How do we attract new participants to group fitness and keep them coming back?
The answer is in how successful they feel after the class. Below are tips for your instructors to ensure participants trying the class for the first time leave feeling fulfilled, successful and coming back for more.
Before the Class: At the Front Desk
The best place to meet and recruit new participants is at the front desk. Dedicate five minutes (10 minutes before the start of your class) to stand at the front desk and invite members to attend your class. Simply say “Hey! You look like you’re coming to BODYATTACK®!” If they say no, ask if they’ve ever done group fitness, ask what their goals are and let them know how your class can help achieve them. If you ask 10 people, expect to get eight nos and two yes’ –an extra two people per week means packed classes in no time.
Before the Class: In Line
If you have a queue forming outside of your class, make small talk with the members. Ask them questions. Find out if anyone is trying the class for the first time, then ask other members to share how they felt the first time they tried the class and how they feel now. When new participants hear that others have felt the same way, they feel more comfortable.
During the Class: Introduction
Sometimes we don’t get a chance to meet new participants before the start of the class. Before the start of class ask “is anyone trying this class for the first time?” while raising your hand or waving. This is a “softer” way of saying “who’s new?”
When you see people raise their hand, turn off the mic, get off stage and ask all new members to come together. Introduce yourself welcoming them to the class and try to get their names and shake their hands. Give them a description of the program and explain their options, let them know that they should listen to their bodies; if something feels ‘not right’ don’t do it, stick with another move, and ask about it after the class. Let them know that they’re all in this together and you look forward to hearing how they went at the end of class. See the example below:
“Hey gang, welcome to BODYATTACK® I’m (name), what’s yours?
Great! BODYATTACK® is a high intensity program that focuses on aerobic conditioning, sports conditioning, and strength. There are many options I will offer throughout the class. You are the expert in your own body so if anything feels wrong, where you feel soreness in joints and it’s not just cardio or muscle fatigue, don’t do that move and you can always march no the spot. I will go between high impact options and low impact options that provide a great workout but are less pressure on the joints. Take whichever option feels right today.
Remember, you’re here for yourself. Everyone else is too busy focusing on what they’re doing to notice which options you’re taking, so pace yourself, have fun, and please see me after class. I would love to know what you thought.”
During the Class: Who Needs You More?
Who do you think needs your coaching more? The six dedicated participants in the front row that cheer throughout the class and know the choreography almost better than you do? Or the new participant hiding in the back lost on some basic moves, and clutching their side because they have a cramp? If you see a new member in the back holding their side because they have a cramp, connect with them and let them know they can stretch that side out and march until it passes. The more contact you make with the newer participants, the more likely they will leave feeling successful.
After the Class
Open the studio door and stand by it, congratulating everyone on their hard work. Compliment them for increasing their weights or trying the pushups on their toes. Thank them by name if you know it, ask when you’ll see them again, or simply say “can’t wait to see you next class”. Ask the new participants to hang around for two minutes as they’re walking out the door, don’t let them leave unnoticed.
Take the new participants aside and ask how they went. Ask if they had any questions about any of the moves and invite them to come before class next week to learn some other moves. It also never hurts to invite them to bring a friend.
By implementing these simple strategies in your business, you will see more new participants in your classes and will enjoy consistently higher class numbers every time.
Miriam is the LMAP Regional Accounts Manager for Victoria and Queensland. She has been in the fitness industry for over 11 years in various capacities including Customer Service Representative, Membership Consultant, Group Fitness Instructor, Personal Trainer and Regional Manager.
By: Miriam Jaclyn Cohen