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Say Goodbye to Burpees or Any Group X Activity That Doesn’t Serve You


Burpees are good for you. They’re a great way to work a bunch of different muscles at once and get your heart rate up. But, here’s the rub: they’re not very fun.

What they don’t tell you is that you can still achieve fitness results in your group exercise or fitness class without ever doing them. A burpee is a high intensity interval that engages your legs, chest and core. Instead, your class can do squats, push-ups and an interval, all separately. You’ll achieve similar results without doing the dreaded burpee.

While it may not be burpees, we all have that one activity that we don’t like to do. For me, just the thought of partner workouts makes me break out in hives. Do you have an exercise that you really don’t like? I’m giving you permission right now to never teach it again.

This doesn’t mean that you can take out key elements of a class, like the warm-up or cool down. But, you can tweak your class to fit your style and preferences. If you’re not a fan of a choreographed, dance warm-up, then do jumping jacks, planks and squats to get warm. That’s what’s great about fitness — there’s more than one way to achieve desired results.

Here are a few important questions to ask yourself before you throw away a particular activity.

Is there another way I can achieve the same results?

If you can work the same muscle groups and/or get similar cardiovascular results with a different exercise, there’s no need for you to torture yourself by doing activities you don’t like. For example, seated, upright rows with a band and bent over rows with dumbbells both work the back muscles and are very different from each other.

Is it necessary for the class format?

There are some elements of a Group X class that come with the class format territory. Don’t like choreographed warm-ups? Then you probably shouldn’t be teaching UJAM or Zumba. Members will show up to a new class with expectations based on the class name and description. You’ll want to make sure your lesson plans match what is listed online and on the schedule. So, if the description mentions intervals, you’ll want to include them.

If you don’t feel like your teaching style matches what’s listed on the schedule, ask your manager if you can change the description to better match the class.

Does my class like it?

Last but not least, if your Group X class likes it — and it’s safe — you’ll likely want to add it to your plans, even if it’s not your favorite. If you don’t love the exercise, think of ways to tweak it, so that you can still enjoy the activity. If your class begs for burpees, maybe you can turn them into a competition, include them in a circuit or give folks two interval options (burpees or squat jumps, for example) to choose from. That way, you can find a way to make the exercise your own and still give participants what they want.

It is important to recognize the difference between disliking something because it’s challenging and disliking something for another reason. We all know the feeling of enduring an intense exercise and fighting against the thought of quitting. There are plenty of activities your class may hate at the time, but once it’s over they’re thrilled they stuck it out. This isn’t permission to go easy on your class and get rid of every difficult exercise. This is permission to chuck the group exercise activity you don’t like to do and not feel guilty just because it’s popular or trendy.

For more Group X advice and lessons learned, visit the group exercise ideas and tips page.