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How to Make a Fitness Class Successful: 9 Key Tips

How to run a successful fitness class

If you want to know how to make a fitness class successful, our useful tips will help you to run the kind of classes that keep members coming back.

If you're looking for opportunities to progress your career and eventually become a personal trainer, why not complete a Personal Trainer Diploma with us? The qualification will allow you to offer 1-1 sessions and expand your career prospects. 

We also have qualifications to help you learn other skills for the industry. You can check out the various courses we offer with our free downloadable prospectus.

 

#1 Prioritise Punctuality to Ensure a Successful Class 

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Timekeeping is important for a successful fitness class to run efficiently. It demonstrates you have a passion for your class and are focused on members achieving their goals. 

Arriving before your class starts gives you time to prepare and address issues that arise. You can check you have the correct equipment as well as a clean, tidy safe space.

When, for example, one of your speakers is faulty, arriving ahead of schedule gives you time to seek a replacement before a class starts.

When your class members arrive, you will have corrected the technical issue and your class will not know the difference. 

Alternatively, you could be running a kettlebell class and are missing a couple of kettlebells. If you arrive ahead of schedule, you will be able to find replacements from the gym floor, guaranteeing every member has one to use during the class.

#2 Observe Other Fitness Classes to Make Yours More Successful

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One of the best ways to figure out how to make a fitness class successful is to experience a range of classes from the perspective of a member.

Being part of a class will help you to see what works and what doesn’t do so well across a broad range of factors from the structure and setup to leadership style.

For example, if you want to develop your leadership and fitness instructor skills, heading to another class and observing another fitness professional will inform you of what methods work as well as highlight any mistakes that you’ll want to avoid.

The best classes to observe are those in the same venue that you plan to lead your own.

By being a member of the gym or studio where you work, you can get a true picture of where the instructor needs to stand and how the class should be set up so that they are visible to all members.

You’ll also be able to gauge how much the instructor needs to project their voice for them to be heard by all members, or whether they need a microphone to make sure their instructions can be heard clearly.

Paired with welcoming and listening to member feedback, using other fitness classes as a way to better your own is a surefire way to run successful classes. 

#3 Create a Thorough Plan to Ensure Your Fitness Classes are Successful

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Planning is key to creating successful fitness classes. Ensuring each section of the session should be meticulously planned will improve the overall experience for members and help them see better fitness results - one of the many factors that can determine whether a class is viewed as a ‘success’.

The best way to plan is to determine the aim of your class. This ensures you focus on implementing the right exercises and style of training to help improve members’ fitness levels.

If you’re looking to improve members’ endurance levels, you would want to write exercises like jumping jacks, burpees and jogging into your plan. This will boost your class’ cardio fitness.

So, how do you plan a class?

Every class should begin with a warm-up. This should take up to 10 minutes to complete. This gives members time to activate muscles and increase heart rates and body temperatures.

Warm-ups help prepare your members’ bodies for the main workout and reduce the chance of injury. It helps improve their ability to meet the session’s goals as their bodies adapt to the demands of the class. 

You should allocate specific time slots for each exercise; factoring in how many reps and sets you want members to complete.

This will help members complete all exercises without them feeling rushed and overstretching their capabilities. Managing expectations will help promote a positive experience for everyone participating.

It is also important to incorporate a cool down within your workout, demonstrating a duty of care to your members. It steadily brings down their heart rates, and blood pressure and reduces muscle tightness which can lead to injury. 

#4 Implementing a Theme Is a Great Way to Maintain Successful Class Attendance

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One way to make a fitness class successful is by creating themed classes.

Creating classes based on action movies is a great way to make cardio exercises fun. You could create an obstacle course for members to navigate through. 

Alternatively, you could create classes centred around the seasons. During the warmer weather, you could create summer-themed classes such as outdoor climbing to help members build their muscle strength.

Introducing a new setting will also improve members’ participation. This is because they are adapting to a new environment and need to listen to instructions to complete the tasks they have been set.

You could also create a Christmas-themed class, allowing members to move towards presents each time they complete an exercise. This can motivate members to lose their last remaining pounds and win some prizes!

Ideas like this create a positive atmosphere as members will enjoy themselves as they complete these fun activities and increase the likelihood of them returning to future classes.

#5 Offer Variations and Adjustments to Ensure It’s a Successful Class for Everyone

how to plan a successful fitness class

Successful fitness classes are not only rooted in following a plan but adapting to unique situations that arise.

Monitoring each member’s performance and adjusting exercises to match their fitness levels is a useful method to help everybody get the most out of their experience.

There will be physical signs a person is struggling with an exercise; they appear out of breath or have stopped exercising. These signs can help you reduce the intensity of an exercise to match their current fitness levels.

If a person is struggling to perform one of the best push-ups you have included in your session, you could simplify this exercise. 

It could be performed as a countertop push-up with a member leaning on a barrier and focusing on the upper half of their body to complete the exercise. 

Adding more complexity to it, this exercise can be performed using a knee push-up. This version requires the gym member to have their knees and hands touching the floor, utilising portions of their lower body in conjunction with their upper body.

You will also encounter members who don’t feel challenged by the exercises. This will allow you to increase their time, reps or sets to perform an exercise which will help increase its difficulty. 

A wall squat, for example, could have a couple of minutes added to it, increasing its difficulty or incorporating a dumbbell to help build a member’s strength.

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If you're looking to advance your career in the fitness industry and find success, check out these articles below: 

#6 Make Your Class A Success By Acknowledging Individuals & Building Rapport 

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If you’re looking for answers to ‘how to make a fitness class successful’, one thing we would always recommend is to always acknowledge individuals in your class and make an effort to build rapport with members.

Not only is the best way to strike the balance between being an approachable class instructor whilst still ensuring members have respect for your profession and confidence in your abilities, but it will also create a welcoming atmosphere for your classes. 

Some positive interactions you can use to build rapport include addressing individuals by name, saying when they arrive or leave a class, or acknowledging when an individual is excelling in a class.  

These techniques establish a rapport with members as you’re recognising their efforts without having to talk too much - which could make the session feel unprofessional or take away from the class.

#7 Incentivise Retention & Keep Class Members Coming Back

how to make a fitness class successful

Having a good relationship with your members can make or break the atmosphere and therefore the success of a fitness class. 

Having good relationships and incentivising retention can even improve your class members' attendance which, of course, is the mark of a successful class.

A reward system is a fantastic way to incentivise members. You could delegate points to members for their performance and offer prizes for individuals who beat their records the following week.

The member with the highest points could be issued with fitness vouchers or a one-to-one session with yourself as a reward for their hard work.

This is a great way to keep members coming back to build up their points and potentially win the prize. Plus, it will encourage them to try harder during the class and hopefully enjoy it more - making for a more successful class!

Another way to improve client retention is by creating a group social media page for your members to access between classes. Your class members can then use the groups to ask questions relating to recent classes and their progression. 

Over time, this will create a sense of community among class members which will naturally draw them to want to keep coming back to classes.

#8 Secure Additional Qualifications to Build on Your Fitness Class Expertise

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A successful fitness class is rooted in a gym instructor’s expertise. This is because you teach different versions of an exercise to help struggling members improve their fitness. You can also reduce their chance of injury by identifying risk factors associated with the activity.

However, you do run the risk of classes becoming stagnant because you lack the knowledge to introduce new exercise routines to challenge your members. 

Completing a CPD course in a specialist subject is a great way to develop your expertise and keep your classes interesting.

A Kettlebell CPD is a great way to teach members new exercises with this versatile piece of gym equipment so they can experience the many benefits of kettlebell trainingThis will improve member participation as your class will be receptive to exercises that challenge them in different ways. 

The CPD will promote members’ trust in you thanks to your knowledge of kettlebell anatomy. It will also give them the confidence to hold equipment correctly reducing their chance of injury.

#9 Carry Out Market Research to Boost Your Class’ Success

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By carrying out strong market research you can identify methods of changing things up to ensure the classes you do run are successful, or if you work for a small or independent gym, you could even look up new types of classes to introduce to the timetable. 

Research to support your changes can be obtained from the following areas:

  • Feedback from classes
  • Reviews featured online
  • Your gym's current timetable
  • Services your competitors provide

 

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Feedback can help you to understand how attendees find your classes and leadership and hear about the positives and negatives straight from the source. 

All you need to do is ask - you can either ask individuals for some verbal feedback at the end of your class or send out an individual message to each member asking for any written feedback.

This provides the perfect opportunity for you to make any changes, whether that be doing more of something or making an effort to improve a specific area of your teaching style or class structure.

Online reviews are another great way for you to learn about whether those who come to your classes would say that they’re a success. They carry more authenticity than feedback gathered in classes because members will write them without any outside influence.

Outside of improving your existing classes, gathering information on your gym’s timetable is useful to identify trends from classes that are currently running. Your gym, for example, could be running only 1 boxing class compared to 4 classes of circuits. 

Obtaining data from your competitors can also help you point out what classes they are successfully running and what classes you could create a market for.

Your gym class, for example, could be running fewer spin classes than your competitors, which explains why they have more members.

This gives you a proposal to present to your management. You could, for instance, propose spin classes on Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings. In turn, this will give people the flexibility to attend more dates and increase attendance.

You could propose a new class with an email proposal, detailing your idea, along with the outcomes you’re hoping to achieve. Here is an example of how the email could be written: 

Hello gym managers, 

I am writing to you to propose a new gym class to attract new members to the gym. Currently, we only run one spin class, this currently takes place on a Monday with no further classes taking place later in the week.

Our competitors, Happy Go Lucky Gyms, run classes on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays and have 25% more members than our gym at the moment. After speaking to members at our gym, they have informed me through surveys, that they would attend spin classes if we held them more frequently, with an expressed interest in weekend attendance.

I believe with my level 2 spin cycling qualification, I would be the ideal fitness professional to carry extra classes forward. Alongside my expertise, I have received favourable reviews and feedback from current gym members who have all stated they are determined to return to future classes they have attended with me. 

The rapport I have established with current members will give me an easy way to promote and get people to secure places for these new classes. I believe a promotional campaign for these classes with a low start-up fee for new members, will increase attendance numbers. 

We can trial these classes on a Saturday for the next three months and if we can sustain and build on these numbers, we can potentially trial another mid-week class to give people options. 

Below is a promotional poster I have created to give you an idea of how this will look:

I look forward to hearing from you, 

Benjamin Watson

Here is an example of how the promotional poster could look for the class, with running times and who the instructors will be:

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A promotional poster for Bank O'Dee Fitness' Spin Classes

After management has heard your proposal, we are sure they will be receptive to your idea.

Before you go!

Remember, you can improve your career prospects by completing a Personal Trainer Diploma. This course will qualify you to provide tailored plans, offer nutritional advice and train clients in 1-1 sessions.

Alternatively, you can explore the range of courses we have available by downloading our free course prospectus.

 

Become a Qualified Personal Trainer!

Start on the path towards a rewarding career with our Personal Trainer Diploma!

 

References 

Dee, B.O. (2018). New Spin Classes. [online] Banks O’ Dee Fitness Gym in Aberdeen. Available at: https://www.banksodee.co.uk/fitness-classes/group-cycle/new-spin-classes/ [Accessed 30 Sep. 2022].

Written by Liam Donohoe

Content Writer and Fitness Enthusiast

Liam graduated from Liverpool John Moores University with a 2:1 in BA (Hons) English and Creative Writing. He has also co-written a short film that has been featured in several film festivals. In October 2023, he ran and completed his first half marathon and for 2024, he's now training to complete his first metric marathon.

In his spare time, Liam likes to teach himself German, read books, lift weights and listen to metal music that only passionate fans of the genre will understand.

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