At the end of the day, group exercise has one goal: to make exercising fun.
“For any class, you want an exercise in disguise,” said Erin Lotta, the director of group fitness at Newtown Athletic Club. “You don’t want to feel like your 45 minutes to an hour are ticking by — you really want your members to have a vacation from their life.”
At Newtown Athletic Club, one instructor in particular has achieved this goal: Rosalyn Yellin, a certified Zumba instructor who attracts between 60 to 100 participants per class — which is 40 more people per class than the average instructor.
“Rosalyn is so successful because she gives 150 percent,” explained Lotta. “She is a true performer, she knows all of her music back to front, she is completely prepared. This is her show.”
According to Lotta, one of the keys to a successful and fun Group X class is having an instructor at the helm who truly cares about the members, and makes them feel like a friend.
“Rosalyn’s presence within her class is just a small part of it,” explained Lotta. “She’s really present on social media, she comments on each member’s posts. She talks to them before and after her class, and she makes people feel special. Three-hundred people at our club view her as a friend.”
Here, we spoke with Yellin about her secret sauce to designing a fun and engaging dance-based class that appeals to members of all abilities.
CS: Your classes can attract upwards of 100 people. What are some of your keys to success?
RY: I think the key to my classes having high attendance is keeping it simple and easy to follow. Some instructors may do things that are too complicated. Although that’s great if someone has a dance degree — most people don’t. So if somebody’s looking for a fitness class at a gym and they don’t have a dance background, they can jump into my class and leave feeling like, “Wow, I can dance, I feel amazing, I did it.” And that’s because it’s so easy, it’s so simple — everyone leaves my class feeling accomplished.
CS: What are some things you do to connect with members, and then to facilitate bonding between members?
RY: It is very important to build relationships with the members. I like to greet every member and thank them at the end for coming. I try to have social events throughout the year where they can participate and get to know each other. They form their own relationships with the people who are working out next to them, so it becomes a social event.
It’s also important to demonstrate care for the members. I care about their well-being. I check up on them if I don’t see them in class. If someone leaves class early, I reach out to them to ensure they didn’t get hurt. The members really feel I care about them.
CS: What other advice can you share for creating a fun, dance-based class?
RY: Some keys for success are to keep it high-energy, very fun, and very simple so that participants are not thinking about complicated movements. I try not to do anything too difficult dance-wise, but I do keep it challenging cardio-wise — people really like that combination.