It’s no secret that class goers have favorite instructors. How can you spot them? They’re the ones that have a knack for turning first-timers into regulars, and have their pick of where they teach thanks to their dedicated following. Even when they teach classes offered during an off time, they always seem to fill up. So, how do you become the fitness instructor who always has a packed house, with studios vying to hire you?
We asked a few such fitness instructors to share their secrets for cultivating a following. From tips on how to make your classes stand out to leveraging social media to help keep your classes full, here’s what they had to say about getting class takers to consistently come back for more.
Make your class stand out
It’s no new news that the fitness industry is a competitive space. Certified personal trainer Amanda Dale says that doing whatever you can to make your class a stand out among others is going to make it one that clients will want to attend over and over again. “I taught spin class, which is probably the most popular exercise format in the world — which means there’s a lot of competition out there,” she says. “To build a following, you have to stand out — and I did so by making sure I had the most updated, cutting-edge music, the most positive, motivating mantras, and the most well thought out, intentionally planned class. My students came back for the quality and professionalism of my classes, as well as my positive energy and enthusiasm.”
Focus on specific offerings
One way to minimize the competition and position yourself as a stand out instructor? Tailor your classes to a targeted audience.”Instead of just being a general instructor you can be the person that runs fitness for post-pregnancy mothers or classes for seniors, or fitness for volleyball players,” says personal trainer Jamie Logie. “Be the go-to person for a specific thing.”
Yoga instructor Crystal Gray says that creating a tone and feel to your teaching method will also help set you apart. “If you stick with a certain style and flair, people that love your style will flock to your classes, and they’ll bring more people that like it too!” she says. “The students will start to learn your style and look forward to it.”
Establish relationships with class members
One of the biggest factors that motivates attendees to take a class again is an instructor with an invested interest in helping them meet their fitness goals. “Really show that you actually care about them,” says Gray. “I try to learn everyone’s names and use their name in class at least once or twice. You don’t want to scare off new students by calling them out too much, but saying they are doing a good job or to fix a minor alignment issue is great to build rapport.”
Dale says that being available to connect with students before and after class will further help your cause. “The instructors that shoot in two minutes before class and leave as soon as the last song ends are the ones you can tell aren’t invested in their students,” she says.
“The instructors that shoot in two minutes before class and leave as soon as the last song ends are the ones you can tell aren’t invested in their students.”
“Stay after class, ask about their jobs, their families, their lives. Make your students invested in you, and they’ll never leave you.”
Connect with class members on social media
Being a part of your student’s social media feed allows you to keep them up to date on what classes you’ll be teaching. “Most studios are okay with you promoting your personal Facebook and Instagram accounts as long as you make sure to tag the studio as well,” says Dale. “I always write my handle (@thisfitblonde) on the mirrors in the room I’m teaching in to make sure students that want to know more about me and my fitness brand can do so — without being too in your face or pushy about it.”
Emily Lester, owner of Pole Fitness Seattle says that taking a post-class group picture will also help build a following. Tag class members in the photo on social media to show off their accomplishments. “Take photos and videos when appropriate and invite them to share on social media outlets,” she says. “Community building is essential to success. This will also further your reach and tap into the social networks of your clients.”
Promote your upcoming classes
So you’ve taught the best class possible, connected with your students throughout, and left all your attendees wanting more. The final step? Letting them know what else you’re teaching that week! “At the end of each class, I’d offer little ‘teasers’ on my next class,” says Dale. “For example, ‘Don’t miss Thursday’s hip-hop class party!’ or ‘Next Tuesday we’re doing an all-throwback 80s ride — sign up before you leave today!’ Not only did it help me structure and plan my next class, but it gave incentive for today’s students to come back tomorrow. Most would sign up on the spot.”