One of the main differences between an average coach and the best is that they are obsessed with every single little detail of the class they are delivering, and how it will be received by their members. The best in the business do not show up to class 10 minutes beforehand and hastily throw together a plan. Instead, they plan their class to the minute ahead of time and think through the day in their head, accounting for transition time, classes who like to socialize more than others, skill work, “what ifs”, and more. We call this logistics. Below is a hypothetical affiliate class followed by thoughts on how to execute it.
Back Squat 7×2
20/16 Calorie Row
20 Kettlebell Swings 53/35lbs
20 Handstand Push Ups
The best place to start when planning the logistics of your class is to analyze the prescribed work and how long it will take. I typically recommend the first 3-5 minutes (3 minutes in my example) of your class to welcome everyone, make any pertinent gym announcements, describe the general flow of your class, ask about any acute injuries, and introduce your warm up.
Aside from the obvious need to warm up the tissues and improve mobility, consider the length of the warm up and make sure it jives with the length of the programmed work. In our example, I would run the class through 8 minutes of a general warm up and then give them another 8 to work up to their starting weight. At the 20-minute mark in the hour, set 1 begins. There are two easy ways I’ve seen the lifting executed successfully, so I’ll touch on both here.
- Time Cap: “Ok class, you have 20 minutes to warm up your back squat and execute your 7 sets.” You can then set the clock and allow athletes to work on their own time, which is good if you have athletes at both ends of the skill spectrum – advanced athletes will take a little longer while beginners can get more attention and practice more repetitions.
- EMOM: Give the group 5-6 minutes to warm up to their first working set, and then have the whole class squat together every X number of minutes. In this workout, 2 reps every 2 minutes would be a decent plan, completing the squats in about 14 minutes. This option is good for larger classes, as it enables the coach to see and correct more athletes while also forcing athletes to rest more than they might otherwise.
The metcon isn’t so easy. In order to properly budget enough time inside your affiliate class you have to ask yourself three questions.
1) What is the desired stimulus of the workout?
2) What is the fastest someone could do this?
3) What will be the slowest acceptable time?
For this particular workout, I think the fastest time would be approximately 6 minutes and the slowest acceptable time approximately 12 minutes to meet this desired stimulus. We can say most will be under 10 minutes, but should still consider those who may take 12. Time caps should be reserved for more challenging workouts, or workouts that may have signficant variance between fast and slower athletes. If you are relying on a time cap to keep your class on track, you are likely not scaling your athletes correctly or they are missing the desired stimulus of the workout. Now that you have determined the necessary time to execute the prescribed work (around 26 minutes) you can craft your class introduction, warm up, skill work, cool down, and allot transition time.
Prior to the workout, reconvening at the whiteboard is a great idea and allows you to reiterate the workout, the intended stimulus, movement standards, scaling options, and one more opportunity to identify injuries. Lastly, it gives the coach the opportunity to address class setup. It is your job to ensure that the physical class layout eliminates any possibility of injury as a result of athletes or equipment bumping into each other. For our example, having athletes move in one clear direction from the rower to the kettlebell, and from the kettlebell to the wall and/or floor for HSPU/push ups is a good start. Additionally, ensuring there is adequate space between stations is non-negotiable. Once you have conveyed the necessary information it is time to set up the gym floor and execute the workout.
Following the workout, I left 4 minutes for equipment clean up and a quick shoulder stretch to close out class. While not every class may have time to include a coach-led cool down, it is absolutely necessary that your class is given instruction on how to properly recover from the class workout they just performed. Below is a minute-by-minute breakdown of this class.
0-3: Class Intro
3-4: Transition/Set Up
4-12: General Warm up
12-20: Specific warm up to starting weight
20-34: Back squat execution
34-39: Put weights away/transition
39-43: Class set up/last minute breaks
43-55: Conditioning execution
55-60: Cool down/clean up
In this example things ran very smoothly. Don’t forget to have contingency plans for things like equipment limitations, a larger than usual class, bad weather (if running or working outdoors), scaling, and injury modifications for common injuries/issues.
We recommend utilizing the Coach’s Class Planning Tool (download it below) as a way to plan your class. Planning out each of these considerations may take some time at first, but it will become quicker and easier the more often you do it. Your classes will run more smoothly and you won’t be surprised when something unexpected comes up. All of this results in happier members who are confident in your ability to provide them with the quality they deserve.
Written by Matt Sherburne