Josh Douglas-Walton, a writer from HFE, shares his tips in this guest blog

Group exercise has firmly established itself in the mainstream as it has the power to attract people of all shapes, sizes and ability levels. To give some context to its immense popularity and appeal, the recent National Fitness Survey from EMD UK found that group exercise attracts 4.86 million participants per week. That’s an impressive increase of 1 million participants since 2016.

You only have to step into any gym, health club or fitness facility to find a timetable full of group classes and concepts, with new ones seemingly emerging all the time. One of the most popular forms of group exercise is freestyle aerobics and there are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, it’s a highly attainable entry-level qualification. To enrol onto an Exercise to Music (or Group Training to Music) course, you don’t need any previous qualifications, just a passion for group exercise. It’s also a qualification that can be widely used and adapted. If you don’t want to teach in a gym, you don’t have to, you could hire your own facilities and run classes from there.

To help you get the most out of your aerobics career, we’ve assembled five top tips. If you’re a brand-new instructor then these will hopefully provide a quick dose of inspiration. If you’ve been doing this for years, no problem, it’s always good to revisit the basics from time to time.

Keep it simple

As an instructor you’re leading freestyle aerobics classes. It’s not ballet or any other form of dance and it’d be wrong to assume the experience levels of your participants. Some may have been doing aerobics for months or even years, while others may have just signed up to the gym that week. The choreography you create and the classes you teach should fun, engaging and the participants should feel like they’ve achieved something (at the very least this should be a workout).

None of that can happen if things are too complicated. The worst thing you want to happen as an instructor is start a class one week with 20 participants only for that to be cut in half by week two. Worse still, you don’t want people leaving during the classes because things are far too challenging.

Signature style

Think about building this into your DNA as an instructor. If you’ve ever watched an old-school DVD of aerobics (or clips on YouTube), you’ll instantly be able to pick out an instructor’s signature style – it’s what sets them apart.

Use your signature style to motivate people (more on that later), make exercise a bit more fun and keep people engaged with the class. It doesn’t have to be anything too elaborate or eccentric either, unless of course that is just who you are. It could be as simple as starting and ending your class with a particular piece of music or setting particular mini-challenges throughout your classes. Whatever it is, make it unique to you.

Live the music

You’re not leading a silent group exercise class; music is going to be integral to what you do. If you have a go-to playlist for your classes or even a particular set of songs that you’re really in love with, make sure you know it inside and out. Build your routine around it, make your choreography unique to that music and your participants are going to have a much better time for it. A word to the wise, make sure your chosen music is something you can actually happily listen to on repeat. If it grates on you the second or third time of listening and it makes you less engaged, that will show and your participants will pick up on that.

Avoiding risk and injury

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a little challenge in your aerobics classes. After all, participants will want to feel like they’re being pushed and are getting a good workout. However, you don’t want to be instructing any exercise that is putting participants at risk of injury. The best way to achieve this is to focus on natural movements and avoid any moves that rely too heavily on twisting and flexing. Something you’ll learn very early on as an instructor is the ability to read the room. Ask your participants how they’re doing, is it too easy, too hard or just right? Be sure to offer adaptations and modifications so no one feels left out.


If you’re running a weekly aerobics class, you want people coming back time and time again. For those who are having fun and are self-motivated, it won’t be an issue. There will always be participants who need a little nurturing and that extra push. You only have to look at the fact that 50% of new gym members drop out after six months to see that the motivation to exercise doesn’t always come naturally to everybody. It’s your job as an instructor to make a difference in peoples’ lives. If you’re incorporating all the above points then keeping clients motivated that won’t be a problem at all.

Written by Josh Douglas-Walton, a writer from HFE, a leading group fitness qualification provider whose courses include Personal training, yoga, exercise referral and most recently reformer Pilates .