Body Training Systems Vs Freestyle Who wins?

I have just read a very interesting article regarding body training systems, and what has amused me even more are the comments underneath.  You can check out the report here

What has always baffled me throughout this freestyle v body training systems argument is that unless I am mistaken, to get an exercise to music qualification we all had to teach an exercise to music class.  That meant listening to music, designing out routine and then teaching it.  But it seems that there is a startling lack of teachers that firstly want to, and secondly can teach a reasonable hi/lo class.  I accept that step is a different issue as a lot of places are asking for a step certification, and I myself was put off from teaching step for a number of years, but a hi/lo class?  Please!!  Before I go on I must say that there are some areas that I have visited where freestlye is running things, where classes are buzzing and the instructors teach with a great degree of skill, but it seems this is becoming the exception rather than the rule. In fact some clubs and sports centres almost exclusively hold body training systems classes which I think is a massive shame

I accept that the industry has changed a lot.  When I first starting teaching there was only hi/lo, leg bums and tums and circuits.  Now there is such as wealth of choice that it is harder for the traditional hi/lo and step class to stand alone.  But it is possible.  Trust me! My Monday night aerobics class regularly attracted over 90 people every week.  And before you say it was because I was a presenter, most of them did not know of my “other” life!

The question that bugs me is, if Steve Ceri and myself can have a hi/lo class of over 1000 people at Balckpool, and if you go most hi/lo sessions at conventions or weekenders they are full, with participants and instructors alike that are twisting turning, knee upping, step touching and SMILING, and that if level 3 sessions at most events have a waiting list of people trying to get in to them, then why is that enthusiasm not filtering down into the studios and sports halls?  Why are a lot of instructors reluctant to teach hi/lo and step and choosing to focus on other areas of the industry?

I believe that as fitness professionals, which I am hoping that you are, you are trying to be as versatile an instructor as possible.  This means that as well as learning the newest techniques in conditioning, stretching and developing new skills and classes such as Pilates, spinning etc, I feel that you should be refining and maintaining your teaching skills.

Ok, a little bit of honesty time.  When was the last time you attended a convention, fitness weekend or fitness day?  And those of you that have,  when was the last time you attended a workshop detailing how to break down choreography, create your own choreography or to learn techniques to teach to a wide variety of  participants, rather than just look for freebies on the internet and getting the final routines?

I feel that the industry has developed a quick fix mentality, where some instructors want to see choreography, slot it into their existing class format, and teach it the next day.  While this is great, and we have all been there, I do feel that this ultimately is not actually improving the teacher’s ability.  Without understanding the why’s of teaching and choreography construction, it is difficult to recreate the combinations that you see at these events.

Presenters such as myself have spent a long time perfecting how we are going to teach our routines, create our choreography and try to create new concepts.  The why, or how we deliver the material always comes before the actual routine , or final product.  To deliver a successful aerobics session I feel this needs to be the case in studio or sports hall classes.

Another issue is one of personality.  Us freestylers are battling with a vast array of other class formats designed to get people fit, achieve body composition change, and having a good time. Therefore being enthusiastic and passionate about what you do is a must here.  Whether you are a sergeant major type instructor, or one that cracks jokes throughout your class, I feel you must offer that something extra to keep people coming back for more. Remember people come as much for you the person as well as what routines you deliver. This is something that I must admit that body training systems emphasises on their training, that instructors need to present their classes as well as just team

Talking of which, remember it is not your class but your members!!!  You may have come back from the latest event determined to teach the newest bamboozaling routine, but remember that it is they who come for a workout, to feel that they have accomplished something, to have a good time. 

Their needs should come before your own of wanting to teach the latest Steve Watson combo!  I know this seems a no brainer but I have seen it too many times where for example, an instructor has gradually turned a beginners step class with over 80 people in to a beginners class with 10 people in, because she kept on increasing the level of the class beyond the level of the participants, because she had been to numerous events and persisted on teaching those routines rather than keeping to the level of the class.  The result that class was replaced by a body training systems program.

So, are we as freestyle instructors losing out to other programs, such as body training systems?  I believe that we are but judging by the amount of people that still attend fitness events I feel this situation can be resolved. By focussing on your class’s needs, by refining your teaching skills, and by being passionate about what you do and teach you can have as busy hi/lo and step classes as your conditioning, flexibility or other programs.

If you are a freestyle instructor wanting help or motivation creating routines that work in your classes, why not check out what my aerobic bundle has to offer?

 

Please let me know your thoughts below.

 

Linx

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  • Denise Page

    Thank goodness someone agrees with me! I was beginning to think I had gone mad. There is a place for BTS but it should not be taking over at the rate it is. I am amazed at how many instructors have lost the skills they displayed when they qualified. They learnt how to breakdown and build choreography in ways that would meet the needs of the group. They learnt how to plan and adapt and they went through the process of finding music they and their participants would enjoy.

    Unfortunately too many (not all) go straight into BTS without perfecting those skills. We are seriously in danger of having a de-skilled workforce.

  • Rachel Maund

    This doesn’t seem controversial to me, the sad fact of freestyle being marginalised by gyms and instructors who feel BTS is a safe option is a regular gripe for my freestyle-mad friends. But I’m a bit more pessimistic about the potential to change it than you are. When you ask at a convention how many people in the class are instructors, fewer and fewer put their hands up. Scary given that these are meant to be primarily for instructors to get new ideas. Most convention-goers these days are simply freestyling gym-members turning to conventions because the gyms we’re members of offer very little beyond BTS. I’d love to think that it might change, but right now if a gym has a choice between a BTS class or a freestyle aerobics or step they’ll go for BTS every time. And (more worryingly) those BTS classes are FULL! BTS IS what a lot of members want – guaranteed results and no need to think … People need educating that freestyle is cool and fun to generate the demand. I know it, but I increasingly feel like a dinosaur.

  • http://fitnesstrainingdownloads.com admin

    Rock on Denise. I agree but it is up to industry leaders to try and instill the benefits of learning and perfecting those skills. At the moment I feel instructors go down the BTS route because it guarantees them work, and really who can blame them.I believe there is room for everyone, but old fashioned teaching skills need to be taught and reinforced.

  • http://fitnesstrainingdownloads.com admin

    Brilliant comments Rachael,and I could not agree more. I suppose my mission with all of this, and this site is to show that freestyle is alive and kicking and make good quality teaching affordable for all so removing a lot of barriers that instructors face by not devoting time and energy perfecting skills that make studio classes enjoyable, fun and above all doable. The only way this can change is for people like my self to keep providing training on the skills that I hold dear to me and allowed me to have a reasonable success in group exercise teaching

  • Jessica C

    Hi
    I was really pleased to read your article as I am always discussing this with other instructors. I passed my exercise to music qualification three years ago and I am the only person out of a class of thirteen that did not go down the BTS route. What I have found really suprising is that when we all meet up my former classmates don’t understand how I can put a number of different classes together without the aid of a DVD telling me what to do and when to say things. I say to them that when we all trained together we had to create choreography and put our own blocks together all the time but they say that they simply would not be able to do it now. I really love putting choreography together and for me its a big part of the fun and also about what you know your class will/won’t like and what their capabilities are and layering your class well. Having been to a few BTS classes prior to becoming an instructor I was not very impressed as there only appeared to be one level, nothing was broken down and the instructors seemed to stay at the front of the class. I understand that some people love BTS and othes love freestyle, but I do find it a shame that so many clubs are going down the BTS route. Fortunately there are a number of clubs in my area that seem to realise that BTS is not the answer and have stuck with us freestylers. I also know many instructors that have refused to go on BTS or the FX courses.
    Just quickly, because I realise that I have gone on a bit (sorry) I attended some training days late last year and they always help with teaching skills :o)

  • faceofboe

    I’m not an instructor, just a participant. But I love freestyle, whether step or hi lo. And yes, the gyms I attend have replaced almost all the freestyle stuff with BTS. Me, I love a good combat class, and attack hits the buttons for a fast no brain workout. But freestyle is what rocks my boat and the only class that makes me think enough to forget work and the general stresses of everyday life. Fitness Fiesta is a godsend cos you can do freestyle all weekend. We have just one freestyle instructor at the gyms I attend now (I belong to two to maximise my opportunity to do freestyle step). It’s a real shame. But its because classes aren’t the priority there – getting more members through the door is what they want and to do that they have to offer low level easy entrant classes. It’s like a MacDonalds approach. Very sad.

  • tracey

    I Just love this !!! Its really nice to hear people speaking up about BTS V Freestyle. I was in a strange position as a dedicated freestyle instructor at a gym freelancer meeting recently when I found out that instructors who were teaching BTS were actually being paid more than freestyle instructors which obviously offended me. I was quick to say so in front of the BTS gang and tell them why I felt that they did not deserve more money than did the freestyle people. These points being that I and most of the other freestylers change routines probably fortnightly and have the teaching and breakdown skills to cater for different levels of participant. I can modify and adapt activity for individuals with different needs and I can choreograph, build up and teach a fun efficient and effective class because I have built on the skills that I learned when I studied for my ETM qualification. I do think that BTS classes are very popular in clubs and that many participants are scared to go to freestyle classes because they are concerned they wont be able to do the “dancey” type routines, therefore they stick with something they know isnt going to be too difficult in terms of coordination to do. In a way I think we have ourselves to blame for that perhaps as you said about the beginner step class, we maybe got carried away with our choreography and now need to learn from this?? Either way it is a great shame that people who take the time to learn about music skills and breakdown do not continue to build on this to further enhance and improve themselves. There is always something new happening in this industry and I still think that being up to date with current good practise and having good music and delivery skills is paramount to moving forward and keeping ahead. Long live freestyle!!!

  • http://fitnesstrainingdownloads.com admin

    Great points well made. I must admit that I am confused as to why BTS instructors would be paid differently. I do believe there is room for everyone and the classes are different. I agree that freestyle instructors that do not have the necessary teaching and class creation skills are mainly to blame for the popularity of BTS as on the whole they do promise a certain level of consistency in their classes. Although I did witness instructors in spain teaching their class while reading their notes! Again I think that industry leaders need to think of ways to reinforce the importance of developing advanced teaching skills.

  • http://fitnesstrainingdownloads.com admin

    Again a brilliant point, and the key here is when you said that clubs use BTS as a low level easy entrant class. Why can’t freestyle classes offer that? There is no reason why they shouldn’t. I used to teach a beginner step class with over 90 people stepping every Thursday, and I loved it! Yes I had my warp factor 10 classes but I am able, and enjoy to, teach a wide variety of classes. Keep going to the fitness weekends and keep feeling the vibe

  • http://fitnesstrainingdownloads.com admin

    Thanks for taking the time to reply. It is greatly appreciated. You make a very important point in that it used to be that instructors got a kick out of creating a routine and then seeing it work when they put it into practice. That was the reason why most of us got into the industry in the first place. Well done for staying educated. I will be offering more in the next few weeks.

  • Christine

    I teach part time and sometimes finding the time on top of a full time job to do new choreography, come up with new routines etc is difficult but somehow I do find the time to do it and I really enjoy it and so do my classes. I’m not a BTS instructor and I did consider becoming one but I like the freedom of being able to cater for my class and give them what I know they like. I do push the bounderies with them and push them out of their comfort zones with new challenges and routines but I always know what they like to do and what their abilities are. We work very well together as a team, I am always moving from the front of the class, coming alongside people and giving technique teaching whereas in BTS classes as someone else commented the instructor always remains at the front. There isn’t room for much creativity when you just delivering someone elses plans. Don’t get me wrong I love going to the BTS type classes and do thoroughly enjoy them but I always feel that while I get a great workout something’s kind of missing. I think there’s a need for both BTS & freestyle.

  • http://fitnesstrainingdownloads.com admin

    I couldn’t agree more. Well said.

  • Helen Ingram

    I couldn’t agree more. I am not an instructor but am a member of two gyms in order to try and partake of some decent classes but more and more these classes are being removed from the timetables because of lack of interest. Just yesterday evening I attended a step class where there was only two of us that turned up. We persuaded the instructor to do a half-hour session with us rather than abandon the class altogether but I’m afraid this class will be disappearing from the timetable very shortly.

    As in all walks of society these days, it seems to be the lowest common denominator that wins and the amount of people they can get through the door, no matter the quality. At one of the gyms I attend they are using gym-trained staff to do classes such as spin and body pump etc. Let’s face it, they can’t even count to 8!

    It must be very demoralising for all you freestylers out there – but keep up the good work!

  • http://fitnesstrainingdownloads.com admin

    It is funny that you make these comments. When I was presenting in Hong Kong there was a a well known health club that was advertising for gym members that had the right look to apply for BTS training, no experience necessary. However going back to your initial comment about numbers dwindly I do have to say again that instructors do have a responsibility to make sure their classes are accessible for everyone, and not have too many twists and turns which could alienate new members. it is a matter of economics. If managers are faced with a class that has large numbers and a class that has 2-3, it is obvious which one will win. We as instructors need to make sure that we are so good that people will want to be in our classes. Thanks again for taking the time to comment

  • Rachel Maund

    I’ve just read all these new comments with interest, and you know what strikes me? The BTS machine is bloody good at marketing, with its global launches and the hype that goes with them, and that’s been key to its world domination. People who’ve never been in a step class think it’s just stepping up and down for an hour. Aerobics is tainted by 80s images of Jane Fonda and the Green Goddess (nothing wrong with either, but not exactly compelling for a C21st generation, are they?) Because freestyle IS so various newcomers to exercise have no idea what it is, whereas the accessible, change-your-body-guarantee brand that is BTS is in their faces the moment they walk through a gym door. If one of the big gym chains was to commit to promoting freestyle at the same level as they do BTS it could really make a difference. Imagine cool vids of innovative freestylers like Linx, Delvin, Izett, Larz playing as members walk into a club … or a serious programme of one-off masterclasses to whet appetites. They’d have to be do-able as well as challenging, but that’s what the best instructors are so good at delivering. So, guys, it’s in your hands! Is there any chance that YMCA could spearhead such a thing, as I suspect it may be the only chain with the current commitment to freestyle to do it …? I’m a marketer by profession and would gladly donate my twopennyworth to help if anyone out there agrees and is in a position to start something.

  • jules

    I’m a freestyler! I can see the attraction for many clients wanting to do a BTS class if new to group exercise to music and these are the classes that most gyms promote. Rarely do we see freestyle classes emblazoned down every wall in the reception area through the gyms and to the studio’s. I have just quit working for a gym due to this and a few other niggles. i often had new clients to me, that had had a membership for over six months not realising freestyle, step or aerobic classes existed or were part of the membership.

    I do think there is a lack of skill in the industry. I encouraged someone to become an instructor and allowed her to ‘practice’ her warm-ups in my community classes. I must say how shocked I was at how poor her choreography and lack of understanding to beats/phrases was. I did cast my mind back to the early days whilst I was training, yes I remember the tears & tantrums, I can’t do it and i am rubbish comments that all of us on the course blurted out about ourselves at some point. But after a brilliant teacher (Mr Stuart Harrop)and hard work and practise, we all finally got it. My friend didn’t and it wasn’t that she couldn’t dance as she was always a good participant in my class but I really believe it was how she was being taught. I was quite surprised that she did pass, but she know refuses to teach any style of class that requires DIY choreography. I attend many workshops/masterclasses. As well as having a blast, you also keep your knowledge up to date and even the mad IFS guys classes that I do, they’ll always be a little something I can take away, interpret into my own style to teach to my classes abilities. I try new idea’s, if they don’t like it or it doesn’t work, it gets changed. BTS can’t do that. It’s all about fun and I think freestylers have it!!

  • Taff O’Donoghue

    Linx,

    Totally agree with everything you’ve said. It infuriates me as an instructor, a customer and as a coordinator that BTS is so popular. Maybe – in some cases – it is us freestylers’ fault for not being up to scratch. But definitely not always.

    A big hotel-based chain in Cardiff has recently shelved a load of (popular) freestyle classes and put on BTS ‘choices’ instead.

    If everything you say about aerobics is true, how about this: A Yoga teacher who has studied for 4 years with an internationally recognised body and teaches a class that is second to none – as good as it was in ancient China 6 thousand years ago no doubt, is replaced with a BodyBalance teacher that has done a 2 day course!

    The management decided to make these changes based on opinions that are not formed on the shop-floor. The customers are no happier than the staff, but heigh ho, new customers are coming in that known no better.

    I think it says more about big corporate influence than any individual’s poor judgment. In exactly the same way that, say, a gourmet restaurant will have fewer customers than a chain burger bar, Tesco value beans sell more than Heinz.

    I’m no snob, but when it comes to fitness, I think its a shame to see people opting for ‘value’ brands.

  • Taff O’Donoghue

    Can I suggest that anyone with a strong opinion on this add a comment to the Independent article as well to show the public what we think? Follows Linx’x link in the 3rd line of his piece.

    Taff.

  • http://fitnesstrainingdownloads.com admin

    The key to this is to provide thoughtful constructive and insightful comments on other sites, such as the ones that have been posted on this page (which I am very grateful for). My previous experience of debates like this is if just one person turns this into an “us against them” witch hunt then all credibility is lost. My aim is not to slag off bts, but to allow instructors that teach freestyle opportunity to air their frustrations, and then for me to provide a solution to help instructors continually develop their skills so that they can survive alongside bts, not instead of it. Just wanted to make that clear

  • Terry

    How are your fitness classes related to Les Mills’? I don’t see the name quoted anywhere, but the formats and layout are the same, by the looks of it. Is this competition, stealing, or what should it be called Lincoln?

  • http://fitnesstrainingdownloads.com admin

    In response to Terry, “How are your fitness classes related to Les Mills’?” If you know my presentations or looked elsewhere on my site you will know that although I was one of the first BTS trained instructors in the UK over 11 years ago, my presenting career and workshops are based around freestyle instructions. There is nowhere on this site that attempts to steal any ideas or concepts from BTS, nor would I want to do so. This article is designed to be a wake up call for freestyle instructors that there is no reason why freestyle classes could not run alongside BTS, but their teaching and business skills, on the whole need to drastically improve for this to be the case. This article and subsequent comments are meant to be a healthy discussion on the topic, and that is how I intend it to continue. Thanks for taking the time to post a comment, but I feel strongly that I needed to make my point clear

  • Paul Thorne

    Hey Linx

    I agree with Denise that there is a place for both. As you know I coordinate at a club that has 160+ classes per week… We have no more than 20-25% of the classes on the timetable being Les Mills Programs (we license 7 of the programs)… It’s all about choice – some people will like one or the other and some people would like both – as long as I am providing a choice and letting people make up their own minds, then I’m comfortable that we are offering a good service (as long as the teachers are up to scratch)…

    I also agree with the comments that some instructors see Les Mills as a quick fix as they perceive it to be easier than putting together their own class – but unless you have a photographic memory, it does actually take just as much brain power to learn the whole choreography booklet that goes along with it… So I think that’s false logic…

    There is totally a perception with newly qualified instructors that Les Mills is the way to go if you want to get work – which is partially true as the programs are everywhere…

    I wish there were more choreography workshops at larger conventions – Rebecca Small did a fantastic session at the Multitrax convention a few years ago – 2X90min sessions, Part 1 on day one and Part 2 on day two… This meant that instructors could get some education and also still have plenty of time to attend masterclasses throughout the rest of the day. Maybe if we saw more sessions like this at events instructors would attend and feel more confident to plan their freestyle classes?

    Instructors really do need to take more ownership of their own education as well – I’m spending some time in Singapore at the moment and the quality of the freestyle at the club I have joined is dire – it’s all very “show & go” and there is very little actual teaching going on – it’s no wonder that some clubs have dwindling numbers in freestyle classes – you can’t really blame people who have a bad experience at a freestyle class sticking with Les Mills – they know what they are getting…

    I think it is the responsibility of Coordinators like myself to encourage instructors to continue their education as well as to observe their classes and give them feedback to maintain the quality of what is going on in the studio. As you said – if classes aren’t accessible then people won’t go…

    Paul 🙂

  • Jo Brown

    Phew! That’s all got a bit heated, hasn’t it? Let me tell you where I’m at.. ha ha. I’m a freestyle instructor.
    There’s definitely room for BTS and freestyle but I agree with you Lincoln, if we are going to survive alongside BTS its up to the freestylers out there to take advantage of the benefits of teaching freestyle. We’re not being dictated to by the track or the pre-choreographed material so we can offer that little bit extra in our classes. We have the freedom to choreograph our classes to the level of our participants, the freedom to offer alternatives when participants are struggling, the freedom to teach a move for that little bit longer until everybody gets it and not leaving people for dead! Also, if they’re really up for it and getting everything as soon as you teach it, give them your emergency block! Freestyle to me just seems, well just a little bit friendlier than BTS and I’ve always chosen the friendly type over the slick, popular type! So basically, I think us freestylers are going to be just fine, as long as we keep using all the skills that make us so different from BTS.

  • http://fitnesstrainingdownloads.com admin

    Paul, thanks for taking the time to write such an intelligent response. I especially love it when you said that “Instructors really do need to take more ownership of their own education” because it is only when this happens and that they strive to be the best that they can be, will the situation change. Thanks again

  • http://fitnesstrainingdownloads.com admin

    Hey Jo. A good debate always gets heated at some point. But that is healthy. So far it has not got personal, and people are airing their opinions which is what I always encourage. Thanks for your comments and I will see you on the 28th!!

  • Sue

    Just thought I would add my input too
    I agree that both have a place and in fact teach both styles of class, freestyle and BTS, and have to say that the best freestylers make the best BTS’ers as they have the ability to teach rather than read a script, and I must admit that I don’t always follow hard and fast to what BTS tells me to do in the instructor notes as I use my own initiative as to what works in my classes and what my partcipants capabilities are, as well as what works with my own style of teaching. The key to keeping freestyle alive and kicking is keeping it fresh and interesting, keeping your skills polished and looking for new things to bring to your class, new training, new class formats, new class styles and listening to what they like and want
    BTS can be modified and kept interesting with a little it of planning and forethought, but again this requres you to be a competant freestyle instructor to manage this
    Rant over there is a place for all but I think we need to think about how well we monitor our competencies, quarterly workshops and BTS certification needs a shake up as it s turning out some poor instructors in order to satisfy the demand for classes (or maybe for our money)
    So maybe we need to show how well we look after our freestyle certification and CPD to really challenge the Les Mills machine??? As well as push our marketing to the next level, bring on the challenge, who is with me….

  • Rachel Maund

    I’m with you, Sue, athough I’m not an instructor. Like you I think the best ones do both freestyle and BTS. In fact this may be key to keeping freestyle on timetables, as members will give new classes a try if they rate the instructor. I also feel strongly (with Linx and many others above) that BTS has a lot to offer. Great freestyle choreography makes me fly, but I also love the efficiency of body pump for upper body, and the no-brain-required solid workout of attack. A great class is all about the instructor and their ability to motivate. A poor instructor can even turn a BTS class into a poor experience. Like Paul, above, I’ve also regularly attended a gym in Singapore over the last 10 years, but seen exactly the same pattern as in the UK – ie: there IS a solid core of members who love their choreography, and there are a couple of instructors doing mind-blowingly difficult multi-step classes (this is a tiny market, after all, and group exercise is a relatively new phenomenon in Singapore), but BTS has steadily grown to dominate the timetables. Freestylers there have the same challenge, except that they don’t have the conventions to go to that we do.

  • http://www.wendyhollandsfitness.com WENDY HOLLANDS

    Hi there,

    As a ‘New’ instructor I have chosen the freestyle route all the way!
    I have just set up my freestyle classes just outside Blackpool, hiring a few halls and offering various classes.
    They are picking up slowly but surely and the response I have had so far has been good! Numerous flyers, networking events a plenty but I’m getting there!
    As a professional dancer and choreographer I’m not new to creating choreography but this is still a whole new world and challenge for me.
    I find it hard to build up the choreography and breaking it down to teach it successfully and aim at ALL levels of my participants but I have to say Lincoln’s Aerobic Bundles etc on here are priceless….they have helped me heaps… Its all so logical now that I know how!! Many thanks!! You must buy them if you haven’t already and would like some help along the way!! Thanks Linx!
    After taking my ETM I was eager to start teaching freestyle but had to put it on hold for a year due to dancing commitments. I was getting more and more frustrated as I couldn’t find a ‘Good’ freestyle class in my area that I could attend.
    I have to say I have been a regular at many BTS sessions, and enjoy them but sometimes I don’t know when I can attend and because they are ALWAYS busy I find I can’t get into class…… This started to put me off going at all!

    I have just started teachng at a health club in Blackpool which doesn’t teach BTS (Probably one of the few clubs that doesn’t) and my freestyle classes have been greatly accepted,and the feedback from my class participants has been great!!
    The club were very eager to add more freestyle/dance based classes to their timetable hoping that was what their clients wanted……….I think it is……so fingers X’D I can build the classes up offering freestyle choreography for ALL levels!!

  • http://fitnesstrainingdownloads.com admin

    Hey Wendy, again thanks for taking the time and energy to write such a detailed response. Thanks for the plugs about the bundles and best of luck with the freestyle classes. if you need any help you know where I am

  • James Brown

    Hi Linx,

    I have just read this article and it is like you took the words right out of my mouth, i have been having this argument with management at my places of work and in one respect it seems frowned upon if you teach a freestyle class and you have no chance of getting a class. Right down to the the point that i had to meet with my studio management team to find out why they were completely disregarding CV’s with no BTS experience.

    Now i teach both freestyle and BTS modules, although i much prefer my freestyle classes i have found that by advising of the need for a freestyle Hi Lo class at peak times when members would enjoy it, people look at you like you have spoken a different language!!!

    I feel exactly the same way about you, how is it that at a convention last year blackpool as the best example, the team teach with Steve and ceri was packed so much so, you couldn’t spin without knocking into someone! Freestyle lives in the right clubs and the instructors out there need to start speaking up if they actually want to bring the freestyle army back.

    J

  • Amy

    Hi everyone, I am a newly certified bts instructor. For me, that is all the gym I go to offers, so when I decided that’s what I wanted to do, that’s what was offered. I love it and I do like bts. I have taken many freestyle classes over the years as well, and love that too. One of my fellow bts instructors has also done freestyle for 20 years…she is my inspiration! I am in awe when she does freestyle, simply in awe! However, she loves bts too and has been doing that for about 5 years too. I believe there is room for both, and whatever is getting people moving and in shape is wonderful!!!

  • Madeleine Holdsworth

    I find this a curious discussion. Isn’t the point to group exercise getting the participants to come back time after time? BTS programs do that. I find just the opposite of what the “freestyle” proponents say. Freestylers that I’ve seen just “wing it” and can be sloppy in presentation – just my observation, perhaps your experience is different. Also, I have taken freestyle classes by instructors who are just not good at it. Are any of you BTS instructors? If so, you know the type of instruction and training and research that goes into each BTS program release. I have been a BTS Group Power instructor and BodyPump before that (I am also NASM certified personal trainer). I have the utmost respect for the BTS organization. These people know what they are doing. Yes the programs are “canned”, so to speak. But BTS continually raises the bar with greater challenges. The BTS formula of branded classes are all about increasing member retention and they are successful at it. The overwhelmingly positive comments that we receive at my club about BTS says it all. In the end, that is what we all want – members who keep coming back.

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    HI Madeline. Thanks for the detailed comments. If you read my article I am actually agreeing that BTS does what it says on the tin – providing user friendly classes that appeal to the masses and keeps people coming back. I was actually one of the first body pump instructors in the UK and so have witnessed the training and class structure first hand. Hover I am a freestyle lover. That is what my passion is and what I have been known for with my international presenting. My fear is, just as you have highlighted is that a lot of freestyle instructors are not very good ,and I am sad for that because that is one of the many reasons that people are moving away from freestyle into pre choreographed programs. I just wanted to start a discussion to find out what can be done to redress the balance as I believe that there is room for anyone.

  • Kristie

    I love this discussion! I have been teaching Group Fitness for 10 years and am a strong freestyler! I don’t like the idea of pre- choreographed classes and pre-chosen music. I have been trained in two programmed formats (that I am chosing not to name) and unfortunately didn’t realize they were pre-choreographed when I attended them. Although I became certified in those formats, I just couldn’t memorize somebody else’s choreography, and listen to music I didn’t chose. If I don’t like the music, the class isn’t fun for ME and if I am not enjoying it, them members won’t either! And I know what the members of my classes like and what they can do. And frankly some of the choreography I just didn’t like and would never do! When I became an instructor we were responsible for creating our own choreography. Now it’s just memorization! And there are instructors at my gym who are system trained but cannot put a class together own their own. Not even a basic hi/lo or circuit class. How unfortunate! I am not knocking training systems, I just don’t think they work for everybody.

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  • Jude Beales

    OMG so agree I think if I didn’t teach Pilates or Aqua I wouldn’t be working at some sites! It is so hard to get a Step class or LBT class anywhere it has to be BTS. Freestyle in certain centres is, sad to say, dead! And I think the blame lies with lazy studio coordinators, just my opinion, not all places some have tried to keep a mixture of both. But one place I teach at is 90% BTS no lie! It is sad and frustrating and you are right at fitness workshops freestyle is packed! Why do we as instructors love going to these session but will not fight to have them put on where we teach?
    Community classes are the way I shall be going! Which gives me a lot more control I love designing classes and trying new things out!
    Thank you for a great blog and glad that other people out there are fighting for FREESTYLE!!