1. Be encouraging
“A lot has to do with the welcoming - being open and friendly, without being TOO much and making someone feel uncomfortable or calling attention to them - feeling it out. Sometimes if it is a pair of friends, they enjoy the attention. Going super light in BODYPUMP in that first class is key and convincing them that it is and getting them on board is sometimes another challenge. I always tell them they can put the weight down at any time and that it is more important to focus on the form than how much weight they are using. Eye contact during class, smiling and connecting are all so important to new participants!”
“I let them know we have all had a first class. That awkward feeling is normal. Focus on form, ask me any questions after. I make myself accessible, even when I’m on lunch break and have to run back to work. Most of all, be friendly.”
Leslie Belk Winter
“After class, I always mention the number one difference between those who start an exercise program and stick with it and those who quit within two months is the inability to perceive short-term gains. We all have long term goals (look better, be healthier) but they're long term. Don't get discouraged that it doesn't happen in 6 weeks. If you perceive short-term gains (higher energy level, taller posture, etc.), you'll know you're in the right track even when the long term benefits haven't kicked in yet. Treat them as if they've just taken their first step to being a long-term regular and they're more likely to become a long-term regular.”
2. Use Smart Start
“Smart start.... they always give me a look of relief when I say they don’t have to stay for the whole class. The majority of them do stay in the end but I think they like the fact it’s a choice and no one will judge if they do leave. Plus then they feel even prouder of themselves if they do stay for the whole class.”
“I tell them that if they choose Smart Start, to just leave their equipment and I’ll put it away for them. Having to put it all away in the middle of class draws a lot of attention when they probably don’t want any on them.”
3. Introduce them to your regulars
“Introduce them to the regulars if it’s a class that is more like your extended family.”
“Apart from welcoming, setting them up and the occasional smile or wink their way; my number 1 tip would be to get them buddy up with a regular. Makes them both feel special. The regular will def help in their best way possible AND sell your class to them because they already love you and the class.”
Charissa Van Der Leeden-Groeneweg
4. They don’t have to get it right!
“One of the things I always tell them (with great care, of course) is that they will not get it right on the first time out, and probably not even on the second or third. That they need to be patient with themselves; that it is a learning process for everyone in the room (including the instructor) each and every time they come to class. Also, I make sure they know not to compare themselves to other participants who seem to have "figured it out" before them. The way people learn and grow is going to be different for every participant. At the end, I make sure they know how proud I am of them for trying it at all, encourage them to keep coming back - despite their hesitations - and remind them that as long as they are moving, they are getting closer to their goal.”
“I tell them to just go light, enjoy the music and start to get used to the way we move in BODYPUMP, I tell them it will take a few classes for it all to click and not to worry, just enjoy it and let it happen in its own time. After the intro I will then leave them alone (I will make eye contact and wink or nod but not speak directly to them) - unless they’re smashing it, in which case I say “Are you SURE you’re new?!” which always gives them a lift!”
“Introduce myself, ask what questions they have, and if they've tried GX before. Then I help them set up, or, if I can't, I introduce them to one of my regulars and ask them to help out.
Then I remind them that my biggest goal is to keep them moving, so if anything feels weird or they don't quite get it, just modify or keep moving and we can chat after class about it.
Finally, I follow up. Ask how class was, what their fitness goals are, and recommend other GX classes that might help with those goals. Remind them to feed their body, drink plenty of water, and that the soreness they'll feel is normal, but if there's anything they're concerned about, they can pop in next week and we can chat about form!
It's not just a conversation at the beginning that reels them in. I find people come back when you follow up and ask questions and show interest in them and their health, rather than just them being in your class.”