Group Strength Training. Part 2

Non-specific sport conditioning is also part of the class, as are semi-intimidating moves such as push-ups and leg dips — two moves that women, in particular, shy away from. Coram encourages the class to try new things by telling members that they don’t have to, but that she’d like them to try the new moves. She includes push-ups every class, and after a few weeks, women who were once hesitant to try push-ups could perform a set, noticed changes in their upper bodies and became proud of their accomplishments.

Coram uses music, but does not follow a beat. There are no dances or choreographed routines. In her informal class, she introduces herself at the beginning of each meeting, and explains, “It’s your class, and your workout.” She changes the movements every time, and walks around the room, challenging people to work harder or longer. “It’s personal, and I’m tough. That gets them to come back.”

Turnout was low at first, until word-of-mouth got around. Club members also started peeking into the room to watch the class after their aerobics classes. It turned out that people were looking for something different; soon, the class grew, and it is now very large. The gym added a second evening class, and a Sunday section. Feedback has been phenomenal: members have requested even more sections to be added.

“Women love feedback, and being in a group,” says Coram. “They are self-conscious about being on a machine, because they feel people are watching them. They know that weights are beneficial, challenge muscles differently and make you feel better, but they don’t want to enter the weight room. They can come to my class and be anonymous and hide in the corner if they want…. They can drop in and not feel lost,” she says. Coram offers one-on-one instruction, support and feedback, something class participants would not find in the weight room alone. The team aspect of the class also draws women in. “Women don’t like strength training by themselves,” says Coram; they want to be social. Another benefit of group participation is class members see someone else performing a strength move and think, “I can do that too.”

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