In a perfect studio fitness world, our classes would always be filled with the right amount of students. We all know, however, that hitting the sweet spot with class size can be tricky. Whether too big or too small, size in numbers can impact the energy of your class. As an instructor, it’s important to be cognizant of your students comfort during a small or large class. Below are some tips to set you up for success no matter how many students you have.

When you only have a few students in class, this can definitely feel nerve-wracking, both for you and your students who may feel put in the spotlight. Don’t fret though. Think of this instead as a great opportunity to customize your class and really get to know your clients. By having a small group, you’re able to make the class all about them. Ask your students what they want to focus on that day. Do they have a favorite yoga pose they want to work on? Is someone dying to try a particular dance routine? Does anyone have a specific body part they’re looking to target? Use small classes to your advantage by personalizing the workout as much as possible, and be sure to get everyone’s names and use them a lot during class. Now more than ever is your opportunity to really make an impression on the client that they are your primary focus. 

On the other hand, for those peak times when your classroom is packed wall to wall, it’s really important to take a deep breath and manage your space wisely. Nothing is more uncomfortable for your students than having limited space to work out properly, so make sure that they have enough room to move around without stepping on their neighbor. Stagger yoga mats accordingly, or separate the room into groups/stations to try and create some space between exercises. Ask students to put away equipment once they’re done with a certain exercise in order to avoid injuries and reduce the amount of stuff in the room. Are your yogis able to comfortably hold a three-legged downward dog without kicking another student? Are your dancers spaced out evenly so that everyone can see themselves in the mirror? These are questions to always keep in mind during a crowded class, and if you notice space is becoming a persistent concern, it might be time to think about adding a capacity cap on this particular class or incorporating a new class time, or even expanding your studio space.

Another option for larger class sizes is to incorporate partner exercises. Partner exercises are a fun way to break up a traditional class and create a friendly social setting. For bigger sized classes that tend to feel more anonymous, buddying up with neighbors can help make the class seem more personal. In your next yoga class, try buddy poses that’ll benefit both partners, like double downward dog! For HIIT class, get creative with partner squats or planks. When you have a buddy to hold you accountable, your students will push themselves harder and create a great shared experience.

Becky Culp is a former Zumba instructor and yoga enthusiast in NYC. When she’s not shaking it to Enrique Iglesias or stretching on her mat, you can find her exploring Manhattan with her black lab, Whitney. Check out the adventures of Becky and Whitney on Instagram