group of people stretching together in fitness class

3 Ways Fitness Studios are Being More Inclusive for Beginners

By Denise Prichard

If you’ve ever felt nervous or hesitant to attend a new fitness class, you’re not alone. In fact, 58% of people feel self-conscious when they try new fitness activities.*

But when you take that brave step to try a new class or start a fitness journey altogether, it’s normal to have questions going through your mind. You might be asking yourself: 

  • Will I be able to actually do the class?

  • Will I be able to keep up with everyone else who has been going to this class for months?

  • Will I feel too anxious or embarrassed to try some advanced poses/exercises?

We’ve all been there. I know I have. 

I remember walking into my first yoga class over 15 years ago—I was nervous because I was unfamiliar with the practice and didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. When I stepped into the yoga room, the first thing I saw were two students—one in a handstand and the other in full splits—two things I had never been able to in my life. 

If it weren’t for my friend and the nurturing yoga instructor who assured me the class was a safe space for beginners and advanced yoga students alike, I probably would’ve raced for the doors. Because of their caring words (and how fun the class was), I decided to stick with the practice and even became an instructor myself over five years ago.

Now, as a fitness professional, it’s my goal to help clients reach their goals. It’s also my hope to instill confidence in my students (especially newbies) and remind them that, whatever their fitness level is, they belong in my class.

And guess what? There are many fitness studios dedicated to creating a safe space for beginners. Here’s how we do it:

1. Get to know everyone’s name from day one

Taking the time to meet and get to know each and every new client is invaluable. 

If you’re a fitness professional: 

Give yourself plenty of time to get to know new students before the class starts. Arrive about 10 to 15 minutes ahead of time, make introductions, and let them know what they can expect from the class. 

Throughout the workout, make a point to remember names and give words of encouragement. Cheering on first-timers gives them much-needed confidence and encourages them to sign up again. 

If you’re a fellow student:  

As a class regular, you have the opportunity to make a new client feel welcome. When you see someone new, introduce yourself and get to know them a bit better. Ask where they work, what brought them to class, etc. 

When the instructor and the rest of the class make a new client feel included, it ensures they have the best experience possible. Plus, it increases the likelihood they’ll return for more. 

2. Create a supportive environment for beginners

Every client has a different background and unique limitations. It’s important to recognize and welcome individual differences. 

If you’re a fitness professional: 

In a practice like yoga, there are many variations and modifications for poses—and the same can be said for any type of fitness class—so always make a point to offer modifications and reiterate that all poses/exercises are optional.

Some adjustments and corrections require hands-on modifications and/or variations to help avoid injury. Always ask for permission at the beginning of class as some clients might be uncomfortable with being touched.

If you’re a fellow student: 

If the class requires small groups or partners, invite new students to work out with you. Encourage them to ask questions and modify when necessary. Don’t forget to give them a high-five or “great job” after class, too.

3. Create offerings for beginners

Services and events specifically aimed at beginners introduce fitness services in an inviting manner.

If you’re a fitness professional: 

Host classes and/or workshops aimed to educate beginners (think Yoga 101, Intro to High-Intensity Interval Training, etc.). These offerings encourage clients to try something alongside other beginners. A bit of education goes a long way to help clients feel more comfortable when they’re just getting started. 

Pop-up events also showcase the benefits of a fitness facility, but outside of its regular location. Consider hosting a beginner’s class at a local park to help newcomers learn more about your classes in a casual environment. (Check out our fitness pop-up event checklist for some other great ideas.) 

If you’re a fellow student: 

You were a beginner once, too. Take a minute or two to write a review about your experience when you were just getting started. Did you attend a beginner’s workshop or pop-up event? Were you nervous? Were modifications welcomed by your instructor? Talk about it! Your review gives prospective clients a feel for what it’ll be like when they attend their first few classes. 

Starting a new fitness journey doesn’t have to be intimidating or scary. As fitness professionals and fellow students, we have the power to make it a fun, exciting, and encouraging experience for beginners. Oh, and if you’re a beginner, you’ve totally got this. 

*MINDBODY. "Consumer Profile." July 2019.

Want to see how your studio can be more inclusive for all?

View the guide

About the author:

Denise Prichard

Content Marketing Specialist and Certified Yoga Instructor (RYT-200)

MINDBODY

Denise Prichard is a certified yoga instructor (RYT-200) and an experienced content marketing professional with a penchant for writing compelling copy within the health, wellness and beauty industries. When she isn't writing or editing, you can find her teaching yoga classes, at a spin class or hanging out with her rescue pups. She currently serves as the Content Marketing Specialist for MINDBODY.

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