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3 Ways to Rock Group Fitness

Group fitness class

Group fitness has experienced massive change over the past three decades, and now it’s the main value proposition in membership pitches. People will pay for a group fitness community they enjoy. Understandably, even instructors are being drawn to studios that pay a premium for teaching to a packed room. How do you stay relevant and competitive?

Over the course of my career, I’ve learned that while the solutions are simple, they’re not always easy. When it comes to creating a competitive edge, a few things remain true no matter what type of facility you operate. Here are three strategies to create a compelling group effect.

1: Create a Memorable Group Fitness Experience

As discussed above, people want to be part of a community. That’s true of humans in general, but people especially need a community to help them make the fitness lifestyle stick! These days, it’s not just about offering classes; you must create an engaging experience that transcends “taking a class.” Members will connect first with the instructor, then with the member community and finally, ultimately, with your brand. That’s when they become raving fans and brand advocates.

Two: Hire and Retain a Rock Star Team

Hiring the best instructor talent is the most important step in creating a strong group fitness community. Research the top talent in your market. Hire the best you can afford across several formats to build a strong programming base. The goal is to own your market and be the best place for high-quality instructors to teach. Hiring top talent doesn’t have to cost a ton of money. You can offer incentives (like education reimbursements) that stimulate instructor loyalty.

Three: Implement Program-Driven Schedules

Does your schedule give people a compelling reason to join your facility? Again, your competitive advantage is to offer a broad base of programming that captivates across the board. Think about classes that appeal to men, actively aging adults, seniors and millennials, as well as to the women who usually frequent group fitness classes. Look carefully at your demographic base, and focus on member needs rather than instructor availability. All too often, program directors fill schedules based on who is available at a certain time, instead of recruiting to fill a programming need. Include dance, cardio, strength, mind-body and boot camp–type classes in all time slots—to make sure there’s always a class for everyone.

Taken singularly, any of the above initiatives can create incremental changes in your group fitness program. However, when they’re integrated into a unified approach, these strategies create transformative, lasting change.

See also Indoor Cycling by Science.

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November-December 2020 IDEA Fitness Journal

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