Motivation tips for group fitness instructors



Hi friends! Happy Monday! I hope you’re having a great morning. It’s been cold and raining like crazy here in Tucson. Since it hasn’t really felt wintery here this season, I’m welcoming it with open arms. We spent lots of time snuggling in blankets yesterday, drinking hot cocoa, and watching movies. (Heads up: Pirates of the Carribbean sounds like an awesome family movie until you realize it’s kind of terrifying. I even scoped out Common Sense Media <— I ALWAYS do this before watching a new movie with the kids, and we thought it would be fine but whoops lol.)

Yesterday also wrapped up our Home Workout Warrior challenge and you guys CRUSHED it. All of the check-ins were so fun and inspiring, and I’m so so happy you loved the workouts. I’m putting the finishing touches on a little something special that’s coming on Wednesday. Be sure to check in then for all of the details!

For today’s post, I wanted to talk about motivation tips for group fitness instructors: what I’ve found to work in my years of teaching, what only works for some people, and what falls flat, no matter what. I would love to hear your thoughts and experience as group fitness participants or fellow instructors!! Of course, this is a little different now because of Rona times, but this is why I think motivation strategies are even more important. It’s harder to transmit energy and inspire through a screen than it is in real-life.

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Motivation tips for group fitness instructors

What works (almost) every time:

– Use great music with a diverse playlist. This is one of my favorite things to do! Include a mix of music in your playlists, because someone in class will love the *weird song* you picked. For example, I’ll throw in a random oldies or country song just to keep things fun, and will also try to mix up top 40s music with more alternative and instrumental styles. If you make an entire playlist based on one genre (like EDM or top 40s) one person in class will love every song, but one person will hate every song and possibly never come back.

– Call out participants by their names. I think it’s so much more meaningful this way and shows participants that you care about them.

– Acknowledge their hard work and push them to take it up within a safe level.

– Demonstrate proper form and ways to modify or progress an exercise. When participants have confidence in the moves and know they’re not setting themselves up for injury, it’s more motivating. 😉

– Emphasizing the muscle group they’re working. Explain why it’s important (“a strong core helps protect our low back and support everyday movements”), and helping them put their mind to muscle.

– Just be quiet. Sometimes it motivating and powerful to be quiet for a bit and let the energy and music do the talking for you.

What works sometimes, depending on the vibe and your personality:

– The more “woo” side of things, like visualizations. During a spin class, sometimes I’ll say something like, “Imagine the people you love standing on the side of the road right now holding a sign to inspire you. What does the sign say?” Or “For our sprint, we’re riding against your biggest competition. Maybe it’s someone from work, or maybe it’s someone who doesn’t even know who you are.”

– Hands-on adjustments (not possible right now). Some people love these and some people hate them, so it’s good to ask at the beginning of class if there are injuries or if anyone is uncomfortable with adjustments to please let you know. (When you show up early, you can introduce yourself to participants individually to get their name and check in. It’s easier for someone to say they don’t want to be adjusted during class during a one-on-one conversation instead of in front of a large group.)

What falls flat:

– What I refer to as empty cheers. “WOO!” Is my biggest pet peeve ever. It means nothing, it does nothing.

– Tell a bunch of personal stories during class. Usually no one cares and just wants to get on with the workout.

– Constantly making participants feel like they’re doing everything wrong. I talk more about this here! It’s SO important to encourage participants to listen to their body, modify as needed, and be proud of them for showing up!!!

– When you get a feeling that the instructor doesn’t know what they’re going to do next, or if it’s obvious that they’re winging it. It’s motivating to feel like they have a solid plan for what you’re going to do during the workout.

– Saying the same thing over and over again. An example is constantly saying, “Good job!” in between everything else. (“Good job. Ok we’re going to do burpees now! Good job, now we’re going to hold the plank, good job, keep your core tight, good job.” It’s distracting.) Also, I think it’s nice to switch up the way you phrase things. There are SO many ways to say the same thing, so it helps to eliminate the redundant feeling. (For example, there are so many ways to say, “Power up through your legs, engage your glutes as your spring off the ground, jump up towards the ceiling, use your leg power to explode, jump vertically as high as you can.”)

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(Gif source. Bonus points if you have Moira Rose’s vocabulary)

So tell me friends: what does your FAVORITE fitness instructor do to motivate you? Have they said or done something that was especially memorable for you?

Fellow fitness instructor friends: what are your favorite ways to motivate your classes and clients, especially in the online fitness world? Things are HARD right now, especially when we’re used to feeding off the live energy of classes, so I’d love to hear your thoughts and what you’re doing!




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Confessions of a group fitness instructor

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For classes from extremely motivating and knowledgable instructors, use my link for 30 days of Les Mills On Demand

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