Being a group fitness instructor means you must always be ready to make a good first impression—whether you’re a sub in a roomful of participants who don’t know you or greeting a handful of new students in your own class.
You only have a few crucial minutes at most to create a great first impression, but if you can win participants over early, they’ll be more likely to trust you as a group fitness instructor.
And, of course, people’s initial judgments stick—group fitness participants who like you will be more motivated to attend your class again and tell others about it. Here are four simple ways (and one bonus tip) to make a stellar first impression at the start of every class you teach.
1. Come Prepared
The more organized you are for class before you even set foot in the group exercise studio, the more opportunity you create for greeting participants—smiling, making eye contact, learning names, offering equipment advice, etc.
Picture an instructor who’s distractedly digging through a gym bag, head down and focused inward, versus one who can stride into the studio with enough focus and free time to look around and connect with participants.
Group fitness participants often have ample time to observe you before class as they stand in the studio and wait for the workout to begin—what you do (or don’t do) in the time before class influences their first impression of you.
2. Dress Professionally
Everyone has their own style, and unless the club where you teach group fitness has a dress code for staff, you can express yourself freely. Consider how your clothes communicate that you’re the class leader—right or wrong, people make snap judgments about appearance.
When I first started teaching group fitness at a university gym, I’d show up in old t-shirts, sweat pants cut into shorts and whatever athletic shoes I also wore around campus. My rationale was: Why get too dressed up just to exercise?
But the instructor isn’t there “just to exercise.” It’s a job. Once I started teaching at other fitness studios, I quickly realized that looking more polished on the job—wearing professional workout attire and clean shoes that I only used in the studio—made a better first impression with a range of group fitness participants.
3. Introduce Yourself With Confidence
Every instructor knows that before you hit play on the workout music, you’re expected to say