As the summer season approaches, the annual bombardment of plans and promotions that promise to “Get your beach body into shape” begin to rain down everywhere you look.

Woman with outstretched arms enjoying the sunset

Sometimes these plans advocate crash diets or exceedingly rigorous workout programmes that are simply not conducive to good health – and may even be unsafe if they were followed for too long. While it may be tempting to jump on the bandwagon and exploit people’s heightened desires to lose weight in time for the beach in order to bag some new clients, the role of a group exercise instructor is to promote good health and fitness for life – not just as a quick fix for summer.

It can be easy for people to forget that there are important reasons for keeping themselves fit – and it’s not just about looking good in a summer wardrobe. A lot of people work out purely to lose weight – and they do so intermittently or seasonally. As summertime approaches, they hit the gym for a few months in preparation to bare (nearly) all at the seaside. Then, once it starts to get cold again mid-autumn to winter, it’s back to being inactive.

Such a regime is a good way of avoiding participating in exercise too often – however, fitness isn’t something that people should be trying to avoid  – rather, they should be embracing exercise. Leading an active lifestyle all year round delivers many life-improving benefits that keep us happy and healthy. This is the message that group exercise instructors should be promoting.

Keeping Participants Engaged Throughout the Year

As a group exercise instructor, ensuring year-round commitment from your class members isn’t easy, but is necessary if you’re going to give them the greatest gift of all – not just a beach body for summer, but better health for life.
To do so, you need to find ways to keep them engaged for a full twelve months of the year. To assist, we’ve put together a few tips to help you attract and retain a strong class of group exercise participants who will be committed right around the calendar.

Set a Theme or Focus for Each Class

Group exercise participants keep coming back when they feel they are making progress on a regular basis. However, part of your regime may mean going over the same or similar moves for a number of sessions, as you work to build up their strength and stamina in certain areas. This is often necessary – but it’s important you find ways to ensure your participants don’t lose interest through this repetition.

A good solution is to set a focus or theme for the class, to help participants zone in on one particular aspect of the class experience. For example, one week you could focus on balance, the next speed, and the next breathing.

Setting a theme or focus like this means you will be able to make every class feel different and engaging, even if the choreography, cues, and/or music essentially stay the same.

Organise Special Group Exercise Events

A special group exercise event can be anything from a charity challenge to a one-time class that offers something fun and a little different from the usual routine.

In terms of charity events, there is no end of options available to you. If you run a spin-biking class for instance, you could set a distance challenge – the length of your county, perhaps, or a Tour de France stage. If it’s a dance fitness class, why not open your doors to a retro-style dance marathon where anyone can participate? This might be a good way of attracting the attentions of a few new members, too.

At EMD UK, we’ve got the fantastic and inspirational Dance the Distance® dance fitness event coming up, which takes participants on a journey through fun and motivating moves and tracks, and is the equivalent of a 5km run in steps and calories. We’ve even put together Dance the Distance® Marketing Guides and Instructor Packs for group exercise instructors to download.

Getting your community working together towards such an event is a great way to maintain engagement, and steer the focus away from less important concerns about beach bodies.

Social Media Community

Social media offers a great way for group exercise instructors to keep participants engaged even outside of the class setting.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are the most useful in this regard. Use them to build engaged communities where you answer questions, give advice, celebrate achievements, and share great content that will be of use to your community.

You might also consider using social media to enable your group exercise participants to become involved with the planning process of your classes. This will make them feel as if they are an instrumental part of the group and will encourage them to engage with what you’re doing. You could, for instance, invite participants to contribute to your track list each week and watch their faces light up when their favourite songs play in class. Just simple things like this will help ensure your group is always excited about coming to class. In turn, they will reward you with their commitment.

Support, Training and Development from EMD UK

If you’re looking to find ways to develop your offerings, embarking on further training and development courses could help you on your way.

EMD UK offers a range of training, qualifications, and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses for instructors. Our nationally recognised training qualifications will equip you with the knowledge and skills you need, not only to broaden your abilities as a group exercise instructor, but to help you develop fantastic programmes that will keep your participants coming back for more.

We provide ongoing support packages for group exercise instructors designed to help boost your career, continue to deliver excellence, and increase participation right around the calendar. We have great value insurance and support packages too, which offer a range of practical resources and special discounts to help group exercise instructors save money while they continue to deliver first-rate classes and experiences for their participants.

If you’re a group exercise instructor and need help keeping beach-body-conscious participants engaged for life, get in touch with EMD UK today to find out what we can do for you.