Group Fitness Instructor Tips for Small Class Sizes

Group fitness instructor teaching a small class

Sometimes beyond all of our control, we show up to teach our group fitness class only to find just a couple participants ready to join in. I know firsthand that this can feel embarrassing and stressful. But, when there are holidays like Presidents’ Day, or it’s the first beautiful sunshine-y Saturday after months of gloomy weather, it’s hard to fault your regulars that decide to skip class. Here are a few group fitness instructor tips for making the most of smaller class sizes.

  1. Do not focus on what (or who) is missing.

A natural reaction to walking into a seemingly empty room is to ask, “Where is everyone?” However, you do not want to call attention to the fact that your class is small today. If you focus on what’s missing, you make it seem like the participants that did show up are not important. Why give any extra energy or attention to the folks that aren’t there when you could be instead focusing on giving the ones that did show up the best workout of their lives?

  1. Frame the small group fitness class size as a positive.

What can you do with this group of people that you couldn’t do with a larger group? Can you play that song that you love that one of your no-show regulars always complains about? Can you do those leg exercises that you normally can’t do because they take up too much room? Is there any equipment you can dust off because there’s now enough to go around?

Take advantage of the smaller class size to do some of the things you normally can’t do.

  1. Throw in some of those all-time favorite exercises.

If folks usually love the arm exercise routine you do, then use it as an opportunity to please the participants that showed up. Crowd favorites are my go-to on days where the class size is smaller or I’m feeling off for some reason.

  1. Above all else, give the class a challenging workout.

Participants are willing to overlook a lot as long as they get a good workout. Maybe they are the only ones who showed up, or maybe you led the same routine you did last week with the same playlist, but as long as they leave feeling like they got the workout they wanted, it’s all good.

It can be unnerving to walk into an almost empty group fitness class. As long as you try to spin it as a positive, and focus on giving the folks that did show up the workout they want, everyone will be happy. It also makes me feel better to think that most people probably won’t remember this class in a couple months, maybe even weeks, and we still get paid no matter how many people show up.

For more tips and tricks, check out the group exercise ideas page.