The COVID-19 pandemic is a timely reminder that staying fit and healthy remains one of our best defences. With this in mind, it’s likely that you will see a wave of exercise beginners in your classes post lockdown.


Use the SMART START guidelines to help beginners build the fitness habit. For the newcomer to exercise, two sessions a week as a starting point is plenty – with completing three being a bonus. It can be easy to forget that the weekly workout volume of the average Instructor is huge! Moving from a relatively sedentary lifestyle to a more active one can be a massive step for people; encourage them to dip their toes, rather than trying to complete a workout every day which may feel unachievable. And if you’ve got new people coming to your HIIT classes, share the research around the optimal amount of this type of training for maximum benefits.


Allow people to take control of their workout. This starts with your class introduction, where you can give new people permission to leave before the end of the workout. 20 minutes is a good starting amount, encouraging them to stay a little longer each session until they eventually build up to the full class. “They always give me a look of relief when I say they don’t have to stay for the whole class,” says Instructor Lizzie Ellins-Stagg. “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 them if they do leave. Plus then they feel even prouder of themselves if they do stay for the whole class.”

Tailor the workout to the people in front of you. Most Les Mills programs offer modifications to increase or decrease the movement intensity. Choose your words carefully and “sell” the lower intensity options with positivity. Rather than saying, “if you can’t do this,” try: “if this isn’t you today then do XYZ…” or explain why somebody might choose a lower intensity option eg “if your lower back is lifting [in an abdominal extension] try lifting the legs and arms higher”.


When we take up a new skill, we want two things: we want to know how to do it, and we want to feel good about our efforts.

Suggest to new people to focus on just the first few things you say when you do the move; Layer 1 is all about telling people how to do the move: which direction, body part, rhythm, compulsory cues… this is the stuff that is really important for our newcomers to exercise.

“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,” says Instructor Aggy Clive.

Layer 3 is the other coaching layer that will make a difference to your new people. This is where we use praise, celebrate people’s efforts and motivate them to keep going, and this is the other key moment for your new people. We want our members to leave class feeling great, and Layer 3 is one of the key ingredients to making this happen. Aggy Clive adds, “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!”


In a post-COVID-19 world, everyone is going to be more aware of the importance of staying fit and healthy. With this in mind, what benefits are going to resonate with your class? Whether it’s the improvement to their mental health from BODYBALANCE™/BODYFLOW® or to their cardiovascular system from BODYCOMBAT™, think about why people have come to your class today; what can you say that will make them feel compelled to return next week?