Staci Alden by Staci Alden
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It’s the beginning of a new year, which is often a time for industries to reflect on the past year’s events and confidently predict the future. Typically, as group fitness instructors, we eagerly await the newest list of trends, fads and expectations so we can be sure to stay relevant. Of course, there’s something a bit different about this year’s attitudes toward the future, largely because a global pandemic wasn’t exactly on most people’s radar. There is no question, however, that the fitness industry has changed and progressed at an extraordinary rate across the globe.

Companies inside and outside of the fitness industry are recognizing the business opportunities afforded by group fitness, which is why it’s worth considering how you might use the following predictions to help grow your influence and business in 2021 and beyond.

Instructors Will Be More Independent and Strategic

A sense of confidence bolstered by working independently for most of 2020 has provided instructors with the opportunity to get serious about why they chose this career. Instead of going with the flow when it comes to schedule, format and location, instructors are taking back the reins and setting their own priorities for opportunities and growth. Instructors will continue to define who they want to serve, what they hope to help them accomplish, and how they want to do it. Approaching work in a more strategic way will provide a better experience for both you and your participants.

Diversification Will Continue

New ways of leading classes have emerged in the last year. Providing a great group fitness experience can now happen inside or outside of a club, live (at the same time as participants) or on-demand (via recorded classes that can be accessed anytime). Finally, group fitness instructors are learning to be effective beyond trading time for money.

Fortunately, the opportunity now exists to take care of your body and get people moving. The days of teaching an unsustainable schedule of back-to-back classes to make ends meet will finally be a thing of the past. Instructors will need to be curious and flexible about new opportunities, determine what aligns with their strategy and develop new skills to stay relevant and productive.

Here are a few predictions about the continued evolution of group fitness opportunities:

  • Virtual: Digital delivery of group fitness has proven to provide so many ways to reach, refer and retain participants. Whether synchronously (livestreaming) or asynchronously (on-demand), it’s relatively inexpensive and simple to offer your classes online.
  • Venues: While in-person classes are still relevant and sought after, now is a great time to explore creative venues for those looking for group fitness outside of the gym. People are seeking fitness options in convenient places such as parks, offices and homes.
  • Packaging: You can get creative with how you offer your services. Participants will certainly still look to attend drop-in classes as part of a gym membership, but they also may want you at home or on the go. A la carte classes are still popular, but so are programs, such as a month-long restorative program or a 6-week strength series for new moms.

Understanding Behavior Change Is Necessary

While you may have once prioritized education and innovation around discovering a new piece of equipment or program, this will not be as much of a priority in 2021 or 2022. Instructors will need to shift their growth and continuing education to understand what brings participants to them and what will keep them moving. While behavior change has been a conversation in the health coach and personal trainer world for some time, the future of group fitness will depend on instructors learning more about what makes people tick and how best to infuse these principles in the group setting. The more you can understand where your participants are coming from and build trust, the better you can serve and motivate your classes for longer, no matter what program or platform you use.

Collaboration Beats Competition

If last year taught us anything, it was that we all need community. By working together and learning together, trust and commitment through adversity has grown stronger—participant to participant, participant to instructor, and instructor to instructor connection. As a group fitness instructor, you will need to continue approaching your work from a collaborative place. We are a global team dedicated to figuring out how to best get people moving and we need each other now more than ever.

As the landscape of group fitness continues to evolve, I hope instructors stay brave and sincere. Brave enough to continue trying new ways to share their talents, while remaining conscious of their ability to do less for more. The group fitness career path is brighter than ever for those who consider the possibilities, collaborate with others and embrace the future.

More Future Focused Articles

After the unprecedented year we had in 2020, what does 2021 look like for the rest fitness industry? Read our other future-focused articles below:

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