Im a group fitness instructor about to embark on my first job. The gym I will be working for wants a functional strength class but Im having a hard time deciding on what exercises to do and how to make the whole class flow. I was wondering if anyone has any pointers on making a nice cohesive class? What are your top 5 tips for designing classes?
First, congratulations. I see you did ACE, which is a great certification. I am sure you found quite a lot to absorb in the study materials. Being in front of a group for the first time can be nerve-racking, but like any new skill with practice it gets more and more natural.
I would suggest to go basic when you first start. Better to do simple moves well with clear instruction, and later add the more creative or complex stuff. One thing a teacher said that I really like, (and use myself) is it is better to do 2 with really good form and range of motion than 8 and not really get what you wanted out of it, or worse, hurt yourself.
Also try to connect to the people in front of you. I always ask whether anyone has any injuries or conditions that they need to modify for, and would like you to offer suggestions as you teach. It is helpful to build a sense of community and trust, which will be a good base as you find your feet as a teacher.
I think if you get bogged down in wanting to be perfect, or be loved by everyone it can be distracting for the work at hand. You will forget words, you will forget your iPod, you will forget names. But if you listen, look people in their eyes, offer the best workout you can, and thank them for their presence it will make up for a lot.
In a core style class (similar to the functional class) I like to build blocks. I will have a base exercise, and then a set of variations. Each variation adds some new element: weight, complexity, multi joint, and so on. I will teach a set of each variation with a stretch between each set. Then I will do a second set, with no stretches until the end. I invite the advanced people to follow me up the ladder, and the beginners, or those with need for modification to repeat the base, or to climb the highest rung they can do without creating compensatory movement (in other words, where they loose form). I also invite them in the second set to put stretch breaks in where they need them.
Have fun. And best of luck.
The first thing you need to be sure of is that you are familiar with the exercises you will be including to your class and feel comfortable performing these moves and if necessary you need to know how to provide someone with an alternative exercise in case they have trouble with a specific exercise. For example, don’t incorporate kettlebells if you are not familiar with them and all of the techniques and exercises that are associated with them (I’m only using this as an example).
Beyond that, what I usually look for when I’m designing a class are the following:
-the available space for the class (this can have an impact of the equipment I will be using)
-the number of participants (I prefer no more than 10-12 in my classes)
-their fitness level unless the class is targeting specifically only beginners or advanced participants)
-the equipment available to me
-the type of class I will be teaching
-the duration of the class (30 minutes vs. 45 or 60 minutes)
-the frequency of the class
For a class like the one you are about to start teaching you can do pretty much anything you feel like or feel more comfortable with. The easiest way would be stations with 1-3 participants on each station (30 sec. on each station/person). This way you can have 5 stations and be able to train up to 15 people. I think it’s easier to control and monitor people in 5 stations and make sure that everyone is doing the exercises correctly, instead of having 15 different stations and more people to monitor at the same time (especially if you are new trainer).
Like I said earlier there are many ways to go about this. In my opinion the most important thing to remember is that you need to make sure you know your exercises and be able to monitor and control your participants, so no one would get injured.
I hope this helps. Good luck!
Congratulations on your first position! While your first time can be scary, its also exhilirating.
Like Harris said, with a functional fitness class your options are pretty open.
Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years in designing a class:
1. Focus on the clients. Who are they? What would they come to the class looking to get: core training, movement patterns, weight loss, increased range of motion, etc? How can I help them achieve this?
2. Practice the exercises, including the progressions and modifications. Make sure you can demonstrate them all.
3. Choose a focus for the class. One piece of equipment, cardio, HITT, max reps, core stability, etc. Make this fun!
4. Practice the flow of the routine, including what you’ll say. This is where you’ll see what works, if you need to change exercises completely or just where they come into the workout. Don’t underestimate this part.
5. Choose your music wisely. Some classes do great when the music is paired with the flow of the class. Others its just background motivation. Understand what your clients like to listen to. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had clients complain to me that so and so instructor had music with offensive language. It ruins the whole experience. (This is where bullet point number 1 – Know your clients – comes in!)
6. Know your classroom. Where is your class taking place? What is in the room? How do things work? Where are the bathrooms, water, towels, etc in relation to the room? Seems like simple stuff, but its incredible how flustered you can get when someone asks you a question you think you should know and don’t know the answer right before class begins.
7. Set the stage. Think of how you’ll introduce yourself, the class, greetings, explainations. Will you set the room up yourself or will the participants set their own area? Will you greet everyone? Does your facility require any sign ins or rules stated up front? Etc
8. Leave them wanting more. The way you cool down a class is as important and maybe more so than the warm up. You want it to be matched to the intensity and flow of the class. Going from high impact to meditative yoga doesn’t always work. How do you want them to leave your class? A lot of this depends on the timing of your class. When it takes place? If its at the end of the day, something that focuses on letting go of the stressors of the day, the importance of rest and sleep to the body, etc. If its at lunch, something more energetic, breathing in restorative, energy giving oxygen and breathing out stress and tiredness, the importance of water and eating “the rainbow” to restoring the body. Etc. You want the to leave wanting more and not being able to wait till your next class!
Good luck! Post back as to how it went!
I would focus on large dynamic motions then build upon that as your base.
For instance, start with step touches, then add arms then and a small jump so it turns into a step jump then go into squats, then add weights etc.
If it’s true functional training,think about motions in daily life that we all use that you can incorporate such as reaching overhead and down.