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Monday, September 17, 2018
Team Training, Life Changing: Instructor Tips & Tricks from F45
by Jackie Lebeau 

In November 2017, Johns Hopkins University, where I manage the fitness programs full-time, became the 7th university in the United States, and the first school on the east coast to become an F45 franchise owner.

Born in Australia, F45 Training merges high-intensity interval training, circuit training, and functional training. The workouts are 45-minute circuits in a high tech, high energy, team training environment. Cardio is the focus on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays. Strength is the focus on Tuesdays & Thursdays. Saturdays and Sundays feature a fusion of both cardio and strength.

In just one schedule period (15 weeks), the introduction of F45 on our class schedule was responsible for increasing participation by 59%. Additionally, we experienced the largest participation in group fitness classes in Johns Hopkins history!

I believe the success of F45 goes deeper than just a great workout. I believe that the brand guidelines and the company’s focus on instructor training is responsible for the influx of new class participants at Hopkins and many other Universities across the country. Coaching instead of drilling the class, using inclusive language and positive cueing, and handing out loads of high fives are just a few of the strategies that F45 instructors utilize to lead their team through each workout. While some of their tips and tricks may not sound groundbreaking, when used consistently by each instructor, the result = hundreds of members who come back again and again.

Listed below is just a handful of the F45 instructor teaching guidelines. Try a few of these in your land or aquatic classes and see if your class participation increases!

  • Arrive early so that you can prepare for class.
  • Ensure that the studio or pool deck is neat and orderly with the equipment organized.
  • Set your music at an appropriate volume before, during, and after class. Lower the volume during the introduction and class breaks and raise the volume during work intervals.
  • Practice your exercise demonstrations and modifications before class so you are not demonstrating them in front of your participants for the first time.
  • Once you are ready for class, mingle with your participants.
  • Get to know each participant by name and learn something personal about them.
  • Welcome/acknowledge each participant within 5 minutes of their arrival.
  • Have a conversation with first timers before class begins. Use this time to orient them to the studio or pool, describe the workout, and provide modifications for any injuries.
  • Introduce new members to veterans so they feel part of the group.
  • Make eye contact with participants when providing personalized instructions.
  • Remind participants to listen to their bodies and push themselves to their comfort level.
  • Create a community with your participants and encourage high fives and encouragement from participant to participant.
  • When correcting form or technique, offer feedback sandwiched between two positive statements. For example, “You look so strong in the water! Remember to lean forward just 5° when running to keep your core engaged. Keep up the good work!”
  • Keep interactions with participants positive so they feel empowered after a correction and not discouraged.
  • After class, high five every participant and acknowledge their hard work.

For a peek at the F45 program at Johns Hopkins, visit


F45 Trainer Manual Volume 1.3. F45 Training. 2018.


Jackie Lebeau is the Assistant Director for Fitness at Johns Hopkins University. She holds a BS in Exercise and Health Promotion and a MS in Sports Administration. Jackie is an international fitness presenter who specializes in aquatic fitness. She is continuing education provider for ACE, AEA and AFAA and a training specialist for AEA. She lives in Baltimore, MD. To contact Jackie directly please visit

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