We all have our favourites. There’s always that one fitness instructor who brings a smile to our faces, motivates us within our first 30 seconds to make the workout count, and brings ace energy without fail. Every. Single. Time.
From keeping every class fresh and exciting, to researching into the latest fitness science, there’s a lot that goes into making a fitness class awesome. We speak to some of our rockstar partners who move, shake and dance their way to a loyal following full of screaming fans to get their top tips on how to smash workout classes.
The power of the fitness instructor
Fitness instructors are the rockstars and superheroes of the fitness industry and have the power to make or break our workout experience. When their reputation precedes them, they can accumulate a following who will loyally attend their classes on a weekly basis, even across different venues! They may teach a boxing workout at Sweaty Betty on the weekends then kick butt in a sweaty spin session during the week - no matter what they’re up to, we’re booking ahead and bouncing out the house looking forward to our session.
There’s more to being a rockstar fitness instructor than simply turning up with some moves on a piece of paper. And boy, there’s SO much that goes into making weekly fitness classes as brilliant as they are.
Running fitness classes, especially across different locations, can easily be a full-time job when you take into account everything that goes into them. Our favourite fitness instructors also juggle full-time jobs, research, preparation (including deep-diving into www.soundtrackyourbrand.com to get those tunes), staying late to clear up studios, keeping their own fitness topped up and finding down time for themselves. What a bunch of heroes.
Check out some MoveGB rockstars’ top tips on running their own fitness business below!
How to become a rockstar of the fitness industry
Research and preparation
Who knew that fitness instructors have homework? Like school teachers, fitness instructors have to prepare for their classes. They can’t just rock up and improvise on the spot as it can lead to disjointed workouts which attendees will notice. And they need to constantly stay on top of exercise science - research is key as the safest and most effective workouts are needed.
“It’s important to recognize that you're selling yourself as the product people will buy; so not only do you have to offer something of real value to a potential client, but you'll also have to constantly develop, update, market, and sell your product too” - Shape.com
Suzy (INK Dance, Sheffield) has to consistently stay creatively inspired so she can change the choreography for every class to keep things new and fresh for everyone. And the same goes for Nectaria (Groovy Glutes). She practices her routines 30 times so when it comes to being in front of class, it’s second nature, there are no nerves and she can give her biggest smile.
Disco qween, Carly (Project HB -DISCOaerobics) is in Bristol every Friday evening and requires a whole lot of disco dance research to help get her class sweaty before they kick off their weekend.
“Go to other classes - get inspired by other folks in your local area and see what you can learn from them! Hit up YouTube as well to find some new moves to keep your classes fresh and exciting to those who come every week. And above all PRACTISE. You can never get enough practice - whether it’s at home shaking your booty in the mirror, trying them out on some friends or with actual clients. The more you do it, the more confident you’ll be in your capabilities and will be able to stride into your class, sans nerves.
One of the hardest things I encountered when beginning my fitness instructor career was how long prep can take. I didn’t expect that you can easily spend as long prepping for a class as you do when teaching it. I now take this into consideration when working out my hourly rate, which is super important. Time is money.” - Carly (Project HB)
Be able to laugh at yourself
You can practise as much as you can, but there are days when moves simply escape you and you struggle to remember your carefully honed routines! But when things go wrong, don’t let the stress get to you and laugh it off.
Attendees love the personality of instructors and fully accept that they’re humans. We all make mistakes… and that pause when figuring out your next sequence means we get a quick, cheeky break.
Bringing the energy to class
It can be tough turning up to every class with the boundless energy which attendees expect. You’re human after all and we don’t always have overflowing energy! But instructors need to be our cheerleaders and spur us on to dig deep when our energy is ebbing and that sweat is flowing. But how do they do it, apart from the odd strategic power nap?
Carly (Project HB) keeps her energy levels in check with her diet: “I make sure I eat carbs in every meal on days I’m teaching! It keeps me going and ready for the day, no matter how far I have to travel between classes and work. And I always make sure I eat a small, easily digestible snack an hour before teaching. Don’t forget to drink heaps of water… and I probably rely too heavily on caffeine…”
If Suzy from INK Dance in Sheffield is feeling exhausted before class, she thinks about how she’ll feel after the class and how much fun it will be: “Focusing on how I’ll feel when I’m in the class perks me up! My classes are also like a huge family, so the people who attend are my motivation to bring everything I have to the class!”
Music prep is also incredibly important to workouts - dance workouts are centred around the best music for the moves ahead - POPFit, London’s most colourful dance studio, is all about the music so prioritise tunes in their planning sessions. Bami (Bam Bam Boogie, London) also preps her twerk music playlists at least a week before the session, and also uses the power of music to top up her energy supplies: “No matter what my mood, I can pop on my fave playlist, have a laugh with everyone and dance around to get my energy going again!”
From Drum n’ Bass HIIT to Beyonce dance classes, you need to pick tracks that have the beats that match your moves. And motivate your attendees to keep going and not look at the clock. Be sure to listen and compile playlists that will get your class bumpin’ and grindin’ in time to your routines… you may find yourself questioning whether you should’ve been a part-time DJ instead.
“Finding the best tracks to get everyone moving is an essential to prepping for a class. I create a warm-up playlist then pick a track to choreograph - if the track immediately gets me dancing then I know I’ve picked the right one and my attendees will love it!” - Suzy (INK Dance).
Keeping an eye on form
Sometimes a class can be incredibly busy and fast-paced, but keep an eye on the form of attendees. A few people might need the odd adjustment and tweak to the moves so they can reap the benefits of the workout.
Be sure to explain and show the right positions and form so newbies can nail the routines straight away. It’s highly appreciated, especially to those who are new to the moves.
Embrace and nurture your community
Leading a class through their workout can be taxing, but don’t forget to shout encouragement to the participants and make sure you keep them motivated - you’re their cheerleader! Find the right words to say to keep them motivated - praise hard workers and encourage those lagging in movement - and the right timing to blast your motivational speech onto the masses.
And don’t forget the online community you can form around your classes. When you begin to get those screaming fans, embrace them on social media and begin creating a community around your classes.
Bami (Bam Bam Boogie) ensures that once everything is good to go with the studio, she reaches out to her community and gets them hyped for what she knows is going to be an endorphin-filled session! Don’t forget, you could also do post-workout selfies and profile loyal attendees - don’t forget to tag them on Instagram.
Look after yourself:
Life as a fitness instructor can be hectic and TOUGH. Especially if you’re juggling a full-time job and a multitude of classes throughout your week. Finding the time to do everything you need to can be taxing, so remember to look after yourself whenever you can as well.
“Juggling a fitness career and a full-time job has been so hard at times, but the secret is routine. I struggle to get down time or rest because I always feel like there’s something else I could be working on. I guess it’s important to be strict and schedule in that day with your partner/friends, make sure you get that lie-in once a week, and don’t be tempted to say yes to EVERYTHING because exhaustion can hit you without much warning and it’s awful!” - Carly (Project HB)
“I feel like after teaching so many classes in a week, I'm tired and don't want to stay after class to get a deep stretch to unwind my tired muscles. However, in order to prevent injuries I know I need to get in a decent stretching session. So it's really about looking after myself too, not just my lovely students.” -Bami (Bam Bam Boogie)
It may be tough, but it’s all worth it in the end…
You may be investing in a good eye cream to combat dark eye circles when you’re run ragged, like Nectaria (Groovy Glutes). But with the bad comes the good... such as having a great excuse to buy a huge fitness wardrobe.
But we would be nothing without those who turn up to the classes week-in, week-out. POPFit are all about their community - the classes bring in the most awesome, fun-loving people and it’s incredible to see a community forming around a fitness class. Bami truly loves her workout squad who reciprocate the energy she gives them, but times 10: “I love the relationships I’ve built with them inside and out of the studio - I would truly call some of them friends now.”
Suzy (INK Dance) simply loves seeing people grow and shine in her classes - seeing them go from a dancing novice to busting moves with the class is the ultimate pat on the back. And Carly (Project HB) agrees:
“The difference you can make to an individual is definitely the best thing about being a fitness instructor! I will never forget my first ever fitness class and how nervous and self-conscious I was. To be able to give someone confidence in the capabilities of their own body through teaching with empathy and energy, and see them flourish and grow self-belief, is an incredible driver to do this every day!”
So to all the rockstar fitness instructors out there - keep doing you. You make such a difference to those who come to your workouts - they’re there because they love what you do and the proof is in the pudding: they keep coming back to you.
Whether you’re juggling a full-time job, family, friends, walking your dog (insert other duties here) as well as your fitness career, your efforts aren’t unnoticed and your fans will be there till the end. Fitness instructors are the rockstars of the fitness industry and will continue to be such an important aspect of keeping active!