How to Run Successful Group Fitness Training Sessions

How to Run Successful Group Fitness Training Sessions

Small group training has become a popular fitness option for clients. Group training brings more than just fitness. Interaction with others makes training fun, engaging and also increases accountability to each person further increasing the chances of success in their health and fitness goals.

As with any industry, there are trainers which become more successful than others. They attract more people to their classes, have higher retention and also achieve better results for their clients.

We are going to highlight some of those key areas that make successful trainers who run small group training classes more successful than others.


This is key. You have to be likeable. You have to inspire and you have to be able to bring a certain energy to a class that makes fitness fun. Just yelling instructions just isn’t enough. It’s a delicate balance between strong communications, clear instructions, humor bringing the right amount of energy to the class to motivate different types of clients at different levels. Remember not everyone responds to a Duracell bunny! Understand your audience and apply your energy intelligently. We will cover more on the understanding the needs of your participants in other articles.


Often overlooked or misunderstood, engagement is how you interact with your clients and how you get your clients to interact with each other. Forming relationships is based in engagement. First and most importantly, how you engage with your group is crucial to your successful outcome. Welcome everyone and thank everyone for attending. It takes effort and commitment to turn up on time and want to join a fitness session. Remember the majority, 90% do not exercise anyway, so the ones that do, you need to nurture into your group and give them what they are looking for – goals, community, friendships and most importantly, fun!

One of the most effective ways to build rapport and engage is by remember their names! Make a strong commitment to this. People always respond to their name, and on a subconscious level, knowing you know their name and use their name during class makes each client feel important and valued! During each session, make sure you use each person’s name 2-3 times every class. “Great work Cindy”, Dave, you’re a machine! Keep those knees up”!!

Remembering names also makes it much easier not just for correcting form and giving motivation, using their names makes it easier for you to give clear accurate instructions that you can give in the least amount of time – remember time is of the essence, especially with short 30 minute HIIT sessions for example. A good example of this is when changing stations, exercises or introducing partner exercises to ensure you match individuals appropriately based on size, height, fitness level, strength and gender.

Always integrate some partner or group interaction exercises, or fitness games into your group training. Most group training clients want the interaction, and primarily there for the ‘fun’ aspect of fitness within a community. So make sure you deliver on their needs.

3.Attention to detail

Your ability to identify and correct form on the go is a fundamental skill that will have huge pay offs as a successful group training coach. Many people, and I mean most clients pretty much switch off their brain and listening skills deteriorate in a group fitness session. Another reason why using their names is important is once you have called their name, you are now able to give accurate, short and specific instructions to correct form. Most importantly, focus on the correction, not on what they are doing wrong.

For example, if during any squat based movements, we want them to initiate the movements with their hips, making the movements more hip dominant, rather than knee dominant. We know from our experience that most people will simple drop their knees forward into a squat. So rather than saying “Don’t move your knees forward”, using language like “Hips back”, “weight through your heels”. Do not even mention the word knees, because that is exactly what they will focus on.

This also enables you to give clear instructions from the other side of the room even while you are working with another clients, clearing equipment – further showing all your clients that you are engaged with them even though you are not standing right next to them.

Attention to detail also covers preparing your session in advance, keep your area ctidy, clean and professional.

4. Variety

One of the most common reasons clients stop training is because classes sand training sessions become repetitive and boring. As a coach it is your primary objective to help your clients get results and to have fun in a positive, motivating environment. To get results, programming does need to be progressive as well as appropriate to the needs of the group, so how you scale movements and keep a balance between the fundamental movements and variety of exercise is also essential to your success. This is why planning your group fitness session is so important and we will cover that in the next point.

Variety needs to be delivered in many ways, so let’s get though a few those so you get a better understanding of what are talking about.

Your Voice: Use different tones and decibels at appropriate times to ensure you’re not just yelling, or counting down in the same monotone voice. use it according to the intensity of the sequence, set or part of the class that needs that extra oomph!

Structure: Design your programs in a variety of ways: Circuits, stations, paired circuits, time based, task based, different intervals, resistance based and of course all the equipment you have access too, from bands, dumbbells, kettlebells, sand bags, plyo-boxes, tubes, ropes and each other!

Exercise / movement selection: As mentioned before, the fundamentals are essential. That’s why they are called the fundamentals. What i also teach trainers is that a ‘Squat is not just a squat!!” there are literally hundreds of squat variations you can use, not just body weight squats for 30 seconds. Unilateral and single leg squats, partner squats, floor to standing squats, bench squats, squat rows with TRX, back to back squats, later / side squats, reverse, around the clock, deep, half, goblet – the list goes on.

Fitness games and partner drills: Do your research and come up with fresh new games. There is plenty of information on the internet you can find and invest in ebooks that are design specifically just on partner exercises and fitness games.

Music: Variety the music you use. There nothing worse than hearing the same playlist over and over again. Put time into preparing your different play lists. Clients will definitely notice this, and music will be a key factor in higher retention for your classes.

5. Planning your session

As the saying goes, ‘Fail to plan, plan to fail”. This holds so true in the fitness industry. Planning is everything which it comes to results, experiences, building a community, attracting new clients and retaining your clients.

I’ve seen many trainers think they can remember it all in their head, especially in the outdoor bootcamp type environments where carrying a clipboard may be expresses a lack of experience, proficiency or professionalism. It’s actually quite the opposite.

Ever watched NFL? NFL Coaches ALWAYS have a clipboard with them. That’s their strategic game plan. Keeping your session plan with you is key for success. Without it, you are more likely to forget certain components, go overtime on some drills, less on others and completely forget exercises / drills all together, and going overtime means you won’t have time to complete the session and come across to your clients that you have rushed or are poorly organized.

When you do use that clipboard with your session plan it shows your clients you are organized and ensure you are able to execute your session effectively and timely. If you are conducting your sessions indoors, in a studio, either have your clipboard or using a white board. Then it is always clear for clients to know what’s ahead. Whether you vocalize or write on the whiteboard cover those main points:


Objectives and benefits:

Energy systems

The game plan

Nutrition tip

What’ coming next time!

These are not the only 5, however they are an essential 5 points that you need to consider and implement to be a successful group training coach. Keep in mind too that it’s not just training a session that makes you success. It is your ability to attract clients, having to come back to your classes and telling their friends to come and join. That is called client attraction, retention and lead generation!! Put simply, building your tribe! More on that later.

About the author:

Daniel Remon is the founder of ASPATA  – The Aspire Sports Performance & athletic Training Academy. Twenty years of experience in the global fitness industry, Daniel has worked with Olympic athletes, managing the Olympic athletes training center in London 2012, Technogym master trainer for APAC and coaching fitness trainers from Sydney to Singapore to San Francisco. As well as creating several successful high end personal training studies, CrossFit and functional training studios in Asia.