Connect to Self and Others

Connect to Self and Others

Maximising Fitness Outcomes: The role of variation in Group Exercise Programs

May 9, 2024 | Blog, Pilates | 0 comments

In my extensive journey through the fitness industry, spanning countless group classes both as a teacher and a participant, I’ve witnessed the evolution of various teaching methodologies.  From freestyle aerobics to Pilates and Yoga, alongside occasional pre-choreographed routines (yes, showing my age!), I’ve experienced it all.

Reflecting on these experiences, I’ve come to appreciate the unique benefits of freestyle teaching over pre-choreographed programming.

As a participant, my preference has always leaned towards freestyle for the following fundamental reasons:


  1. PRESENT ENGAGEMENT:  Freestyle classes foster a dynamic, present-focused environment where both instructors and participants are actively engaged.  The spontaneity and creativity involved keep the energy levels high and the experience fresh.
  2. SPONTANEOUS PROGRESSIONS OR REGRESSIONS:  Unlike pre-choreographed routines that follow a predetermined structure, freestyle teaching allows for real-time adjustments based on individual needs.  Whether it’s ramping up the intensity or dialling it back for those who need it, the ability to adapt on the spot ensures a personalised experience for every participant.
  3. FUN:  Lets face it – repetition can breed boredom.  Freestyle classes inject a sense of excitement and variety into each session, making it a joyous journey rather than a monotonous routine.
  4. VARIATION:  Adaptation is a fundamental aspect of physical exercise, wherein the body adjusts to repeated patterns of movement.  While standardising group exercise programs may seem like a practical approach, recent studies emphasise the importance of varied exercise techniques to challenge clients and effectively stimulate muscle adaptation, enhancing optimal outcomes.
  5. HIGHER SKILLED TEACHERS:  A highly experienced teacher possesses a unique ability to adapt and enhance their programs in real-time, catering to the diverse needs of their clients.  Whether it’s modifying exercises to accommodate varying levels, adjusting intensity levels based on individual capabilities, or seamlessly incorporating alternative techniques to address specific concerns, their expertise shines through in every session.  This adaptability not only ensures inclusivity and engagement but also maximises the effectiveness of the program, leading to greater client satisfaction and long-term success.  With a keen eye for observation and a wealth of practical knowledge, the experienced teacher transforms each moment into an opportunity for growth and empowerment, creating an enriching journey for all involved.
Unlike rigidly standardised programs and the current shift towards one-size-fits-all business models which threatens to diminish the essence of individualised teaching – the ability to cater to the unique needs and abilities of each client.  True expertise lies not in the following a script but in the nuanced understanding gained from years of hands-on experience with a diverse range of individuals.

With the rise of franchise business models, my interactions with young teachers trained under such systems have revealed a significant gap in experience, lacking the knowledge and mentorship necessary to effectively teach a diverse range of clientele at the same time, relying instead on scripted routines and pre-programmed videos.

As the industry continues to evolve, it’s crucial to uphold the value of freestyle teaching as a rare gem – precious, adaptable and deeply impactful.  Let’s champion the essence of individualised instruction, ensuring that every experience is as unique and meaningful as the individuals embarking upon it.

In conclusion, while repetition is is essential for physical adaptation, research emphasises the value of variation in group exercise programs.  By empowering experienced teachers to incorporate diverse techniques and personalise instruction, we can elevate the effectiveness of classes and optimise client outcomes.

About the Author

Oriana is the Director and owner of Qi Pilates, Health & Yoga, which epitomises the embodiment of this ethos.  With an illustrious career spanning 24 years in the fitness industry, Oriana has honed her craft working with a diverse range of clients.  Her expertise extends beyond physical fitness, as she seamlessly integrates holistic wellness coaching into her practice, nurturing mind, body and soul.  Yet, Oriana’s vision transcends her own achievements; she harbors a dream to impart her wisdom and experience to the next generation of teachers, ensuring that her legacy of compassion, adaptability, and excellence continues to inspire and uplift for years to come.

Oriana Chee Wellness Coach-01


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