Have the numbers in your classes suddenly swelled? If you have been teaching for more than a couple of years you will recognise January as one of the busiest times in your classes. No surprise really as “get fit” is consistently at the top of the New Year’s resolution wish list.
The million-dollar-head-count question is this: How do you keep these well-intentioned individuals on the bandwagon and lining up for your class well into February and the rest of the year? Bribe them? That’s not the worst idea. Here are 3 better ideas:
Remember to offer options – always
You might think you are “unfit” but for the New Year’s Resolution-er (NYRer) who has emerged from the sofa and in to your class – you my friend Are. Fit. Sometimes we take for granted the level of fitness we actually possess compared to the “average” person. So do bear in mind when offering options, to offer them early and for long enough that they have been absorbed by the people in front of you. If you spy a new face struggling, show the option again – even if you think it’s the “wrong” time in the track. It’s never the wrong time to show options if the people in front of you need it. Teach to the people in front of you. The only wrong time is when the class is over and you never see those faces again.
Start Smart with Smart Start
Smart Start is the name of the Les Mills beginner plan for fitness. Based on scientific research, the goal of the plan is to ensure exercise compliance. In English: Smart Start outlines how to keep NYRers coming back because you didn’t kill them the first time and exercise-really-hurts and-the-class-went-for-infinity hours. You can read a more articulate overview here, but essentially what it means for us as Instructors, is to remind NYRers that they don’t necessarily have to complete an entire class in the first few weeks of their new exercise regime. In fact, according to the Smart Start plan, starting with 20 minutes and building up to a full class over a 6-weeks period is the sweet spot to keep your classes pumping past January 31. The simplest way to implement Smart Start in your class is to inform new participants as part of your introduction that they are welcome to participate in a smaller dosage of the class and encourage them to build up the time over the coming weeks. Oh and gently remind them when that time is up during the class!
Something that seems to work well for our-fresh-off-the-sofa-friends is setting realistic expectations of the class ahead. For example, in a brief chat before class perhaps inform them of parts they might find especially challenging and offer them an alternative movement prior to class (and reassure them you will offer different options to suit throughout). Another nice touch if you can manage to catch the NYRer before they leave class; congratulate them and set their expectations about how they might feel tomorrow and what the recommended prescription for that particular class is. For example, BODYPUMP 3 x times per week with at least a day in between.
How do you keep NYRers (or any new participant) coming back to your classes?