Motivation tips for group fitness instructors

Motivation Tips For Group Fitness Instructors

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!! Whether you’re leading through a screen, like many instructors are after Rona, or in person, motivation strategies are super important. You want to transmit energy and inspire individuals and group exercise participants both effectively and authentically.

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.

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!!!

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.

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. Things naturally tend to be more hands-on in the fitness industry, but it isn’t for everyone. (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.

No one wants to feel like a failure, especially when they’re putting in the effort to reach a fitness goal. Whether you’re a personal trainer or leading a group fitness class, it’s important that you lift your classes members up, not put them down.

A lack of direction.

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.”)

(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!




Let’s connect on social media!

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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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