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Welcome to the Scottish Fitness Organisation articles page which aims to tell you what is happening in the fitness industry with SFO and from around Scotland. On this page we will have news about all the latest fitness trends, and also more serious articles about whats happening in the fitness Industry. We are also looking for articles and news from Instructors telling us what the issues are your area, and we will include the details on this page.

Contents :  End of an Era as Marcos Leisure Centre is Demolished
                   Body Training Systems, Are you For or Against / Marcos Fonseca World Tour Report

The End of an Era as Marcos Centre in Edinburgh is Demolished               - By John Cuthill

It was a sad day when I drove down Grove Street in Edinburgh on August 27th, 2008 and took the above pictures of Marcos Leisure Centre in Edinburgh, where I spent 7 fantastic years teaching my program of freestyle fitness classes. The Centre closed in early February 2008 and it started to be demolished a few weeks ago in early August after over 30 years.  
I myself came to teach in Marcos only in the last 7 years of its life and it was still very busy and exciting in my spell there, but there were many years where Marcos was the number one place to go for fitness classes and serious body building. In the 80's and 90's it was not unusual for Classes to have attendances of over 120 in the main studio and two other studios running at the same time, and those who remember and attended regularly will remember classes taught by Jackie Brown, James Cameron and Jim Coleman, and myself from 2002.
Marcos Leisure Centre was also the venue for our Scottish Fitness Party Convention for the first 5 years and the memories of these events at the Centre will be remembered for a long time. Sadly the Centre was in a poor state of repair and in the end struggled to compete with the big private Clubs which offered higher standard facilities at reasonable prices. If you have any memories of Marcos Centre you wish to share just get in touch by Emailing me on

Body Training Systems - The biggest issue in the Fitness Industry today
-        By John Cuthill

          The pictures above are from the successful FREESTYLE Studio Weights Masterclass from John Cuthill at the Fitness Party 2006
The Scottish Fitness Organisation is a firm supporter of FREESTYLE fitness classes, but love them or hate them there isnt an Instructor in Scotland who hasnt been affected by the Body Training Systems (BTS) fitness class program. It could be that their Freestyle class has been replaced by a BTS class or that they have simply had to teach them in order to continue to teach in a particular Club or Centre. I have my own views of the BTS class and I am entitled to that opinion in the same way as anyone else, but the purpose of this article is to give both sides of the argument as possible and to promote debate from you as to the effect BTS is having on the fitness Industry. We want your views to add to the views we have already had on the subject which have been more 'against' than 'for' the Body Training systems. This could be because as a full time FREESTYLE Instructor myself I generally come into contact with more freestyle Instructors than BTS Instructors.

The main views of those For the Body Training Systems

There are many good freestyle Instructors who like teaching the BTS classes and in general I dont think that the freestyle Instructor has a problem with the standard of BTS routines, although there are some moves and classes which I dont agree with. For example a moving push up in Body Pump sacrificing safety for variation, and the whole concept of the length of the training for Body Balance when it takes 4 or 5 years to become a fully qualified Yoga or Pilates Instructor. But as I said the routines are very good generally.
The Classes are also good for new or inexperienced Instructors who haven't yet gained the experience to create good quality freestyle sessions. Many of these Instructors have told me how BTS has given them more confidence and improved them. Many Instructors have also said that due to their work commitments and busy lifestyle the BTS concept of not having to think up new routines all the time is ideal for them. So for many Instructors the BTS class suits their situation whether it be lack of experience or lack of time in their lives.
Also as well as appealing to good Instructors BTS has given poor or average Instructors the chance to get more training, routines that are better than their own and ultimately more classes in the main Clubs and Centres. This is obviously a good thing to improve the general standards but it has affected the opportunities for the high quality Instructor. I have had many discussions with excellent Instructors who have lost their FREESTYLE class to a BTS class taught by an Instructor who isnt as good as them.
It is also easy to see why the Body Training Systems have spread so quickly and completely in the Clubs and Centres as they give the Centre manager total control over what happens in the Aerobic Studio. The manager is generally not a group exercise specialist so this package suits them. The marketing of the classes is also done for them in terms of the posters and brochures, although they have to be paid for. It is hardly surprising then that the classes are well attended as there is very little publicising of freestyle classes in Clubs now and BTS classes generally get the best peak times on the program with freestyle classes in many cases stuck on at the end of the night. But the BTS classes are well attended which keeps the Centre manager happy and added to the control they have over knowing what the routines are like, the Centre seems to have the ideal package for them. However in my opinion this control over the program is gained at the expense of killing class variety and Instructor quality and individuality which I will talk about later.   
As I said I associate more with FREESTYLE Instructors so I hear more comments against BTS, so I am looking for more comments from you if you have other views FOR the Body Training Systems.

The main views of those Against the Body Training Systems    

The comments I have heard against the BTS class concept have come from both total FREESTYLE Instructors and those who are currently teaching one or more of the Body Training Systems classes.
I remember clearly when Body Pump burst onto the scene over ten years ago and at the time I thought that it was great as it was a brand new class and that it would add to class programs in Centres, which it did. The problem that good FREESTYLE Instructors have is that BTS classes now completely dominate the studio programs of most major Clubs and Leisure Centres to such an extent that in most cases over 3/4 of all classes are BTS classes, and in some cases it is 100%. The mix of BTS and FREESTYLE classes is not balanced and has resulted in a lack of variety in Class programs. I know of some Clubs that for example will launch Body Pump 57 and the same routine will be taught in 5 or 6 classes on the timetable. The FREESTYLE instructor would happily coexist with BTS if the balance of classes was better.  
Many FREESTYLE Instructors have reported to me that they are treated like second class citizens with many Centres portraying the Body Training Systems classes and Instructors as superior to freestyle classes and Instructors which of course is not the case. This reflects in the timetable with BTS classes always having the peak times and massive advertising in the Centre with in most cases no publicity for freestyle classes. This second class feeling also is reflected in the most important area which is pay rates. In many Centres, including Edinburgh Leisure, BTS Instructors are paid more than the freestyle Instructor. Again the attitude is all wrong. It is the assumption that going to training days to learn someone elses routines, as in BTS, is somehow harder work than a good FREESTYLE Instructor creating original routines and putting in many hours of work to perfect the class to make it a great experience for the participants. Club managers and studio coordinators seem to have the attitude that everyone likes BTS classes. There is no doubt that they are very popular but many have said to me that their FREESTYLE classes are just as popular which is amazing considering the lack of publicity they get. Because of this attitude Clubs and Centres have lost many high quality classes and Instructors and this can only be bad in the long run when exercisers begin to demand more variety and better Instructors at their studio.
Many FREESTYLE Instructors who have had to teach some BTS classes just to get work and continue teaching have expressed their frustration with the whole concept of both learning someone elses choreography and the teaching style of the classes. The most important part of teaching is individuality and creating original class material that the Instructor likes and believes in. Many Instructors say that they feel like a robot because everyone is teaching the same thing. This spoon feeding to Instructors cannot be a good thing in the long run and it wouldnt excite me that someone is teaching the same routine in London as I am in Edinburgh.
They also say that many BTS classes take away much of the decision making and teaching that is a very important part of a FREESTYLE class. The Body Pump class started off  the style of introducing the moves in the track and when the track started, the Instructor continued until the track finished regardless of what the participants were doing. This generally works in Body Pump as the routine is more or less static, however in other routines like Body Step and Body Jam it doesnt work as well. The Step and Dance class requires coordination and I have seen many instances where the Instructor has continued with the track and most of the class has been all over the place, taking out the teaching concept of observing what is happening and stopping to give the class more practice at any time in the class. The Instructor must have the ability and opportunity to observe and correct when required and this is impossible if they have to keep going with the track regardless of what is happening in front of them.    
The whole concept of the BTS class is known to all Instructors. In general the BTS Instructor learns the new routine and this is the routine that they will teach for the 1/4 which is 13 weeks. There is the possibility of mixing routines with old tracks but the choreography cannot be changed so the class has done it before. The class is also stop start with the Instructor introducing what is in the next track. Many Instructors ask how a training effect can be held for 13 weeks with the same routine. In Body Pump weights can be increased but there comes a time that the participant wont be able to cope with any more weight on their body frame and when this happens overload cannot be increased. The Instructor has to be able to increase intensity in other ways such as more reps or changing the routine slightly which of course you cannot do in Body Pump. In other BTS routines to have the same choreography for 13 weeks will eventually cause a platau effect after a few weeks as well as the tedium factor so the Instructor has to be able to change the routine and music regularly when they feel it appropriate. It is what teaching group classes is all about and what Exercise to Music Instructors were trained to do.   
These are the main points Instructors have made to me against the Body Training Systems but as with the points for, if you have other points you would like to make or if you feel the same we want to here from you in order to get a complete debate on the issue. My belief is that FREESTYLE and BTS classes can coexist with each other but more balance is needed in the program. There is a groundswell of opinion that the FREESTYLE class is beginning to have more demand again and with this in mind Centres may have a situation in the future where they will need good FREESTYLE Instructors. I believe that the attitude must change now as there is no doubt in my mind that the high quality FREESTYLE Instructor is a better Instructor than the BTS Instructor as they create their own choreography and teach free flowing classes through observation and correction, and there is no doubt that they should be paid at least the same as a BTS Instructor. Shame on any Club or Centre who doesnt do this.
Contact us on
info@scotfitorg.co.uk with your views

The twelve months of May 2005 to April 2006 witnessed SFO Master Trainer and International Fitness Presenter Marcos take his unique and inspirational style of group exercise class around the globe. After leaving Edinburgh in May 2005 Brazilian Presenter Marcos Fonseca taught his dynamic and explosive Latin influenced Aerobic and Dance sessions in no less than 8 countries within 3 different continents. The tour began in the magnificent city of Rio Janiero, Brazil, a country as famous for its dancers as for its bikinis and indeed Marcos' own birthplace. Revisiting both the University where he had studied and gyms where he had previously taught in, Marcos was greeted with great regard, freshly returned from a fantastic career in Europe.

Marcos spent one month in Rio teaching Aero Salsa and Hip Hop in various gyms and the classes were very popular.He was also invited back to his old University as a guest by friend Elder Tavares who is now a Professor there. The students were keen to learn about fitness in the rest of the world, particularly Europe. Revisiting also provided him with the opportunity to strengthen ties between the SFO and fitness in Brazil.
From Rio de Janiero he flew to the North of Brazil to a city called Fortaleza. Marcos made contact with a very famous dance company called Lia Ari Studio which specialises in Jazz, Ballet and Hip Hop. The students were captivated by Marcos' easy going style of Hip Hop and impressed by the Aerobic nature of the class.
Travelling down the East Coast brought him to Joao Pessoa where the gyms were beginning to incorporate the Body Training System type of class. The general feeling was that quality Instructors capable of teaching a class with their own imagination and with calorie burning qualities were not getting classes, similarly to the UK. However upon looking over Marcos' CV an Aero Salsa class was quickly established!! Old and young alike piled in for the class and it was a great success.
Travelling south within Bahia took Marcos to Port Seguro, home of the Lambada, the super sensual dance particular to Brazil. On arrival he found a gym with a studio dedicated to Hip Hop, Lambada and Afro Dance. The Instructors here were renowned throughout Brazil for their outstanding dance performances and Marcos spent 2 weeks here working along side them sharing ideas and combining forces to teach Zouk Lambada and Hip Hop to the different Nationalities filling the classes.

After spending 2 action packed months Marcos flew to Buenos Airies, Argentina where he spent 2 days re-establishing contacts before travelling to Santiago, Chile. Here Marcos enchanted a large class of future Instructors with both Aero Salsa and Hip Hop. The gym was owned by the world famous Alex Delgado and featured its own Fitness School for budding fitness Instructors.Next destination was Aukland, New Zealand, and here Marcos approached one of the larger Dance Schools rather than the gyms, some of which sadly and quite single mindedly pursued the Body Training Systems. The Hip Hop was great with the class of around 50% men and 90% Asian loved its freestyle nature and continuity. The feeling all round was that it was a refreshing change from the stand about dance class and the robotic repetitive nature of the Body Training Systems.

The tour continued westwards to Indonesia and Denpasar, the capital of Bali. He taught both Latin Aerobics and Hip Hop in at least 8 Clubs there and also at the major Convention. Students and Instructors alike became big fans and their level of skill was as high as their dedication to accuracy. Marcos extended his stay there by 3 weeks to accomodate a schedule of workshops and masterclasses.
Marcos then headed for Thailand and taught an Aero Salsa masterclass in Bankok at 'California Wow' a gym of the most gigantic proportions!! Screens were dispersed all around the studio in order to allow the students to follow the actions of Marcos. Although knowledge of English was scarce smiles were a feature of every face and the studio was filled to its capacity of about 150. Most of the students were new to Latin rythms  but it was clear that they were immediate devotees to Aero Salsa and their guest Brazilian Presenter.
Leaving Thailand he arrived in Hong Kong where there is a thriving fitness culture. The early months of 2006 have witnessed Marcos teach a variety of classes in some of the major fitness clubs and there are countless more to investigate. Taking some time out from Hong Kong Marcos flew to Seoul in South Korea to experience a different type of Asian culture, where he spent 2 weeks in the 2 biggest and most well known clubs ; California Wow and the Hurest Fitness Centre. The people were adorable and bursting with an eagerness comparable to Brazilian style.
Next stop was Taiwan where Marcos taught in the Alexander Club which is considered to the best fitness chain there. Huge numbers attended the masterclass and the students had a dynamic combination of energy and ability. Their overall enthusiasm led to a great class unforgettable for both students and teacher.
As things stand Marcos has now returned from Brazil to set up and develop many business interests, and has spent time in Scotland to fulfill commitments with SFO, but he is now based in London and teachng in the main Clubs there. His next destination is unknown but he will keep you informed. He will see you at the
Scottish Fitness Party 2009.