In the ever-growing fitness industry, the group class has always been a major component. From Jazzercise classes that still have a strong following to entire competitions on TV today, group classes are changing the way the masses consume fitness. Why is that? Because group classes overcome many obstacles to success for many people's workout plans and training regimens. With experience and new creative ideas, group classes are one of the best ways for clients and trainers to both be successful.

Cost

Money is probably the most common obstacle people cite as a reason for not working with fitness professionals. Ironically, the cost of not taking care of oneself today is greatly outweighed by the cost of being sick, injured or incapacitated in the future. Participating in group classes helps prevent these health issues. Group classes also offer instruction and supervision that keep members safe and help them reach their goals at a more affordable price than one-on-one training. And many clubs offer a variety of classes as part of the membership fee, which completely eliminates cost as an excuse for not participating in group classes.

The appeal of group classes for trainers at clubs that charge for classes is that it gives their hour (the most precious thing they have) unlimited value. Trainers who can handle a group class with 50 people in it are going to make some serious coin. These types of classes also offer more reliable revenue for the trainer than one-on-one sessions. Trainers who completely rely on personal training can have one or two clients drop out, putting them in a tight spot. However, if one or two group class members are sick, on vacation or stop training, the revenue hit isn't felt as much. Group classes solve a major issue for trainers and clients alike, both increasing the efficiency of the trainers' hour and the clients' dollar.

Motivation

Group classes offer a psychological component of sticking with a program. People are motivated for many reasons: competitive spirit, health/lifestyle improvement, aesthetics and more. Group classes provide a place where people can blend those motivations and create a small community where everyone helps each other accomplish their goals. When members help one another by offering words of encouragement, assisting each other with exercises or sending a text to see if they are coming to class, it creates a sense of belonging and accountability that increases the success rate for everyone in the group. The entire group is stronger when each member helps the other members improve.

Some of the best friendships I have seen have been forged in weight rooms, boot camps, barre, kickboxing and other group class arenas. Being fit and accomplishing the goals that people set for themselves are huge emotional triumphs, even for the most confident and motivated people. Group classes are the perfect arena for your members to meet people who can be a part of their support network.

Expansion of exercises

One of my favorite things about group classes is that they expand the variety of exercises for your members. Trainers can incorporate partner exercises involving core work, coordination drills, manual resistance and sprints along with large group drills using battle ropes, medicine balls, large chutes, driving sleds and other mobile, inexpensive products. Doing so makes workouts fresh and fun, keeps the training versatile so it improves body systems, and builds on the fundamentals that adults and kids need to work on: teamwork, accountability, competition and project accomplishment. Expanding the variety of exercises also challenges trainers to try new exercises and ideas for the classes. The versatility of group exercise is unlimited, and new hybrids of classes and ideas keep coming together, creating some fun, unique and effective groups.

Many clubs offer a large variety of classes, so it is easy to encourage members to try out classes that seem interesting to them and stick with ones they like. Make sure your group classes are set up to incorporate a wide range of folks with different fitness levels or provide specific classes for specific levels.

Not all classes are for everyone. Someone who has never exercised does not need to start with complicated, weighted movements, just as some classes that focus on basics would be a waste of time to an advanced lifter. Neither entity is better or worse than the other—they just exist to serve a different clientele. Ask questions, learn the clients' goals and help them determine in which class they would fit. It may be necessary to check out some basic movements and see what the client is able to do at that point and how it translates in that class. Getting started in a group class that fits their current ability level is important for preventing injury, sticking with the program, and most importantly, their overall success.

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Matt Veigl is a graduate of Transylvania University in Lexington, KY, with a degree in exercise science. His 11 years of experience has offered him a wide variety of experiences from a wide variety of clientele, from elite athletes to rehabilitation patients. Currently residing in Knoxville, TN, Veigl works with people of all ages in both group classes and individual settings. He serves as a member on the Power Systems advisory board and is a regular contributor to the company as a fitness expert.