Spotting Faults in Group Personal Training


In a group fitness setting, the main challenge for coaches isn’t a gap in knowledge, but implementing that knowledge in the group setting itself. Group coaching is a different skillset from 1-1 personal training. Coaches must know where and when to look, with the most effective coaches using a strategic approach to observation to ensure that each workout participant gets the most out of their workouts safely and effectively. This article will break down three simple ways that personal trainers can systematise their group setting coaching and be able to focus on their clients effectively.

Focus on One thing at a Time

Simplification is a technique that all great coaches practice. Instead of trying to catch every error in the moment of every movement, simply focus on one aspect at a time. Have a targeted observation focus to reduce the cognitive load on you as the coach whilst also increasing the effectiveness of your intervention.

An example for this could be when coaching the deadlift in a group setting.You instruct the class to keep the weight through the middle of their feet. As they perform the exercise, focus only on observing their feet. This allows you to quickly spot and correct common faults like weight shifting too far forward or back. You should aim to firstly correct errors based on this, rather than address 8 different issues across the group at a time.

Static Before Dynamic

Start observing your group workout clients when they are in a static position, aka set up in position but not yet moving. This is your best opportunity to assess the starting form before they are moving and so focused on the movement. Static observation allows to you identify misalignments or improper setups that could potentially be translated into bad movement once the exercise begins, at which point there are more issues to correct, and you’e trying to correct them whilst the client is moving.

An example of this would be assessing clients whilst they are at the bottom of a deadlift. The personal trainer should look for a neutral spine, proper hip positioning and correct alignment of feet. If you make corrections at this point, it can prevent further errors from being made whilst the client is moving, reducing the risk of bad habit formation and injury.

Dynamic, not Chaotic

When movements are initiated, it is important to not get overwhelmed by the sudden ‘flurry’. You should stick to the principle that one thing happens at a time, even as you watch dynamic movement. You should remember that dynamic doesn’t mean chaotic; you can bring order and precision with calm focus, even to complex series of movement. You just need to break everything down to single steps & single focuses.

Taking our example of the deadlift, as your client lifts from the bottom of the deadlift, continue to focus on the aspect you’ve chosen for that specific session, aka, keeping the weight through the middle of the foot. Even if other parts of the body are moving, maintain this single focal point to ensure that you can give specific, actionable and consistent feedback. 


This article has presented three top tips for personal trainers coaching in a group setting. As we mentioned at the start, these are two completely different training domains, and so the approach to coaching/teaching in these settings must be treated as such! If you want to learn from the best and become a certified personal trainer, then be sure to take a look at our Level 3 Personal Trainer Course.