Opinions are vast when it comes to the topic of “individual programming” or “individual design”, particularly in the context of a group training setting. Over the past decade, the group training model, in particular, has seen a rise in popularity, making it more than ‘just a trend.’ Gone are the days of Jane Fonda donning leg warmers and absurd aerobic dance moves. Today, group training, especially within the CrossFit and functional fitness setting means: increased intensity; the ‘extra push’ you need; and a group of people working towards similar goals of self-improvement, strength and work capacity gains. That being said, however, one can only get so far within the context of a group setting. What do I mean? Exactly what it sounds like: Your standard group training model was not, and is not, designed, for your individual improvement. Enter: Individual Design, also known as “Exclusive Coaching” or individualized programming (ie. A specific workout plan and template aimed at your goals, your body type, your strengths and weaknesses). We have certainly seen an influx in the athletes in the competitive CrossFit scene tapping into their own personalized programs—and these paying off. Ask any Games athlete or serious competitor how they train, and there’s a 98-percent guarantee (ie. A high guarantee) that each athlete follows a different program, works on their personal weaknesses, trains a different number of days per week, or times of the day, etc.—you get it, individualized. Heck, many competitive athletes have a whole team of coaches programming and coaching them up specifically and individually for their own abilities strengths and weaknesses in order to continually improve (ie. one for Olympic weightlifting, another for endurance, another for gymnastics, another for ‘met-conning’, etc.). Not to mention, the various, individualized protocols top-performing athletes follow when it comes to the foods they eat, the recovery modalities they implement, the supplements they take, and so on and so forth—individualized, because every BODY is different, and, in order to improve (as mentioned above), these athletes have to train for themselves, individually. That being said…what about the rest of us? The ‘average Joe’s’ of this functional fitness world? The everyday box addicts, who love training to train and competing to compete, but don’t necessarily see ourselves at the next CrossFit Games? Those of us who still, like any athlete, want to continue to improve and get better, healthier, fitter, faster, leaner, more muscular, and so on and so forth (translation: we DON’T want to plateau)? Enter, once more: Individualized Design. In essence, individualized design programming is the new frontier of self-improvement, strength gains, skill development and more within your personal fitness journey. No matter if you’ve been active and fit since your Pee Wee soccer days, or just started training 1-3 months ago, every person on this planet can benefit from an individually designed program. How so? Because it is aimed and armed specifically at Y-O-U. Want to cut 10 lbs.? The fastest and most sustainable way: An individually designed, or programmed, workout for you and your body type (considering your lifestyle factors, such as time to sleep patterns to personal motivation to your body’s fat-burning and muscle building abilities, etc.) Tired of doing single-unders or banded pull-ups every time they come in a workout, but don’t have the extra time (or gym access) outside of class to really work on these things?: Hello, individually designed programming, specifically targeting your goals. Ready to lift more weight overhead than your same ol’, same ol’ 135 lbs. or 95 lbs. barbell?: An individually designed program will get you out of your rut and guide you in the tricks of the trade for improving your overhead capabilities by developing things like your shoulder stability, midline stability, breath technique, form and more. You get the picture. You can only get so far to reaching these goals when your training is primarily dependent on whatever random workout is written out on the whiteboard each and every day. The best part? Contrary to popular belief, the new, cutting-edge Individual Designed programming can (and is encouraged) to take place within a group setting—particularly if the group setting is something you enjoy (note: it doesn’t have to, but it can) What exactly does this look like? A group of individuals, all following various, customized training and workout programs and protocols under the guidance of their own coach, coming together in the same space, under the same roof, and getting their prescribed work for the day done, alongside one another. Unlike the ‘globo gym’ settings of the days of old (think: 24 Hour Fitness or Gold’s Gym), you aren’t coming to the gym to check out your biceps in the mirror, jam your ear buds in your ears and ignore everyone else in sight around you, fight over the bench press, or mix and mingle by the smoothie bar up front…you are coming to the gym to work hard, with other like-minded people, who value the same work ethic and goal attainment that you do. While this model is still an evolving model, it is steadily gaining a following from both athletes, like yourself, and coaches alike. Open Gym settings, overseen by a knowledgeable and experienced coach, can be a first great way to experiment with the Individual Design model. Call to action the athletes in your gym to give Open Gym a go once or twice per week with the intention of working on a coach-directed, personalized skill, strength or work capacity session. Aside from Open Gym, simply educating athletes about exactly what Individual Design (ID) programming is, and encouraging them to commit to experiencing it for themselves. “I used to do regular classes all the time, but then I had an injury that prevented me from doing so, and I had to look to my coach to help me figure out how to train while I took some time off from the group setting. Now, I can’t imagine going back to just doing group classes. They are fun, but I get so much more out of programming that is designed specifically for me. And, it is fun when you have others around you in the gym, following their programs too, working out alongside you—it still gives you that extra push and intensity group classes gave me,” Amanda Martin, a coach who programs ID for her clients, as well as implements it firsthand into her training.