One of the constant debates between group exercise instructors and personal trainers, is that the latter feel participants in a class can’t be coached thoroughly enough, whereas the former feel that getting a larger body of the population moving is the goal.
Both perspectives are valid and represent the unique qualities of the situation. That said, there are two key points that bear remembering.
There is an inverse relationship between the number of people being trained and the attention or time available to each person.
The primary objectives of a personal trainer and a group exercise instructor should be different.
Simple maths determines the first point. If you have an hour available and one person to coach, that person has your focus for 60 minutes. If you have the same hour available, but 15 people to coach, each one is likely to have roughly four minutes (although some participants require more than others and you obviously prioritise accordingly).
The second point however, is where some people often blur the lines. A personal trainer's primary objective is to design an exercise programme and facilitate the completion of each of its component parts as effectively and efficiently as possible. A group exercise instructor has the primary objective of delivering an effective and efficient exercise class as inclusively and safely as possible.
Bill Cosby famously said, ’I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody”. Because of this, group exercise instructors need to recognise that they will never be able to deliver the perfect class to every participant. And that’s ok, because that’s not their objective. The goal is to make the class and coaching available, it’s about collective provision first, individual preferences second.
This obviously doesn’t mean that individual needs should be ignored, just that it’s incredibly rare to find every participant in a class at the same level of physical ability and with the same objectives and preferences. Consider an indoor cycle class where some participants prefer climbing to sprinting, or a resistance class where some participants prefer lower rep ranges and others higher reps. In most cases, participants continuing attendance is dependent on them doing enough of the things they do like to mitigate anything they don’t.
So if you’re a group exercise instructor, recognise that your job is to make an awesome and effective exercise experience available to as many people as possible, whereas personal trainers are responsible for the design and delivery of a highly individualised exercise programme.