So this might be a controversial question and definitely a question with multiple sides to it, but as instructors what do you think about classes that market to all students? Classes that say modifications can be made and the class is suitable for all levels and abilities? Obviously, this can be a good thing because it promotes everything working out and not excluding people. But is it bad if a class is only marketed to certain types of abilities? Does anyone teach a class like this now? I’m thinking about teaching a cardio dance class that would include plyometrics. The class would include up/down movements things like Burpees, push-ups, ect. This obviously wouldn’t be suitable for all levels as a beginner fitness participant could get sick or could even get injured with that type of format. What are your thoughts as professionals? Sometimes I feel like whe in showing modifications in a dance fitness class I’m wasting time of advanced participants and vis versa. I’ve noticed all do a routine full out and my beginner doesn’t know what to do. Or I’ll show a modification first and then build from there and my advanced people are bored. I know we can’t please everyone 100% of the time, but in an age where time is limited and people want the best workout for their time would this concept work of having classes designed only for certain types of participants? Any feedback you have is appreciated!
There are pros and cons to having all-level classes.
Personally, almost every class I teach is all-levels. It’s one of my specialties. My fitness mission is that everyone will feel welcomed and safe in my class, and that means that every move starts at an easy-to-learn version and then progresses up from there. The drawback is, my classes may weed out the most advanced exercisers who don’t have the patience to wait for progressions.
Advanced exercisers are already exercise-adherent. They don’t need as much explanation, hand-holding, or instruction. But if they’re advanced enough to know where I’m going with a progression – especially my regulars – then they can start with the progressed option while I continue to explain level one to the new person.
At some point, you (general you, not you specifically) have to pick what type of demographic you want. If you want all the hard-core people to be happy, you’re going to have a hard time getting newbies to stay. If you have a more newbie-friendly class, then you won’t keep all of the hardcore members. You might be surprised, though; I have quite a few members who are very fit.
Consistency also helps. I always start with low intensity, low impact and work from there. I always teach moves that are easy to learn but can be very intense when done with added resistance (whether that resistance is a band, a weight, or a percentage of one’s own body weight). I always do each set two or three times, so the newbies get an opportunity to progess when they’re ready, and the advancedbies can stay at higher levels and work very hard.
Even though I teach 8 different formats at present (14 classes a week), from dance to HIIT to weight training to yoga, I have a very specific brand and style. By being consistent with my teaching style, mission, and target market, I’ve been very happy and my classes are successful.
The best think you can do in these type of classes is to set a time limit instead of offering continuous classes (that is what I do for my classes). By time frame I mean offer a program that is 4,6,8,10 or 12 weeks long so you can have progressions where each class or week you keep adding new things rather than one size fits all. Your other option is to break it up into beginners and advanced classes. I keep seeing classes offered at gyms where everyone is doing the same workouts with no progressions or modifications (just follow the instructor). Personally I don’t think this is a good approach of teaching a class but it is what it is, especially if you want to do things the right way and keep growing the class. I’m sure there are some excellent instructors who can do it this way.
In your case mixing dancing with some basic bodyweight movements it doesn’t seem to be very complicated, especially with some minor modifications if needed (you know the format of your class better than anyone else, so I can’t be anymore specific). Just like Nancy said, it all comes down to the type of format and participants you are looking to have in your class.
In an “all levels” class there is going to be some lag between the two ends of the spectrum. But anyone signing up for that type of class should expect it. Especially more advanced participants, they should be familiar with how such a class will run from past experience. But I do a lot of all level work with a wide variety of clients (Parkinson’s to college athletes). I introduce each exercise starting with the basic level and then the exercise is progressed to reach the most able participant. So it would go something like this for say a pushup set…
“Ok, down for pushups. Start on the knees for two. Now if you can up on the toes for two, if not stay on the knees. Now one foot up off the floor for two, or stay on the toes or knees. Now the switch the up foot for two. Now switch the up foot each time on the down position. Stop when you get tired or in 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1.”
This can be applied to almost any exercise. You should be able to break any exercise down into each component and progression/regression. So take it down to some basic point and progress it up on each repetition or two for each exercise. If you do this smoothly, everyone will get what they need out of the class.
I just came across an article here on IDEA about Fitness Trends for 2015 (while searching for something completely different!), and I thought it might help you. Here is a paragraph from it:
“The expectation for our clubs to have every type of class in a variety of time slots, combined with the maturation of the . . . participants, has left us programming for folks who are already serviced,” says Fable. “We are making classes harder rather than more inclusive. There has been a renewed emphasis on ÔÇÿatmosphere’ to the detriment of substance.”
From my own experience, I have to say that I agree. I have seen classes become harder and harder, and instructors teaching for their own workout and not to the needs of participants. We are not servicing those participants who need an introduction level class where they can learn. I’ll find the article for you.
Here is the link (I wasn’t able to go back to the article without losing what I had already written in my last post):
Hope this helps!