Recently, I had a client mention to me that she would like me to offer more intense options for exercises in my Chair Muscle Conditioning class.

I always do my best to offer at least two levels of intensity. For example, when we are doing back lunges beside the chair, I tell people to keep one hand on the chair for support and move in a pain free range of motion at the knee, and for more of a challenge, I suggest that people do not use the chair and lower down until the front knee is bent at 90′. You could hold weights in your hands to add more intensity.

I always suggest that people take a variety of weights back to their chair so if an exercise is too easy, they can easily adjust their intensity level by increasing the weight being lifted. We have resistance tubing of different intensity levels. The green is easier than the red.

The best part of my classes is that over the twelve week period, we begin at an easier level and then as your strength improves, I select more challenging exercises. The key is to continue coming for the full twelve weeks so you can see yourself improve.

In another one of my classes, a client decided to join us on the last day of the session, because they had just returned from five weeks away in the tropics. They began the session with us in January but then left half way through. Well, I was happy to see that they noticed how far we had progressed. When you attend regularly, you gradually improve your strength and stamina and this is most keenly felt when you take time off from exercise and return.

Intensity level is tricky to adjust when it comes to group fitness classes, particularly in the gym where we are at because there are already suggested levels when you register for the program. In the spirit of staying true to these differences in the program, I do not want every class to be like every other class. Clients choose the Chair Class because they have mobility issues and do not want to be asked to do things that will jeopardize their health.

I learned something a very long time ago. Students do not want to be the only one in the room doing the ‘easy’ moves.

For example, if I am teaching how to do a push-up on the floor, I begin with the easier option and progress through to the hardest version. Hardly anyone wants to be caught doing the easy version. Then what happens is people start jeopardizing their posture to fit in with the crowd and before you know it, everyone is doing push-ups in terrible form.

I  realize that in Group Fitness classes there are students who have differing levels of capabilities and to keep everyone happy, I decided that the Day 1 classes are going to look quite different than they will on Day 24. Instead of my class looking exactly the same, all of the time, with the hardest options given on Day 1 to those who want more challenge, I choose to increase the intensity over time. In this way, I can improve the health of the group as a whole, instead of only challenging the fittest in the room.

I hope that this helps.

Beth