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5 Things Fitness Instructors Can Do in Class to Help the New Participant!


Making a fool of yourself can be a great way to make new participants feel at ease….I mean…look at this…..I’m an idiot.

It’s almost January! Time for a new and returning crop of participants to flood your classes.  They are all armed with great intentions and ready to GIVE IT THEIR ALL, panicking about the impending beach season or simply determined to finally make fitness a part of their lives.

But, let’s face it, statistics are not good.  Only about 8% of people who make resolutions actually achieve them (sad face.)

Honestly, I absolutely LOVE having new people in my classes.  This time of year is simply HEAVEN for me. There are two moments that I love – the moment where the new participant understands even just one part of an exercise – and the moment where the spark of confidence enters their body and they let themselves go for it.

With new participants, our success as coaches isn’t necessarily measured by goals achieved, it’s by making  the workout out ENJOYABLE and something they would do again, maybe do again every week!

Yes, what we do before and after class is helpful.  Saying hello, connecting and reassuring the new participant before class is great. BUT, it’s the feelings of success (or failure!) and enjoyment during class that will gauge their intent to return.

So, here are some things to think about during class to make the new participant’s experience OKAY if not GREAT!  Certainly not everything, but for me…these are the things I focus on when teaching to new participants:

  1. Know Your SH*T! It’s simple. You HAVE to be prepared in order to respond and take care of your new participants.  Write out your workout plan before class.  If you are doing a pre-choreographed format,  know your choreography inside and out.   If your brain is only working on “what to do next”, you will not be able to lead your new folks successfully and, most importantly, quickly respond to what you see in front of you so you can give the individual some extra attention.

  2. Don’t coach so FANCY! We are usually so eager to share everything we know it can get in the way of actually TEACHING! Cue essential movement and basic stability, then maybe one intensity cue or benefit so they understand why they would even want to do an exercise.  Give them one or two bullet points to accomplish and feel great about, rather than the entire manual!

  3. Do the Low Options! Most people learn visually in our classes.  If your goal is to have them do the less complex/intense versions of your exercise so they feel successful, then YOU should be doing that as well.  Take care of your more experienced members by showing them the more advanced options, but then return to the simplified options so your new people will do them.  They will visually follow WHATEVER you do, so most likely, they will join you in the advanced options and then feel intimidated.  You can use your coaching to get everyone moving better, no matter what level they are at.

  4. Be Schizophrenic. Remember, there are all types of people coming to your class. Some need you to be precise, some need you to be fun, not ALL want you to be a drill sergeant!  Look for cues on how a new participant might respond to you…where are the positioned in the room, what are their facial expressions telling you, what did you learn about them before class…then adapt your connection style, being sure to use appeal to the four basic personality types (D.I.S.C…great information on this in the ACE Health and Wellness Coach Certification!)

  5. Be sure your state of mind is: “They can SUCK at this today!” This is HUGE!  Participants will FEEL your state of mind.  If your state of mind is “I’m afraid you are going to get hurt because you don’t know what your doing and I don’t want you to get hurt and then I look bad….so you must GET it!”, most likely, your participants are going to feel afraid and unsuccessful and very self-aware as everything you do and say will be driven by your state of mind.What if your state of mind was this: “I want to them to have fun and feel successful, get them moving somewhat in the right direction and I got their back if anything majorly goes wrong that could hurt themselves, but most likely a little stumbling isn’t anything to worry about.”

Take care of the feelings of success and enjoyment first…that will then give them the confidence to start learning the details and work with intensity.

Enjoy this most exciting time of year in your studio or club!

Want more help with your teaching?  Contact us for our more on our instructor mentoring services!

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