How to show appreciation to your favorite group fitness instructors

Believe it or not, most group fitness instructors are not teaching your class because it’s a money-making operation. Don’t get me wrong, you can definitely be very well compensated for filling up the room at the fancier boutique studios, but if you attend group fitness classes at a big gym — well, your instructor is likely there out of passion and passion only, with a little monetary reward as the icing on the cake.

When you enter the fitness world as a group fitness instructor, you know that you will probably be making your money elsewhere (through fitness writing, personal training or another totally unrelated full-time job), but you do it anyway, because you love connecting with others, and you love sharing your love of group fitness.

That being said, as a pleased and happy participant of group fitness classes, there are so many ways that you can show your instructors that you appreciate them — because that love is worth more than the money. I promise!

And this post is not to say that you owe anything at all to your instructor, because it is his or her contracted job to teach your class and they WANT to be there (see point above), however … if that instructor delivers something amazing that you enjoy and need in your life, it never hurts to show them a little thanks for all that they do.

How to show appreciation to your favorite group fitness instructors

How to show appreciation to your favorite group fitness instructors by A Lady Goes West

Here’s how to do it …

Be a regular participant and a polite one.

Show up every week (or more than once a week) to class and only miss when you really need to. (Consistency makes us VERY happy. We love to see your smiling face on the regular. And I bet you have your usual spot, and we’re totally okay with that.)

Get there on time, set up and be ready to work once the music hits. Don’t use your cell phone. Don’t talk when the instructor is talking. Pay attention to what the instructor is saying. And make sure you read this one about how to be a polite group fitness participant. Respect is important.

Tell your friends about your favorite instructor, and invite your friends to class. 

If you’ve ever been to a group fitness class, then you know the instructor makes or breaks the class. If you have a favorite instructor who really motivates you and always delivers a great class, then tell your friends, and invite them to class too, so they can become a fan and regular attendee. This may require getting the instructor’s full name (sometimes you only know their first name from the schedule), and letting other people know how cool that person is.

When your favorite instructor teaches in a new time-slot, go to his or her new class to support them there (even if it’s not the best time for you, be there at least a couple times to help them fill the room). It’s hard to teach in non-ideal time-slots, so if you know your favorite instructor has to do that — be a body in the room for them sometimes.

And did I mention bring a friend? Instructors love to have new people in their classes, and if someone comes as a “referral,” they are way more likely to commit and become a regular. A win-win.

Thank the instructor after every class, and tell them WHY you like what they do.

Some people love an energetic instructor. Some people love an educational instructor. Some people love a bossy instructor. Some people love an instructor with a great playlist. Whatever it is about your instructor that you like or whatever it is about his or her class that you like — let them know. We love feedback. And we love a simple “thanks for class” at the conclusion of the workout too. It never gets old. 

A little goes a long way, so rather than slipping out of the room without a word, if you’re going to talk to anyone, thank the person who led you through class. It’s so easy. 

Leave a comment card at the front desk, or even a Yelp review.

Did you know that real-life comment cards still exist? They do, and gyms use them. If you love your instructor, you should tell that person’s boss or the manager of the location where that instructor works, because it’s super helpful. It may take you 45 seconds to 1 minute to leave that positive comment, and yet, it will turn into something much bigger for the instructor. There’s often a disconnect between group fitness and operations, and leaving comments helps to bridge that divide. 

And in the days of the Internet, Yelp is the go-to spot for rating big gyms. If you love someone who teaches a great class, pop onto the World Wide Web and give them a positive shout-out. Would you do that for a restaurant that doesn’t mean that much to you? Probably. So do it for an instructor who gives you sweat, effort and motivation when you need it most to reach your fitness goals.

Be vocal when appropriate, and give it your all. 

I polled some of my fellow Les Mills instructors world-wide to get their take on what they think is a good way to show appreciation while writing this post and almost all of them said the following …

  • Show up to class regularly. Stay committed and be a mainstay.
  • Tell your friends, and bring your friends to class.
  • Say thanks after class, and offer your thoughts on the class via feedback.

Which are all the things that we covered, but the one thing that they were all adamant about that I hadn’t thought to include already was — in-class vocals. And I’ve got to agree, it sure feels good to hear an “ouch” … “wow” or … “arrrgggggg” when you are in a tough part of class. 

If you want your instructor to know you are happy, be a rowdy participant (when appropriate), and answer the question when they say “is anybody feeling it?” Once again, that real-time feedback via your participation certainly makes the instructor feel good. And they deserve that, don’t they?

Other things you can do …

  • Follow your favorite instructors on social media to get to know them better. Like their pictures and tag them if you post a picture before or after their class.
  • Let your instructors know if you’ve accomplished any health or wellness goals, based on attending their classes or learning from them. They love to know they’ve helped you.
  • If you get there early, help the instructor set up their equipment and also help them to put it away at the end of class. (I LOVE this, especially in BODYPUMP, when you need so much stuff.)
  • Be engaged in the class, pay attention and do your best. Instructors never expect you to be a superhero, but we always want you to be working to your fullest potential to get the most bang for your buck.

P.S. If you want to gift — food and food gift cards are always a good idea.

If you really want to thank your instructor for all that they do for you and you’ve already done all of the above, then food is always welcome.

Now, physical gifts are TOTALLY not expected, but if Christmas is rolling around and you’re wondering if it’s appropriate to get something for the instructors who have been there for you all year — YES, it’s okay to give them something. And yes, they like to eat, and they like food and food gift cards a lot. 

When it comes to bringing actual food, maybe some protein cookies, fresh avocados from your avocado tree or even a batch of chickpea brownies. (Healthy is not required, but always enjoyed.)

So there you have it!

Group fitness is an amazing thing. It brings people together to sweat, connect and learn from each other — while also getting in shape and feeling good at the same time. Group fitness instructors are usually givers, and they will continue to give, give, give to their classes. That’s why, if you’re a satisfied participant, it never hurts to try any of the above tokens of appreciation to return the favor to your favorite teacher. 

Thanks for reading, peeps!

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15 Comments

    1. Hi Emily! Feedback is so important, and I think a lot of people never think to give it — they don’t realize we want to make the class how THEY want it! 🙂

  1. I love all of these tips and thank you for sharing! I have gifted some of my favorite group fitness instructors with gift cards over the years and it definitely feels good to do because I know they devote so much more time than just what they spend with us during the class. As someone who hates public speaking, I can really appreciate the task of leading a class over music while also needing to demonstrate moves and correct participants on their form. It’s a LOT to do all at once.

    I really wish that I could take one of your classes! I need to make visiting San Fran a priority to do so. Surely your new guest bedroom must be dying for a guest who loves itineraries and playing with little babies while Mommy showers, right?!! Hehe

    1. Hi Court! That’s awesome you’ve done that for your instructors. Totally not expected, but such a nice treat. And yes, you’re right — it takes a lot of prep and oftentimes expense to teach a one-hour class. It would be so cool to have you in one of my classes one day — and babysitting duties may be assigned from time to time hahaha!!

  2. Oh Ashley I couldn’t wait to read this blog. Being an avid spinner I wanted to read your thoughts about treating my spin instructors. I spin with numerous instructors. I have two favorites I have done classes with from their first day, 10 and 12 years ago. I might miss a spin class now and then but never theirs. And if I miss a class I will get a text wanted to know if I am okay. Always let them know in advance if I am going to be gone on a trip. Even the other instructors I like a bunch. I don’t think I ever had a spin instructor I wouldn’t go back to their class. That is why I spin every day. Sometimes twice a day. I have so much respect for my instructors. Being a former educator I know how much time you put into preparation and the effort you put into each class. I agree talking is one of the worst problems in class. Not only for the instructor but other class members. I feel like telling them if they want to socialize then go ride a stationary bike on the gym floor. But never have.
    Recently we took a cruise just before Christmas. Naturally I did spin classes on the ship. It was expected to tip the instructor after each class. It gave me this idea that it would be nice to give each of my instructors a Christmas card with a Christmas tip in it. I think they got a kick out of it.
    One of my long term instructors travel a long distance to teach a spin class. (She lives in Tarpon Springs and teach in Clearwater). I started doing a spinning class at a small gym in Tarpon Springs. I thought this would be perfect for her. I got owner and her together. They hit it off. Now she teaches at Tarpon Springs a half mile from her house. I still spin in her class.
    I feel very bias toward my favorite instructors. I always compliment them all the time. But wonder if my opinion doesn’t have as much value since I have been with them so long.
    Now I am done with my blog. Thanks for this blog. It really hit home for me.
    Thanks for this blog. I really enjoyed reading it. I feel good as I think I do a few of the things you suggested.

    1. I love your blogs, Richard! And I love that you connected one of your favorite instructors with a new gym. That’s so good of you. As far as tipping — never heard of that — must be a cruise ship thing ehhe. Oh and I forgot to mention in this post that instructors LOVE to know if you are going to be on vacation, so we don’t worry that you just stopped coming to class. Glad you do that!!

  3. Aww I love this & totally agree about these tips! I love seeing regular faces in my classes and love when they tell me they will be out of town or what not, makes me feel important and that my class matters to them!!

    1. Totally, Marielle! I love when they keep me posted on their whereabouts! That’s the great thing about group fitness — it’s about the people! 🙂

  4. Feedback of any kind is so important and appreciated. I’m definitely not a mind reader and can’t always tell if someone is enjoying a class based on their focused and serious look on their face :-). I always try to pay it forward to my fellow teachers as well. Thanks for the reminder!

    1. Hi Nicci! So true about not being able to read minds. Sometimes people have such a rough look on their face from the workout, it’s hard to tell if they hate the class or not hahahah! 🙂 FEEDBACK, people!! Thanks for saying hi, babe!

  5. A HUG AND THANK YOU sweet Ashley for your beautiful description of “How to Show Appreciation to Your Favorite Group Fitness Instructors”. I’m not an instructor but attend an aerobics class 3 times a week and always feel bad when some in the group leave earlier or talk, etc. I was impressed to read your pointing everything so intelligently and so sensibly that I wish all participants in a fitness group to read your article.

    Ashley, do you happen to have this article on paper including the good comments? I ask because since I can’t get the group’s emails, I’d like to have it on paper and I’d hand the article to them AND my 2 group instructors too. Actually there many more instructors in my gym (NYC) and I’d love to hand them to all, in fact I’d love to also hand it to the management of my gym too.

    Unfortunately my new printer isn’t working well and besides it’s a black & white laser machine, but if it did have a PDF it could be printed.

    I’m going to read your other articles as well. Keep your excellent job of writing about things SO IMPORTANT but so little thought about… 🙂

    1. Hi Adela, Thank you so much for your kind comment and for stopping by the blog — so I don’t have a print copy of this blog page with comments, but I’d recommend trying to “print to PdF” from your computer and see if it gives you the whole page?? Or you could send around the link? I really appreciate the support. Good luck!! 🙂

      1. Thanks Ashley, I’ll try but it won’t show your photo and other graphics and all B&W. I think I’ll give them the link since it isn’t difficult to follow as most are. This one just gives your website and the name of the article. Great article and right on target indeed! 🙂 I’m sure my 2 group trainers will be pleased if they read it as all the other trainers if I can reach them. Maybe I’ll ask the management if they would forward it to everybody…if it doesn’t conflict with those who expect cold cash lol! Adela

  6. I just wrote a comment and I’m sorry I don’t see it. I was saying I want to know how to have your article on paper to give out in my gym. I hope i thas gone through? I don’ t have a URL. Adela

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