GroupFitPower is excited to present guest blogger Biray Alsac. Biray is the CEO of the FITmaxx institute and blogs at Be Fit With Biray. Biray will be sharing her wisdom and expertise with us to keep things at GroupFitPower pumping while Krista takes some downtime to be pregnant. We are certain you are going to get great things from her contributions. Welcome Biray!
I recently reconnected with a fitness colleague who, after the birth of her son, left teaching to focus on being a full-time mom. She was an excellent instructor and most of the members were sad to see her ‘retire’. Last week she emailed me to see if I’d be interested in subbing a class for her. “I didn’t know you were teaching again” I said, surprised. She explained how she had missed teaching aerobics, but found that picking up classes at a club was no longer financially lucrative (i.e. childcare costs, drive time, gas prices, class flexibility, etc). So she began piloting fitness classes out of her garage, and wanted me to be the week’s guest instructor.
On my way home from ‘subbing’ her class, I started thinking about the advantages and limitations of teaching group exercise classes from the home. What would it take to launch your very own group exercise department? Unlike in-home personal training, where the focus is more on one-one training and individual program design, the primary appeal of group fitness is its social dynamics, community structure and format variety. Could this be replicated in the home? And be a reasonable alternative to ‘picking up more classes’?
1) Targeting a Different Audience: Offering classes from your home (on the driveway or backyard) can attract a demographic unlike those who regularly attend your classes. Individuals who may be intimidated or hesitant to working out at a gym might find these ‘neighborhood’ classes a worthwhile alternative. TIP: Think of ways you can create a welcoming environment by offering something different from the health-club experience.
2) Reinforcing Community, Not Class Content: Exercise adherence isn’t usually a problem for our gym go-ers (if it were, they wouldn’t be called ‘regulars’). Instructors are often pressured to pepper our classes with trendy music and innovative choreography to keep our members ‘happy’. However, the goals of an at-home class are more about encouraging new habits, and less about creating complicated content. Keeping at-home participants ‘happy’ means simple class designs and more opportunities to reinforce their commitment. TIP: Focus on building a supportive community among your members via email or through a class blog.
3) Cost effective alternative: Besides saving drive time and gas money, your participants might find this to be a better alternative to the exorbitant membership fees at a local club. What you charge, is really up to you. But keep it comparable to what you get paid per class. TIP: If you make $20-30 per class, charge around $5 per person and focus on getting 5-7 members to your house.
1) Equipment: Most of us may not have the money to buy a bunch of Reebok steps, Resist-a-Balls, stretching mats and various weights. This can be a limitation, but it can also be an advantage. Sometimes you can create the best workouts with zero (or minimal) equipment. Other times, they are effective training tools to creating variety in a workout. TIP: One way around this limitation is by having your participants bring their own equipment.
2) Legal Considerations: At a fitness facility, instructors have some legal protection through their employers in the event of an emergency*. If you are teaching from home, it is important to have written consent signed by your participants in case something happens during your class. TIP: Purchase liability insurance for your professional services. Check out providers through IDEA or ACE/Fitness Pak.
3) Limited Amenities: Unless you have a big house with extra space, you may be limited by your surroundings. Often times, the comforts of the gym (wooden spring floor, restrooms, wall mirrors, state of the art stereo system) are not conveniently available at a home. TIP: Use the driveway or a local park for extra space.
Could this be a stepping stone to developing a small group personal training business or to programming outside the traditional group exercise room? Sure! There are plenty of crossovers into these areas. But this post was primarily about inspiring group exercise instructors to take advantage of their strengths and extend their services into other spaces. Think of it as guerilla group exercise, quality programming on the streets!
Who knows, eventually your efforts may turn your newbies into your regulars.
*Check your employment contract or consult a lawyer for your legal rights.