dumbbells for unilateral training—this lets you really focus on the muscle group being worked.

Medicine Balls

  • Use different-sized balls for core movement, rotation and coordination.
  • Squeeze a ball between the legs to add resistance to abdominal training.
  • Try a chest throw in pairs, making sure you are far enough apart to extend your arms on the throw.


  • Increase the height of the step, and use it as a bench for chest presses, kneeling triceps extensions, etc.
  • Line up several steps in the middle of the room, and work on opposite sides, individually or in pairs.
  • Use one or more steps to create a plyometric station; jump onto and over the platforms.

The possibilities are endless. It’s only a matter of taking the time to carefully plan your classes and look creatively at the space and equipment you have to work with. Give your students variety by mixing it up. Don’t think of equipment as a burden, but as a means of enhancing your class and your students’ results!

For more information, please see the full article online in the IDEA Library or in the October 2009 issue of IDEA Fitness Journal.

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About the Author

Patrick Goudeau

Patrick Goudeau IDEA Author/Presenter

Fitness expert PATRICK GOUDEAU is one of the most sought-after trainers in the world. This NIKE Elite Fitness Athlete is a NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) Certified Personal Trainer, exercise DVD personality, star of FitTV’s All Star Workouts and a frequent contributor to several national magazines including Fitness, Health, Cooking Light and Women’s Health . Known for his innovative approach to movement, the KING of CHOREOGRAPHY has released 23 highly acclaimed workout DVDs. Patrick’s challenging, results driven workouts have inspired countless individuals to adopt a fulfilling lifestyle of health and fitness.