What You Don’t Understand About Fitness Classes (and Why it Can Hurt You)

Fitness classes at Asheville Family Fitness

Have you ever been to a class at a big gym? (Not naming any names of course.)

Typically, you’re in a large studio with at least 15 other people. The instructor stands up front, working through choreography that even Fred Astaire would find troubling. The music is loud and poppy. And the other people in the class all seem like they know exactly what’s going on.

But you don’t. You can’t keep up, or you don’t understand why you can’t feel those squats in your butt. Your knees hurt, but you figure it’s just because you’re out of shape.

Well…you’re wrong about that.

Your knees shouldn’t hurt. Ever. Or your back, or your neck, or your shoulders.

The problem with these types of classes — well, there are a few, actually — boils down to two factors:

  • The size of the class (i.e. the inability of the instructor to give personalized guidance to each participant)
  • The experience and training of the instructor

In the first scenario, it’s just a numbers game. You have 45 minutes to give all these people what they think they came for: a kick-ass workout. If you take ANY extra time to help old Millie in the back learn how to squat properly, the rest of the class suffers. It’s just not possible.

And the second issue is, of course, a generalization. Fitness professionals can get hundreds of different certifications, and the general gym-going public isn’t savvy enough to know the difference between one set of impressive-looking credentials and another.

But broadly speaking, group exercise instructors are not the same thing as personal trainers. Anyone can get a Zumba certification, for instance. Even you! Just Google the next training, pay a few hundred bucks, and in one weekend’s time you’ll be a certified Zumba instructor.

(I’m picking on Zumba, but it’s true for most group exercise certs. I’m guessing at the specific length and cost.)

In other words, oftentimes a group exercise instructor is only certified to teach that class specifically. The Les Mills series (BodyPump, etc.) is another example.

They aren’t necessarily trained in anatomy, proper body mechanics, or injury prevention — unless they seek it out elsewhere. They don’t study the interpersonal issues related to fitness coaching, like motivation, accountability, and what to do when your client doesn’t do what you say (which is important, because clients ALWAYS rebel).

You’ll notice at AFF, that our “classes” are different.

The small size means we can take five minutes to help poor old Millie with her squats. The various levels of our Gx classes further ensure that Miss Millie will be surrounded by peers with similar experience and abilities.

We don’t have any large-scale, poppy music, complicated classes. We only offer classes that directly help with what you NEED from your gym membership (not just what you think you want..see what I did there?) — safe, functional, effective exercises that have a cumulative effect on your strength, posture, flexibility, and endurance.

This includes our aquatic classes as well as our yoga offerings. (Yoga teachers, by the way, participate in a months-long, intensive certification process, including supervised hours, internships, and rigorous training.)

Also, most of our FunGx classes are taught by certified personal trainers, which signifies a huge leap in education, experience, and knowledge.

When you show up for one of those classes, what you’re actually getting is a small-group personal training session. (Which, by the way, would cost you at least $50/month at most gyms, plus you’d have to find your own group. At AFF it’s included in your membership.)

We don’t do this to be snooty, or to thumb our noses at all the hard-working group fitness instructors out there.

We do it because we believe it’s the best way to help Asheville get truly healthier. Because of all the people who join our gym after hurting themselves, feeling ignored, or just not knowing what to do at a big gym.

We do it because we don’t just want to take your money and let the chips fall where they may; we want to actually help you get better/stronger/faster/slimmer. And dumping you into a cookie-cutter class with 20 other people isn’t gonna cut it.

We do it because we care.

And isn’t that what you really came here for?


Written by Damon

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