This one is for all you incredible group fitness, indoor cycling and yoga teachers out there. Of course, you teach classes because you want to uplift people, to really make a positive difference in their day, in their life. And, if you’re doing it for the right reasons, even impacting one single person makes creating your playlist, planning your class and “showing up” worthwhile. That said, we naturally like energy. There’s nothing like a class filled with the energy of a variety of people, all unique with their individual goals but working together as a community, a tribe.
Although there are MANY fantastic ideas on this, here are ten of my favorite tips for getting more people through the door and into our class and keeping them coming back for more.
1. Invite Them!
It seems too simple…and it is, really. If you were hosting a party or “gathering” of some kind, you would be sure to invite guests to join you, right? If you didn’t, it would be a pretty lonely party! Well, every time you teach a class, you’re hosting a gathering. Are you inviting people to be your guests at these gatherings? If you teach at a large health club, you may strike up a conversation with members anywhere from the treadmill to the locker room. In that conversation, if it feels right, just let them know what and when you teach and that you’d love to have them join you. Simple, yes? I’ve also invited people I’ve bumped into at Target, Starbucks…you get the idea. If it feels right, go for it. An invitation is always appreciated, whether they can take you up on it or not.
2. Be Early
You are the host of this party and you should be there to greet your guests as they arrive (as opposed to running in at the last minute, throwing your music in and saying ‘let’s go!”). Some people you’ll be welcoming back and others you’ll be meeting for the first time. It’s always an opportunity to be able to make a human connection with the participants of your class – don’t miss it!
3. Lead An Intro Class/Workshop
This is my favorite tip of all. We all know that, for new people, there can be a barrier to entry when it comes to joining any kind of group class for the first time. They may feel intimidated and even scared. There can be thoughts such as, “I won’t know anyone”, “I won’t know what to do”, “Will I be able to keep up?” or “Everyone else in there is going to be so much further along than me” and others. If you can offer an introductory class or workshop based on what you teach, you can remove that barrier to entry. You can create a safe place for new people to come and explore something potentially brand new with you. When they arrive, just be sure to meet them where they’re at offering plenty of encouragement and options along the way. Once they have a relationship and trust in place with you, they’re much more likely to come to your classes, regardless of what you're teaching!
4. Be A Student
When you take other teachers’ classes, you not only support your fellow teachers and gain inspiration for yourself both as a student and teacher but also ensure that the students see you as a strong pillar of the community. They also see that you’re the kind of teacher who also values being a student, which can be a very attractive quality.
5. Attend Events
Much like taking other teachers’ classes, attending local events that your club or studio hosts helps solidify that you are a member of this community and you want to be engaged with others. It really makes you much more approachable for those who may not have otherwise considered taking your class!
6. Get Social
Social Media, that is. The world has changed for us as teachers and if you haven’t engaged on social media yet, it is time. I know that many people have an aversion to Facebook and Instagram; but, if you have a desire to positively impact more people, you may want to open yourself up to the fact that social media is a fantastic platform that can serve to assist you in your calling. You can post your weekly schedule as well as open invitations for anyone who wants to come take a class with you. Also think about posting any content (quotes, links to articles, stories, etc) that inspires you. If it inspires you, it will likely inspire someone else and now you’ve made another kind of connection…and found another avenue for lifting others up.
7. Stay Inspired
How? Take other instructors classes, go to workshops, conferences or retreats and allow your eyes and ears to always be wide open for stories all around that inspire you. It could be something you read in a book or magazine or on social media. It could be a story you see on the news. It could be a personal experience that touches your heart. What we know to be true about the human connection is that when you, as the leader of the room are inspired, the people in your presence will feel it and want a piece of it for themselves. Luckily, you’re happy to share!
8. Check Your Attitude
When I managed an instructor team, I used to have a quote hanging above the door of the office where they picked up their equipment and prepared to go teach. It said “Attitudes are Contagious. Is Yours Worth Catching?” This is so very true. As the teacher of that class, the leader in the room, you set the tone. Bring in your authentic stories that will help you connect with others, but leave the negative B.S. outside the door. That’s Baggage Sharing, by the way…what did you think I meant?? People want you to be real but they don’t want to hear you complaining. A positive attitude will also help you bounce back gracefully should any unforeseen things go wrong as well (of course that never happens, right?). Bad attitude = Bad experience. Good attitude = Good experience. Great attitude = Great experience. Pretty simple.
9. Be Yourself
It’s true, there’s something to be said about that alter ego that comes out for many of us when we teach. It’s a beautiful thing that allows us to leave our inhibitions at the door, be bold and lead a group of people (remember that, for many, speaking in public is a fear worse than death). The reason I used the term “alter ego” is because it really is an alternate version of you that gets to come out and play when you teach. It may not be the same version of you people meet at the grocery store or bank, but it’s still authentically YOU! There’s nothing better than being in a class being led by someone who is truly enjoying themselves, while being themselves.
10. Stay Late
No, I don’t mean an hour; just a few minutes. Some of the BEST conversations with your participants will come AFTER the class. They’re generally more open, less-stressed and even feeling a tremendous amount of gratitude for the experience they just had (no matter how mean you were). This is also when participants can ask you great questions that will help them get more out of their future experiences with you. So, as you’re closing class, let them know you’ll gladly make yourself available outside the room for any questions or conversation. I know the conversations can get a bit long-winded sometimes; but, it’s up to you to create that boundary for yourself based on your schedule. Just remember that it’s all about human connections – after class chats are opportunities, not obligations.
Regardless of what style of class you teach, keep doing what you love to do and incorporate any of these tips to help encourage new faces to make their way to your amazing classes. If you are brave enough to put yourself out there in these ways, you can trust that the people who would benefit from you and your class experiences will find their way to you.
Much love to you and keep shining Difference Maker!
For over 25 years in the Fitness & Yoga industry, Kimberly has been blessed with many opportunities as a teacher, trainer, coach, program developer and director to work with countless great programs, companies and people. She’s been presenting on fitness, yoga and personal development at conferences all over the world for 15+ years and served for 10 years as the senior director for group fitness, yoga and indoor cycle at Life Time Fitness.