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Instructing Group Fitness vs. Personal Training

Fitness • August 24, 2016

Many of our FHITpros spend part of their time personal training clients when they are not teaching classes. For some of our instructors, they appreciate working one-on-one with clients to balance out the time they spend teaching groups of FHIXers. One of our FHITpros, Dennys Lozada, breaks down the similarities and differences between the role of a group fitness instructor versus a personal trainer.

All clients comes into a workout with specific needs, wants and goals. As a personal trainer, you can dedicate a full hour of attention solely to that client and his or her goals. Over the course of time you develop a relationship and learn how to most effectively push them and understand what makes them go. Personal trainers also know there are days when you need to pull back on the intensity of a workout as well as how hard to push each client. Due to the one-on-one attention, results can come a bit faster and all movements are executed with close attention to mechanics (form). The programming evolves to meet the client’s changing needs, fitness level and ability. There comes a time when the trainer and client both know it’s time to turn it up. In a successful trainer / client relationship, the trainer starts to see an inner athlete and competitive drive shine through the client. Workouts become more intense, the push becomes tougher and the trainer becomes a coach to an athlete, rather than a trainer to a client. What usually starts as a business relationship often becomes a lifelong friendship and bond.

Instructors get the privilege to coach hundreds of people in a week. Instructors must bring energy and motivation to not just one person, but to twenty-four athletes simultaneously in a class setting. Some are just beginning their fitness journey, while others approach fitness as a part-time hobby and others are “hardcore”. Some clients have injuries, some are pre or post-natal; there are always case-by-case situations that need to be attended to and modified for in every class. As an instructor, you will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but you can earn the respect and trust of all as a professional. Although you cannot program individually for every athlete in class, you can accommodate everyone by providing a level one option for beginners and a level two for intermediate and advanced athletes. During class we try to give each client personal attention and corrections to perfect their form, but it’s not always possible. In that case, we try to correct the first thing that leads to improper form and address the class as a whole with general cues.

The beauty of seeing so many people in a week is that you get to see their progress as a whole class (many clients come to the same classes each week). Another great thing about being an instructor is seeing other athletes motivate and push not just their friends and spouses, but also complete strangers. You get to be leader of fitness community, rather than nurturing just one relationship at a time. When clients come regularly to classes, you do still develop an individual relationship with each athlete and gain their trust in the process; you start to get an understanding of how to push them – whether it’s a playfully judgmental look at the weights they grabbed or standing right next to them and encouraging them to push harder. The beauty is that high five or sweaty hug you get at the end of the FHIX. Yes, they gave you the finger, side-eye, or dropped the F-bomb throughout class, but it’s so worth it for their appreciation in the end.

Personal Trainers and Instructors have much more in common than one may think. One important thing that all fitness professionals should preach is safety first on all movements. We should all be teaching proper mechanics and form so athletes can enjoy the workout and continue to progress without injuries. We both motivate our clients, pushing them to a limit they never thought they could reach and then past that. We bring out the inner athlete and boost clients’ confidence so they can walk tall with their heads up and feel proud of themselves and their bodies. We play a significant role in the lives of so many who are looking to start a fitness regimen, from couples looking to get in shape together to those who want to take their fitness to another level. We all strive to make working out fun and approachable for our clients, and to build strong relationships with each athlete whether it’s one-on-one or in a class of 24.

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