Category Archives: group fitness

IHRSA 2012 Trade Show – Yoga Direct


What’s hot:
Yoga Jellies (shown left) from Yoga Direct are 5.5” diameter gel-filled discs that provide cushioning beneath knees, elbows, feet and hands. Yoga Jellies can help alleviate discomfort that some weight-bearing positions can cause, helping participants ease into postures that might otherwise be inaccessible. Also great for Pilates.

What’s cool: The Anti-Gravity Yoga Inversion Swing (shown right) promises to take participants to the next level in their yoga practice. Anti-gravity yoga, inversion therapy, and total body strengthening and stretching are all possible with this multi-functional swing. This particular product is not commercial grade, but it can easily be used in a one-to-one training setting or at home to deepen your practice. Currently out of stock with no estimated arrival of new inventory, the trick is actually getting your hands on one! Tap into the patience and love that yoga brings to your emotional surface and embrace the anticipation of this wonderful product. Namaste!

IHRSA 2012 Trade Show – Step360 Pro


The Step360 Pro combines the familiarity of a step with the challenge of a balance trainer. New exercisers can feel confident stepping onto the flat, non-slip platform, and the height and degree of instability can be controlled by changing the amount of air in the chambers underneath. While SPRI recommends keeping air in both chambers, each one inflates independently. The main rule of thumb is that more air equals more stability, while less air means less stability. Six tubing anchors make it easy to incorporate a variety of strengthening and balance exercises into a Step360 workout. The Step 360’s versatility and wide repertoire of exercises for all fitness levels make it a standout in the balance trainer market.

Tomorrow we’ll take a peek at Yoga Direct!

IHRSA 2012 Trade Show – SPRI

What’s hot: SPRI’s Roll Out Ladder was sold out by day two of the trade show, and I wished I had gotten there earlier. Anyone who has ever led a group training session with a traditional agility ladder knows how much it can scoot around on the floor. Well, the designer of the Roll Out ladder definitely had his or her thinking cap on! The ladder is made of a heavy duty, non-skid recycled rubber that resists bunching up. It will stay put on all kinds of indoor surfaces, as well as some outdoor surfaces. Put your order in now!

What’s cool: SPRI has dubbed its attractive braided tubing line the “next generation in rubber resistance”, and I have to agree. The Braided Xertube is four tubes woven together into a braided band. Each tube is plugged independently into the connector at the bottom, making it more durable than the traditional Xertube. The Braided Xertubes are still color-coded like the original Xertubes, with yellow being the lightest and then increasing resistance as you progress to green, red, blue and purple. However, the sales rep mentioned that by nature of the braiding, the yellow Braided Xertube will offer a little more resistance than the original yellow Xertube, but it is still easier than the green Xertube. The foam handle is a plus, too, if you are accustomed to the hard plastic handles of the original Xertube.

Tomorrow we’ll check out the Step360 Pro!

IHRSA 2012 Trade Show – Power Systems II


What’s different? The FreeStyle Step, which has a slightly cushioned surface instead of the traditional ridged top of The Original Health Club Step, is now available from Power Systems in gray/black as well as red/black. If your participants typically use mats on top of their steps when doing supine work, the FreeStyle Step may eliminate that need. For added versatility, the FreeStyle risers can be used to create either a flat surface or slanted positions—no need for separate wedge risers.

Tomorrow we’ll check out another fun item by Power Systems!

IHRSA 2012 Trade Show – Power Systems


What’s new at Power Systems? There are a couple of new and noteworthy items. Power Systems’ brand of resistance tubing, called Versa-Tubes, are now available in 60” lengths, as well as the standard 48”. On another note, Power Systems is a distributor for the new “Smart Bar” from Les Mills. The Smart Bar offers a more ergonomic, efficient way to load and unload plates from a barbell than traditional equipment. Watch the video below to see how it works!

Tomorrow we’ll check out another traditional piece of equipment that has been made over!

IHRSA 2012 Trade Show – JumpSport

There is likely no other company that is as passionate about trampolines as JumpSport. In the 1990s, company founder Mark Publicover was the first to invent and mass market a safety enclosure for backyard trampolines. Since then, the company has expanded, and today it offers a selection of fitness trampolines and accessories. A lot of research went into the design and safety features of their mini-trampolines, and a quick look at the product reveals some significant differences from other models on the market. First, there are no springs. The Fitness Trampolines use special elastic cords developed by JumpSport that result in a smooth, soft and nearly silent bounce. It is easy to change the surface tension by adjusting the knot placement on the underside of the trampoline. One of the greatest things about this unit is that it will not tip over—you can do pushups off one side and the unit stays firmly on the ground. There are plenty of accessories to adapt the trampoline for use with different populations and to create a wide range of exercises. Attaching the Plyofit Adapter allows you to switch from jumping to target rebounding at a variety of angles. The trainer also showed me how to do assisted squats from the angled position. There is an optional handle attachment for increased user stability and safety. The trampolines stack easily, so there is a small footprint if stored in a club setting. One of the models even folds up and has a carrying case if your club takes training on the road.

Tomorrow we’ll take a look at the M-Core FTS!

IHRSA 2012 Trade Show – Innovative Xercise Solutions

The Fluid Core Bar by Innovative Xercise Solutions is one of those “why didn’t someone think of this before?” type of products. Similar in appearance to a traditional exercise bar, it offers a great deal more in terms of challenging balance and stability. The core of the bar is hollow, and there are steel balls inside that will shift when the bar moves. The user must work not only to lift and lower the bar, but to keep it balanced and stable. The full-length bars come in 10, 15 and 20 pound weights, and there is a “mini” bar that weighs 5 pounds. This would be a great training tool for aging populations or those new to exercise.

Tomorrow we’ll jump on over to!

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.