gails blog

Branded Classes vs. Freestyle classes


These days as we move forward into the fitness stream of group classes, have you wondered why  branded pre choreographed classes are becoming more of the mainstream of fitness classes versus freestyle creative classes? Hopefully in this blog I will be able to address my thoughts and opinions on this topic. You may find that you agree with me, but are always free to disagree,

1-The newer  instructors entering the field  of teaching group exercise classes, need a foundation to start teaching classes. Branded classes are the solution. You don’t have to think, be creative for your classes, learn the musicality, design a break down, think of progressions, think of safe, and effective applications. It is done for you.  Branded classes bring simplicity.

2-In the evolution of freestyle teaching by group exercise instructors, we all have designed our class outlines to teach to each individual class we teach every day. We have picked our own music, designed detailed break downs to help cater to all class levels, we know our musicality/32 counts, and also are able to make decisions in class should we need to adjust to accommodate to our clients./members.  The beauty of freestyle teaching is in the way we do the  breakdowns, teaching the class such that at the very end it is a seamless beautiful performance by the members.

However, these days, the instructors who can accomplish this freestyle production are few, and far between.   We  - – - as an industry – - are now surrendering to the branded classes because, our clients cannot handle the challenge that is placed in front of them,  that being – - – - to listen, and to learn.  These days in our technology-driven world, we have forgotten how to listen, to understand, to connect,  and to pay attention. Everything in our new world is visual. Texting is one of the largest adversaries we have in our industry.  We have turned off our ears to listen, and to feel,. Texting, although convenient,  is cold, and it does not require you to interact, to listen, or to feel.  Think about it???  Branded classes allows members to get comfortable in classes.  After a few weeks, they can probably text, and take your class at the same time. This is not the case in a freestyle class.  Free style classes requires members to listen, to pay attention, to feel, and to understand the muscle awareness of where they need to be in that particular movement/workout.

3-The biggest benefit of branded classes to the fitness facilities, is that the  fitness companies can now have trainers teach these pre-choreographed classes, and pay them less than a skilled certified group exercise instructor,>>>HENCE saving on group exercise payroll.  Remember group exercise is a cost center.  We do not bring revenue into the facilities, we ONLY retain loyal members that continue to pay ONLY monthly memberships (and our members sometimes bring in guests or family based upon our reputations in the field). Unlike group exercise, Personal Trainers, and small group training classes (SGTC), brings revenue into the fitness facilities over, and above members’ monthly dues.  So, by plugging Personal Trainers into classes, two things happen> a)-We can now save on group ex payroll.  We can now pay trainers on a low average $18 to $25 a class vs group ex instructors pay scale which can be on average from $30 to $100 an hour (Note: $75+ are Higher end instructors with 5+ certifications, and 8+ years teaching experience)  and,  b) Personal Trainers now have an open forum to connect, and promote themselves to members to drive, build PT, and SGTC revenue to build the personal training business to hit the companies monthly revenue goals.  It’s a Win WIN for the companies!   Companies are looking for PT with the ability to do both modules, or, they are looking at trainers with the potential to be coached to do both modules. YES! We can be replaced very easily because, at the end of the day, it is revenue that builds a business NOT the monthly dues.

They are so many  challenges we face as a fitness professionals   Among these are…….

-Super-low priced competitors.

-High-Pressure from clients wanting to “Feel the Burn” before they are even healthy enough to really train.

-Unqualified, and unskilled fitness professionals that give our profession a bad name.

-Near to almost worthless workouts in the fitness magazines.

-TV shows, magazines ads, internet gurus making  impossible claims.

-Uncertified Fitness professionals

Amongst all of this, how do we find a way to differentiate ourselves, and to build, and elite fitness program that gets results, gives great classes, keep members retention at a HIGH,  to show our fitness companies that we are valuable- – -  how can we be impactful, ….

My answer to that is:

4-It is my opinion that -Freestyle classes set you apart from everyone else. By teaching them, you can make your style irreplaceable.  You can be the sprinkles for the cupcake, the whip cream on the apple pie for the group ex schedule, becoming “The Highlight” in a mundane schedule of branded classes.   You can be the elitist, the special instructor, even if you are only teaching  2 to 4 classes a week. You can impact the schedule fully.  Don’t get me wrong, freestyle is work – - – . finding music, coming up  with new ideas, figuring out how to break it down so that members can be successful . You can become untouchable meaning – - – you will be sought after, and the management team will try to make you happy, versus being  just an instructor that teaches only branded classes – - – someone who is easily replaced. The reward is PRICELESS, YOU CAN BE PRICELESS!

*Be open to teaching SGTC, be flexible, keep your classes fresh. Do not box yourself into teaching just one type of class.

* Be flexible to teaching branded classes, however, pick the branded classes “YOU” will be able to deliver in your true form of teaching style that you can shine through vs. just teaching a branded classes because its the next best thing. Don’t be the majority, be the minority.

*Keep your certifications current, add  other certifications into your  repertoire of teaching skills. Take workshops, attend Fitness Conference vs doing online course.

*Stay within your company’s class format, and description. Do not deviate from the companies brand/class formats. They are in place to build their business NOT yours. If you feel the need to deviate, then let me strongly suggest you get your own studio.  Remember you are working for a large establishment. Rules are in place to build their brand weather you agree ,or not. Be mindful of that,…..So keep all these things in the back of your mind.

*But, in any event, every time you walk into your classes, try to make a difference within that class, and with at least ONE member.  In doing this, you will see how your classes will  start to grow.

*Be humble, and be grateful, but always remember that “You are the best there is.”  And when  it comes to being you, nobody does it better.

Thanks for reading, hope it was helful.
Gail Bannister-Munn
Flexibility Specialist
E-RYT 200 Yoga,
Wellness Health & Fitness Coach
posted under Uncategorized

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