How do I set-up and run a successful bootcamp/circuit training class?
Circuit training sessions give fitness professionals an incredible amount of freedom to decide on exercise selection, workout structure and intensity whilst also allowing room for the instructor to inject their own personality and individual twist to make the sessions truly unique.
Having taught several circuit training classes per week for the past ten years, I can honestly say that I have never delivered the same class twice. The opportunity to chop and change the content from one session to the next is immensely rewarding.
Remember the principle of progressive overload and not only does the variety of options allow us to make sure that participants never become bored or stagnant, but we can also deliver a physical stimulus that ensures the body responds by going through the process of adaptation. Whether it is muscular strength, muscular endurance, work capacity, cardiovascular fitness, power, flexibility, speed, agility or co-ordination, circuit training can deliver!
Bear the following in mind when planning your classes:
The great outdoors
Outdoor events have been rapidly gaining popularity in the past few years and this trend is set to continue. Fun runs, obstacle courses and military style training approaches have added another dimension to participants’ training regimes.
The adaptable nature of circuit training makes it a perfect format for training outside – the benefits of circuit training can be combined with the appeal of training outdoors. This can be advantageous as some equipment can be utilised far more effectively outside without the risk of damaging flooring, ceilings or other equipment.
Being outside also allows for even more creativity as an instructor -consider ViPR tosses, tyre flips, jerry can carries, log throws, cargo net crawls and sprint relays.
Outdoor training appeals to lots of people, although thorough risk assessments need to be carried out to ensure client safety. Weather is an important consideration as very hot conditions or ice can make training unsafe and should therefore be avoided. Amend the warm-up and cool-down accordingly as conditions vary.
Going it alone?
It is far more lucrative in the long-term to set up your own circuit training sessions/bootcamps. You may hire a sports hall or community centre, set up in the local park or even on the beach!
A different option would be to deliver classes within a leisure centre or health club. You should expect to be paid £15-£30 for a one-hour class. This is more likely to be on a self-employed freelance basis, although there are exceptions. It is far easier to market your class as you and the leisure centre/ health club will have a ‘captive audience’.
If you decide to set up your own sessions, you will need to market yourself and generate business. If you are recently qualified, it may be wise to begin by delivering sessions for an operator and then consider setting up on your own when you have enough experience and have built up a good reputation.
Bootcamp or circuit?
The term ‘bootcamp’ has become prominent in the fitness industry recently. It is a poorly defined buzz-word that has been interpreted differently by various organisations and fitness professionals. The term is often used to describe a retreat or residential venue whereby subscribers pay in the region of £1,000 (although the amount varies significantly from one to the next) usually for one week’s exercise, nutrition and lifestyle programme. Many are aimed at the weight loss market and some include ‘pampering’.
A different product has developed under the ‘bootcamp’ banner whereby groups of 2 or 3 people, and sometimes up to 50 or more, train outside, usually in a circuit format and incorporate team drills, lifts, carries and throws as well as obstacles and various other exercises.
Before deciding what to call your sessions, think about the target market – the word ‘bootcamp’ will be just what makes some people tick, but be careful not to scare others off!
Expect to be paid £15-£30 per one-hour class if you deliver circuit training (or ‘bootcamp’) sessions at a leisure centre or health club.
Alternatively, expect to pay in the region of £15-£25 facility hire (this may vary) for an appropriate sports or community hall. Depending on location, a rate of approximately £5 per person can be charged for an hour’s session. Therefore, building your classes up to 25 participants can result in net earnings of £100. Don’t forget to carefully consider the costs of setting up your sessions, including purchasing equipment, insurance, music and licensing, travel expenses and marketing.
Music needs to be motivational and high energy. I would recommend 140-150 BPM for the main component. Don’t forget to make sure the music you use is properly licensed. You can find further information about this in a useful article published by the Future Fit School of Pilates.
Make sure your judgement is sound with regards to not putting people off with unnecessary individual competition, but by the same token capitalise on light-hearted team games that create interaction and encouragement between participants. Also, time how long it takes a participant to perform a task (for example 10 burpees, 10 squat thrusts, 10 sprints, 10 tyre flips and 10 kettlebell Turkish get-ups). This is a great way to encourage participants to compete with themselves. Without telling them beforehand, give participants a rest and then challenge them to beat their own time.
Keep them guessing
A lot of research demonstrates that boredom is a contributing factor to attrition. There’s nothing worse than turning up to a circuit class every week with the same music, the same warm-up and the same exercise cards in the same place, performing every exercise in the same order for the same amount of time. Every class should be different – the possibilities really are endless! Never be lazy – your class participants are relying on you to keep them engaged and inspired.