Creating a Thriving Culture: Raise Your Standards

By Shawn McQueen, Mentor for the Two-Brain Group Coaching Course

In our last post, the first of this series on Group Classes, we introduced some general concepts surrounding the good and bad of group classes. Today, we’re covering how to create a thriving culture.

Why do people join group fitness classes? 

Usually it’s one or a combination of the following reasons:

  • To lose weight
  • To gain strength
  • To get in better shape
  • To socialize 
  • To create a new routine
  • To improve physical and mental well-being 

But why do they stay?

If those were their goals and the service delivery was subpar and inconsistent, the relationships with your coaching staff were hot and cold or surface level at best and you weren’t connecting with others within the gym, would you even stay? 

Raise Your Standards:

Subpar service delivery or coaching won’t get you anywhere. Good won’t cut it either.

How easy is it to get a workout now? Youtube, apps, cheap access gyms, knockoff gyms, pelton, templated workouts, etc. It’s easier than ever to “get a good workout in.”

Group fitness classes can be about getting a workout in too. But you may not be around for long or have a long career if that’s your mindset. Professionals and those aspiring to be world class coaches are continually raising their standards to deliver a consistent and high end experience that members crave and rave about.

Your Head Coach aka TEAM LEADER should be having meetings about the programming with the team, where you review what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and adjustments to ensure everyone has an exceptional experience and achieves intended results. 

You should all be dissecting each movement and go over alternatives and even how to communicate those alternatives without an emotional withdrawal: “If you can’t do pull ups, just do ring rows…”

Professionals are always inherently aware of how people feel and know how they speak matters.

Create the Culture:

Professionals aim to deliver a high quality experience each and everyday, through creating a warm, inviting and exciting atmosphere that you only get when you walk through those doors. Upon entry, we use your name and share our excitement in seeing you.  Because we are genuinely excited you are about to be a part of our class. If you walk through those doors, you are wholeheartedly invested in, beyond fitness.

You’ll be seen, heard, felt and noticed.  

  • New shoes? We’ll know and share it.
  • New haircut? We’ll recognize and highlight it.
  • Energy a bit off? We’ll know (and want to make sure everything is okay!)

In a world that looks past or through you, our team looks right at you and appreciates you for you. We get beyond the surface with people.

Have you ever paid attention to how frequently you’re asked the following:

  • “How are you?”
  • “How was your weekend?”
  • “How was work?”

Those answers to Professionals are good information to know, but they are gateways to what really matters from those above questions.

  • Where is your physical headspace today? What will make it even better?
  • What did you need this weekend (relax and recharge?) or variety and stimulation (hiking, house work) and why was that important for you?
  • What about your job fulfills you? What specific things does your job demand from you?

The professional finds the way to meet your basic human needs (significance, certainty, uncertainty, connection/love)? The Professional is so good they will even likely be able to tell you what you deadlifted 4 weeks ago for a 6 rep max, your middle name and what unique quirks you have (that they love 🙂


Because we care. And we are proud of what you do and achieve. We know and understand the balance of coaching to correct versus coaching to connect. The Professional(s) have a sequence that’s extremely important to impactful interactions within the actual training portion for the day:

  • Coaching and cueing (refining and reinforcing correct movement patterns) 
  • Awareness and appreciation (doing the right things)  
  • Dialogue and relationship building (connecting beyond the fitness) 
  • Touch (fist bump, high five, arm on the shoulder etc)

And how much of each is the sweet spot. Speaking of what matters, anyone can learn how to say words. But so few ever master the art of communication. And if we really want to excel, we must coach them beyond movement. We must coach to connect. We must continually improve our social skills. Those skills we use to communicate and interact with each other. Through our words, our gestures, our body language, our ability to connect and understand people and read the room. 

This is not a hobby. This is not a check in-check out hour. When we open those doors we are, “all in-all the time.” We have extremely high standards for how we operate. When we lead a 10/10 seamless amazing class, we don’t necessarily celebrate it, because this is our standard, our expectation. When we coach a class that has speed bumps or didn’t feel like our best, we immediately debrief.  We ask ourselves: 

  • What worked really well? 
  • What can we improve upon for next time? 
  • What’s a different approach that could be more effective? 
  • What does the team need to know to ensure they don’t encounter that same speed bump? 

All to ensure we can learn, improve and deliver a better experience. And while this is how you treat coaching group fitness as a professional and challenge yourself to consistently deliver a world class service, in the end, group fitness is for some and not for others. 

We’ll cover that in our next post in this series:

Who are Group Fitness classes for?

Who are Group Fitness classes not for?

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