Thursday, August 1, 2013

Engaging The “Back-Row” Member

Most group fitness instructors with full classes do a fantastic job of delivering great motivational and technical cues, while infusing a “fun-factor” into their class experience.  The place where so many fall short is in their efforts to really connect with the "back row" members.  “Back-row” members are typically in the back row for a reason. For many, it’s their first time participating or they feel self-conscious about working out in front of other people. They often arrive right on time or a little late and sneak out early if they can manage to do so discreetly. Many of them have made continuous, but inconsistent attempts to sustain a pattern of healthy habits.  They are willing to invest some time in exercise, but need personal support and direction on how to use this time wisely. A group fitness instructor can make or break a member’s experience, which is why it is so vital that the instructor engage the first-time and “back-row” members to create an environment that will encourage them to come back.

Engaging a “back row" member can be quite simple if the right steps are taken.  Here's five helpful tips to maximize their experience.

1. Acknowledge them, but don't single them out.
Don't make the mistake of asking new members to raise their hands.  Most of these members enter a class feeling a little insecure. An instructor's job is to make them feel welcome and comfortable.  Approach them with a smile, introduce yourself, and a give them a few helpful tips.

2.  Make eye contact.
It's crucial to let these members know you haven't forgotten about them as the class progresses.  An easy way to do this is to make   eye contact with them a few times throughout the class.  This will motivate them to push themselves and remind them that you care about           their experience.

3.  Cater to these members with helpful cues.
Cue in a way that specifically helps them and still speaks to your regular attendees.  The more clear and concise the instructor is, the better the member's performance and overall experience will be.
4.  Remind them that practice makes perfect, or at least progress.
Many "back row" members have tried a variety of classes without knowing that it's important to take a new class at least three times to judge whether the class is right for them and can help them achieve their fitness goals.  As an instructor, it's your job to inform them and get them to return.

5.  Always invite them back!
Let new class members know that you would love to hear their feedback and you are happy to answer any questions they may have.  Finally, thank them for trying your class and show your gratitude by asking them to return.

Instructors can be the difference-maker between a “back-row” member giving up, or becoming an engaged fan for life. Share these simple and subtle tips with your instructors and give them tools to create an environment that not only attracts newcomers, but keeps them coming back!

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