RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Many fitness professionals offer personal training, but emerging research is finding that group training—in which two or more people pay a lower price and exercise with a trainer together—is more popular than ever, according to reports from the Academy College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and IDEA Health & Fitness Association.
THE TREND: Group training. Fitness industry trend reports have found a consistent increase in the popularity of personal and group training during the last decade. And because of that, more qualified, college-educated trainers are joining the workforce. A 2008 IDEA Fitness Programs & Equipment Trends Report found that while nearly 90 percent of trainers offered one-on-one personal training, about 80 percent now allow two clients to share a session. That's up from 56 percent in 2001. Three to five clients sharing a session rose 26 percentage points in the same timeframe.
WHAT IT CAN DO FOR YOU: First and foremost, it saves you money, since you and the others in your group split the cost. For instance, a personal training session may run about $50, but a group session could cost $25 to $30 per person. In group training, you can also feed off the energy of the group, something that can help motivate and inspire exercisers. "It helps to add variety to the workout," says Tammy Strunk, associate director of health and fitness at Rodale Inc. "With groups, you can do circuit training, partner exercises, and games."
Working out with a few other people can also help a self-conscious exerciser feel less intimidated, because the trainer has to pay attention to the entire group and doesn't just focus at one person the entire time.
HOW YOU CAN DO IT: Your first step is to find another person or a small group committed to starting a group training program. But there are some things to consider to ensure better workout chemistry between exercisers:
#1: Find people at a similar fitness level. If you can barely run a block without doubling over in side stitches, but your workout buddy runs 5Ks every weekend, the two of you might not be the best training partners. Finding people in about the same shape as you will allow the trainer to spend more time focusing on the workout, not tweaking it and demonstrating it for different members of the group.
#2: Group members should have similar commitment levels. "You don't want to be with a group of people who tend to say they are going to show up and then
don’t show," warns Strunk.
#3: Don't pair up with a rooster if you're a night owl. Look for folks who like to work out around the same time of day you do.
#4: Leave out your ultracompetitive neighbor. You want to be with people who are committed, motivated, and supportive, and a little competition is healthy, explains Strunk. "But if you have somebody that is just out to do better than everybody else, that is not healthy," she says.
#5:Find the right trainer. Your best bet is to find trainers with college degrees in exercise science or physiology, kinesiology, or physical education. Strunk says you should also look for respected certifications such as those from the American College of Sports Medicine, IDEA, Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, or the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Ask about how many years of experience trainers have under their training belts, if they're certified in CPR, and what types of people they have worked with (kids, seniors, athletes, ordinary people) to find the best fit. Also make sure your trainer teaches members of the group how to properly monitor their own intensity, because trainers can't keep their eyes on everyone at all times in group training settings.
HOW TO MAKE IT ECOFRIENDLY: Find a qualified trainer as close to your home as possible, and carpool to group training sessions. To cut back on energy use, tell your trainer you prefer bringing your heart rate up without the use of treadmills or other energy burning equipment. Some trainers will offer to do sessions in parks or other outdoor areas.
Published on: August 10, 2009