Whether you work with clients on a one-on-one, semi-private, or group fitness basis, you’ve likely seen a surge of resolutioners. It’s great to have a game plan to give these clients a few good workouts in January — but looking at the bigger picture, the calendar, can help keep resolutioners beyond January. A few things that you can do to keep clients coming back once the excitement of the New Year burns out include focusing on challenge progression, design workouts with clients starring in them, and create opportunities for partner interaction.

Building Progression 

One-on-one and group sessions ideally become more challenging as time goes on. Sure, you want to start the new year with a bang to peak their interest, but think about ways that you can progressively challenge clients session after session. For example, if you incorporate interval training in your sessions, consider increasing intervals and/or decreasing the periods of rest. For strength training, trying pushing work to failure rather than simply increasing weight, reps, or sets. Also, be sure to highlight to clients that they are getting stronger, fitter, better.


Client Contributions to Class Dynamic

In group settings, structure the workouts around clients contributions. You can incorporate partner drills, song requests, even award prizes.

One of the instructors at a gym where I teach decorates and paints rocks to award to a “rockstar” every class.

Another instructor has a TRL (total request live) class. A survey of songs for a particular genre is taken, for example, 90’s hip-hop, and then the prep work is done prior to class. As exercisers come in, they see what songs are available to choose from and shout them out. Clients arrive pumped to workout to their favorite tunes.

Partner Rapport and Motivation 

Partner drills can be a fun way for clients to not only motivate each other but build rapport. They’ll begin to look forward to working out together like any other social commitment.

Partners can do relays, throw medicine balls and boxing combos, you name it.

In my group and semi-private classes I use the bike or treadmill to create relays. Each partner has a set distance they must complete as quickly as possible; then they “pass the baton”. When it’s recovery for one, the other must cheer the working partner on to keep the motivation high.

Recently I took a circuit class where everyone had to do exactly what their partner did. The same number of reps, pull the same weight; no competition. This was such a fun way to build morale and inspire each other.

One last thing, at the end of every class, I encourage clients to high five at least one person near them and thank that person for bringing the energy.

Theresa Perales

Theresa Perales

Theresa Perales has an MA in Spanish, and is an ESL teacher at San Diego State University (SDSU). After years of struggling with her weight, she decided to give exercise a try. A passion for health and fitness grew instantly and inspired her to become certified as a personal trainer with NFPT, and as a group fitness instructor with AFAA Group Fitness and Madd Dog Athletics® Spinning. Theresa believes that nutrition and fitness are not about aesthetics but ultimately about feeling healthy and empowered.