Bad Form Is Better Than a Bad Day

You probably know I’m picky on form. Honestly, one of the things my gym is most known for is our attention to detail and focus on tight form and clean movement. I don’t know how many times I’ve said, “every rep under this roof should be perfect!”

Although I often write and make videos about how to exercise with correct form, today I want to write about a time that it may be ok to have bad form.

Have you ever been running a group training session and you have that client that is just all over the place? Their hinge looks like a toe touch, their squat is a perfect hinge, and their pushup looks like they are doing some sort of snake type dance? I know I have, and I’m positive beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have as well.

I have to mention that this circumstance happens less and less now that I have a system to screen each client and place him or her in an appropriate progression with very little guesswork. However, even with the best screening system on earth you still have people that need more coaching than others. So that brings me to my point.

image courtesy of

In the past I’ve spent almost the entire group session following around a single client from station to station trying to coach them up to get them up to speed with everyone else in the group. Using multiple coaching cues to see what sticks, using hands on techniques to try to move them into place, and using PVC, bands, and any tool I can to get my hands on to teach them how to get into good form.

Although this problem is best solved with giving the client an exercise progression that they can be successful with, sometimes as long as they aren’t putting themselves in danger of injury it’s best to just smile, look the client in the eye, say “good job” and walk away for a second to help someone else.

The thing is, some people LOVE the extra attention that they get, but some people are freaking out that they have been singled out for doing it wrong. If you spend a bunch of time failing at getting them into proper form and they never get it, they feel like an idiot, and that is not the experience you want your clients to walk out of the gym having.

So even though great form is a major priority, client success is the number one goal. Your clients will definitely not be successful if training is stressful or they quit because of embarrassment. So coach ‘em up, but understand that coaching is more than cueing exercise, it’s about understanding what your clients need and meeting them where they are at to help the achieve their goals.

~ Steve Long

Check out the system that makes these situations extremely rare at my gym

Smart Group Training Volume 1 – Screening and Corrective Exercise

SGT Volume 1 - Resized