The start of a new year means an influx of new members — some of which haven’t been to a workout class in quite some time and are looking to make big changes in 2017. Of course, you’ve got a plan for how onboard your newest clients in order to make them feel welcome and empower them to stick with their resolutions. But what about when it comes to training your staff on the best practices for handling the busy season?

The more prepared your instructors feel to manage a large roster of new clients, the more successful they’ll be at turning your newest members into long-term members. We asked a few pros for their best advice on how to prep your staff for the busiest season of the year.

CHAT NEW MEMBERS BEFORE CLASS
Rather than putting new members on the spot once you’re already in a full classroom, group fitness instructor Shannon Fable suggests that instructors take the time to chat with newcomers before class starts. “Schmooze before class rather than waiting until your intro to ask the dreaded question, ‘Is this anyone’s first time?” she says. “The more you can find out beforehand, the more info you can provide to set expectations — the better off you’ll be.”

ENCOURAGE LONG-TERM GOALS
When instructors are teaching class during January, it’s typical to lean on the resolution they’ve made for motivation. But Amanda Dale, owner of ThisFitBlonde, says that encouraging new members to work toward more specific, long-term goals rather than an overarching resolution will help keep them on track and coming back for more. “Everyone has the best of intentions in January, but look around the gym come March and the crowd has surely thinned out.” she says. “Try to steer January resolution clients toward longer-term goals, such as training for an endurance event or prepping for a summer vacation, to give them a broader picture of why fitness is important all year long — not just for a month or two.”

MAKE A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION
Your instructors have likely taught their classes hundreds of times. But now more than ever, it’s important for instructors to put their best foot forward for the fresh faces at the studio. “Get the classroom ready for its first impression by having your equipment in order, lights set up the way you like and music jamming,” recommends Liu Gross, instructor at Studio Three. “Everyone’s excited to be there, so make everything look and feel like the good time that’s about to be had. Have your class plan ready, appearance put together and game face on.”

TEACH WITH A BEGINNER’S MINDSET
One big challenge faced by instructors during the new member influx is teaching a class that’s challenging for the regulars, but still doable for beginners. “This doesn’t mean you have to water everything down,” says Fable, “just because someone’s new doesn’t mean they can’t ‘handle’ your class. Thinking like a beginner means dropping the insider language and not over explaining but giving enough information that someone without a history can get it right, and adjusting the expectations for the class.”

DON’T JUST INSTRUCT — COACH
Your instructors may have gotten into the routine of simply standing at the front of the class and performing each move — especially if they teach classes that consist of mostly regulars. But with many first timers signing up for class, it’s important for instructors to move around the room, offering tips and encouragement to each new attendee. “Find ways to help folks throughout the class by providing individualized attention,” says Fable. “Not hovering over the newbies and correcting their every move, but encouraging and being available.”