Has your program director been hinting that your participation numbers are down? It can be frustrating and challenging to keep your regular participants engaged while trying to recruit new fans. If you’re like a lot of instructors, you’ve probably gone from not having anyone to teach to maybe even having to turn people away due to lack of space! There are many things you can do to keep the participants you have, capture new ones and keep people exercising with you, year after year.
The following six suggestions are easy to implement (and you may already be doing some of them).
1. Keep the Music Relevant
Everyone knows that music is the cornerstone of a good class. Playlists are your calling card, and they can make or break an experience. One pitfall that instructors fall into is playing only songs that they love. This is an easy, avoidable trap. Naturally, we want to work out to music we like, but remember that this is not your workout. Let participants choose the music. In fact, actively ask for their advice—because this is their class, and they will work harder if they’re doing it while listening to music that they choose. Here are some tips:
- As a starting point, de┬¡termine the average age and demographic of your classes. If your dance class is filled with women who are in their 20s, it’s probably not a good idea to play tunes from the 1980s.
- Do a survey! Ask participants what their favorite songs are, and encourage them to share their own playlists.
- Many clients love throw┬¡back songs. If your class has a wide range of ages, play mashups (remixed songs that blend tracks from different songs into one).
- Ask fellow instructors what they’re playing and what has been working for them.
2. Cross-Promote With Other Fitness Instructors
You are part of a team, so don’t be overly competitive with your teammates. Work with other instructors in your facility to get the word out about your services and show participants that you’re working together to bring awareness to different classes. Give members options that they might not have considered. For example, if you teach HIIT, you could mention that your colleague teaches yoga the next morning and that yoga would be a good choice for active recovery after HIIT; information like this gives members an opportunity to stretch and be mindful, and it demonstrates that you have their best interests in mind.
3. Leverage Social Media
Social media is an easy way for you to share information about activities in and around your fitness community, but don’t do it with your personal profile. Instead, create a business page on Facebook, and use it to promote your certifications and the classes you currently teach. Once you have a following, ask people to leave reviews about your classes on your business page.
Keep your posts engaging and motivating! The last thing you want your followers to see are complaints or negative posts. Here are just a few ways I have attracted followers through strategic posting:
- Ask participants how your class makes them feel. For example, were they better able to tune in and be mindful of their bodies?
- Ask members what they want to work on during the next class.
- Choose a fitness topic of the month, and pin it to the top of your social media page.
- Start a participant-of-the-month program, or stimulate a positive health-related discussion.
I’ve also discovered that posting videos of upcoming workouts and routines gets participants excited, and the videos can show them what to expect for the next class. I am frequently asked to post an example so they can practice on their own. Take that extra step! Potential clients will notice and spread the word.
4. Reward Your Fitness Class Regulars
Aren’t regular attendees the best? Don’t take them for granted. Instead, think about how to reward them. Set aside some money—it doesn’t have to be a large amount—for purchasing or creating small thank-you tokens. I have picked up small gifts or healthy treats at the dollar store. Purchase inexpensive note cards or other thoughtful items. Giving them out at the end of a group fitness session can be quite impactful.
These little gratitude gifts genuinely show your appreciation. They’re a great way to keep relationships strong and continue to build rapport. Also, make a note to listen to what people share in class! Two of my participants got engaged at the same time, and I gave each of them a gift card they weren’t expecting. It made their day!
For suggestions 5–6, see “6 Ways to Grow Your Fitness Classes” from the October 2019 print edition of Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at 800-999-4332, ext. 7.