As group exercise instructors, we put a lot of effort into our class presentation, including our motivational cues, voice and gestures. It’s important to note that even things like our appearance has an impact on what participants think of our class. If we come into class disheveled with our hair always in our face or constantly adjusting our clothes, participants are going to have a reaction. So, it is important to put some time and effort into your group exercise instructor uniform (your workout clothes, hair and overall hygiene) to make sure you’re giving the best impression to your clients.
Appearance is a very personal topic, and it is important to let your personality shine through when you’re teaching. Don’t feel like you have to follow the mold of what you think a “typical group exercise instructor” looks like. Participants truly value authenticity above all else. When it comes to what you wear, there are a couple common questions and dress codes I’ve seen group exercise instructors swear by. I wanted to share these with you today, and then you can decide for yourself if it’s a uniform that fits your style.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when picking out your group exercise instructor uniform.
Will I wear colorful clothes?
Bright colors are super popular right now, so it’s understandable that you want to wear bright colors as you teach. I do think it’s surprising that not all instructors wear colors. Some swear by sticking with neutrals, like black and grey. The argument here is that black is considered a professional, serious color. If you’re wearing all black, folks might look to you as a leader of the room. I do wear a lot of colors, but the one thing I admire about folks that only wear black workout clothes is they always look put together. There’s something about a monochromatic or very blended outfit that looks both effortless and stylish.
Should I teach in just a sports bra?
This is a very touchy question: can you teach in just a sports bra? Nowadays, those high-waisted workout pants make it all the easier to teach in a sports bra and look professional. I would look at the dress code of the other instructors before stripping down, because some gyms are pretty modest. Showing a lot of skin might also make participants uncomfortable, so proceed with caution.
And, speaking of sports bras do your best to make sure your girls are supported during your workout. It’s distracting when an instructor has cleavage or starts jumping and moving in an unsupportive sports bra.
How should I do my hair?
Some instructors will always have their hair falling down, and regularly fix their hair in class. Again, it’s distracting and takes away from the professionalism. I recommend securing your hair as best you can so that it stays put and doesn’t require your attention at all in class.
Should I wear brand names?
Your participants are very impressionable, and the clothing choices you make will have an impact on them. I try to limit the brand names (e.g. Nike) that I wear, because I don’t want to use the power I hold to influence my participants’ consumer decisions. Especially in certain geographic areas I’ve taught in, like the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles, there are a lot of participants that come in expensive workout clothes (think: Lulu Lemon). I want participants to feel comfortable taking my class without needing expensive gear or equipment. I may wear a nice pair of Lulu’s one day, but always try to balance it with non-descript capri pants on other days, as well.
The group exercise instructor uniform is a very sensitive topic. You want to balance your own desire for self-expression with your responsibilities as a role model to your participants. When in doubt, I usually err on the side of caution. If you are ever uncertain about what to wear, I recommend talking to your group exercise director or a colleague you trust.
For more tips, check out the group exercise ideas page.