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Keys to Effective Group Fitness

Keys to Effective Group Fitness

Reading Time: 5 minutes 5 seconds


DATE: 2020-03-30

An important aspect of the fitness industry is building consistency within clients. Trainers can give the best programs in the world, but if their clients do not commit to them, their bodies will never change. As a trainer, it's your job to figure out how to motivate your client to stick to the program. An often-overlooked opportunity for this is through group fitness.

Group fitness classes allow exercise to be fun and social for clients and they're an opportunity for more business to a trainer. Let's dig into how you can maximize the effectiveness of group fitness to benefit your clients and your business.

Camaraderie and Commitment with Group Exercise Classes

The structure of group fitness classes allows you as the trainer to work with a variety of clients in one single session. Clients, on the other hand, get to surround themselves with other clients who have similar goals. Creating small or large group training sessions for clients with similar goals builds community, connections, and results. This keeps clients more motivated than if they workout alone.

The social aspect brings teamwork, accountability, and camaraderie to training, which is beneficial to clients and you. A lot of the time and energy it takes you, as the trainer, to follow up and stay on top of clients happens naturally with the client's workout peers.

Client retention is an important component of maintaining a business. With group fitness classes, clients build relationships and workout partners, which inherently builds more commitment. Clients are less likely to skip a group workout because they're not just impacting their own fitness, but their partner's as well.

Get Creative for More Effective Workouts

In a group atmosphere, you can be creative and implement different forms of exercise into one workout. This includes cardio, strength, endurance, mobility training, and more.

Find balance between allowing clients to experience the social aspect while continuing to keep the workout moving. This helps you create a safe, fun, and effective workout environment. Clients will continue to look forward to coming back for more each day.

Friendly competition is another good tactic to help push clients past their limits. When clients see others doing more or when you challenge them in teams, it helps them push themselves beyond their potential. Part of your job as a trainer is to hold clients accountable. That comradery that keeps clients committed also helps them push harder.

The Challenges of Group Fitness

In a group setting, you get to work with more than one client at a time. While this is beneficial in some respect, it can make other aspects of training more challenging.


As a group grows larger, your attention must spread out across more clients. Individual needs become more difficult to address. The workout plan is organized for a broader audience, which makes it tough to work specifically on one person's goals when you are working with 20 clients.

Individual Feedback

Large group settings make it challenging to manage clients who perform exercises incorrectly. When clients go heavier and need spotting it is tough to be in multiple spots at once. Especially when all the clients are doing the same exercises. This is where it's helpful to set up workout partners within the class. Detailed demonstrations and proper verbal cueing can help with this as well.

Varied Fitness Levels

Because you design group fitness classes for a broader audience, it is more challenging to ensure all clients experience the proper level of workout intensity. More fit clients may find the class too easy while others may feel overwhelmed. As you plan your workout routine, strive to choose exercises that are easy to level up or down depending on each client's abilities.

How to Design a Group Fitness Class

The first thing to consider when designing a group fitness class is the type of class you want to conduct. Group classes range from bootcamp style to strength training and more—high-intensity interval training, cardio, core, stretching, yoga, Pilates, and kickboxing.

Once you decide the type of class you want to lead, choose an appealing name for it. Get creative and label it with an enticing title so people gain interest in joining. For example, if you create an ab-focused class, skip the generic "Abs" title. Instead, add some flair, such as "Abs: Extreme Burner."

Next, define the goal of the class in a short description that sums up what the class will consist of. "Abs: Extreme Burner is all about building core strength and definition through a 30-minute dumbbell circuit style workout."

Be sure to include the length of the class plus the start and end time. This will help clients plan accordingly.

One of the most crucial parts of a fun and effective group fitness class is music. Music controls the mood and energy in a room. If your class is high-intensity exercise choose upbeat music. Whereas if the class is yoga or a low-intensity workout, relaxing, slow-tempo music might be a better choice.

Create your music playlist before class. Make sure the playlist lasts longer than the class length to be sure you have enough music to play. Always test that it works before the class starts.

Last is the actual workout format. Consider using the following format:


The warm-up should consist of dynamic stretching to help prime the body for exercise. Include movement prep and muscle activation exercises. This is a great time to allow clients to get some socialization out of the way. Use this time to introduce yourself and any new members of the class.

Main Workout

The main part of the workout would be the strength section in most cases. This main part includes the goal of the class, which in "Abs: Extreme Burner" would be the ab circuit.

Be sure to include multiple movement patterns for the goal of the class. In a full-body strength class, include squat, hinge, and push and pull exercises.

In an ab class, avoid doing just flexion exercises like only crunches. Add diversity with rotational movements and isometric exercises.

Burner Finisher

After the main workout comes a conditioning section. It is good to incorporate a burner finisher that has metabolic conditioning exercises. This is a good way to finish a workout. It makes clients leave feeling like they got a great workout in.

This part is also a great time to add partner type activities. Friendly competition can inspire clients to push a little harder for the sake of fun. Divide the class into teams and have a competition to finish.

Cool Down

Save time for a cool down at the end of the workout. Stretch and cool down with clients to help bring the heart rate down and prevent injury. This is another opportunity for clients to socialize.

As a coach, use this time to make announcements and receive feedback on the workout. Invite clients to the next class or a new class you are coaching. Ask when they will be coming next and reserve their spot.

Tips to Enhance a Group Fitness Experience

  • Introduce yourself and allow everyone to quickly introduce themselves

  • Incorporate fun and challenging competition-style workouts

  • Offer "Bring a friend for free"

  • Provide a nutrition tip of the day

  • Include partner workouts

  • Allow time to cool down, give announcements, and discuss upcoming events

  • Hold weekly competitions, challenges, and giveaways

Improve your time management and increase the number of clients you can impact by becoming an ISSA Group Fitness Instructor. Learn how to create fun, safe, and effective small or large group classes.

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