“To me, being an Instructor means more than just being someone at the front demonstrating the exercises. I want to be a role model for the participants in my class – and I don’t mean being the person with the biggest muscles! I want my members to experience how much fun exercise can be, and realise that even though it can be uncomfortable at times, ultimately it delivers so many rewards.”
Solms Ahrend is 20-years-old, and has been teaching in his home town of Brandenburg, Germany, since 2016. He is part of Generation Z who are currently graduating from Instructor training and starting to inspire the next wave of gym-goers.
Solms is based at "Athletic Park", a gym of approximately 600 square meters in Erkner. The membership currently sits at 930, with an average age of 45 years. Since joining the Instructor team, in January 2017 he has doubled the participants in his SH’BAM™ dance class, making it the club’s most popular dance program. Solms has also blazed a trail with indoor cycle class RPM™ to transform it from being the least attended class to the most popular workout on the timetable.
His potential was spotted by another Instructor after seeing him, in his words, “dancing his butt off” at a party. Recognising that he could make a valuable addition to the dance Instructor team, she encouraged him to enrol in the training course for SH’BAM at the tender age of 17. He was excited, but not without trepidation. “I was so nervous on the first day of my Instructor training that I forgot my shoes“, Solms recounts. “After we did the workout in the morning, I only had one thought: I have to get out of here!
“My presentation in the evening was awful. When I came home I shed a few tears and called my Instructor friend. She told me I had two options: give up, or give my best. I chose the second option and practised my allocated track with my mum until three in the morning! I wanted to prove it to everyone – but mostly to myself – that I could do this.
“After my second presentation, the assessor said to me "What the hell happened?" with a huge smile on his face. On the conclusion of the course, he told me that he had never seen such a vast improvement over the course of two days.”
It’s this continuous dedication to self-improvement that has led Solms to teach classes that frequently have 98% occupancy. “When I first started teaching, my classes weren’t doing that well, and I spent a lot of time exploring how I could improve my teaching. I never made excuses, instead, I worked hard on myself and sought feedback from other Instructors and members. I am always trying to improve myself, so I can deliver an even better performance every time.”
A HIT WITH MEMBERS
Solms’ dedication to driving up the standards of his classes is clearly something which resonates with members. He has received countless testimonials and glowing pieces of feedback in his time at Athletic Park, these are just a couple of examples:
“BODYPUMP and RPM are awesome cardio programs in general, but the way you motivate people with your positive energy, reach out to your participants and being authentic all the time is really something that makes me come back to your classes. You're a grounded and honest person. You always show that you love what you're doing and spread that passion in every class. Your character makes people come back to your classes. I know that the classes will be fun even on days when I feel less motivated. I also enjoy seeing your huge development over the last couple of months. Your fitness is going through the roof and it's motivating to see.”
You're always smiling and showing how much fun you're having. Your energy is contagious and uplifting. You motivate me to always give my best. You know how to approach your participants and help them reach their personal limits during the classes. I always walk away from your classes satisfied and happy. Looking forward to next time!”
GOING THE EXTRA MILE
When asked how he consistently maintains his high attendance numbers, Solms explains that it’s the care and respect that he shows to his participants: “Before and after my class, I always make time to speak to the members and get to know them. I always ask new members how they found the class, and remember them when they come back. I try to pick the right moments during the classes to connect with people, and if someone does really well during class I make sure to compliment them in front of the group. My members tell me they can see my love for what I do.
“I think people join my classes because I am who I am. When people see me walking on the streets I'm the exact same guy – just in different clothes and without a microphone. I'm not trying to copy anybody, I’m authentic to being me. I embrace my funny and slightly crazy personality!
Solms explains that the success of the club owes much to the value that the management places on group exercise: “We attach a lot of importance to our classes. I don’t think there are any members that haven’t yet tried a class. BODYPUMP™, BODYBALANCE™ and RPM are the most successful programs in our gym. All of our Instructors are full of passion for our classes and we pass this passion on to the members.
“Sometimes I have members that are struggling with exercise, and I go out of my way to make them feel welcome and smile. My goal is to have my members to forget the struggles of daily life outside the studio, and simply enjoy the thrill of exercise in the moment.”