Whether you’re teaching six or sixty, it’s important to make clients feel like No.1. With the launch of our high intensity interval training workout, T3, there’s no better time to get to grips with group fitness.

Group fitness is more popular than ever, with numerous classes for varying abilities and interests. The dated image of aerobics has been replaced with one of fun, intense workouts that not only deliver participants with results but also give them motivation and the opportunity to socialise with others.

It is not surprising, therefore, that aglobal Nielsen study of more than 3,000 participants found that more than 85% of class members visit their gym twice a week specifically to engage in group classes. 45% of members visit four times a week for this purpose.

Furthermore, 20 out of 25 participants of a study by Penn State University taking part in a 30-week group exercise programme never missed a workout – a compliance rate of 98.8%! The conclusion was that group fitness motivated participants in a way that solo workouts didn’t, developing both their confidence and fitness levels.

This is not to say that personal training is a lesser experience. One-to-one attention and personalization allows clients to receive bespoke instruction and achieve their own individual goals. Personal trainers can also develop a rapport with their clients, getting to know them and how fitness fits into their lives.

So, how can instructors bring this personal approach to a group exercise class? Some of our experts at TRAINFITNESS give their advice…

Richard Scrivener, personal trainer and product development manager

Be there early, before the class begins, to great all the participants – give them a handshake, high-5 or pat on the back. A warm welcome and some physical contact creates a sense of connection and sincerity.

Make sure that each participant receives a strong glance of enthusiasm and encouragement at least once during the workout.

Don’t be a passive coach at the top of the class – once you have performed your explanations and demos, get in amongst the group! Move through the participants and have some presence on the wings and back of the class. Encourage as many people as you can with corrective cues, words of encouragement and/or motivational body language. Pick out a few individuals that are working really hard and give them a public shout out either during or at the end of the session.

When wrapping up, thank the group and tell them that you enjoyed coaching the workout as much as you hope they did taking part. Also state that you are already looking forward to next week. Your enthusiasm towards their participation in the session will help create retention and repeat business.

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Neil Bates, programme coordinator

If you’re teaching a regular class, then know the names of all the students who come to your class and not just the ones in the front row. It does get a little awkward when you have your loyal members who have been with you for many years and you don’t know their name! A good way to find out names without having to ask directly is by looking at their gym membership card when scanning in, or even taking a class register. When you know someone’s name, you can then give them some praise and encouragement and then they feel special.

Secondly, walk around the group. Making eye contact and giving correction goes a long way! Give high-5’s to people; it makes them feel that you are observing them in your class. If you are teaching to a large group then try to give eye contact to all of the people, not just the front few rows. Look around the whole room and smile! Finally, try to vary the tone of your voice as this will also help you to motivate the group to work a little harder. When you sound excited and enthusiastic, they’ll know you mean it!

Katie Higginbotham, personal trainer and course tutor

Use effective changes in the pitch and tone of your voice to suit the clients’ personality and needs, helping to keep motivation and enjoyment at a peak. Use your body language in a way that creates an energy!!

Have flexibility in your exercise choices and be prepared to change your plan should this give your client a greater experience of the session. Keep all these changes as a positive rather than ‘regressions’.

Give specific feedback at the end of the session that really emphasises developments and strengths people have shown during the class.

Tom Godwin, course tutor

Making your sessions feel personal is a very important factor when trying to create that welcoming feeling that keeps people coming back to your sessions. I think one of the easiest ways to create that personal feeling is to learn peoples’ names. I see so many instructors using generic terms to speak to their such as ‘mate’ or ‘buddy’. By learning names and using them never fails to create that personal feeling’.

Trying to make personal connections with the people you have in your classes is also an amazing way to create a bond. Spending a few minutes after the class with different people each week can really strengthen that feeling of belonging.

Making sure you build in activities into your class that re-enforce the team spirit can be an amazing way to not only strengthen bonds between you and your class but also between the members of your class.

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