Can you remember your first group fitness class experience? Stepping into a studio, clipping into a bike or picking up weights for the first time can feel exciting and motivating — as well as scary and uncertain. As we become more experienced, and in some cases become instructors ourselves, it’s easy to forget those initial feelings of insecurity. While many new class attendees are ready to jump right in, teaching them the ropes can set them up for success throughout their fitness journey. For some, this may be their very first gym experience — or perhaps their first visit to a new studio space. For others, this class could be a new beginning after serious injury, weight loss or other major life event. Each class presents a unique mix of individuals at varying experience and comfort levels. Given this, there are three common sentiments that fitness beginners wish instructors knew:
“I’m here for a specific goal and I’m hoping you can help me achieve it.”
Whether they want to lose weight, need to improve their health in specific areas or want to up their fitness game in general, every person who makes the effort to work out has a specific goal in mind. As an instructor, it’s important to take the time to talk with new class members. Express your interest in them and your desire to help them achieve whatever it is they are hoping to accomplish. When instructors are aware of and tuned in to the specific goals of class members, it’s easier to provide tailored assistance throughout the workout.
“It’s intimidating to see others comfortably navigating the facility when I don’t quite know what I should be doing.”
From where to stand when waiting for a class, to where the bathrooms are and cultural expectations (phones, perfume, music, etc.), there’s a lot to absorb and feel intimidated by when you’re a fitness beginner. Studios and instructors can ease this anxiety by presenting key locations and standard practices at check-in and at the beginning of each class — even if 90-percent of the class already knows the information. This helps new-comers not feel singled-out and can be a great reminder to those who are regulars as well.
“I’m uncertain about my ability to do certain exercises but want to still have a great workout.”
Workouts are not one size fits all. Class-goers can benefit from modified positions, tailored exercises or props that help them achieve the desired result, even if their pose or rep doesn’t look like his or her neighbor’s. Hopefully there can be an individual conversation before the workout begins to be better understand individual needs, but like studio protocols, instructors can provide modifications throughout the class so that individuals don’t get embarrassed or feel self-conscious about needing to do a different exercise.
The key takeaway is to make the process of starting a new fitness journey as easy and motivating as possible. Louise Green, who is a plus-size trainer and founder of the fitness program, Body Exchange, had this to say in an article published for Self, “It takes great bravery to step forward and take control of your health. I always ask my clients, What is the worst thing that can happen? You might have to walk during the run, you might have to stop and catch your breath or you might have to sit down for a moment. But I can assure you, you won’t explode or combust during fitness. Just knowing that can give you the power to bust through your fear, rock it out, and do it anyway!”
Instructors have the unique ability to increase motivation while decreasing anxiety for everyone – especially fitness beginners. By understanding what each person’s goals are, addressing any concerns they may have and giving them the information to feel like a pro around the studio, you immediately increase their confidence and the likelihood that they’ll stick with you and their fitness goals.