How to Create a Fitness Class That Keeps Clients Coming Back
By Denise Prichard
As an overall fitness lover and group fitness instructor, I know there are certain things I expect to experience whenever I am lucky enough to get a workout in myself. Every time you walk in front of your class, you know you’re there for certain reasons—to inspire your clients to reach their fitness goals. And in return, your students expect you as the instructor to be their warrior—ready to teach and push them each time they step foot in your gym. If you don’t build a strong connection with each individual that walks into your studio, you can risk making your first impression your last—but it doesn’t have to be that way!
Whether the classes at your fitness studio focus on yoga, HIIT, pilates, cycling, or incorporate strength-training exercises, there are certain skills you can develop to help you become a fitness instructor that leaves a lasting impression on every client that walks into your studio. Here are some tips that have worked in my experience.
1. Use fitness software to simplify booking
One of the easiest ways to get clients to sign up for your class in the first place is by offering online booking. By integrating fitness software into your studio, you can take all the guesswork out of the equation—both prospective and current clients can access your studio schedule, learn about the classes you provide, and book a class with little-to-no effort. This makes class sign-up for a breeze for both you and your clients.
Along with storing necessary client information, fitness management software also allows clients to sign any safety waivers before they come to class. This may not ring true for every studio, but it is a requirement at our studio–this functionality makes it a breeze to have all your ducks in a row before class begins.
2. Always be early to your fitness class
Arriving 10 to 15 minutes before your class starts is one of the best ways to start every class—nothing is worse than feeling rushed and potentially exuding that energy on your students. Clients usually arrive early to classes as well, and you can use this time to talk to participants and get to know them before your class begins. I like to make sure I learn everyone’s names so I can recognize the effort they are putting into their workout. There's something about shouting out someone's name during class to help motivate them just a little bit more. I also use this time to discuss any limitations they may have (like injuries or pregnancies) before beginning class to help make them feel included and safe in my space.
3. Create an encouraging environment from the start
Make sure you greet every client, introduce yourself, and let them know what they can expect out of your class. Every client you encounter has different limitations, so I like to let everyone know that all poses/exercises are optional, so they don’t feel pressured to do anything and remain confident throughout class. I personally teach yoga, which has a ton of modifications and adjustments involved in the practice, but some clients may feel uncomfortable with you touching or adjusting them. I always make it a rule to ask each student if they are okay with adjustments before class begins.
Another effective tip is to have music playing in the studio before your students arrive. This helps set the perfect scene and gets clients in the mood to give it their all when they are in your fitness class. While you’re setting up your preset playlist, make sure you also turn your phone on “do not disturb” or “airplane mode” to avoid any disruptions in class. We’ve all been there, 30 minutes into class and your mom calls or text messages you—it may be humorous the first time it happens, but I think we can all agree that one time is more than enough.
4. Keep clients coming back
The middle and the end of class are just as significant as the beginning of class. I like to think my class functions the same way a song does. There are different energy levels from start to finish, with the energetic peak usually happening in the middle of the song. It’s ideal to align your playlists with the movements in your fitness class. For instance, your warm-up can consist of slower songs to create the right mood, the middle of the playlist is the crescendo that’s full of energy, and eventually the songs start soften towards the end of class for a nice relaxing cool down.
To make sure you leave a lasting impression on your clients, remember to introduce yourself again at the end of class, and congratulate them on a job well done. I always round out my classes by relaying an inspirational quote and thanking them for coming to my class–sometimes small things like this can help bridge the connection between student and teacher. Help them make the commitment to coming to your next class by letting them know the next time you teach, or support the other instructors at your studio and let your clients know about other studio offerings.