The Power of Smart Start

Posted in Newsfeed, Smart Start

For most of you we bet you're all too familiar with SMARTSTART and building fitness slowly to create those all important long-term fitness habits. For those of you who haven't got a clue what SMARTSTART is here's your chance to get familiar!

For those instructors who have been with us for years, you’ll know all about the power of SMARTSTART.

But if you’re wondering what on earth we’re on about, let us introduce you. SMARTSTART is the induction system which allows new members to “dip their toes” into group fitness, starting slowly and building their way up to full-length workouts as their fitness improves. Meaning they create long-term habits rather than falling off the wagon early on because of intimidation, too much intensity, or even worse, injury.
The level of satisfaction that our members experience in class has a huge effect on whether or not they come back the following week.

Consider this: 50% of people who start a new exercise regime will drop out within the first six months. If we understand how we can influence our participants’ satisfaction levels, this will help us to get new exercisers addicted to fitness.

Our research has shown that there are three key factors that keep them coming back:


Exercising at high intensity can result in a level of discomfort that can be associated with reduced satisfaction, particularly for beginners. Diving in at the deep end isn’t always a good thing!

Social Connection

We’re sure this won’t be news to you but feeling connected to the group and the instructor plays a huge part in a new member's decision to return to your class the following week.


Perceived competence – Do they feel like they’re doing the moves right? If a new class leaves someone feeling uncoordinated and like a total clutz, they’re unlikely to feel very satisfied about it and probably won’t be coming back.

So how do we make sure new members are feeling high levels of satisfaction and can’t wait to return for another workout?

Our Get Fit Together research showed that the best way to get new members feeling optimum levels of satisfaction and settled into a group fitness habit that sticks was simple: taking it slow.

In fact, the results showed that easing them into a new routine gradually, allowing them to “dip their toes” into the class first, encouraging them to leave early and build their way up to a full class over time, resulted in a 99% adherence to their new routine and huge enjoyment levels, not to mention awesome physical results across the entire group.


When it came to our three key factors; Intensity, Social Connection and Competence, there were a few things that stood out:

  • When it came to intensity, satisfaction was affected by the kind of class they attended – for example participants who rated a cardio class such as BODYATTACK or BODYSTEP as “intense and challenging” they were highly satisfied. But when it came to BODYPUMP and BODYBALANCE – if the class was more intense than anticipated, their satisfaction levels were lower.
  • Feeling connected to the group and the instructor had a huge influence on satisfaction, especially in the early days of their new routine. This connection allowed participants to cope with the discomfort of exercise, and therefore increased their enjoyment of the workout.
  • Finally, when we looked at competence, the beginner participants were more satisfied when there was technical and clear instruction, enabling them to execute the movements well. Not to mention that starting with fewer tracks means less to take in, avoiding technical overload for their first few classes!


  • At the beginning of each class ensure you make everyone, in particular new participants, aware that they can leave at any point throughout the class, starting with just half a class and then adding a track per week until they feel confident with the whole class. Remember to reinforce this half-way through the relevant track – check out your Masterclass video every release for the programme-specific tracks. Check the suggested cues from the presenters.
  • Remember: new participants require a more structured and planned approach than your regulars. They still enjoy being pushed to their limits in the cardio classes, but we need to progress people more slowly in BODYBALANCE and BODYPUMP.
  • Using clear instructions that will enable new people to get comfortable with the moves in the early stages will improve their skill levels, giving them the freedom to enjoy the energy of the class later on.
  • It’s vital that your members feel connected to you the instructor, and to the workout. For tips on how to create awesome connection in your classes, check out the education session with the programme directors on the previous release!

Our range of SMARTSTART resources are available for you to share with your members and get them started with exercise the right way – introduce them gradually and encourage them to leave after the first few tracks of a new class.

Click here to access the education articles you can share with members

Click here
to access the downloadable workout planner

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