How to Keep Your Fitness Class Engaged and Motivated

As a fitness instructor, you have a job that everyone can benefit from. People come to you to help them get and stay in shape, and it’s up to you to do this in a way that resonates with each person.

Some people view fitness as a way to help them get the body they want, but they don’t enjoy exercise. Others are fitness lovers who work out because of how good it makes them feel. Most people are somewhere in between the two extremes.

Since everyone who comes to your fitness class has unique reasons for being there, keeping them all engaged is challenging. They trust you to lead them to their goals, which requires preparation and creativity on your part.

How can you keep your fitness class engaged and motivated, regardless of their reason for attending? Much of this comes down to your credentials and knowledge and what you can offer that other teachers can’t. Consider investing in certifications that attract more students, like cycle bars or Zumba training.

Beyond your knowledge and certifications is the importance of knowing the psychology of human nature. Use these tips, and you’ll have happier students who want to show up to your lessons consistently.

  1. Treat Each Person as an Individual

You know how good it feels when someone takes the time to get to know your name and a little about you. Pass that feeling on to your students by learning their names and some surface-level information. What are their fitness goals? Hobbies? Jobs? 

Make sure to do this organically. A lot of adults still don’t like the attention on them, so singling someone new out in front of the rest of the class, or going around and having each person introduce themselves isn’t always appreciated.

Consider sending a “getting to know you” email to new attendees introducing yourself and asking for any helpful information in return. This communication personalizes you and makes you seem approachable, which then makes nervous members feel more comfortable.

  1. Recognize Hard Work

Some of your students have natural athletic and fitness skills. It’s easy to spotlight them as the “model” class members. But while these individuals shouldn’t be ignored, don’t forget to give kudos to those who show up and give their best, even if they’re still tripping and stumbling. 

Giving accolades to students who likely feel like they’re not doing well because they’re not “as good” as others goes a long way. Their self-esteem increases, and they’ll keep working hard. You never know who is thinking about giving up, and that random encouragement may be all it takes to push them to continue.

In the same vein, though, correcting wrong actions is a part of your job. You can’t let someone keep making the wrong body motions simply because you don’t want them to feel bad. Their movements won’t get them the results they want and could cause injury. 

The key is to make positive corrections. Don’t say, “You’re doing that wrong.” Instead, compliment something they’re doing right, then show them the proper positioning for whatever is incorrect. Circle back around and compliment them when they have the technique down. 

  1. Play Music That Gets the Blood Pumping

Your class is full of people with unique tastes in music, so finding something that gets everyone excited to move is a challenge. If you prefer a specific era that you rock out to regularly, consider making that part of the theme of your fitness group. 

You can change the era based on the time and day, too. For example, Tuesday and Thursday morning classes might be Sweatin’ to the Oldies-style ‘50s and ‘60s music, and Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, clients know they’ll be working out to current hits. 

Eventually, people will learn their preferred music style and choose their lesson times according to the music that you play. Be open to accepting playlists and favorite songs from regular students, too.

  1. Create Challenges

Something about human nature makes us all step up our routines if there’s a good challenge involved. Consider your students’ fitness levels, and create a challenge that is just outside of their comfort zone. Note that you don’t want to push them to try something so hard that they could get hurt.

Challenges can be anything from showing up at every lesson for one month to fitness competition. But remember, your challenge is only as good as your reward. Some people will join the challenge because they love to win, but most people need something to entice them to work harder.

Consider what you can offer as a carrot to motivate people to stay engaged in your class. You’ll know your students best. Would they work toward something like “Pick the Playlist for One Week,” or do they need something tangible, such as a trophy or gift card?

Once you have the details of the challenge and the reward in place, roll it out via email and in person so everyone knows the rules. This written accountability will help later if anyone argues that they didn’t know how to win.


Over the last few years, the fitness industry has seen a spike in people focusing on their well-being. Getting students to your class isn’t the hard part, but once they’re there, it’s up to you to keep them engaged and motivated. Use these four strategies, plus your fitness skills and knowledge, to attract and retain loyal members.

Related Articles

Latest Articles

All Categories