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Maybe it’s a new class on the Timetable. Maybe you have taken over the class from somebody else. And to say the least the class numbers are…well…small.

It’s no doubt as an Instructor we feed off the energy of the people in front of us – and a large portion of our motivation does indeed come from the power of a packed room.

But here we are. A class of 5 when you’re used to 50 (ego: ouch!). While some things are out of your control such as the type of class or the timeslot simply not matching the demographic of the club, there are some things you can do as an Instructor to take your class from small to smashing! Here are 6 of the best:

Teach consistently

Consistently covering an already small class is a sure fire way to decrease the numbers further. While this may not necessarily build the numbers – you don’t want the already dwindling numbers to go the other way if people don’t know who to expect.

Get to class a few minutes early and stay a few minutes after

There is an upside to smaller classes and that is you have the ability to form a bond with each participant. It could be as simple as showing up a few minutes earlier and going to the effort to say hello to each participant. Your participants are more likely to show up to your class each week if they have that 1:1 relationship and will likely talk to their friends about the positive experience they had in your class (read: they will bring their friend to the next class). On that note:

Ask for free class passes

Ask your club manager or group fitness manager for free class passes to give to your participants in an effort to invite their friends…after all, they have already told their friends about how awesome you are right?

NEVER talk about how small the class is

It makes participants in the class feel like chopped liver when the instructor says “where is everyone?” As a participant my response is “well I’m here” and then proceed to feel unimportant and that I’m wasting the Instructors time having to teach so few of us. Simply introduce your class as you normally would, or if you must comment on the numbers, either make it a positive “it will be like a PT session today” or make light of it “no-one can hide today”. In general however, bringing attention to class numbers generally doesn’t go down well.

Teach to who is in front of you

While generally you would teach a large and small class in a similar way, there are some things you can’t get away with in a smaller class – autopilot is a dangerous place here. Sweeping statements and general corrections will 100% go down as disingenuous. For example, if you say “keep your arms straight” because that’s your auto-pilot-giant-class cue, people can pretty quickly see you’re disingenuous when they can see the 3 other people in the class with their arms straight already. Teach to who is in front you!

Change your attitude

While it’s easy to get down-trodden about smaller than usual class numbers, rather than focusing on how few people you have in front of you and taking it personally – think, these people have taken the time out of their day to still do your class!

Have you started with a small class and built the numbers spilling out the door? How did you do it?