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Scaling Your Fitness Class

What is Scaling and why is it important for YWCA Fitness on 25th?

By Fred Dyck, YWCA Fitness on 25th Manager

Scaling is a term referring to exercise options designed to accommodate different abilities and fitness levels. A very basic example would be having one person perform push ups from their toes while another may do the same from their knees. Both may do the same number of repetitions but by placing their feet in different positions, the challenge is modified allowing for people with different skills and abilities to workout side by side. Scaling methods may include:

  • Altering the position a person performs the exercise from.
  • Altering the weight used.
  • Altering the number of repetitions or sets performed.
  • Altering the rest period between activities.

All of these are reasonable scaling options all members should consider and adapt to for any class, land or aquatic.

Scaling during YWCA Fitness on 25th Classes and what it means to you:

For YWCA Fitness on 25th, the most common place scaling occurs is during group fitness classes. At the YWCA, It is common for our aquatic and land classes to have a wide range of age and abilities exercising side by side.  This diversity is something we are extremely proud of and, as an organization, an aspect we welcome. But, this diversity can present challenges for the instructor. For example, in one of the recent Y-Fit classes I was leading, one of our exercise stations asked for people to perform push-ups. To accommodate the wide range of abilities in the class, we offered the following scaling options for the push up:

  • Perform basic push ups from your knees (1 option)
  • Perform basic push ups from your toes. (1 option)
  • Place hands on a bosu ball -flat side up or down. (Either on toes or on knees) (4 options)
  • Place hands on a swiss ball with feet on ground (or on a bosu ball) (2 options)

All told, this presented 8 different ways to perform the basic push up; with a ninth option always being to perform fewer repetitions than what was asked. By doing this, we were able to accommodate everyone in the class; ranging from novice participants to one person who was extremely fit.  That is scaling.

Scaling Down versus Scaling up during our classes

It is our responsibility as a fitness centre to offer a variety of class options and challenges. We have to be prepared for a variety of ages and abilities exercising side by side for each class.

“…you may have to modify your exercise for your current fitness and ability level…and that is completely fine.”

Because our classes are designed for the group and not just one individual, you may have to modify your exercise for your current fitness and ability level…and that is completely fine. Please do so. And, do not concern yourself with what you think the person beside you might be thinking. You should feel completely comfortable modifying your participation in a class to meet your level and needs.

I always say to members it’s easier to scale down rather than scale up during a class. The example I usually give is to compare our Gentle Aqua Class versus one of the more challenging aqua fitness classes such as Aqua Fitness Prime. I believe it is easier for the person who does not wish to perform all of what may be asked during Aqua Fitness Prime to still participate in that class compared to a person who wants a very challenging workout but elects to attend Gentle Aqua. The Gentle Aqua class, like our Gentle Land class, is truly intended to offer a modest workout level. If you want a more challenging experience, the Gentle series of classes are probably not for you and we do not ask our instructors to plan for this participant. But, we do ask our instructors to plan for scaling down options.

If you have any questions about scaling or if there are other subjects you would like addressed during our blogs, please let me know.