The Glory of “Group Training”

by Emily Williamson

Group Training 1
A RHF member during Group Training

Rainier Health & Fitness member Nancy Shore was hesitant to try Group Training due to back pain, but within a year of working out three times weekly, she experienced both a stronger back and more energy. Recapping the transformation, Nancy wrote:

“I remember telling Patrick that I thought Group Training would be a bad idea due to back pain. Patrick told me that the Group Training would help my back and even promised me I’d gain the strength and form needed to pick up my son. I gave it a try and realized that Group Training would help me move beyond doing just cardio on the elliptical. The trainers are amazing at working with you and modifying the exercises as needed. My son is now five and over 50 pounds and I can still give him uppies. The Group Training classes have been amazing—my back is definitely better and the trainers and other gym members in the class always motivate me. I am definitely stronger than I’ve ever been and find that starting my day off with Group Training energizes me and helps me focus throughout my workday.”

Members like Nancy are exactly who the trainers have designed Group Training to impact. As a program of a non-profit in the Rainier Valley, Rainier Health & Fitness has attracted many residents who never before stepped inside a gym. Consequently, the staff found that a number of these newcomers are intimidated by weights and large equipment so stick to treadmills and ellipticals rather than pushing themselves to a total body workout.

To expand members’ fitness routines at a reasonable cost, the trainers implemented a program called Group Training. These workouts enable participants to vary their exercise routine, receive a total body workout and get guidance from a certified trainer…plus get to know a few of their neighbors in the process! Most importantly, the program encompasses three of RHF’s core values:

  1. Motivating members to take control of their preventative health
  2. Cultivating community
  3. Making high-quality fitness affordable and accessible.

Group Training is the type of service people would otherwise only get through Personal Training or CrossFit. And although RHF offers both Personal Training and CrossFit at rates greatly reduced from their competitors, many members still cannot afford these services. Group Training fills the gap. Compared to most gyms where a single session with a trainer costs upwards of $40/hour, Group Training gives members unlimited access to workouts guided by a certified trainer for just $30 per month (that breaks down to approximately $3/session for members who come at least 10 times in the month. Training is offered six days a week nearly every hour so if utilized more, the cost decreases even further).

Capping classes at a maximum of 6 people, trainers are able to offer more personalized feedback in Group Training than in larger CrossFit classes. Meanwhile, workouts offer varying routines so no two days are exactly alike. Sometimes members do circuits and other times a set number of reps. Unlike CrossFit, however, Group Training does not involve heavy lifting but follows the NASM Optimum Performance Training™ (OPT™) Model focusing primarily on functional movements.

“We meet you where you are at based on your physical exercise capabilities and work on improving your capacity to perform functional and physical work,” says RHF trainer Patrick Otieno “For example, tasks requiring you to lift loads or move furniture without experiencing back pain.”

Although each session varies, Group Training breakdowns to essentially 5 phases:

  1. Warm up on a treadmill, rower, bike, elliptical or other cardio of choice (5-10 minutes)
  2. Stretch with a trainer (5 minutes)
  3. Core and corrective training (15-20 minutes)
  4. Circuit or muscle specific workout (20-25 minutes)
  5. Cool down (5 minutes)

One of the best aspects of Group Training is that it makes fitness fun. “Group training is fun and holds them accountable to coming to the gym,” said trainer Mike Nienaber. “There’s always variety, whether the instructor differs or the workout.”

Group Training isn’t for everyone. But for people who are new to fitness, who want to vary their workout without getting injured or who desire to connect to the local community, this program is perfect.  As Nancy said, “I also think the group training classes are very supportive and a lot of fun. I believe a strong sense of community forms through participating in these classes.”

Emily  Williamson is RHF’s marketing coordinator. Her own experience of suffering a back injury and recovering through exercises prescribed by a chiropractor who doubles as a cross-fit instructor gave her a passion for helping others experience life fully through fitness.