Andrea Metcalf by Andrea Metcalf

One of the biggest mistakes health and fitness professionals can make is to think that what they do in class is the only thing that keeps participants coming back. Certainly, exercise selection, in-class persona and music choices are important, but what you do before and after class matters, too. Here are 10 ways to connect with your participants before and after class.

Before Class

1. The Early Bird Gets the Worm.

You should always arrive early to class. In fact, many clubs require instructors to arrive at least 5-15 minutes prior to the start of their classes. And for good reason—arriving early helps you feel more prepared and gives you more time to set up your equipment and really get to know your participants.

2. Playlist Perfect

Taking time to create great playlists is important, and if you can get to know your participants, picking music they enjoy can help you connect with them on another level. You are, of course, still bound to upholding music licenses, so choose carefully. Companies that produce music compilations specifically for use in a class or gym setting heed strict music laws and licensing requirements, as should you when creating your own playlists.

3. Facebook Your Class.

Building your brand as an instructor starts with your own social media. Boost your class numbers by sharing your teaching schedule with your social media fans. Make it an interesting post rather than just “I’m teaching Muscle Definition tonight at 5pm.” Get creative and share a secret move you’ll be doing or tag some of your regulars to get them excited about class.

4. Mantra Magic

Having a mantra for your classes can help build the community feeling. Prepare a motivational quote or a short 15- to 60-second story or health tip to share at the start of your class. Your enthusiasm for healthy living can help motivate your participants to follow your lead outside of the fitness studio.

5. Visualize Success.

Every time you step in front of the group, you are delivering a performance that engages and leads the group on a journey. Like professional athletes, visualizing the performance can help you produce your best class every time.

After Class

6. Snap Chatty.

Encouraging your class to share their experience on social media is as important as learning their names during class. Organizing special group pages can be productive as well. Be sure to encourage your class to use a specific hashtag with their posts, which will make it easier for others to like and share. Expanding your social-media footprint can help build your class numbers and personal brand as well.

7. Practice Gratitude.

Always remember to thank your class for their time and energy. It is a simple way of showing respect and grounding your energy. Go beyond just words and stand at the doorway as they leave and shake their hands as you look them in the eye and make that human connection.

8. Never Stop Learning.

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been teaching, research and trends are always changing. Keep your certifications current by seeking out continuing education and staying on top of research updates.

9. Share Your Knowledge.

It is our job to help educate and inspire people to live healthier lives. Whether its on social media or during class between exercises, sharing tips that make your participants’ lives better adds to your value and effectiveness as a health and fitness professional.

10. Support and Shadow. 

Each instructor brings a unique talent and gift to his or her classes. Mentoring new instructors or taking veteran’s classes can help you meet new participants, learn or share new techniques and, ultimately, build a community. Once a month, try to assist an instructor as a “back-up dancer.” You may see participants who need help with technique or simply require a little encouragement.

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