Category Archives: classes

IHRSA 2012 Trade Show – Aeromat


Aeromat has a new, dual surface club mat. One side is smooth and the other side is textured, so one mat suits either preference. It is available in a variety of sizes, including 3/8”, 3/4” and 5/8” thicknesses.

In addition to mats, Aeromat has a full line of balance products. One of the specialty items they offer is an air-filled wedge with a pebble-textured top and smooth bottom. The wedge can be used to ease back pain and reduce the discomfort of prolonged sitting, as well as provide an unstable surface for various standing or seated balance or rehabilitation exercises.

Tomorrow we’ll look at Airex’s BeBalanced products. Stay tuned!

Fun iPhone Apps for Fitness Instructors and Trainers

There are loads of health and fitness apps for your mobile device. Calorie counters, workout trackers and routine builders galore. Here are a few more that might make your job a little easier!

For Class or Training Sessions

iNterval Tunes by James A. Brannan – $1.99

If you teach interval classes, you know how hard it is to watch the clock and switch up your music tempos. This handy app allows you to customize an entire interval workout to your own itunes music. You can add intervals (warm up, work, rest, cool down) in any order in intervals of up to one hour. You can choose individual songs for each interval or you can apply an entire itunes playlist. iNterval tunes announces each interval’s duration and intensity, and it gives you countdown warnings to change. How easy is that!

Ambiance by Matt Coneybeare – $.99

A yoga teacher’s dream, this app generates ambient noise to your specifications. There are more than 500 sounds that you can mix to create a playlist of soothing sounds.

To Motivate

Help Me Do by Mobidea – $1.99

Help your clients set a goal each week. After creating a target behavior and due date, you add motivators: treats, forfeits, emails and bets. Most interesting are the email motivators (to create positive peer pressure) and the bets. You could make a friendly wager with your client that if they work out 3x that week that you’ll drop and give them 20 at your next appointment!

BeGOOD! by Cloudlark, LLC – $1.99 & iReward Chart by Gotclues, Inc – $4.99

These apps are actually designed for parents to use with their children, but they are very attractive and fun. Clients can set a goal and mark their daily behaviors with a star chart. Simple, yet effective!

Other interesting apps:

MusicID with Lyrics by Gravity Mobile – $2.99

Have you ever heard a song on the radio or at a club and wondered what the title is? With this app, your mobile device will identify audible music and display the song name, lyrics, artist biographies and related YouTube videos.

Be Happy Now by Mental Workout LLC – $2.99

These guided meditations are great for trainer and client alike. There are meditations for cultivating compassion, gratitude and inner peace. The mindfulness meditations help release negative emotions. In addition to the longer meditations, there are brief ones for what the author calls a “hit” of happiness when you feel down.

Whole Foods Market Recipes by Whole Foods Market, Inc – FREE

If you are a Whole Foods fan, you’ll love this app. There are recipes for all kinds of special diets: dairy free, fat free, gluten free, high fiber and more. Search for recipes or input the ingredients you have on hand. Of course, it may recommend that you run right out to Whole Foods for an ingredient that you don’t have…but there’s an app that can take care of that—Smart Chef Substitutions by Rantek, Inc for $1.99 will help you find an alternative in seconds!

Happy apping!

Dealing with Class Disruptions, Part II

Advice from Veteran Instructors

In a previous post, instructors shared strategies for working with Chatty Cathy and her pal Gossip Gal, as well as Tardy Tim. Two other potentially disruptive personalities include “Old School Oscar” and “Ambitious Alice”.

Problem: Old School Oscar has been coming to the gym since you were in diapers. He talks wistfully about “the good old days” when Athletic Conditioning class participants would carry each other piggyback while running up and down several flights of stairs. His idea of a great cardio interval is 10 laps around the track while trying to hold a 25-pound medicine ball overhead, and he insists on pulling the bar up to his nose when doing upright rows. Any time you give him feedback on form or technique, he shrugs off your instructions. You are worried that he is going to hurt himself in class.

Possible Solutions: B.J. from Charlottesville, Virginia, takes an educational approach. “I try to explain to the whole group the rationale and the science behind a controversial exercise and its more appropriate alternative.” If that doesn’t work, she takes a more philosophical approach: “Try it my way and see what your experience is.”

Vicki from Bethesda, Maryland, points out that people usually stick with an old school move because they feel like it is more challenging. She talks up the new methodology by telling the class about an improved way to do an exercise. She emphasizes that it gives even better results than the old way.

Sometimes, even after instructors have given general class feedback or called on individuals, students may continue to perform an exercise improperly or “do their own thing”. Instructors agree that if a participant is doing something that is blatantly unsafe, they are obligated to put a stop to it. Jerome from Charlottesville says that the trick is to take a low-key, one-to-one approach. “Casually move towards the student. Once you are within speaking range, make eye contact. Then remove or mute your mic and give specific cues in a friendly way. ‘Your bar is coming up a little too high. Try stopping it right at chest level.’ Then wait and watch while the student completes a few reps,” he recommends.

If a student continues to ignore your cues, try to catch up outside of class when you can have a more lengthy conversation. In rare instances, you may need to ask a student to refrain from attending classes if he or she is unwilling to accept your instructions or follow the class format; BUT document the problem in writing in advance, and, depending on your club’s protocol, make sure you have the support of your supervisor and/or the general manager FIRST.

Problem: Ambitious Alice is a new member who bounces into your highly choreographed, advanced triple step class. You welcome her and ask if she has ever taken a step class before. She shakes her head no and shares that this is her first time exercising in fifteen years. While you don’t want to crush her enthusiasm, you don’t think this is the best class for her.

It is always a good idea to talk with new students before class begins. While nobody wants to discourage class participation, every instructor hates to see a new student slink out of class in self-defeat.

Vicki says, “I talk to new students about the intensity of the class and ask what they have been doing recently for exercise. That helps me guide the conversation as to what may or may not work for them in this format, and I might suggest another class they’d prefer. If they decide to stay for class, I cue options.”

Students may not realize that some classes, like step, have a unique terminology. Offering to show new students a few steps ahead of time can help smooth the way. A “sneak peak” may help them decide whether to stay or try a different class without having to lose face in front of everyone.

B.J. also encourages students to avoid judging themselves against other participants. “Don’t focus on what others are doing in class,” she reminds them. “Keep this your workout and feel free to walk around the room. Just don’t stop and watch!”

The bottom line: dealing effectively with class disruptions requires compassion, poise and a sense of humor. Our goal is to help students become fitter and healthier while having fun and feeling great.

Do you have any tried-and-true approaches for dealing with class disruptions? Please share them! Leave a comment or e-mail

Dealing with Class Disruptions

Advice from Veteran Instructors

No matter what your gym calls you—coach, trainer, instructor, group leader—you are a TEACHER. It takes far more than simply expertise in health and fitness to effectively manage all of the different personalities and preferences of your class participants. And as with any learning environment, there are disruptions, too. Talking in class. Late arrivals. Failure to follow instructions. Sheesh. It sounds like high school!

Clubs are customer service-based businesses, and the guest is always right. . . to a point. So how do you tactfully call out a participant who is compromising safety or creating a poor experience for other students? Several veteran instructors offer their advice.

Problem: Chatty Cathy and her friend Gossip Gal are having an ongoing conversation while you are trying to cue body alignment. You can tell that other students are distracted and annoyed by the competing conversation. You try to catch their eye, but they are completely oblivious. What do you do next?

Possible Solutions: Vicki, an instructor in Bethesda, Maryland, points out that many people join clubs for the social aspect. It is helpful to have camaraderie and support while working out, but there needs to be balance. She recommends making a lighthearted comment like “Am I going to have to break you two up?” That usually makes the class laugh and the talkers stop.

Ramping up your non-verbal communication is another possibility. While simply making eye contact with the talkers often successfully halts a secondary conversation, you may need to take it a step further—literally. If your class format permits, move closer to the talkers as you continue to instruct the class. Once you reach a certain proximity, the talkers will take notice. Give them a friendly nod and smile. They will get the message!

If talking persists, you may need to adopt a more serious tone. Vicki offers a diplomatic suggestion for framing the problem from your perspective rather than casting blame: “Sometimes I just say, ‘I’m sorry. I can’t concentrate on what I’m trying to teach the class while you are talking.’” If the conversation is urgent, she requests that the talkers step out of the room to continue.

Problem: Tardy Tim comes in after class has begun. Do you say anything to him?

Possible Solutions: Instructors vary on their approach to this one, depending on the type of class and the individual involved. If the latecomer is a “regular” and his or her arrival is not disruptive, most will turn the other cheek. Suzanne, an instructor in Charlottesville, Virginia, remarks, “There is nothing like public humiliation to set the tone for an hour-long class. Also, if that person is new, you want them to come back. What if they had a bad morning just trying to get to the gym with their kids? Making their gym experience stressful is counter-productive.” Vicki agrees. “In most cases they have been held up in traffic, at work or with a kid-related issue. More than anything, they need that class they tried so desperately to get to on time!”

B.J., another instructor from Charlottesville, mentions that at a certain point, however, safety becomes a concern. She jokes with late students about having warmed up as they raced to the gym but asks that they avoid jumping in at full speed. She tells them, “I want to make sure it is safe for you to participate. Spend a little time warming up and take it easy to start with.”

Sometimes it may be necessary to turn someone away from class. Many gyms have signs posted that remind participants not to enter more than 10 minutes after class has begun. The worst-case scenario cited by instructors is a new student who tries to join class 15 or 20 minutes into instruction. The student may have watched through the windows for a while, trying to build up the courage to walk in the door, but he or she has missed the warm up and valuable instruction. “This is a toughie,” says Vicki. “You don’t want to turn someone off, but you also don’t want someone to hurt themselves.” Most instructors agree that they would try to accommodate the student as long as it was safe and did not negatively affect the other students’ class experience.

Stay tuned for the next blog entry: Dealing with Class Disruptions, Part II. Read strategies for helping Old-school Oscar benefit from new exercise research and keeping Ambitious Alice from taking on too much in your class.