Much like teachers at school, there are some truly inspiring group exercise instructors who can make the most painful and strenuous classes fly by in the blink of an eye, while simultaneously motivating each and every participant in the room to challenge themselves, push through their barriers, and be the very best they can be.

And then there’s those that are perhaps, less inspiring.

As a group exercise instructor, you have the power to make or break each and every individual’s fitness experience every time you open your doors.

Understanding Reasons for Taking Part

When standing in front of a room full of people, it’s easy to see the group as a single entity, rather than it being made up of individuals who each have their own reasons for being there. And the danger with this is that it then becomes hard – if not impossible – to deliver a personalised service to everyone in the room.

Like you, some people will be group exercise enthusiasts, ready and waiting each week to push themselves to the extreme. Others, however, will see their group exercise class as a more leisurely activity, and enjoy the community and comradery perhaps even more than they do the actual workout. And still more will be there for health reasons, and may have joined your group exercise class after being recommended to it by their doctor.

In EMD UK’s 2016 Participant Survey, respondents gave ten separate reasons for taking part in group exercise. Getting fit was the most-cited reason, with losing weight and toning up coming in a close second. However, from improving body co-ordination to doing something sociable with friends, relieving stress, and just for the sheer fun of it – it’s clear that the reasons people take part in group exercise are many and extremely varied.

(Image source:

Get to Know Their Why

The best group exercise instructors – like the best teachers – are those that are able to make personal connections with everybody in the room. They are true leaders, and they understand that everyone has different abilities, needs, and reasons for wanting to participate in group exercise.

In order to increase participation and retain clients, it’s important that you are able to deliver a personalised service to all. Indeed, when a group exercise instructor takes the time to get to know their clients and the reasons why they have enrolled in group exercise, the instructor is better placed to provide a remarkable service – and that’s as great for participants as it is for business.

Here are a few tips on how you can deliver a more personalised service for your group exercise participants.

Introduce Yourself Personally to All New Participants

Newbies are nervous. Of course they are. They don’t know what goes on in your class, they don’t know the moves, and if they’ve never participated in group exercise before, they may be worried that the instructor is going to be an unforgiving drill sergeant, determined to make an example out of the rookie who’s doing it all wrong.

Allay those fears immediately with all new participants. Welcome everybody who comes through the door, and if there’s someone new, introduce yourself, and then ask them straight up why they’re here. It’s so simple, but you’d be surprised how many group exercise instructors fail at this, and instead expect newcomers to just get on with it themselves.

That’s no way to run a business, and certainly no way to deliver the personalised experience that can make all the difference between someone achieving their health and fitness goals and hanging their trainers up once and for all.

Break the Ice at the Start of Each Session

Nobody likes a cold, standoffish instructor who just wants to get straight down to business. Indeed, in order to deliver a personalised service, you need people to feel as if they can open up in front of you, and talk to you about their experience so you can then work with them individually.

So, be sure to break the ice at the start of every session. Ask your class if they did something exciting at the weekend, and then tell them a fun fact about yourself. Try and be relatable, as this will help ease everyone’s nerves – especially the new members – and make them feel comfortable with you and with one another. At the end of the day, group exercise should be fun and inclusive – and it’s up to you as the group exercise instructor to create that environment for everyone.

Address Everyone by Name as You Inspire, Motivate, Encourage, and Modify

Be sure to learn everyone’s name – and make sure you use it as you encourage your class to keep pumping.

Yelling out “Keep it up!” is fine – but it means so much more if you use someone’s name. “Keep it up, Tracy! You’re doing great! Nice moves, Adam!”

More importantly, don’t let any of your participants go through the whole session performing moves incorrectly. Make sure you’re showing each and every individual in your class that you really care about their safety and that they’re getting a good workout – by walking around the room and helping participants correct their form – encouraging them all the while.

When group exercise instructors make the effort to modify, it makes participants feel like they are in the hands of an expert who really cares that everyone is getting the most out of his/her class.

Use Social Media to Build an Engaged Community and Answer Questions

Your sessions may last only half-an-hour to an hour, but your role as a group exercise instructor doesn’t end when the music stops.

Like social media, group exercise is all about community – and there is a great opportunity for you to marry the two. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or a combination of them all, build your business page/s, and use it/them as a forum for your participants to get to know and inspire each other outside of your group exercise sessions.

Use the platforms for sharing healthy eating and healthy living advice, be sure to “like” and respond to all comments from your participants, and let them all know that they can DM (direct message) you privately if they need anything.

You can also use social media to make any announcements, or to conduct surveys that will help you deliver an even better service.

All of this will help you get to know your participants even better and on a much more personal level, understanding why they are participating in group exercise, which will allow you to tailor the experience to their individual needs when they attend your classes.

Receive Ongoing Group Exercise Instructor Support with EMD UK

As your national governing body for group exercise, a big part of what we do at EMD UK is to provide support and resources for group exercise instructors looking to improve their service, grow their business, and encourage more people to participate in group exercise.

If you need help promoting a class, are looking for training  or development, or require further support in delivering a more personalised service, get in touch with EMD UK today to find out what we can do for you as a group exercise instructor.