#004: Creating a 5-Star Class Experience for Your Members

#004: Creating a 5-Star Class Experience for Your Members

Recorded live on The Network, Friday, December 8th, 2017, at 10:00 a.m. PST

This week, Markus flies solo on Gymwright LIVE to answer your questions about how to create the best possible class experience for your members.

Audio Version

This is a topic that a lot of gym owners tend to phone in, thinking that if they’re a good coach and show up to class on time, it will all work out. Their efforts may be more focused on marketing, sales, and other operational tasks above the class experience. And don’t get us wrong — we obviously think that sales and marketing are super-important! But we do regularly see that owners tend to be either hyperfocused on operations or hyperfocused on programming. Since we want you to be successful and well-rounded gym owners, this episode is for anyone who wants to improve their in-class experience.

This week, Markus takes us through the anatomy of a great in-class experience, and what you can do to start implementing it today.

Table of Contents

1:02 Why should a gym owner care about the in-class experience?

This is your core service and the thing your members experience day-to-day. You have the opportunity to make this your members’ favorite hour of the day. If you create a “wow” experience, it will show in member retention.

The pushback Markus often hears is, “Well, you know, that was my fifth class of the day, and it’s exhausting doing that many back to back…” There are a lot of reasons not to bring your A-game.

But you need to either suck it up and nail it, or find someone else who can. Get smarter about your scheduling. Maybe you shouldn’t be coaching seven classes a day. Maybe you need to build in better breaks. Maybe you need to bring in an assistant coach who who can help you knock it out of the park.

There’s no excuse not to have every class at 100% of your best effort.

Be your best self and engage. The goal for each session is to make sure that they’ve been:

  • Educated
  • Entertained
  • Inspired

The ultimate goal is to develop relationships and results. How can you implement a way to elevate the class structure? You may already be fairly far along with the development of your class structure, or you may be like most gym owners, who kind of let each coach do their own thing. We’ll walk you through how to start from zero.

4:29 Step 1 – Define the Standard

Your Whiteboard Intro

  • Start with a friendly and personable welcome. Take 30 seconds to warm up the group. “Everybody come on in. How’s everyone doing?”
  • Do your announcements and let everyone know about upcoming events.
  • Introduce the Workout of the Day: Explain what you’re doing and why, in plain English. Explain what you’re looking for and what you’re not looking for.

Structured Warmup

Key elements

  • Explain what you’re doing and why. Continue to give an explanation while they’re doing it.
  • The coach always demos the movement, so that whether it’s someone’s first or tenth time, they always have a model of what perfect movement looks like.
  • Incorporate a social element. Whether you tell them, ”Make sure to get to know one person on your run,” or team people up for a movement, the social element acts as an ice-breaker. You want people laughing, smiling, and having fun before they get into the technical stuff.

Strength and Skill Work


  • Explain what and why
  • Demo the movements
  • Incorporate some sort of a social element (Pair up, share a bar, etc.)


The post-WOD experience is huge, because it helps make sure we’re creating an experience with a beginning, middle, and end. It doesn’t have to be a technical cooldown piece, though it can be. It’s more about the emotional closure. If you send everyone out on a cooldown run and let them filter out on their own, the experience just sort of fizzles. Make sure you end strong. It’s always good to include:

  • Cooldown
  • Instructions to put clean up and away the gear
  • Instructions to put scores up on the whiteboard
  • A teaser of what you’ll be doing tomorrow
  • Provide a social element, something simple like a high-five on the way out
  • End with a warm goodbye and thank you

Your structure doesn’t have to be this exactly, but making sure there is a consistent structure across all classes and coaches allows for a consistent measure of quality. It professionalizes what you’re doing and and strengthens your branding.

11:55 Step 2 – Decide How You’ll Measure the Standard

Build regular shadowing sessions into your routine. Markus recommends monthly shadowing.

  • Review the score and notes from the previous round
  • Observe the class without interference
  • Discuss observations with the coach immediately after the class, while everything’s still fresh.
  • Give the coach action items to improve.
  • Discuss the last shadowing session, and note if they applied the feedback from the previous month
  • Put the score in the coach’s file
  • Quarterly, review all the scores to see how the coach is performing and improving
  • Ask the coach for any ideas of how to improve the structure.

14:27 Step 3 – Implementation

Before you roll out your new class experience, make sure all the coaches are on board, and there are no stragglers. No slow rollouts. Just full and complete adoption.

When you roll out the structure, call in all your coaches together (and pay them for their time, so they take it seriously) to explain what structure you’re implementing and why. Make it fun, get them involved, and ask them for any ideas they have to improve the structure. Let them know they’ll be rotating shadowing each other, and that you’ll be shadowing them about once a week until everyone nails it. Set the expectation, set the schedule, and go to town.

 crossfit active performance 3.jpg

17:35 Get Personal

You want each one of your members to feel individually recognized, not just as part of a class or as part of a group. Every single member should feel like they had a personal touch in the class.

Markus recommends writing out the names of every single person in the class, and checking:

  • Did you use their name at least once?
  • Did you cue them on something?
  • Did you correct them or give them feedback?
  • Did you address something personal with each member? (Not like, “How’s your marriage?” More like, “How are those stretches working for you?”)

This whole process radically changes how people feel after class, which leads to awesome retention. If you feel like you can’t pull off this personal level of service in your class with 20-25 people, you can either make the classes smaller or bring in an assistant coach during your busier times.

If you have any questions about creating a 5-star class experience, hit us up on The Network.

Free Resource: 5-Star Class Experience Checklist and Scorecard

Jessica Depatie About the author

Jessica is the marketing maven here at Gymwright. She's a business consultant and holistic marketer for fitness businesses. She specializes in the decision-making psychology of what makes everyday people want to optimize themselves. She dives deep into how people seek out growth in the pursuit of living happier and healthier.

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