Thanksgiving is almost upon us — the holiday where we gather around with family and friends to give thanks for what we have and, of course, to eat a very big meal together. A meal so large, it’s estimated the average Thanksgiving dinner plate clocks in at around 3,000 calories — and that’s not factoring in seconds! 

Your studio members are going to want to get a good sweat in before and after the big day of eating. But instead of treating Thanksgiving season workouts as a way to offset the damage, there are plenty of ways to infuse some fun and gratitude into your classes during this time of giving thanks. Here are a few ideas for fun Thanksgiving workouts your members will be thankful for!  

1. Offer gratitude-themed workouts

Using gratitude as the theme of your workout can make your routine feel fresh, and help get your class members into the spirit of the holiday. “Our entire team is big on gratitude,” says Jaime Dardine, fitness instructor at REV Cycle. “We understand that if it weren’t for our clients, we wouldn’t have any classes. So gratitude rides are huge, and the clients love to be recognized for how hard they work and how important they are to the Rev brand.”  

Lynda Salerno Gehrman, Pilates director and founder of Physio Logic Pilates & Movement, also uses gratitude to tap into the Thanksgiving spirit. “All of our classes at Physio Logic will be themed ‘Thank Logic’ during the week of Thanksgiving,” she says. “We’re encouraging our students to show gratitude to themselves and what their bodies accomplished for them all year long. All of our Pilates classes during the week of Thanksgiving will have students acknowledge three things about their bodies that they are thankful for.” Gehrman is also using social media to create excitement at the studio. “To keep it fun, we’re challenging students to showcase three movements on Instagram that they learned at Physio Logic that their bodies are thankful for this season,” she says. “The winner will receive a 60-minute massage with one of our therapists for a truly gratuitous body!” 

2. Run a “bring a friend” promotion

One of things that keeps class members from getting a workout in during Thanksgiving is hosting out of town family members — which is why Michele Gordon (a.k.a. Miss Motivational), creator of Cardio Sweat Party, suggests offering a bring-a-friend incentive. “This is a time when people have family and friends coming to visit, and everyone needs a good sweat sesh before and after the Thanksgiving dinner,” she says. “Friday is a good day to do a themed-class, a 90 minute workout or to add something special like a post-workout stretch class, etc. The key is do something extra special that will bring both your current clients and new clients into the studio.” For members who will be traveling, Gordon suggests running a social media challenge to keep your class top of mind. “People do travel during the holiday weekend, so this is a great time to get people tagging your studio on social and show how they’re doing your moves on-the-go, etc.,” she says.    

3. Start a buddy challenge

Creating a workout challenge around the Thanksgiving season can also encourage members to workout more together before and after the big holiday. “In the past we’ve done FlyBarre Buddy challenge,” says Brandon Goodman, master instructor at Flywheel Sports. “Most recently we ran one for our staff. Essentially participants find a partner and they get their measurements taken. Over the course of three weeks they commit to taking classes together (or separately). At the end of each week they are measured to track their progress. The team with the most inches lost receives a prize. The holidays are the perfect time for a challenge like this because as we get ready to eat that good home cooking it can be easy to forget our goals. Having a buddy helps us stay accountable!”

4. Host a special Thanksgiving morning class

“Every year at each studio we host what we call a ‘Turkey Burn’ on Thanksgiving day,” says Sarah Levey, founder of Y7 Studio. “It is a 90 minute vigorous flow that will not only help you sweat out the biggest bar night of the year, but will get you ready for an evening of eating. We came up with the idea two years ago when we wanted to give our clients something that was familiar to them, but also an extra kick to really work. We added the extra thirty minutes to our regular class format and upped the intensity with longer slow burns in between each flow. It was so great the first year that we have just kept on going with it!”

5. Go big with a season-long challenge

November marks the start of the holiday season — which means that New Year’s resolution goals are right around the corner. In order to get members thinking about these goals earlier, StarCycle studios host a “Do it Now Challenge” starting in November to encourage members to complete a class goal. “StarCycle will host it’s ‘Do it Now Challenge’ at all of it’s six studios this year to encourage students not to wait for News Year’s resolutions to get in shape,” says co-founder Erin Moone. “The challenge is 20 classes in 30 days, and is known as one of the brand’s most loved challenges. Not only does it kick-start your New Year’s goals and get your metabolism spiked up and running, students often comment on how group challenges motivate them to really push themselves to complete a goal they might not otherwise.” Using a simple chart and sticker method, riders track their progress alongside one another. It’s a great way to encourage activity in the studio during holiday periods, while also setting members up with the tools they need to succeed in the new year.