We asked some of our HealthEase fitness specialists how to excel as a group exercise instructor and here is the insight they shared:
“You need to be outgoing, loud, personable, and play great music!! People are taking time out of their day to workout out with YOU and YOUR class. Some even look forward to taking your class all day, it is the best part of their day! Just knowing that, as an instructor, is motivation enough for me to give a great class and a great workout. Group exercise is all about working out together with a sense of community and having FUN! Also, keep a notebook of your class formats and what you did on which days; this helps make sure you do not get in a rut with the same routine and exercises. It also comes in handy when you need to teach a class on the spot without time for planning!”
– Jamie V.
“I think connection is very important. People are more likely to come back when they feel you care. Before/after class ask them about themselves, perhaps about their personal fitness goals or even their daily life. During class, encourage them, correct form in a positive way and let them know when they are doing something really well. After class, thank them for their time. Remember names and if you can’t, write the names down with a short description of the person to help you recall.”
- Michelle L.
“Be sure to provide modifications. In the corporate setting we see all levels of ability, mobility and output effort. We see all levels here in all classes. Maybe not pinpoint out WHO needs those modifications but be sure to demonstrate them, so members know that it is an option.
Also, provide variety. I understand what my members like and don’t like. I try to offer them a variety of classes as well as different formats and exercises within those classes that work within the progression but maybe they have never seen before. Offering variety will keep things interesting for the members as well as promote muscle confusion, in some cases.
I say this because in past experiences I have taken group classes where instructors have either not recognized where some may have needed modifications and they were failing due to poor form or taking classes that were cookie-cutter the same week after week = YAWN.”
– Lauren S.
“A tip that I’d like to share is communicating with fellow employees. Here at our site, with three staff members teaching different classes throughout the week, we make sure to communicate with each other on the styles and exercises used in certain classes. Since we have many members that are regular participants to classes, it is beneficial to know which exercises that they performed during another team member’s class earlier that week or the day before. This can help prevent overtraining with these individuals and provide the most efficient and beneficial full-body workout throughout the week.
Also, a fun way to provide different variations with group exercise is to incorporate friendly competitions, add exercise challenges, and have attendees work in pairs to promote positive camaraderie within the group!”
– Mike M.
“I simply rely on great music, the most functional movements, and soaring energy…if we want members to be at 60-70% for instance – that means we teach at 80+ to keep them reaching, and we do it with a smile. We know our members, we welcome the new ones, even if that means someone who is legitimately just walking by and we call them in to try it out. We maximize our ROI by surveying the members about their wants and needs every few months and incorporating GX into every incentive program we have for the month. GX is the biggest incentive for folks joining here because our classes are insanely fun, tough, rejuvenating, or all three.”
- Nicole M.
“I think the most important things regarding group exercise instruction (other than obviously a kick ass workout in a safe environment) is making everyone feel included and knowing your audience. Make sure you know their names. Call their names out during class, whether it is to give simple encouragement, correct form, or motivate them. If there is someone new to the class, introduce yourself, learn their name, and provide a little more attention to their movements, so that you can get a feel for them as a performer of your exercises and their personality. At my site, our group ex classes are like a mini gym family, so generally everyone is held accountable, feels welcome, and has fun.
Know, trust, and understand your clients. We at HealthEase are in the corporate world where many of our clients have high-stressed positions, so we break the tension by [joking around]. During classes, I sing and dance (horribly) which gets my members to joke with me. This allows me to joke back with them….This breaks the tension created from the work environment, while at the same time physically challenging them due to the class itself.
In conclusion, making everyone feel welcome/included, and knowing your audience, will help you create an atmosphere for your class. We wouldn’t work for HealthEase if we didn’t have a great understanding of the body physically, so combining a physical challenge with a great atmosphere equates to an awesome group ex environment, created and maintained by the instructor.”
– Ty T.
“Read how people are feeling that day. I’ve had entire classes planned out and then because of how the weather is or the moods of my clients, we might do something completely different. One of the snow days where we were open, but a lot of tenants stayed home, only three clients showed up to class. Instead of going through our 30-minute, high intensity class, we relaxed, “shavasana’d” and talked for 30 minutes. It isn’t always about working out, it’s about relaxing and getting out of that work atmosphere like Ty said.
In other classes, I let the first person who shows up pick the music. It helps them be motivated to show up because then they get to choose what we all listen to. Another big thing I do is push the clients if they are tired and say they don’t want to work out. Sometimes they need me there to tell them “I don’t care if you don’t want to do this workout today… you came to my class and you’re going to do it.” I only do this with clients I am extremely comfortable with, and they are ALWAYS thankful afterwards when they had a great workout from me pushing them.”
– Toni F.