Browsing Tag


How to Personalize Group Training

If you’ve been following Smart Group Training for any time, you should know that we are all about individualizing training rather than providing a watered down program by creating a WOD (workout of the Day).  Sure, you can get benefits and results by creating a general workout template to put everyone on.  However, without customizing each routine, injury rates will increase, results will be minimized, plateaus will be harder to break, and overall…the training will be sub-par.

It’s been our mission over the past four years to provide something better.  We want to provide each of our clients the absolute best training program available.  We quickly realized that using a general workout template just wasn’t cutting it for us, so we decided to put our heads together and make some changes.  It took countless hours to develop the systems needed to make this happen, but honestly…it’s not that hard if you break it down into a series of processes that need to be followed to maximize results.  This simple process works in all scenarios.  It works in one-on-one, semi-private training, and most importantly…group training.  The reason why we say “most importantly” when it comes to group training is because this is the area we always see general workout templates, or WOD’s, being used.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  Here is a general guideline to follow to individualize each program you write:


Individualized Screening – As the popular saying goes, “If you’re not assessing, you’re guessing.”  We are asked all the time about specific scenarios and what we would do to “fix” or help a client progress.  The 1st thing we want to know is screening information.  Without us personally knowing what is going on with the client, it makes it impossible to help the client.  The screen will identify each person’s weaknesses and strengths.  Work on the weaknesses and dysfunctions and everything else gets better.  However, you’ll never really know this information without a proper screening system in place.

Improving Clients with No Restrictions During Group Corrective Exercise

After lots of discussions, I’ve realized that there needs to be a progressive way to improve our clients with no restrictions.  Basically, we give our clients the green light to train all patterns if they score a 14 or greater on the FMS with symettrical 2’s in each movement pattern.  So, what do we do with our clients during our “corrective work” time we have laid out for each workout?

Steve and I have been going over some stuff lately, and I have to tell you….I love it.  Following the heirarchy, if a person has symettrical 2’s in each pattern, we should refer back to Pod 1 (mobility) for continued improvements.  If the mobility pod is clear, we then move to Pod 2 (stability) for improvements.  This is a perfect system, and we use it with excellent results that are replicatable with anyone of our staff members.  Follow the system and get results.

Since these clients need something to do during our corrective time period, we had to come up with a solution to continue their progress and keep things interesting for them.  After some good discussion, we came up with a pretty good solution that keeps the non-restricted and higher skilled clients challenged and still improving during our corrective time period.  What do we do during our corrective time period with these clients?  Turkish Get Up’s!

Each one of our clients will begin to learn this movement while training with us.  We LOVE the Turkish Get Up!  This movement will challenge the best of the best, while improving their FMS scores.  It’s not that hard to teach if you have a system and process to follow.  Check out a previous blog post done about teaching Turkish Get Up’s in group format

After our clients begin to really understand the Get Up, we begin to progess them and really let them explore the movement to it’s fullest potential.  After watching Kettlebells From the Ground Up 2, we knew we had to get some of this stuff into our group training classes for our advanced clientele.  Both DVD’s are solid.  After watching them and practicing what you will learn in them, you will immediately see the potential it will have at improving movement within your clients.  You can get both DVD’s at  We highly recommend them and will be a great addition to your collection.

Our clients begin by learning the movement in phases.  After they begin to own the Get Up and are successful with the movement, we begin to incorporate what we learned from the Kettlebells from the Ground Up 2.  In this DVD, there are some amazing variations of the Get Up designed to improve hip mobility, shoulder mobility, and stability within the body.  The hip openers will begin to improve Active Straight Leg Raise scores.  The Shoulder openers do the trick for the shoulder mobility screen.  After working both of these, stability dramatically increases as well.  We have had some good success with incorporating these patterns with our more advanced clients, or our clients with limited restrictions.  The Get Up will challenge any one of your clients, improve their scores, and keep them coming back for more.  Give it shot and let us know what you think.  However, as with anything, you must first own this movement yourself before having your clients do it.  So, if you don’t already know the Get Up by heart, start to toy around with the movement and explore its capabilities.   You’ll love it, and your clients will too 🙂

Jared Woolever – MS, CSCS, TPI, YFS


Training Ropes: Adding Fun and Ease to Group Fitness Training

If you are not using training ropes in your group workouts, you are missing out! Training ropes are one of the best tools you can have in your arsenal for fitness. They are versatile, low-impact, and many fitness levels and ages can enjoy the benefits of working with training ropes.

What are training ropes? 

Training Rope
Training Rope

Essentially it’s a long thick rope with handles. The length, diameter, and material will differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. From a training standpoint these variations are important to take into consideration before implementing them into your training program.  I’ll touch more on that later.

These long ropes with handles are usually wrapped around an anchor of some sort. You can buy anchors specifically for mounting the ropes to the walls of your facility or you can simply wrap it around anything that won’t move such as a rack, pole, or tree.

How are training ropes used?

There are many, many, exercises and progressions, but I’m just going to give you a starting point and an example of ways to adjust the intensity. The primary rope exercise we use is rope waves. Assume an athletic stance with one handle in each hand and make a drumming movement avoiding rounding of the shoulders and upper back .  Using that as an example: if I wanted to increase the difficulty I might add squats to this movement, if I wanted to decrease the difficulty I would simply have the client drop one handle and do waves with only one side of the rope. That’s pretty much the ease of coaching ropes. If you would like more examples of exercises that can be done with battling ropes, click the link at the bottom of the page.

What are the benefits of training ropes in group exercise?

Ropes are hands down the number one way to get an individual with a knee or foot injury some high intensity, low-impact conditioning. How many of you have clients with lower body injuries they have acquired at some time in their life?  How many times have you wanted to get that heart rate up a little more without, bending, twisting, jumping, running, over head, or lateral movement? J Sometimes it’s hard to come up with “that exercise” on the fly while coaching a group session.  Ropes make that really easy.

Children love them! Child and teenage athletes are full of energy and spunk! Any new addition to the gym is immediately noticed and inspected.  Hand them a training rope and say “grip it and rip it” and watch the smiles. From a trainer’s standpoint, training ropes are an excellent way to start to introduce maintaining good posture through vigorous movements.  We usually line the younger children up each with one handle, two kids to a rope. That also helps incorporate sharing.  J

The biggest, baddest, most ninja like athlete will get smoked. Training ropes are great for injured and young populations but that does not make them easy to do.  You, the coach, even with a shorter, lighter rope, control the intensity of the training.  There are many, many progressions that can be applied to any training rope exercise.  Again, click the link at the bottom of the page for 20 example rope exercises.

It is easy to coach.  Any client can rip some rope waves in a group session. With the world of training advancing and more and more trainers are becoming more form intensive, this is a tool that involves minimal cuing.

What do you need to know before using training ropes?

When you look into introducing training ropes into your toolbox, you want to take into consideration who your primary population is.  At our facility we train a very mixed population and went for ropes that would literally work for anyone.  We use the poly ropes because they are a little lighter than nylon. They are also water resistant which makes them great for using outside. As far as size, 1’ to 1 1/2’ diameters are usually best. 2’+ diameter rope can be hard to hang on to and is usually too heavy for most people to use in good form.  The length can affect this as well.  The longer the rope the heavier it is. Length is a little less important than diameter and material when it comes to training intensity.  How much space you have is a better dictator of how long of a rope you need.

Our friend Justin Yule put together a great video on rope exercises. Check out training ropes in action at

I hope this article might inspire you to take advantage of one of my must haves when coaching group sessions.  Increase your client retention by developing strength, power, and endurance with this fun, easy to learn how to use fitness tool.


Sarah Spaulding