As the fitness industry gets ever more competitive – and myriad fitness apps continue to appear – how can we ensure we’re creating an unmissable class experience that will keep our members coming back? We asked some of the biggest crowd-puller names on the New Zealand group fitness timetable to share their secrets.
MAKE IT FUN
“It has to be FUN!” says Suli Tuitaupe, a stalwart of the Les Mills club in Christchurch, New Zealand, since 2002 and one of the legendary names on the group fitness timetable. “I love connecting my members to the workout, the music, the sense of community with each other, putting a smile on their faces. I create a party atmosphere and I love themed classes, so I give each class I teach a party name: Party PUMP Tuesday, Wicked Wednesday RPM, Church of Attack Sunday. I teach Christmas classes too, to share some cheer with those who may not have anyone to share the day with.”
Fellow Christchurch Instructor and BODYATTACK™ Masterclass Presenter Bevan James Eyles agrees: “It’s about looking for the fun. There’s a journey within the workout and there’s times to be aggressive or challenging but there’s also those times to be silly and have fun. That’s my mentality: respect the class, respect the workout, and look for the fun.”
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MEMBERS
“I never forget that it’s about the people in front of me,” says Mark Sinclair, who has been an Instructor at Les Mills Auckland City for 28 years. “I worked out really early on that the class is not about me, but about helping the people in the room. Someone can be having the worst day ever and our job is to get them out of that. So my advice is to be yourself and not think it’s all about you. It’s about the members.”
Bevan adds: “There was a period in my career when I slacked off a bit, didn’t learn my choreography properly and taught the same tracks all the time. But I’ve returned to being extremely disciplined in my preparation for class. I practise before every class now and I change my playlists every week. It’s about showing respect for your class by doing the work. I take the approach that it’s my responsibility as an Instructor to push myself to my limits in every single class.”
“My members know I’ve got their back,” says Auckland Trainer Khiran Huston. “They can rely on me, they know they're getting all of my authentic, raw, unfiltered energy every time, irrespective of the program, time of day, or how many other people are in class. If you're turning up, I AM TURNING IT UP YO!”
MAKE PEOPLE FEEL IMPORTANT
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a hardcore regular or a new member: my commitment is that you will be acknowledged, whether there’s one person or 111 people in the room, and I’ll aim to deliver your best workout yet,” adds Suli. “I want my members walking out feeling satisfied, buzzing and ready to face the day ahead.”
“Suli literally knows everyone’s name, and if he has a new person in the class, he makes sure he knows them before they leave,” confirms Les Mills International Training Director Maureen Baker. “And it’s not just their name. He knows and remembers stuff about them and their families: what they do, what they like, what challenges they have. If he knows someone is struggling to get to class, he’ll often go and pick them up.”
SHOW YOUR PERSONALITY
“Don’t be a robot – be yourself,” says Mark. “Take the information from the [Les Mills] Masterclass and deliver it in your own way.
“Remember, it’s not us telling the members what to do, it’s us asking them to do it. It’s a conversation between the Instructor and the participants. Use language that you would like someone to use with you. And adapt to the people in front of you. If you’ve got a mid-morning class full of mothers, read the women’s magazines and come up with ideas of what you can talk about. The other day I mentioned a woman who married her 300-year-old ghost! This kind of stuff makes you more relatable.”
Mid Thomas, former Training Manager for Les Mills New Zealand, adds: “When you walk on that stage you have the opportunity to influence the people in front of you. You get a chance to make their life better and it’s about being free and present in the moment. To do this, don’t allow yourself to be held back by self-doubt. My most powerful moments in class have been when I’ve spoken from my heart and truly represented who I am on stage.”
ENGAGE YOUR MEMBERS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Promoting your timeslots on social media is a great way to reach a wider audience, create hype around your classes, and maintain a dialogue with members beyond the end of the workout.
“The biggest benefit of social media is filling your classes,” says Program Director Rachael Newsham. “When you post on social, you automatically reach a wider audience and you can keep people updated with when you’re doing covers, telling them what tracks you’re going to teach… it’s a way to keep the conversation going outside of class, and helps your members feel more connected with you. And at the end of the day, we all want to feel connected.”
BUILD A COMMUNITY WITHIN THE CLASS
“You know, I say to my class – we see each other more frequently than we see our families. And so it’s so much more than a workout,” says Bevan. “I try to meet the people in my class and encourage them to talk to each other. We spend a lot of time with our members and you can really create some cool friendships. You know, your class might be the highlight of their day. Embrace the people around you, say hello and get to know them. Over time, you can develop some pretty amazing, lifelong friendships.”
Suli agrees: “It’s about building a lifelong relationship with people. A couple of years ago, I was walking down a street in another city when I noticed someone from a class from years back. I asked how she was and we had a chat. She wrote into Les Mills Christchurch, impressed that I knew her name and was genuinely interested in how she was doing in her life.”
“Our members pay for us to give them an experience, so I want them to give them their money’s worth and more,” he concludes. “We live in a competitive environment and I want them to choose us – Les Mills Christchurch – as their place of physical activity, happiness and wellbeing.”