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Designing an aerobics class

Cynthia Madison explains how to design an aerobics class for different fitness levels.

Group fitness classes are fun to teach because they lead the participants through an energetic and effective workout. At the end of the class, everyone has a smile on their face, under the sweat. Do not be surprised to find out that they are talking about how good they felt at your class in the coming days and recommend their friends also to join your gym. But for you to achieve this result, you have to do more than hope you are a lucky trainer who establishes a connection with the class participants.

The worst feeling as an instructor is to have class participants who never return because they could not keep up with the class or they did not find it suitable for their needs. On the other hand, some people may never return because they think the class was not challenging enough. The bottom line is that you do not want to lose participants, but you want to retain them and create a class that provides enough options for everyone.

A great fitness instructor does more than eat healthily and look great. They need to have the necessary skills to inspire other people and guide them in a fitness journey.

Plan for the warm-up and cool-down sessions

The first thing you must plan when you develop a program for your group fitness class is the warm-up session. The warm-up session is essential because it prevents injuries. After all, you want to ensure no one gets hurt during your class.

After all, if they do it, it is unlikely they to return. It does not matter if the participants have been working out for years or if this is the first time they hit the gym; they are still at risk for an injury if they jump straight into a hardcore session. But a warm-up program can help them prepare their muscles for the effort.

Depending on the type of class you teach, the warm-up can include different things, but it is essential to focus on the following: 

  • Raise the core body temperature. Your muscles work like a rubber band that requires a gradual extension to not break away when you stretch it.
  • Increase the heart rate. The muscles can function properly only when they receive the needed amount of blood. The heart and cardiovascular system have a crucial role in fitness training. 
  • Pick appropriate movements. Depending on the part of the body the class train, you need to include in the warm-up session exercises that engage those particular muscles. 

At the end of the session, you need to engage the participants in a cool-down session that helps them bring their bodies back to the homeostasis state. The goals of this session are to:

  • Decrease heart rate.
  • Stretch the muscles.

Pick the right music

Music is an essential component of a group exercise, and some participants often come back to classes because they like the music the instructor chooses for the training session. Researchers from the London's Brunel University School of Sport and Education state that music can lower the perception of effort and increase endurance by 15%.

There are multiple reasons why music is essential during training. People find it easier to move in time with synchronous sounds and feel less of an effort. Music tends to increase excitement and motivate participants. And last but not least, music can divert their attention from the discomfort they experience when they work out.

Select the right equipment

Some classes have specific equipment involved, and you do not have to stress yourself over it (step aerobics, rebound, and Kangoo jumps). But boot camp classes and resistance training sessions require the trainer to pick the equipment they find user-friendly for their audience.

As you already know, some pieces of equipment are easier to use than others, and you need to decide which ones you pick according to your exercisers' fitness level. Your job is to help everyone in the class get the most benefit from the tools they use.

When you pick equipment everyone can use, you provide them with the opportunity to get the most out of the exercises instead of leaving them to figure out how they should use the equipment. The most user-friendly tools you can use during a fitness class are discs, resistance bands, and dumbbells.

Pick exercises.

People join a fitness class based on its title and description. This is why it is essential to pick exercises that stay true to these two. Also, when you teach a cycling class, you should not ask your participants to get off the bike and use dumbbells.

Remember that people come to classes knowing their fitness level and goals, so they show up expecting a specific set of exercises. Your job is to pick exercises that allow your participants to achieve their goals. There is nothing wrong with including some exercises that provide them with a challenge but make sure that those moves do not take a long time to explain, and your exercisers do not find it impossible to complete them.

Be ready for modifications.

There is nothing funnier than teaching to a large number of fitness enthusiasts, but as your attendance changes, so should your exercises. Your extra strenuous exercises can appease the individuals who have a high fitness level, but the participants who are joining your group class will not be able to keep up for the first time.

So, it would help if you were ready to offer solutions to both groups. The word modify is used in the fitness world to reference a way to make exercises more challenging or easier. A change in the posture can amplify the movement, make it more complex, and adapt it to your participants' fitness level.


The best feeling you can get as an instructor is when all your participants walk back to your classes and tell you how much they enjoyed your workout.

Page Reference

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  • MADISON, C. (2021) Design an aerobics class [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

Cynthia Madison is a young blogger and economics and marketing graduate.