How to Motivate and Inspire Group Fitness Class Participants

Posted by Alex Isaly
How to Motivate and Inspire

Having an authentic connection with your participants is absolutely essential when it comes to delivering a great group fitness class experience. So how do you do this?

One way is through motivation and inspiration. What makes group fitness so unique is that it fosters an environment that brings people together with different fitness levels, goals and purposes.

It’s essential for group fitness instructors to have strong skill sets to connect with such a variety of individuals in a way that resonates with each participant, giving them a sense of accomplishment and success in each and every class.

Typically when we think of “motivating” and “inspiring,” we focus more on what we say, using terms like “go faster”…“push harder”…“you can do this”…”you can do anything for 30 seconds.”

These phrases can work well for some but not everyone.

How you communicate to your participants, verbally and non-verbally, can have a big impact on how they perform and create a sense of wanting to do better. This all translates to a room full of energetic, hardworking fitness enthusiasts with one common goal in mind and that’s to get through a great workout.

Here are six inspirational and motivational coaching tips that you can incorporate into every class and will keep your participants coming back for more:


1. Speak to the WHY…

If a participant understands the reason behind the class structure and the benefits of the exercises, it will help facilitate a better connection and purpose for them to perform the workout.

They want to hear the WHY.

Tell them how the exercise is going to help them move better, how the sequencing of exercises is going to make them stronger and improve their performance, or how doing this workout over the next couple of weeks is going to help them lose those last few pounds that refuse to go away.

Those are great sound bites for motivation and inspiration. Remember, a participant never steps into the studio by accident. They walk in with purpose. So coach to the WHY and let them know how it’s going to help get them to their goals.

2. Let the music be the assistant coach

It’s ok to be quiet at times during the class and just let the music take the lead. Your music should match or be in sync with the perceived effort needed by the participants.

For most participants, music can be the best form of driving motivation and inspiration. Walk around the gym and you will see that over 90% of the people working out have headphones on with music playing.

Also, have purposeful ‘no talking into the mic’ moments during class. Tell, show, and then let them do so they can focus on the objective.

3. Use voice inflection

Screaming into the mic all class doesn’t always mean that you are going to motivate someone to work hard. The fact is, it will probably do the opposite.

Put some inflection in your voice. Be mindful of your volume and tone. Use a blend of speaking with authority to speaking softly. Force them to listen hard when you are coaching.

4. Get off the stage and engage

Moving around the studio giving high fives or knuckles is a great way to show your participants that you are genuinely interested in how well they are doing. Just having a physical presence around a participant will create motivation for them because they want you to see them working hard and improving.

5. Create a sense of community

Create an environment that fosters a sense of community. Remember that’s what group fitness is all about.

Even though everyone has different goals and objectives, being in a studio with others while everyone is performing the same task can create a tremendous amount of energy and drive participants to be more motivated and inspired to complete the task at hand.

For example, make references to the group that they are a part of the team. It’s the team’s mission to do the best that they can. Also, encourage participants to high five their neighbors during breaks.

6. Challenge participants to compete against themselves

Let’s face it. We can all be a little competitive at times and competition can be a great motivator to perform better.

Find ways in class to challenge the participants to get gritty against themselves. It doesn’t always have to be in the context of whoever can do the most compared to the rest of the class. That will likely occur naturally. Structure and coach the class so that it appears it’s about them competing against themselves.

By incorporating these tips into your classes, you will set your participants up for success and help them stay focused, motivated and inspired to do the best they possibly can every time.

About the Author:

Learn more about
how to become a
group fitness instructor.
Speak with one our
AFAA Program Advisors. Chat Now