So you’re looking for ways to make your group fitness classes more fun, am I right?
Well, that’s lucky, because in this article I am going to give you a ton of ways that you can do just that.
I’ve worked in gyms for a big chunk of my life, and I’ve taught tons of group fitness classes, so let me show you exactly what I did to make my classes more fun, and increased my group fitness attendance at the same time.
If you’ve been teaching group exercises classes for a while, I’m sure you know how fun they can be to teach. It’s great seeing all those happy, sweaty faces at the end of a class.
But sometimes things can start to get a little stale and you might find that people aren’t enjoying your classes as much as they used to, which is disappointing and something you obviously want to avoid.
I was brand new to teaching fitness classes, so it took me a while to come up with the following techniques, once I put them into action it made a world of difference to my class attendance and I got highly positive feedback.
10 Easy ways to make your group fitness classes more fun
- Change your routines frequently
- Experiment with the music you use
- Make use of partner exercises
- Bring in new equipment
- Don’t take yourself too seriously
- Interact on a 1-2-1 basis when you can
- Add a competitive element
- Make encouragement a requirement of joining your class
- Set the tone of classes as being fun from the get-go
- Make your class act as a team!
1. Change your routines frequently
Routines can be great, your morning coffee, birthdays, summer holidays, and doing the same exercises over and over each week.
Well, maybe not that last one.
If you think that your participants are getting bored with your classes, or one of them actually told you they are, it’s probably because you are doing the same routine each and every week.
Wouldn’t you get bored of doing that? I know I certainly would, and I’ve been told many times in my life that I am in no way unique!
Something as simple as changing your routine by adding in different exercises, or different ways of training. Tabata, HIIT training, etc can bring a new lease of life to an otherwise repetitious exercise class.
It doesn’t have to be a completely different type of workout, that doesn’t work in a specific type of class, but adding elements that will make a small change to the way the classes are taught or how the exercises are performed can shake things up a bit and make them more interesting.
2. Experiment with the music you use
The music you use whilst you teach your classes can make a monumental difference to the feeling of your class.
Get the music style or tempo wrong and you can ruin your class, seriously!
Generally, you are going to want to use uplifting, relatively fast tempo music to help drive up your participants’ energy levels. I personally found that house music (albeit a little cliche) worked the best in my classes, as it had just enough speed to it that it kept things interesting without being so fast that people were passing out.
The very best thing you can do here is a test.
Try out different music styles and teach your classes to a pretend audience. See if you think the style and tempo work with the exercises you have put together, and once you are happy with it, try it out in a live class.
Ask for feedback after your class and see what people thought. Feedback is great in these sorts of experiments, you might even find that the class that you thought would enjoy working out to the rocky theme tune actually much prefer really fast drum and bass tracks!
3. Make use of partner exercises
Working out on your own can be fun, sure, but in some situations, working with a partner can make things way more fun.
Making use of partner exercises in gym classes is really easy, as a lot of the exercises you would plan for people to do on their own can be changed to make use of a partner. For example, slamming a medicine ball can obviously be done by one person with a medicine ball on their own, which is kinda fun, but if you add in a partner, and as one person is slamming a medicine ball down the other is completing a burpee and they take this in turn for 1 minute, you have yourself a pretty fun partner exercise.
There’s actually more to it than making the exercise a little more fun, you are building connections between people taking your classes. People will remember others they partnered up with in the last class they took because they were probably laughing and having fun with them.
Teamwork makes it more likely that the members will be having fun in the class and can encourage these people to become friends. Friends like working out together, they each come to your class because their friend is coming, now you have not only increased the fun people are having in your classes, but you’ve increased your retention and class numbers too.
4. Bring in new equipment
Sometimes all it takes to make things a little more interesting is giving people a new toy to play with.
Yes, there are a million exercises you can do using barbells and kettlebells, they are great, but people have seen them before and any novelty factor they may have once had quickly died.
Instead, shop around for some of the more interesting (see also “weird”) pieces of equipment you can use in your classes to shake things up a little.
I won’t make this into a big discussion about the effectiveness of each piece of equipment, because really, I think dumbbells, barbells, and kettlebells are some of the most versatile and beneficial items you can use in a gym, it’s just that they aren’t always that interesting to some people.
A good example of using new equipment was when the Vipr came out. This is a long tube that comes in varying weights that have two handles. At first glance, they look a little gimmicky, but after using them in my classes, I quickly found out that people really enjoyed using them and seeing how you could use them in various movement patterns.
They are were sold to our gym as being the height in “functional training” as they allow for a full range of movement with a strong emphasis on increasing core stability. Whether or not they function as well as they were marketed to be didn’t matter, people had a lot of fun with them and they were great as a piece of multi-functioning exercise equipment, and people had fun using them, so why not give new equipment a go to see if you can bring something a little new to your classes?
5. Don’t take yourself too seriously
Taking myself seriously is something I have never been guilty of, but to some people, exercise is a very serious matter.
I don’t disagree with that at all, exercise is important and it can literally change people’s lives for the better, so it should be treated with respect and taken seriously.
However, people come to exercise classes to get in shape and to have fun at the same time. Remember, a lot of people consider exercise something that they have to do, but do not want to do. They would usually hate the idea of sitting on an exercise bike or using machines to train. Instead, they want a fun environment where they can meet with their friends and exercise to some upbeat music.
A super serious attitude does not work in exercise classes unless they are martial arts based or something similar. Don’t take yourself too seriously when teaching your classes, have fun with it, maybe tease people a little (in a nice way of course), and make fun of yourself.
Teaching the participants of your class as if they have just signed up to the US Marine Corps will not make many people come back the next week.
6. Interact on a 1-2-1 basis when you can
All too often I would see instructors teaching classes by standing at the front in front of the mirror and never walking around the room. Now, I understand that walking around and correcting each person is next to impossible, and there isn’t always time to get around the room before you need to start demoing the next movement, but wherever you can, I would suggest interacting on a 1-2-1 basis with the members.
If there is no time to walk around the room, then shout out to particular people to encourage them. For example, “You in the blue shirt, great squat depth” or whatever, you get the idea.
If you have been teaching the class for a while then you should 100% be using people’s first names to shout out encouragement and correct their form, they will really like that.
Next time you find yourself with a longer exercise (maybe a squat track or during a team or partner exercise), try to walk around the room briefly and interact with your participants. Even a little bit of recognition of an exercise being done well goes a long way with people’s confidence and the fun they have in a class.
7. Add in a competitive element
Partner work is fun, but teamwork is even…..funerer?
I appreciate that teamwork won’t always apply to certain classes due to their structure, but wherever possible, if you can, split the group into two teams and have them competing against one another. You will create one of the most fun classes available at your gym.
I used to work in the City of London (the business district), so our members were fiercely competitive with each other. Because I knew people would love competing against each other, I made sure I split the group as often as I can.
Even If I was teaching a hit class, I would separate the group into teams and have them elect a leader who would count how many reps their team had got on that station. Of course, I didn’t believe a single score they yelled at me, but that wasn’t the point, if you can get them competing, you can get them engaged.
Give it a go if you can, you’ll members will love it!
8. Make encouragement a requirement of your class
It’s your responsibility as an instructor to make sure you are giving out encouraging words whilst people are exercising. You should be constantly telling people how well they are doing the exercises and make it clear that you understand how hard they are working.
That’s just you though, and the members expect that, what they wouldn’t expect, is people in their class encouraging them too.
Hearing another member of the class cheering them on will be surprising to most people, but I suppose that’s just not a very “British” thing to do. Why not take a leaf from our American friends’ book and learn to cheer each other on during classes?
To do this, I suggest that you not only encourage people to cheer each other on and not be afraid to shout out words of encouragement to each other, but you make it part of your class culture. If people want to join your class, they have to be willing to give out support to each and every other member there.
That will generate some serious comradery in your classes, and trust me, you will have people lining up to attend your classes each time with this strategy.
9. Set the tone of classes as being fun from the get-go
Clowns are just terrifying, aren’t they?
This is a simple but effective tip.
From the very beginning of each of your classes, you should introduce yourself and make it very clear that in order for people to get the most out of your classes, they MUST be willing to have fun at the same time as exercising.
Let them know that just because it’s fun, doesn’t mean it will be easy, far from it, but members are actively encouraged to enjoy themselves.
Maybe see if you can get a competition going to see who can end up the sweatiest at the end of the class, or who can still do 30 push-ups before they leave. Just make sure you make it very clear that you are here to have a good time and get them in great shape.
Your class might be the first that a new member has ever gone to, can you think of a better introduction to fitness than that?
10. Make your class act as a team!
Along with making encouragement part of the requirement to join your classes, you should also make it clear that no one is to be left out.
Encourage your members to look around the group and encourage anyone that is struggling, not just their friends or people they know from work. You should make it perfectly clear that at all times, your class is working together as a team, either in two separate groups when competing, or as a full class.
There is nothing worse to see as an instructor than a nervous-looking person heading towards the back of the class so that no one notices them. I wanted every single person to feel and know that they are welcome and part of the group.
Not a single person should feel left out or like they are failing. As soon as a person is seen struggling by another member, that member should start to shout encouragement to them. By doing this you are again making people create strong bonds that link them together, no matter what company they work for, how old or young they are, or if they are fit and healthy or out of shape.
Everyone is welcome, and it is up to you to cement this mentality in your group.
Fitness should always be fun, and as the instructor of a class, it is up to you to create a fun and friendly atmosphere that everyone can enjoy together.
There should never be a reason that people are getting bored with your classes, there are plenty of options you have to keep things fresh fun, and exciting whilst getting people great results.
I hope these tips have given you some inspiration to get your class numbers booming and people singing your praises about how incredible they are!
Go get ’em!
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