Tina Strawn, an established group fitness instructor in Atlanta and her hometown of Houston, shares her advice with Simply Amazing Living on how other group fitness instructors can create classes that stand out within the competitive fitness industry. This article was written by Tina Strawn.
Special Event/Themed Fitness Classes
“Gyms and studios across Atlanta offer many different types of classes every day, all day. But what makes your class stand out? Why is your class different from all the rest? And how do you get people to know about your class anyway? Well, one way is to offer special events. I recently held a special event that brought 50 people together for an awesome 75-minute workout that included a relevant and positive message.
Strike Out Against Racism
I teach a weekly Strike class (which is a cardio kickboxing group fitness format) every Wednesday morning at Life Time Athletic Atlanta in Sandy Springs. My Studio Manager asked me to do a themed Strike class so I wanted to do something different and something that is important to me. So considering that Strike is about simulating combat and fighting, I came up with the idea to Strike Out Against Racism. My intention with the #SOAR class was to bring awareness to everyone’s ability to strike out against racism in a way that everyone could receive and participate in. I carefully selected this theme and this title because I felt that as a Strike class and as a fitness community, we could send a message against racism that would be impactful, inclusive, relevant and positive.
Design your own theme class!
If you are interested in turning one of your regular classes into a special one-time event or a themed class that will attract a larger crowd, here are some easy steps to take:
- Obtain Corporate approval, or if you teach at a privately owned studio or gym, get club owner approval to host an event. Explain what it is you are trying to convey with your event or themed class, and let them know your objective. I emailed back and forth with my Corporate team a few times so they could understand my intention and feel good about approving it.
- Invite other instructors to participate. Everything is better when you bring more people on board. I selected 4 other instructors to share the stage with me and this was important to me because it made the theme wide-reaching and inclusive. I didn’t want my event to be about just one person, I wanted it to be about ALL of us. So having five featured instructors really conveyed that. Also, you will expand your ability to draw participation with multiple instructors because not only are your students going to come, now other instructors’ students will want to come too.
- Try to extend the length of class from what it usually is by at least 15 or 30 minutes. People love extended classes from time to time. They know they will get an even better and harder workout if its longer than the typical hour. This will also allow for plenty of time for multiple instructors to teach in 10-15 minute blocks each.
- See if you can provide healthy snacks, beverages or prizes. Depending what your facility is like, this could be anything from smoothies to protein bars to simple (or extravagant) door prizes like a free massage. Reach out to local stores or vendors and partner with them to provide items or product samples for free.
- Create a social media campaign around your themed class. Come up with hashtags to use specifically for the event. Give each guest instructor their own hashtag (assign one or allow them to come up with their own). Create memes or images with instructor pics and blast them everywhere on social media to promote. Tag people and start creating buzz! Be consistent with posting about your event, and just posting once isn’t going to cut it. About a week and a half leading up to the event, you should be posting something a little different (but always include your event details) as often as every other day.
- Encourage everyone to dress up or wear a particular color. Have the instructors wear matching outfits or matching shirts. This will especially look good when taking pics and video on the day of the event.
- Start planning way ahead of time. Once you come up with the theme idea, set a date at least 30 days out and begin putting together the details, communicating with the other guest instructors and working with your manager on logistics. Once you have the instructors lined up and the structure of the class organized, start promoting heavily! Put up flyers if you can, but especially utilize the power of social media and blast your event everywhere. The more time you give yourself to get the word out, the greater your turnout will be!
- Offer it as a free class if at all possible so people will be encouraged to invite their friends. Free classes are always a great way to get people in the door to try your class and hopefully make them want more.
- Decorate the space if possible. Have posters made. Get some props to be used for some fun photo ops! Be creative!
- Weave in sound bites around the theme during the class to further send the message so that it is a memorable experience and to reinforce the why.
The feedback I received about Strike Out Against Racism was incredible! Everyone had a great time working out and getting to experience different instructors and their teaching styles. And people loved being a part of something bigger as we encouraged them to get to know someone who doesn’t look like them. A reason I feel that it was so successful was because of our focus on the details. We started on time, kept the class moving (transitioned very smoothly from one instructor to the next), we were supportive of each other and we as the instructor team communicated often leading up to the event so we were all on the same page. We were all very bought into the theme and felt strongly about this class being more than just a workout. We even had a quick, guided Metta Meditation right before the event kicked off to help set the mood of each of us being the light and being the change and recognizing that our fight against racism starts with us as individuals. So much fun, so many smiles, so much sweat, and lots of love! Everyone can’t wait to do it again!”
I attended the Strike Out Against Racism class and it was incredible. So much positive energy radiating from every class participant and instructors. This class was a much-needed reminder that we have more similarities than differences and that we should respect everyone regardless of those differences.
Tina Strawn is a wife and mother of 3 who has been a fitness professional for over 11 years. She teaches multiple group fitness classes including Yoga, Cycle, Strike and Barbell Strength. Tina is devoted to the art of Yoga and is currently working towards her 500 hour and her second 200 hour Yoga teaching training certification. Tina and her family relocated from Houston, TX to East Cobb, GA two years ago and considers herself a chooser of love, a follower of joy, and a jumper.