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ISSA | 7 Tips for Group Exercise Instructors to Lead Better and Build Community

7 Tips for Group Exercise Instructors to Lead Better and Build Community

Reading Time: 3 minutes 30 seconds


DATE: 2023-11-08

How can group exercise instructors lead more effectively and build a fitness community? Consider these nine expert tips to take your group classes up a notch and keep participants coming back again and again.

Limit Number of Participants

For group exercise workouts, having a few participants makes it easier for the fitness instructor to focus on ensuring that each participant is performing the movements in the correct form, engaging all the participants at once, and getting to know them on a more personal level while ensuring they're having fun, motivating them, and getting the required attention to make the workout effective.

John Gardner, Co-founder and CEO, Kickoff

Create a Positive and Inclusive Environment

As a group fitness instructor, I believe it is critical to foster a welcoming and encouraging environment for all participants. Before the workout begins, welcome each person by name and ask how they are feeling. 

Address any concerns or injuries that anybody may have and suggest adaptations or alternative workouts. Use encouraging language and provide specific feedback and encouragement to individuals during the workout. Instead of saying, "Excellent job, everyone!" say, "Nice form, John!" or "You're killing those squats, Sarah!" 

Provide opportunities for participants to interact with one another, such as group challenges or couple exercises. This promotes a sense of community and motivates people to assist one another.

Matt Magnante, Director of Content and SEO, Fitness Volt

Learn more: Group Fitness Classes for Older Adults - Staying Active and Socially Engaged

Love What You Do with an Open Mind

Loving what you do, while also adopting an accommodating mindset, is one of the best practices for leading and building one's own fitness community. Teaching from one's knowledge base and keeping a core curriculum for each workout builds structure and a unified sense of purpose, but learning is a lifelong process, and new trends are sure to pop up that can benefit and build on what is already established. 

Keeping an open mind for new workout trends shows adaptability and reflects that openness outward, which may even lead to new members joining your community too.

Alexandre Robicquet, Co-founder and CEO, Crossing Minds

Learn more: How Much Do Group Fitness Instructors Make?

Give Personalized Attention and Guidance

One tip for group fitness instructors to lead effective group workouts and build a fitness community is to provide personalized attention and guidance. Being accessible and approachable will help foster relationships with members so they feel comfortable participating in the class. 

As an instructor, be sure to talk to new members before class starts, offer modifications as needed during class, and take time to answer any questions or address concerns.

Amy Lee, Medical Advisor, Nucific

Always Be Prepared for Class

My one tip for group fitness instructors to lead effective group fitness classes and build a fitness community is always to be prepared for class, as it opens the door for amazing things to happen.

When instructors know exactly what they will do in class, not only does their cueing get better, but the energy of the class also shifts. It amplifies the class experience because the instructor can add multiple layers to the class by offering various levels of intensity and participant accommodations based on physical limitations. 

In addition, the instructor can focus on their students instead of the choreography, which helps to build trust and the fitness community we all crave.

Katie Pierson, Group Fitness Instructor and Lead Writer, GirlBikeLove.com

Learn more: Outdoor Group Training Essentials

One-to-One Sessions

As a group fitness instructor, you have a great opportunity to build a vibrant fitness community. An effective way to do this is by having one-to-one sessions with your students. During these sessions, take the time to get to know each student on an individual level and find out what goals they are hoping to achieve through working out in a group environment. 

This will give you insight into their motivations, preferences, and even any existing conditions or limitations. When you have this information, you can tailor your classes so that everyone is getting the most from each session, which will help inspire them to stick to their goals and continue taking part in your classes.

Haya Subhan, General Manager, Leeds First Aid Courses

Be Accessible After Class

One of my most valuable tips for leading effective group workouts as a group fitness instructor is to always be accessible after class to your members. This could mean hosting question-and-answer sessions, getting to know their goals, or just providing friendly conversation. 

As an individual who has been part of a yoga group for the last five years, I find it helpful to always connect with the instructor outside of the physical activity. Instructors need to foster strong relationships with their participants and strive to create a lasting connection not just during class, but before and after as well. Accessibility is key!

Alexandru Contes, Co-founder, ReviewGrower

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