In this day and age of fitness, if you are not assessing you are guessing. While one-on one training may be the best scenario for assessments, it does not mean that trainers should overlook the importance of having an assessment system in place when it comes to group training.
In order to train in a group setting, you must have a system that helps address the client’s individual needs in order to deliver an effective result. Assessments are a great way to understand what the client needs and wants, while setting yourself apart from the competition.
There are lots of ways you can assess someone, especially in a one on one scenario. Yet, sometimes in a group setting, time and scheduling conflicts may prevent you from doing a individual assessment.
Small Group Setting
Before a new client enters a group setting at Cressey Sports Performance, we have them fill out a basic health history form and a waiver. This lets us know what limitations we may be working with and if a group setting may or may not be a good fit for them. If there is nothing on the form that requires more of an individualized assessment, there are a few simple strategies we use to assess a new client in group training.
Foundational Movements: When a client comes to me for group training with no training background, I will have the client perform a few foundational movements.
Because of time limitations, I am not able to perform a full screen and will take a look at a body weight squat, lunge, pushup and an Active Straight leg raise. These movements will give me an idea of how well they may move on the floor and what I may be working with. They are also very simple to conduct and not time consuming at all.
The Warm-up : If a client does not jump out at me while I look over the forms and they have had a prior training history, I introduce them to the group to make them feel comfortable and start assessing the way they interact with other individuals. This gives me an idea of what type of personality I may be working with in order to adjust my coaching skills. It also gives me an idea on how well they are going to ,move out on the floor as well. If someone has a hard time taking cues on the warmup, the floor is most likely going to be tough for them as well. Be sure not to over complicate things here.
Refer Out : At Cressey Sports Performance we are lucky to have a great network in our area of massage therapists, physical therapist and specialty doctors. When a new client comes in and something looks too complicated to work around in a group setting, I typically refer them out to a full one-on-one evaluation in our facility. This assessment is very thorough and encompasses postural assessments, movement assessments and a day out on the floor to see how well the client can move.
Large Group Settings
If you are training groups of 20 plus, having a systematic approach to assessments would be wise if staffing allows for it. One of the easiest tests to conduct in a group setting is the Functional Movement Screen, and setting up a introductory screen monthly for all new members could allow you to place clients more efficiently in your program.
Find a system that works best for you and start using it right away, especially if you have multiple large groups in order to set yourself apart from the competition.
Putting it into action
Start With the Warm-up : Your warm-up sets the tone for the training session to follow. In the warm-up you can address specific imbalances for individuals. Including exercises that follow the joint-by-joint approach popularized by Gray Cook, would benefit most groups. A good template should include the following:
- Foam Rolling : Tell Clients to arrive early
- Positional Breathing
- Core/Glute Activation
- Hip Mobility
- Thoracic Spine Mobility
- Squat/Hip Hinge Patterning
- Multi-plane movement drills
Create Your Workout : Having templates readily available at your disposal will allow you to effectively coach people in a group setting. Knowing at least one progression/regressions for your basic movements will make your job a lot easier and make everything more systematic. This way if someone has some injuries or is not able to perform certain excercises, you can accommodate.
Assessing clients in a group setting does not have to be all that complicated. You must have a system that works best for your business model. Thinking outside the box when it comes to assessments saves you complications and allows you to have a standardized system without spending extra time. At CSP Strength Camps, providing individualized assessments or group assessments does not fit with our business model, and that is why we have an in-depth assessment for those that may need it. We are also not afraid to refer out and understand that not everyone will be a good fit for group training.