Introducing new fitness equipment or equipment upgrades to your group exercise schedule can be inspiring for everyone: It provides instructors and managers with exciting professional development opportunities and motivates participants to cross-train and try something new. However, there can be a learning curve to teaching with unfamiliar equipment, using it in a group setting, and storing it between classes.
To ensure your newly added programming gets off to a strong start, consider these three steps for launching equipment-based classes on your group exercise schedule.
Step 1: Get Instructors Up to Speed
Before you place the new or upgraded equipment in the group exercise studio, provide instructors with a chance to “play” with it. The last thing you want is for anyone to wing it in front of a class because they got caught up in the excitement of seeing something in the studio.
Some fitness equipment will naturally be more intuitive for instructors to work with than others. For example, many dumbbell exercises can be replicated with a weighted bar instead. But other items, like a medicine ball or BOSU Balance Trainer, need more specific guidance for instructors who’ve never taught with them before. Even if they’ve used the equipment in their own workouts, they might not have considered all the associated safety and technique cues.
If possible, arrange one or more continuing education workshops led by a fitness educator/master trainer who specializes in the new equipment. Also, consider what education you expect instructors to have in order to use the equipment in class. Let’s say you just picked up a new line of kettlebells. Can anyone teach with them, or do you require proof of a certain level of kettlebell education/certification?
You’ll also need to decide if the new equipment will be used on its own or in conjunction with other equipment already in the group exercise studio. If it’s the latter, ensure that instructors are knowledgeable about how to mix and match the new piece with existing tools.
Step 2: Host a Launch Party
Once instructors are well versed in teaching with the new equipment, it’s time to unveil it to members! A fun way to do this, and get group exercise participants excited about the new offering, is to host a launch event where members can test the waters.
The event (or series of events/classes) might include a brief tutorial and a short workout using the equipment. The goal is to familiarize participants with the new tool and encourage them to branch out in a non-intimidating format (i.e., a fun express class). Treat the event like a party with prizes, decorations and a great playlist. Celebrate the new workout option; create a buzz.
From there, and depending on the complexity of the equipment, you might find it beneficial to include a temporary instructional class in an open slot on the group exercise schedule. Participants can try out the equipment in a beginner-focused format with tutorials from the instructor.
Step 3: Create a Home for the Equipment
Somewhere between the instructor trainings and the member launch party, you’ll want to devise a plan for how and where you’ll store the equipment in the group exercise studio. This might require some rearranging to get it right.
A few points to consider: Will the storage location be an impediment to other classes that don’t use the equipment? Is there a logical “traffic flow” to and from the new equipment? You wouldn’t want participants getting in each other’s way as they grab equipment before class and put it away afterwards.
Presumably, the new equipment will be used often at first to take advantage of its novelty. Therefore, see how you might be able to store it in a “priority area” in the studio (like first-class on an airplane), so it’s easiest and most convenient to get to. You can then place some of your less popular equipment farther away from the priority spot (coach seating), at least temporarily.
Laying out all these ground rules and logistics in advance will help your equipment launch go without a hitch!
Amanda Vogel, MA human kinetics, is a fitness professional in Vancouver, B.C. In addition to being a blogger at FitnessTestDrive.com and writer for popular fitness magazines, she is a social media consultant for fitness brands and public figures. You can reach her at ActiveVoice.ca, @amandavogel (Twitter), @amandavogelfitness (Instagram) and Facebook.com/FitnessWriter.
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