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Group X: Instructors Who Can’t Get Class Participation


Don’t you feel terrible when you have to let go of an instructor or cancel their class because their attendance is so low? Many of these instructors may be outdated, stubborn, refuse to change, or just plain awful, and it is time to let them go. But what about the great instructor who has good skills and is a great teacher?

Instructors who have poorly attended classes, most of the time, are the most dedicated and love being a part of the club. Letting go of these instructors is the worst conversation to have. Here are a few thoughts that may help them turn it around before you cut the cord.

Instructors, many times, are super shy. When they are on stage they can turn it on, but off-stage, forget about it. Believe it or not — and I’m sure you won’t believe it — I am super shy. However, put me in front of a class and in my comfort zone and I go to rock star status! Ask me to go to the next-door neighbor, who I don’t know, and ask for a cup of sugar — I don’t think so. It’s just not happening. I have to work so hard to connect with purpose before I hit the stage and push the music button.

Shy people, who are great instructors, many times have a hard time connecting before and after class. Members many times read this wrong, and do not feel welcome. This is a problem and instructors who have these traits must step outside of their comfort zone and make themselves approachable and beyond friendly. The more we connect with participants the more crowded the class will become — it’s a no brainer.

Is the requirement to “connect” before and after class in their job description? Do you even have a job description for your instructors? That may be a good place to start. Make friendliness a requirement. Make being present and ready to go well before, and after class, a requirement.

Here is another great requirement — instructors should be e-mailing a minimum of two participants per week who attend their class. They should tell the participant how much they enjoyed having them in class and that they can’t wait to see them again. This works great for new members. Members are always blown away when they receive a personal e-mail from their instructor.

Set up a buddy system for instructors. When one instructor works with another it brings energy and fosters relationships. When instructors have relationships with each other, the energy of the department goes up, and buddies like to help each other. Encourage them to attend each other’s classes and have them each give feedback to one another. Put an instructor who packs the classes together with one who doesn’t. Assign them at your next group fitness meeting and start with some fun contests. Oh, you don’t have group fitness meetings? You may want to have one!

Some additional tips:

Change their class time slot. It may not be the instructor, but the time of the class.

Ask the members! Novel idea. Surveying and assessing your programming constantly is a must.

Ask the instructor what is wrong and what you can do to help. The instructor who has poorly attended classes usually knows what’s wrong. Have them discuss it.

Now, let’s chat about the most popular instructor who is your biggest headache. On second thought, let’s not – that’s another blog. I’ll discuss that next time!


Lori Lowell is the president of Group Fitness Solutions, LLC, and owns 8 Fitness Facilities in Virginia and Wisconsin. Contact her at lori@groupfitnesssolutions.com.

Lori Lowell

Lori Lowell is the president of Group Fitness Solutions, LLC, and a Gold’s Gym franchisee. She can be reached at lori@groupfitnesssolutions.com.

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1 Comment

  1. Rachel White July 25, 2013

    Thank you so much for this article! It is so true. I look forward to your next installment dealing with the “other side” of the coin!

    Thank you!
    Rachel White
    Group Fitness Director
    Bodyworks – Lubbock, TX


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