3 Tips to Become a Better Large Group Training Coach IMMEDIATELY

Over the past year, I’ve really been focusing on team development and trying to help the coaches at our gym continue to get better. I have no idea how many new coaches and interns I’ve helped coach up, but I can definitely say that it’s more than I can count on my fingers and toes. During our internship and new hire process, I always work on having new coaches work on three things specifically. These three things can be done by anybody, and they can be done immediately. You don’t have to get smarter, learn anything about form and technique, or take any time whatsoever to implement these three tips, and if you do…you’ll immediately become a better, more inspiring coach.

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  1. Project Your Voice – If you’re reading this article, I’m pretty confident you know exactly what I’m talking about. Whether you’re in the position to be training new coaches, or you simply think back to your first 10-20 group sessions you’ve ever coached, being quiet and timid is pretty darn common…especially if you’re having your supervisor or mentor sitting in the back scrutinizing your every move.

 

Being able to project your voice not only helps improve communication during the session, it also helps give the coach a sense of confidence that is noticeable to the clients. I’ve been coaching groups for a long time now, and being loud has become second nature. After you start to practice vocalizing and projecting your voice, the group sessions will have a new sense of energy, and the clients will know they have a leader helping guide the way. I can’t stress the importance of this. Get loud or get out! If you can’t project your voice, you won’t cut it at our gym. If being loud terrifies you, I’d recommend sticking to personal training.

 

  1. Be Conscious of Your Body Language – Believe it or not, what you say while coaching doesn’t matter all that much. The actual words that flap out of your jaw while rambling during the session aren’t even comprehended by a vast majority of the people that are training hard. Communication consists of three main components: body language, tone of voice, and actual spoken words.

 

The words you actually say during any conversation only account for 7% of how the message will be interpreted. I’m willing to go out on a limb and guesstimate that percentage is less than 5% if you’re in the middle of a training session. The other 93% come from body language and tone of voice. 93%!!! Body language makes up 55% and tone of voice helps make up the remaining 38%. If you’re playing by the numbers, improving body language should be of the upmost importance. If you can enhance your body language and project your voice, you’ve just became a much more effective communicator and coach. Don’t put your hands in your pockets. Don’t cross your arms while coaching or talking to clients. This is a very closed off position and not very welcoming. Smile regularly. Use hand gestures and be a little animated. These are only a few things I want to see from all of our coaches. Work on body language and improve your skills in coaching with very little effort.

 

  1. Minimize the Quiet Time – Nothing kills the environment in a group training session more than quiet time. If the coach isn’t being loud or they’re not saying much throughout, the energy in the room can drop immediately. That cannot happen under any circumstance. A major component of the group-training environment is the high energy and competitiveness it provides. If the coach is continuously talking and making him/herself recognized, the session simply has more value. Your clients will work harder, the environment is just more fun, and your business will start to grow.

 

Girl making the sign of silence. woman with silence sign pop art illustration

Remember the percentages from above. It’s not really about what you say…it’s more about HOW you say it. I constantly talk throughout each session. If I’m not specifically coaching a client one-on-one for a brief period of time, I’m constantly saying something. So, I’m either fixing form or speaking to the group the entire time. The only time I shut the hell up is when I’m personally coaching somebody. It’s not really cool to yell in someone’s face, so I hold that for when I’m moving between stations and clients that need the adjustments.

 

If you have the systems in place to make a group training session that is replicable, understanding these three things will help you put out a better product, or session. If you’re using the Smart Group Training System currently, you should know exactly what I’m talking about. The SGT System has helped us put together an amazing training program that any new coach or intern can start to have major success with., very quickly. Even with our high standards, we’re able to put together pretty solid coaches within 5-6 weeks. The system takes care of the workout, so our new coaches need to learn how to run the system, which is extremely easy, and learn these three tips above.

 

If you haven’t checked out The Smart Group Training System, be sure to grab a copy today. The system we’ve created over the past 5 years has helped us tremendously and I’m confident it will help you as well. Check out the SGT System today!

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How to Improve Stride Length and Gait Patterns with Simple Exercises

The vast majority of the people that come in to our gym for the first time can barely touch their toes or even simply raise their leg off the ground without compensating.  This is a pretty big deal, if you ask me.  Think about it…An Active Straight Leg Raise, as shown in the picture below, is simply a normal gait pattern of walking, only done on the ground.  Putting someone on the ground eliminates the need for stability since we gain that extra stability or support from the floor. If  you can’t do it on the floor, you’re probably not going to be able to do it while you’re on your feet.

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A normal straight leg raise should be done actively to somewhere around 70°,  or passively to somewhere around 80°.  If someone starts compensating before that, you can rest assured they’re going to have a limited gait pattern and have a tough time separating reciprocal hip flexion/extension.  Improving stride length is not only a way to make athletes faster and more efficient, it’s also a way to help every individual stay healthy and pain free.  We need to be able to flex and extend our hips in an alternating pattern without compensation, so I want to show you a couple of simple ways you can start improving gait pattern and stride length with minimal equipment.  These are very simple, but extremely effective, so if you’re working on improving your straight leg raise, enhancing your stride length, or making your gait pattern fluid and efficient, give these exercises a shot.

 

BAND LEG LOWERING

KB BENT KNEE LEG LOWERING W/ ROTATION

LEG LOWERING 2

These are just three examples I’ve pulled from our B3 bundle.  With this bundle, we’ve incorporated simple exercises that require minimal equipment and produce a MAJOR bang for your buck.  If you’re strapped for cash and can’t buy a gym full of fancy equipment, you can still get amazing results by incorporating some of the exercises from our B3 bundle.  We’ll help improve your movement, get you strong, and provide you with some workouts that you can do using nothing more than your own body weight, a resistance band, and a kettlebell.  It doesn’t take a ton of equipment to design a killer program, so check it out if you’d like to see more.  It’s on sale this week (November 3-6, 2015), so grab your copy by Friday and save $50.

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FMS Systems Case Study

After reading Steve’s latest article, I felt compelled to elaborate a little more and to show you guys what we’re currently working on to improve our results. I’m going to explain a current client we have, what issues came up, and our solutions to addressing what we found.

The article I’m referring to is on the Functional Movement SYSTEMS. The FMS is more than just a movement screen. Their entire organization is based around creating “Standard Operating Procedures” designed to improve movement, both in terms of communication and practical application. They’ve done an amazing job at creating IF/THEN scenarios, creating flow charts telling you where to go, and creating solutions based upon individual findings.

There are countless variables that come into play when you’re working with a human being, but the Functional Movement Systems have helped narrow down the process and give you WAY more information to work with. A skilled fitness professional, strength coach, or therapist is always going to get more out of the system. However, since we’ve got systems in place, our younger and more experienced coaches can now replicate what the skilled professional is doing…to a certain extent. Essentially, using these systems will help narrow the gap between the best-of-the-best. We’re still learning a ton on a daily basis, and using these systems within our business has proven to be our most valuable asset. Teaching these systems to our trainers has allowed us to get amazing results without having to do all the work ourselves. Let me show you an example of how we used the Functional Movement SYSTEM (combination of FMS and Y Balance) to work with one of our clients recently.

Here’s a quick recap of what’s going on with Toni. One of our clients, Toni, recently complained of mild, acute back pain. Occasionally her low back would hurt after a long day on her feet, lack of activity, and sometimes from her workout. She really couldn’t pinpoint anything that was directly related to her low back pain, so our first action step is to set up a movement screen to see what’s going on. This not only allows us to look at her movement patterns, but it’s also a great session to set aside some time to talk to her about what’s going on in her life and get lifestyle issues that may be relating to the pain. Win/Win. So that’s what we did…we set up the initial session and started screening.

Here is what her screen looked like:

 

FMS Case Study

After taking Toni through the initial FMS, we found her only red light or dysfunctional pattern to be the push up. She’s had this issue for awhile now, but she also used to have a rotary stability dysfunction but recently cleared the pattern. After taking her through the screen, I still wasn’t convinced she had adequate stability. We already found out that her Trunk Stability Push Up was dysfunctional, but I wanted to find out more. So, I decided to run a couple quick breakouts and a Y-Balance Test with her. I am definitely no expert with the Y-Balance Test yet, but I’m getting some interesting information and seeing a ton of value.

As Steve said in his previous article, The Functional Movement Screen has a bias towards mobility. Stability is addressed, but mobility and basic motor control are the main drivers behind the screen. Adding the Y-Balance Test to the equation allows the Functional Movement Systems to exploit both areas…Mobility with the FMS and stability with the Y-Balance Test. In my short experience with the Y-Balance Test, I can see a ton of value moving forward.

The Y-Balance Test allows us to narrow down stability or motor control issues to a specific quadrant or quadrants. Just like the Functional Movement Screen, there are certain criteria that must be met. If you find a dysfunction, simply mark it and move on. After doing the test with Toni, we found two specific quadrants to be of concern. Her upper left quadrant and her lower left quadrant. Basically, her left side didn’t function like the right. There was a pretty obvious asymmetry, and the Y-Balance Test exploited that.

 

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Now that we have results from both the FMS and Y-Balance Test, it’s time to start to use that information for her programming. Here is the selection we gave her for correctives:

Lower Rolling (left side only) – This was one of the breakout screens we did prior to the Y-Balance Test. We found an asymmetry here on both upper and lower rolls to the left. The Y-Balance Test confirmed the rolling breakout.

 

Upper Rolling (left side only)

 

Stability Ball Rockback w/ Arm Lift (raise right arm only)

 

 

 

Half Turkish Get-Up (bell in right hand)

The only other thing I’d like to note with Toni was how it affected her program. You can see the correctives we did with her, but her programming was also affected slightly as well. Since she’s a group client, we went through the group program we’re currently in and made some minor changes. I had her eliminate most, if not all, bilateral work and started to exploit that asymmetry with her program. For example, one of the programmed exercises was a progression of Goblet Squats or KB Front Squat, a bilateral squatting exercise. All I did with her was switch it from doing the KB Goblet or Front Squat to an Offset Front Squat, doing more on that left side we found to be dysfunctional.

All in all, I think that was a solid hour spent with one of our clients. I was able to find a major asymmetry, dial in her corrective strategy, and make minor changes to her program to help her improve. I’ll re-screen her within a few weeks and see what happens.

That’s the kind of SYSTEM I’m talking about. The Functional Movement Systems have helped us dial in our programming and getting better results with our clients. We’ve taken what works for us in our gym, created a system around it, and made a process easy to follow with our coaches and trainers. Smart Group Training: The System will help you learn how to use a system like this within your gym. If you want more information and want help dialing in your programming like that, check out SGT: The System today!

 

P.S. – SGT: The System just launched this week and is currently on sale. Pick up a copy before midnight Friday, August 14th and you’ll be able to save $100.