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Skilled Instructors are Integral to Running a Successful Group Exercise Program

Are you maximizing the ROI on your group exercise classes?

Research by IHRSA and others documents how important group-ex is to members and, in turn, to member satisfaction. According to IHRSA, a remarkable 90% of all exercisers prefer to work out in groups rather than on their own. And The Retention People (TRP), a Woodbury, New York–based provider of customer experience management (CEM) software and services, reports that group offerings reduce the risk of cancellation by 26%—possibly because the people who take part in classes visit the club more frequently than those who are equipment-centric.

Think an impressive array of new, well-maintained, high-tech cardio and strength machines is the key to success?

Well, you might want to think again.

If there’s one word that sums up the power of group-ex, it might well be engagement.

Classes, whether small or large, low- or high- impact, relaxed or high-intensity, produce an ambience marked by camaraderie, cooperation, encouragement, and friendly competition, creating a strong sense of community.

Instructors Are the Essence of a Group Program

Although many group-ex programs may look the same or share the same name, in reality, the instructor defines each class, shaping it in their own image. Even pre-choreographed sessions, such as those offered by Les Mills, vary somewhat, depending on the leader’s personality and style.

“Instructors are the essence of a group program,” said Aida Johnson-Rapp, the group-ex director at the premium East Bank Club in Chicago, which stages 216 classes a week. “They have to have the qualities of a performer; the skills and knowledge to deliver safe, effective classes that members enjoy; and the ability to produce results.”

No matter how trendy your classes are, your success rests,
ultimately, on the shoulders of certified professionals who are enthusiastic about service and helping others enjoy exercise.

“The instructors are the heartbeat, the air, the sunshine—basically, the life—of the program,” said Dori Nugent, the group-ex director at Club La Maison, in Wayne, PA. “Instructors who can create magic in the studio—they’re priceless.”

Provide a Rewarding Group-ex Experience to Compete

Now competing with proliferating boutique operations, such as SoulCycle and Orangetheory Fitness, group-ex has to do more than generate an elevated heart rate—it has to provide a rewarding experience.

“A person can go anywhere and run on a treadmill or lift weights, but they can’t always get the kind of personal connection that only an instructor can deliver,” said Nugent.

Joy Keller, the executive editor of publications for the IDEA Health & Fitness Association, points out that instructors also can serve as great ambassadors for your club, selling it with each session. “Group fitness instructors touch more members than other personnel,” she said, “and are in a prime position to influence the member experience.”

Engage and Educate Instructors to Enhance Staff Retention

To retain them, and keep them performing at their peak, club operators should foster a team feeling that— like the bond between teachers and members—creates a sense of connectedness among instructors. Because most leaders pop in and out of the club, for an hour or two at a time, ongoing communication is critical.

“I make sure they understand our club’s culture and our member-service expectations, and keep the lines of communication wide open,” said Johnson-Rapp. “And we give them opportunities to develop new programs.”

Stevenson Fitness, in Oak Park, CA, provides its instructors with professional development grants to facilitate continuing education, and requires them to take one another’s classes to stay fresh, share feedback, and learn from one another, said Marisa Hoff, the club’s general manager. And Crunch, renowned for its innovative group-ex offerings, strives to keep its instructors involved and busy so they won’t be tempted to teach elsewhere.

“We provide constant education on our programming, and offer CEC workshops at a discount,” said Cyrus. “This creates a sense of loyalty, so they stay with us.”

Read the full article on group exercise in the August issue of CBI.

Reader Comments (1)

Great Post! I agree with your post successful running program. Thanks for sharing useful post.
December 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAthens Coast

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