Hey fokkers! In part one of this series we figured out if large group training is right for you and your facility. That’s step one! Now, let’s talk about the differences that you will run into while coaching large groups.
I know, I’m so annoying with this safety shit! Well, it’s only annoying until you realize how much it’s necessary. Case in point, I had a former collegiate lineman in for a class a couple of years ago; we were getting our resilience training in at the end of a class with some swings. Well, his grip failed on the eccentric portion of the swing and the bell got away from him. Have you ever let go of your bell at that point of your swing? I promise you that the bell will travel much farther, much quicker, and much more violently than you will imagine. Luckily, I had the room set up in a manner that allowed us to avoid any travesties other than a couple of people crapping their pants (me included). This brings me to my first point!
Set the room up in a manner that minimizes all risks
With large groups, swings are a tough exercise to perform safely. To manage risk, I always educate my clients on the dangers of this situation. They need to understand this stuff! Never aim your swing at another classmate, forward or behind. Always be aware of your surroundings. If you get complacent and step in front of someone’s swing you’re going to have a bad day, mkay?! If the numbers are too great for the space, don’t fret! Split the room up so that people work with partners. One person swings while the other rests (the old I Go You Go method) so that you effectively cut your activity in half at one time. Presto! You now have a safer space to work in! This is just one example but the point is, consider the demands and potential risks that any particular exercise has and think about how that will play out in a more crowded environment. Always be ten steps ahead so that you can anticipate dangers and mitigate them before they have a chance to manifest.
Exercise selection is always going to solve or create problems for you. Choose wisely!
Save the chance for a more controlled and predictable environment. Large groups are never the ideal testing grounds for a new protocol so stick with what you know and refine it to its simplest form. Never shoot to work with a barbell if the kettlebell or dumbbell will get the job done.
This serves a couple of different purposes:
1. Complex movements demand more coaching for the gen pop client and your resources are going to be limited unless you have several coaches on the floor. Stick to movements your clients have command of and are comfortable with.
2. The more moving parts you have, the more likely it is that someone is going to get caught up in those moving parts whether literally or metaphorically. Keep it simple!
Require some sort of prerequisites for your students to gain access to large group training.
Don’t let people just jump into that environment without having some sort confirmation of their competency in movement. At Rebell, we require people to go through what we call an Essentials program before they can move forward to regular programming. This gives them some time to brush up on basics and experience the group setting in a comfortable manner. They can progress at their own pace but never move forward into our regular program without the okay from our coaching staff. Doing this ensures that when people enter our regular programming they have an effective dose of competency which creates a consistent experience for everyone involved.
Cool! Enough about safety already– geez! Let’s talk about working the room. Making sure everyone has a great experience is vital to getting them to buy into the program. Here are some points on that!
Working the Room
Big groups can be intimidating and that poses a challenge for us because we have to exude coolness and confidence to capture trust. Here are some points to make that happen:
Learn to talk from your belly and set the tone.
It’s hard to get a large group’s attention. If you talk through your nose it’s even harder. Let that shit rip from your soul! Be loud without screaming. Demand attention! At Rebell, we start all our classes with an overview of what is expected from our clients in that session. Answer as many questions as you can before they come up and you will have a much smoother operation.
Make a point to engage each client during class at least once.
Whether it is a cue, correction, or a compliment and encouragement, let each person in your class know that you are paying attention to what they are doing. This enriches their experience and forces you to stay on your toes. Try to stay in a position where you can see the whole room for the most part, intermittently moving in and out of traffic to coach. This will cut down on dangerous situations and allow you to give your peeps the coaching they deserve.
Kill as many birds with each stone that you throw.
Cueing is basically the same for large groups as it is in small groups or even one on ones. To save time though, if you see a common mistake being made, stop the class, and have a teaching moment that everyone can learn from. Even if people were not making that mistake, it will serve as a good reminder or lead to questions that might get them information they otherwise would miss. Efficiency rules!
If you have questions or there is an issue I did not address, let’s talk about it. Comment with a question or bring it up in a Q and A. Programming is up next so get ready to dominate the dojo!