movement

By Aileen Sheron

Double Trouble: Partner Training

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ow would you like to increase the popularity of your classes? Do you also want to teach in an environment in which you and your students feel challenged and enthusiastic and share a great sense of accomplishment and belonging? The “Double Trouble” paired-training concept can help you achieve these goals. In this innovative workout, participants pair off and train together, often sharing the same piece of exercise equipment and raising each other’s motivation to new heights!

Making Lemonade Out of Lemons
When I started teaching more than 20 years ago, a fitness class meant only one thing: high-impact aerobics. Over the years, our industry has evolved to include many new formats that incorporate a variety of diverse equipment. In a desire to offer innovative programming, fitness managers have purchased steps, slides, tubing, bars, minitrampolines, stability balls, balance/strength equipment and all types of weights. Many fitness facilities are hard-pressed to find enough storage space for an ever-changing inventory that requires continual maintenance and replacement. Often, this situation leads to equipment shortages. For me, pairing up participants began as a survival tactic. I was scheduled to teach a new sculpting class at a club that didn’t have sufficient equipment for each participant. Here’s what I had to work with: a number of fitness bars (of varying weights), stability balls for half the class, some tubing (different

brands and varying resistances) and a decent assortment of free weights. My challenge was to overcome serious equipment shortages and still keep my class motivating, safe and effective. I began by dividing the class in two and assigning a different piece of equipment to each group. The idea was to have everyone work the same muscle groups, even though each group would be doing exercises tailored to its respective equipment. For example, one half of the class would use tubing, while the other used free weights. Both would perform a row, a biceps curl and a lateral raise, but the setup and technique would be different. I would double- or triple-set each segment and then have each group leave everything behind and switch sides in the room. Transitions included a variety of drills, such as lunges, push-ups, squats, cardio intervals, stretches and balance work. These transitions afforded the students a welcome recovery from some of the harder sets. I also found that sometimes I wanted to move quickly to the next exercise. I started teaming up individuals and having each pair share a variety of props. This way, participants could easily switch from one piece of equipment to another with very little downtime. Each participant would do separate exercises with his or her own apparatus, and then partners would switch when a set was over. This was a great way to work opposing muscles. For example, one partner would do a biceps curl using a fitness bar, while the other would do a triceps kickback using tubing. Although they were working separately, members

of each pair began to work as teammates, encouraging each other and watching for breaks in form.

The Evolution of Double Trouble
This experience spawned the concept now called “Double Trouble.” The first exercise I created in which each pair actually shared a single piece of equipment was a variation on the stability ball pushup. In this variation, which I called “Push Me/Pull You,” I had the pairs face each other and hold a ball between them. They would alternate between pushing and resisting the other’s push, creating a kind of standing push-up. To my surprise and delight, I found that people worked harder and enjoyed themselves more than I expected. The class “fun factor” went up, and some students who had been working out side by side for years shared names and motivation for the first time. My students immediately embraced this type of direct interaction, and I found myself looking for additional exercises that would offer the same benefits. Although my classes still consisted primarily of individuals working together on different pieces of apparatus, I began mixing in these new sharedequipment sets. Some early exercises included physical contact between partners, but it became obvious that most people did not feel comfortable touching each other. In the later exercises I created, I made sure that the equipment doubled as a buffer zone between people. I then began team-teaching a circuit
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class with Patrick Goudeau at the Sports Club/Irvine in California. One day, Patrick suggested we use the stability ball as a punching bag, with two people alternating as the puncher and the ball holder. Our class loved it, and I told Patrick about the shared-equipment exercises I had already incorporated into my other classes. We worked together creatively, experimenting with core stability, balance, coordination, strength, agility and cardio intervals. We tried to think outside the box, without compromising the safety or effectiveness of the exercises. To make things even more exciting, we added layers of intensity and interesting transitions. We thought this partner concept would have a broad appeal, and that’s how “Double Trouble” was born.

The Benefits for Participants
Working out in a partner format yields several benefits for participants: