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Improving Your Communication Skills as a Group Fitness Trainer

A group fitness class with people performing donkey kicks.

Most group fitness instructors are used to teaching and instructing classes and groups of various sizes, with people from varying backgrounds, fitness levels, ages, and genders.

There’s often a healthy mix of individuals who are familiar with the activity or movements and complete novices, and it’s your job to find ways to connect with all of them across the board.

This means your communication skills need to be incredibly strong and effective, and there are several ways you can work to improve them and address any gaps you feel exist. Here are some tips and strategies to better your communication as a certified group exercise instructor:

Work on building a rapport with clients

The hallmark of a good group fitness trainer is their ability to build rapport with all their clients. You don’t need to be on a first-name or inside-joke basis with them, but it does help to get to know them, at least for the duration of your training period. Understand them on a more personal basis rather than seeing them as a random group.

Hear them out when they express their concerns, share their goals, and discuss motivating factors. This will automatically set you apart from other fitness trainers and make it easier for them to trust you.

Several women on stationary bikes work out during spin class.

Adopt the practice of active listening

In order to communicate more effectively, you need to be able to listen better. Active listening is a practice that is becoming central to all professions, not just fitness because it’s vital for individuals to implement and practice it in their dealings with clients. While you may not get the same type of opportunity to talk to clients the way you would while personal training, you still need to listen to what they say. Don’t zone out, dismiss, or downplay what they’re telling you; really focus on what they’re saying and expressing. Repeat phrases, acknowledge and process things they say, and refer to things they mention in order to let them know you hear them.

Develop more empathy and understanding

Every good fitness professional needs to practice empathy. You can’t work in this field without a deeper sense of empathy and commitment to your clients, including issues with their health, body image issues and insecurity, and various other problems or concerns they express.

You’re there to help and motivate them, as opposed to shaming and berating them, and that’s why you need to remember that they are coming from a place of wanting to do better. Being aggressive or rude about their current fitness levels, physique, body size, or shape, or forcing them to do things that they don’t want, or aren’t good for them, is going to push them away rather than encourage them.

Develop a more empathetic vocabulary and enhance your approach to fitness and health, motivating them using kinder, gentler language, prompts, and techniques.

Fitness clients stretch sideways during a fitness class in a studio.

Demonstrate and instruct with confidence

Your clients are paying you for your expertise, and you should own that with confidence. Whenever you demonstrate or instruct in your classes, do so with confidence and surety. A lack of self-belief, hesitation, or double-mindedness in a trainer is evident to the client and can affect their confidence in you too.

Any time you communicate with them, whether it’s demonstrating an exercise, correcting their form, or sharing fitness information, you should be confident in your skills and knowledge, allowing them to trust in your abilities and your knowledge. Confidence is contagious, after all, and you should learn to use it to your advantage!

Ask them relevant and clear questions

Another thing many group fitness trainers should work on is their ability to ask questions. You want to ask questions that are clear, relevant and welcoming, rather than close-ended and generic. For instance, ask a question about where they’re feeling the effect of a particular exercise or movement rather than asking if they’re feeling it. Or ask your training group how they would want you to improve the class or workout, rather than asking if there’s room for improvement.

The clearer and more specific a question is, the better their response to it will be and the more use you’ll get out of the answer. You can do this by developing a set of questions that you need answers to and adding them to your workout classes, feedback sessions, or even communicating them online as a starting point.

A fitness instructor sits on a stage in front of the rest of the class.

Focus on improving non-verbal communication

In addition to all the ways you can improve verbal cues and communication, including listening, speaking, and questioning, you also need to work on your non-verbal communication skills.

Examine and be aware of your body language, including your posture, your expressions, how professional but welcoming you are, and your general presence. Your body language and non-verbal communication are a part of the package when it comes to client interactions, and the last thing you want is to be closed off and seem aggressive.

As a group fitness instructor and trainer, you should work on your delivery, tone, body language, and other non-verbal cues that will impact how you are perceived by your clients. Since you’ll be working with them in groups, they need to be able to connect with you collectively and individually and know that you are approachable and open to hearing them out.

Apart from registering for various courses and training sessions or certifications, you also need to have well-rounded soft skills such as better communication abilities. You can sign up for our group fitness instructor training, as well as obtain various personal training certifications to improve your communication skills.

We have various courses that you can specialize in, including nutrition, senior fitness training, sports conditioning, pregnancy fitness specialization, and much more, in addition to these.

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