If you're looking to implement group training in your facility or become a group class instructor, this next section highlights some key insights.
Being a group trainer takes a different set of tools than working one-on-one with a client. There are so many different aspects and people you are encountering, you need to be able to act on the fly and make quick decisions as you go. You have a lot of situations to consider as you can't just program a plan and then work through it with a client.
You are monitoring the work of every person that walks in to take your class, while also thinking of music, energy level, programming, tracking and all the other components you use when planning your group training sessions. On top of that, you have to ensure you are differentiating yourself from the other trainers you are surrounded by. Even though you may not feel like you're in direct competition, you are.
If you and another instructor both have a class at the same time, you want people to see your name and sign up. If someone else's class is filled at the same time as yours you will have to consider what that instructor does to compete.
One tool to leverage to differentiate? Building a strong #tribe. Create a community environment will undoubtedly set you apart. This will create a lasting first impression which, as Joel mentions, really does matter.
After going to a class with the same instructor 2-3 times, Joel expects to be able to say, "I really like this instructor because they make me feel____ " or "I like the way they do____".
You need to be thoughtful about the way you run your training program. Consider your class' takeaways.
How should participants feel when they leave you?
It should be more than just a great work out, think about what makes it a great workout. How can you contribute personally to their success?
So, how does Joel start his sessions? Why is he able to fill all of his classes?
The answer is...
The most successful instructors engage individual athletes throughout the class. Make each of your participants feel special- every session.
Here's how to engage them from that human-level:
1. Start your session with goals
Joel starts each class by asking everyone to take a deep breath and think about why they are in class that day. Why did they choose to come instead of going to lunch, or taking a nap? What is motivating them to workout. From there he asks questions like, "who's here to get stronger?" and watches as people raise their hand. He's creating a powerful environment of doers. He's encouraging his athletes to think about their goals and telling them he will help them reach those goals. Often times people will want to verbally share their goals. He encourages participants to shout goals out during class- creating a shared sense of belonging as those goals will likely resonate with others less inclined to speak up.
2. Knowing names
This is a quick and simple way to show your athletes you are paying attention to who they are. People join group training because they enjoy the community and encouragement that comes along with being surrounded by others working hard. They become a team all working together to reach their goals. He learns names by engaging them before class starts, during warmups or cool downs and by asking participants to introduce themselves after class.
3. Staying in tune with progression
Remember your clients' goals to help them progress. Take note in the weights they use and grade (if applicable) they begin with. Be observant of what people are doing and then jot down some notes to help you remember. If you recognize a regular consistently uses the same weight, encourage them to increase incrementally (if they're able) to show them and those around them that you are paying attention to their progress.
4. Get on their level
One way Joel is able to break that barrier between client and trainer to build genuine connections with his client's is by going to classes with them. He uses class pass and goes with people from his classes to train beside them.
"If they are coming out and training with me. I tell them, I want to go and train with them." - Joel
It makes you more relatable, Joel explains. Because you are standing next to clients who are use to looking to you for guidance. It raises their confidence since you are both doing the same workout at the same level. This is a way Joel brings himself out of the lime light so they can see he is just a normal person. They can do the same workout as he does and feel a little bit more accomplished about themselves. This is also a way to make these connections even more genuine. So try taking your connections outside of your typical rigid, trainer-client relationship.
Motivation is a big deal for group training or semi-private training. A main factor towards why people choose to do this type of training, compared to an individual plan, is the environment and collaboration that comes with being around others. But as we talked about before, even during group training you need to make your clients feel like they are still getting individual attention. And that you are noticing their improvement.
Show off your athletes!
Joel motivates his athletes by using them in his classes as examples, or as "models". If someone has great form, he points them out to the class and explains how and why he/she is doing everything right. This then makes the athlete feel great for the recognition and encourages him/her to work harder throughout the whole class. Oh, it will also motivate others in the group to work on their form and strive to be the next model he uses.
Training different levels
In a group class or in a semi-private class the clients you work with can be at many different levels. While it may seem overwhelming, it can be quite manageable. When Joel is running a group training or semi-private session he uses different levels of exercises. The same movement, just with different modifications to either increase or decrease the intensity. He then explains each level as they incrementally get more challenging. He also puts the levels in term of how many classes someone has been to.Ranging from beginner to level 3.
So if this is someone's 15th class, they would be at a level 2 for example. This way it keeps them honest and moving forward with their levels and breaking out of their comfort zone.
Joel wants athletes in class to "choose their own adventure". They can decide how hard they want to work that day and be in charge of their own progress.
Demonstrating the different levels of intensity for one exercise provides an example of where a client can strive to get to. They are choosing their own adventure on how hard they are going to work that day. This is where going over motivations for that day will be helpful.