Coaching in a group class setting presents complex issues that personal trainers working with a single client may not experience. One must be able to make on the spot corrections for individuals where needed, while at the same time not neglecting the group as a whole. Although this list is not exhaustive, I believe these are the three common things that coaches in a group class setting do. These can be easily corrected and provide your athletes a much more enjoyable training environment:

[heading style=”5″ tit_color=”#5a5a5a”]1. Giving up on your athletes.[/heading]

We’ve all been there before. There is this one individual in your classes who just doesn’t get it. No matter how many times you attempt to correct their technique through verbal cues they continue performing movements incorrectly. It seems you have exhausted all options and have tried almost everything in the books to get this person moving correctly. Are you a bad coach? Or are they just too dumb to get what you’re trying to explain?

“Simply possessing knowledge does not change behavior”

Just because they may KNOW what correct is, does not necessarily mean that they can immediately put it into practice. Every person learns differently and changing a behavior or habit goes deeper than just giving a person the knowledge in the form of verbal cues. You must also give them clear step-by-step instruction on how to get there.

Studies suggest that it takes us 21 days to form a habit. Why not try prescribing remedial exercises and/or stretches in the form of a Warm-up Routine? This routine can be performed over a 20-30 day period and will gradually help the individual adjust to a new way of moving. Besides creating the new warm-up protocol, for you as the coach this is no extra effort and the same warm-up routine can be used for other individuals with similar issues in the future!

[heading style=”5″ tit_color=”#5a5a5a”]2. Judging Potential[/heading]

Stop judging your athletes potential! It is not your job. Point blank. As a coach or mentor, you your three main tasks are to provide your athlete with purpose, direction, and motivation. You assess their current level of fitness and provide them with the roadmap they need to achieve their goals. Let them decide what is and what is not possible for them. Ultimately, the decision whether they succeed or fail is based solely on how hard they are willing to work to get themselves there and not what you think they may be capable of.

Now, this does not mean placing unrealistic expectations on them. If you know your athlete struggles to complete a workout with the normal prescribed weight, you would not have them attempt to have them do it with even more weight. There is a very fine line between overreaching with your athlete and just flat out stupidity.

[heading style=”5″ tit_color=”#5a5a5a”]3. Not using the Power of Group Dynamic Effectively[/heading]

Leading a group demands your full attention and can make it difficult at times to give your athletes that 1-on-1 attention they deserve. Following a couple guidelines can help you achieve a high level of engagement:

  • Use questions asked by individuals as an opportunity to address the group. There is a good possibility that someone else in the group had a similar question but was afraid to ask.

“Never give the impression that one athlete is more important than the others.”

Of course there are cases where your undivided attention is required but don’t baby them. Identify a few key individuals to serve as an example for a new athlete. Pair them up with one another or put them next to each other so they can keep an eye out for them. A lot of their questions can be screened by this individual.

  • Create peer pressure in order to push athletes outside of their comfort zone. Humans are inherently lazy and will try to cut corners where they can. This is natural. You, as the coach, have to push them outside of this comfort zone where the magic happens. Do not let them tell you what they can’t do. Instead, encourage them to try first! Compare them with others  and use them as a positive example, “see! If they can do it, you can too!” This helps raise their expectations and gets them pushing beyond their limits.


Using the group dynamic to your advantage is a great way to ensure you are effectively reaching each of your athletes in an effective manner. Identifying key individuals to “Keep an eye on” new members is also a great approach.  It is not laziness — in most cases that particular individual has been coached by you or your staff and they know the standards just as well as you. Why not benefit from the work you have already done and allow them to make small on-the-spot corrections!