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Ways to Make Money With Group Fitness

With the success of boot camps and small-group training, personal trainers are beginning to claim the group domain. These days, it’s more profitable for trainers to teach group as an offshoot of personal training than for traditional group exercise instructors to teach scheduled classes! So if you’re an instructor, what can you learn from trainers about increasing your profits? By leveraging your group skills, tapping into your creativity and making use of your existing resources, you can build your career and revenue base in your area of specialization: group fitness. Here are some ideas and steps for creating, marketing and delivering your own income-generating events, programs and classes.

Step 1: Find Your Specialty

The first step in offering classes that turn a profit is to decide which “specialty” to teach. Analyze what workout style(s) and format(s) you’re qualified to teach and want to teach, and then concoct a class or program that has a different “look” and “feel” to your usual classes. Variables that can make the experience different include the equipment you use (items that participants don’t have access to in other classes), the format (e.g., a circuit or branded dance program) and/or the location (e.g., an outdoor setting). Just be sure that your liability insurance covers classes taught in locations other than a fitness facility.

Step 2: The Business Side

Once you’ve settled on a specialty class, be prepared to iron out the administrative details. Here are some major considerations:

  • When and Where to Hold Classes. You could lead classes outdoors, in your home, at a rented public space or in the gym where you already teach. Consider what might work best for the time of year, your geography and, ultimately, your prospective students.
  • How Much to Charge per Class or Program. Determining cost involves being clear on the going rate for your area but also the value of the class or program to participants.
  • How to Handle the Finances. Your fee should factor in the expenses you will incur to run the program. You should also determine how participants will pay you.
  • How Often and How Long to Run Classes. What will you teach: a one-time event, ongoing classes at a set time or a “package” of classes with start and end dates? Remember that you also have to commit to whatever session length you choose.

Step 3: Teaching Specialty Classes

The final phase of promoting your classes is to retain the client base you’ve recruited through external marketing, while encouraging positive word of mouth from participants who have experienced the sessions. In some cases, this might require you to step back and adjust your usual teaching style. For example, instructors are used to demonstrating exercises and choreography while participants mirror their movements. In a boot camp-style circuit class, however, the instructor must observe and motivate participants without using a follow-the-leader approach.

Reaping the Rewards

Whether you want to collect a little extra cash or you have your sights set on carving out a significant revenue stream, planning and teaching specialty classes and programs could be your ticket to greater rewards—financial and otherwise—in the fitness industry.

For additional ideas and strategies, see the complete article, “Tapping Into Group Profitability,” in the online IDEA Library or in July-August 2010 IDEA Fitness Journal.

Amanda Vogel, MA

Amanda Vogel, MA, is a fitness professional and the owner of Active Voice, a writing, editing and consulting service for fitness professionals. She writes for IDEA, Health, Prevention, and Self, and has co-authored books on postnatal fitness and yoga. With a master's degree in human kinetics, Amanda has worked in the fitness industry for more than 15 years, including time spent as a program director and vice president for a chain of all-women clubs in Vancouver, British Columbia.

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