Group training is all the rage in Toronto these days whether it is a boot camp class in the park, a crossfit WOD, or a body pump class at a commercial gym. On the upside, group training provides added intensity and motivation as well as camaraderie and support. The sense of community and teamwork can also be beneficial in terms of accountability. But this article is about the ways that group fitness generally falls short when it comes to cultivating actual fitness. Here are a few things to consider before signing up.
Large class sizes and lack of individual attention
Most boot camps and group training programs optimize their incomes by maximizing class sizes. 25 participants to one instructor is a very common ratio in the group exercise world. The main problem with large class sizes is the lack of individual attention. Having spent most of my career working in a one-on-one setting as a personal trainer, I can attest to the fact that every single client presents with a very unique set of strengths and weaknesses. They vary in fitness level, mobility, movement patterns, strength, coordination, etc. If that doesn’t sound challenging enough, picture trying to coach 25 individuals at the same time.
Lack of emphasis on proper form & technique
One of the major offenses I’ve witnessed with boot camp style classes is the lack of attention to proper form. The amount of poor technique that group exercise instructors either don’t catch or simply let slide is absolutely criminal. If it’s a step class, no big deal… chances are no one’s getting seriously injured (and no one is getting fit regardless of the class size). But when it comes to weight training, things can get ugly in a hurry and people can get hurt. It is very common for individuals to perform exercises that are far too complex for their current fitness level. Without proper form and responsible exercise prescription a) injuries happen b) Results don’t.
Too much conditioning, not enough weight training
Whether your goal is to drop body fat, gain muscle, get strong or simply get healthy… weight training is by far your best tool. For example, weight training has been shown to have a far superior effect on fat loss over cardiovascular training. Weight training boosts your metabolism, improves your hormonal health, builds lean muscle tissue, and develops strength. Unfortunately most boot camp and group training programs skimp on actual weight lifting due to the overhead cost of equipment, as well as their instructors limitations in coaching these types of exercises.
Generic nutrition plans
An optimized nutrition program takes into account a variety of factors – fitness goals, activity level, body type, health issues, lifestyle, food intolerances, allergies, convenience issues, support systems, etc. Unfortunately most group programs prescribe a generic nutrition plan to all their trainees, neglecting the fact that everyone has different needs and goals. Nutrition should always be personalized and aligned with the client’s particular fitness goals.
One of the main reasons why clients who work with personal trainers can experience such dramatic results is because their training programs and individual workouts are carefully crafted with purpose. Variables such as repetitions, sets, tempo, exercise selection, training frequency, etc are all maximized and aligned with the client’s short and long term goals. Unfortunately when it comes to group training, most of this is thrown out the window (along with the trainer’s integrity) to make room for randomized workouts that keep the trainees entertained (and unfit).
At ManTraining we consider our client’s past experiences with fitness, goals, lifestyle, general health, past injuries, current nutrition, etc. We also perform screens for postural issues, muscular imbalances and faulty movement patterns when we feel a client might need some remedial work before entering the group setting. Our workouts are carefully mapped out over a 6 month period, selecting exercises that can be scaled to each trainee’s fitness level and optimizing key training parameters. The nutrition plans we write for each client are personalized and targeted to their goals. By keeping our classes small we are better able to teach proper technique, monitor form and provide guidance to each client. We also split our classes based on goals. We have classes that focus on strength and hypertrophy, as well as classes that focus more on metabolic conditioning and fat loss. Our equipment stack is extensive and includes Barbells, Bumper Plates, Squat Stands, Kettlebells, Olympic Rings, TRX, Sandbags, Dumbells, Benches, Pull Up Bars, Medicine Balls, Strength Bands, etc. Our coaches are highly credentialed and have over 12 years experience as Personal Trainers and Strength Coaches. For more info on our StrengthCamp program please visit http://mantraining.ca/boot-camp-toronto/