I think about workouts a lot running this website. I can’t walk past a group training session in a park without stopping for a moment to work out what kind of drill the trainer is running.
As a result I’ve started seeing some patterns between highly successful bootcamps and their workouts and other bootcamps that are struggling.
Now some bootcamps will do well in spite of how the trainer runs their session, but if you are struggling to get numbers then you are not one of these people.
So check below and make sure you are not making any of these common mistakes:
1. Using a stop watch all the time
You should not be watching a stop watch, you should be watching your clients.
Successful bootcamps feel personal to their clients. You want to be out there correcting technique and motivating.
Buy yourself a Gymboss if you need to or start planning workouts that don’t require a timer.
2. No session planning
Don’t just rock up to a session with no clue what you are going to do.
This is highly disrespectful to your clients as it shows you don’t value their time and results enough to actually think about what you are going to do with them.
If you have clients with injuries, different fitness levels or conditions (like being pregnant) then you must plan your session so that you can cater for them.
3. Don’t allow enough rest
Not every workout you run with your clients needs to leave them feeling like jelly on a plate.
In fact, my favourite sadist moment is when a client leaves one of my sessions saying that they didn’t feel like they worked hard enough only to come back to me two days later asking why they can’t sit on the toilet.
The body is made of different muscle types and energy systems. Including adequate rest in your workout plans and using other methods to vary intensity is essential in making sure your clients keep getting fitter and stay injury free.
4. Allowing too much rest
This was a problem I had early on as a trainer and I think other beginning trainers share the same problem.
If your clients have done other group fitness classes then they are probably used to an hour of non-stop exercising (which is why I think many of us make mistake number 3 – we try to do the same). So if they come to your workout with lots of long rest breaks they may start looking for something else.
It’s not your fault, it’s just the way they are used to exercising.
Here are some ways to reduce rest in your workouts:
- Plan your sessions (see #2) so that you aren’t stalling while thinking of a new exercise
- Include active recovery breaks of running, walking or core training
- Don’t do too many different drills – this will result in too much time spent setting up and explaining new exercises during the workout. Ideally you want to do all of this at the start.
If you are running a strength or power-style workout that requires a lot of rest, you could just take a few minutes at the start of the session to explain to your clients why it is they will be resting a lot this workout.
5. No gamification
the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g., point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, to encourage engagement with a product or service.
“gamification is exciting because it promises to make the hard stuff in life fun”
A key element to any long running, successful bootcamp is the community that exists amongst it’s attendees.
Need proof? Just look at the Crossfit community.
A great way to build community in your bootcamp is to include games. Of course, you still need to train people, but adding games to your warm ups or point scoring to your workouts will build amazing camaraderie in your bootcamps.
6. The trainer joins in the session
I know for a fact that many trainers who read this website do this. This is going to piss you off but please don’t take it personally. I still like you and think you are awesome, we just disagree on this point.
This is a big mistake. One of the things that distinguished my bootcamp from a typical gym class was that it was not instructor led.
I was not up the front of the class where I can’t see you. I was by your side coaching you; correcting technique, encouraging you and making sure your partner was pulling her weight.
I have tried joining in with sessions before and it just doesn’t work. You can not effectively coach your clients and exercise with them at the same time.
Sure jump in with them for a few reps or a sprint to get them motivated, but just remember why you are there, to train people not to get a workout in.
I love this community and it’s acceptance of everyone’s different training styles.
I wrote this for beginners and people struggling as a way to avoid some common mistakes. I did not write it to start a war.
If you would like to comment politely below, please go ahead. I would love to discuss the points above with you.
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Image: Will Scullin
Kyle Wood created Bootcamp Ideas in 2010 when he was hunting around on the internet for workout ideas. He ran a successful bootcamp in Victoria, Australia and spends his spare time managing this site, adventuring (or lazying) with his wife and find new ways to make bootcamps even better.