Beginning in March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically altered how group fitness instructors led and how participants attended classes. Since then, 2021 has been a time of trial, error and evaluation. What group fitness instructors and leaders like you decide to do with the trials and lessons will have a profound effect on your ability to be successful in 2022. This next year will continue to challenge your willingness to strategize, learn and discover opportunities to succeed and contribute to the future of this industry.
Attitude and Action Are Everything
For the most part, attendance continues to be affected by the pandemic. Whether it’s fear of a new variant or the disinterest in wearing a mask while attending class, the barriers to entry for in-person classes are still very real. Your attitude toward what you do, how you do it and how you can improve will determine the scope of your reach in this changed environment.
In 2022, there will be more widespread acceptance that “normal” is not a destination. Instructors and operators can no longer “wait to see what happens” before offering some form of digital instruction or classes. Even technological novices are taking on the challenge of setting up a device, logging into a streaming service and teaching virtual classes. Regardless of your experience or comfort with offering digital classes, it’s important to make the effort to learn and try to engage with this new way of delivering your services.
Last year, I wrote about the growth and diversification of offerings, and I believe diversification will continue. Instructors who offer online and/or outdoor classes will now be able to lean on those skills and evaluate what is or isn’t working as things continue to shift and evolve in 2022. Thriving will require instructors and clubs to work together to act on opportunities, foster community and reward participation.
Digital Will Get More Strategic
Random Facebook, YouTube or Instagram live streams are no longer the most viable option for providing regular online classes. In 2022, more instructors and facilities will invest in a proper digital platform to improve their insights and the overall user experience. Many of our participants have “voted with their screens” to show us when and what they want to do regularly; it's our job to recognize and act.
Success will come to the facilities and instructors who identify ways to create unique and engaging digital programming for their members and participants. Streaming platforms are dependent on the success of their clients and will continue to provide robust education on how to market, improve and develop digital offerings. In turn, the benefit of doing digital well will do more than just provide a library of classes to members. Digital will be used to onboard and educate members, evaluate programs and instructors, and so much more as the features of these platforms continue to evolve.
Facilities have discovered the ability to conduct interviews and watch recorded auditions before having applicants even step foot in the club. Instructors should be prepared with a recorded sample class when they apply for a new opportunity. Whether an instructor is teaching their class or offers to sub a class, there is a high probability that a class will be recorded or streamed.
Digital will continue to keep us connected. Yes, even in the fitness industry, more and more roles are becoming remote. Whether it's teaching remote classes or leading from a separate location, more facilities recognize that they can work with and provide top talent from anywhere around the world. As a result, we will see more hiring and collaboration from all parts of the country and globe. We will also see an improvement in the value these more remote managers can have since having a camera in the studio is no longer an intrusion. It's become more accessible and more common for regional managers to watch and evaluate recordings or live streams of instructors from afar.
As an instructor, it’s important that you understand your preferred learning style and how you best absorb information, as education providers offer courses both in-person and online. For many, taking time away from work and investing in travel and accommodations with so many unknowns may not be justifiable. Digital education and conferences offer flexibility and customization for instructors' needs and lifestyles, but the in-person experience will still be valuable in the industry in 2022.
Behavior Change Continues to Be the Key
Instead of the newest trend or piece of equipment, the conversation throughout 2021 was geared toward attracting the “other 80%” by focusing on wellness and fostering community. To accomplish these things in 2022, we need to put both feet firmly into our participants' shoes. 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 light up 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 classes for longer, regardless of the program or platform. Before attempting to learn a new format, be sure to regularly watch and assess your teaching to ensure your music, cueing and programming are mindful and inclusive.
Fewer Players Requires More Teamwork
We learned in 2021 how valuable it is to work together. As a group fitness instructor, 2022 will show how you can become mentors and educators for future instructors. We need veteran instructors to train new instructors, particularly in non-branded, and inclusive formats for special populations.
If you feel like these past two years have been a blur, you're not alone. If there's anything these times have taught us, it's to try not to get too far ahead of ourselves. Spend some time reflecting on all you've learned, experienced and accomplished in 2020 and 2021. Whatever your goals may be for 2022, from education to opportunities, your awareness of your attitude, actions and relationships can form a foundation for success in this ever-evolving industry.