Seven Ways to Say, “I’m Thankful” to Your Group Fitness Students


“The real gift of gratitude is that the more grateful you are, the more present you become.”  --Robert Holden

We live in a world that often gets carried away with the “present” of gratitude,  but remembering what inspires the gift giving can really help us express our sincere gratitude for our clients or group fitness students.

When you are so outnumbered, how can you possibly leave something with your students to take home that can remotely measure up to all they gift you with each day?

We've outlined 7 simple, cost-sensitive ideas that might make you reconsider what gratitude toward your clients and group fitness students can be. 


  • A Photo Card.  I have a student who takes photographs like it’s her life calling.  She has taught me to appreciate the power of a photo for the memory it encapsulates on such a relatively small, flat, thin surface.  One year, during the holidays, many copies were made for students to take home with them.  I was touched by how many still keep theirs and even have them framed and posted in their homes.  “This is my fitness family.”  They make a moment last forever.
  • A Token To Go.  One year, our early morning group fitness family received a little sweat towel from one of our group fitness instructors.  I was one of her work partners with this group, and even I got one.  She had each of the towels embroidered with “Before Dawn Chicks” (we were a small group of women.) It was the perfect gift because there weren’t many of us and this group fitness instructor only taught this group in the morning.  To this day, I still have and use that towel given to me almost 15 years ago.   One year, our Zumba ® family enjoyed taking home a Christmas ornament filled with the sand from a holiday beach party we all attended.  THAT is rich in gratitude.  So what if you chose something that your group has in common together: a memory, an inside joke, a significant event of in the year, etc. and applied a symbol to it?  Something as simple as a friendship pin (I was a child of the 80s) with colored beads, a quote printed and laminated to hang up at home, a holiday bell wrapped with a colorful ribbon is enough for a student to feel special walking out of your class during gratitude season. 
  • A Song Dedication.  This is my favorite one that can be gifted all year long.  When my veteran Zumba ® students have enough songs under their belt, they get to make their own playlist with their favorite songs.   It’s a way to share my heart and the collective heart of our fitness family.  Holidays are no different.  You can hunt for a song that has special meaning to your group or that have words that make you feel grateful.  A simple music search in your collection with key words like, “grateful”, “thank you” or “love” can render a lot of possibilities for a sweet ending to a class before an upcoming holiday.
  • A Potluck. A class that ends the day of a group fitness schedule has the luxury of the “after party”.  Students are always happy to bring a traditional dish from their homes to share.  These activities have been the place where members who are always at the back of the room, in a corner, or more the quiet type, really stand-out.  They may not be noisy, but they make a mean empanada or dirty rice.  These events make family out of a dance-fitness class and all you have to do is get approval from the gym, ask for them to make a table available, and bring a tablecloth.  How amazing of a gift is that?  
  • A Brunch or Dinner Out. If you're really close to your group fitness family, this could be an extra special treat.  I hear stories, jokes, learn about individual hobbies, life events and life episodes that will never let me forget a name.  All it takes is a consistent week of advertising before class, on social media, and frankly, the more you do them, the less planning you need to make an event happen.   Photos at these events make the night last forever and it keeps students enriched with camaraderie, which in turn keeps them consistent with their fitness goals and their attendance at classes.
  • A Social Media Post.  Some of the most breath-taking, tear-jerking gifts have come in the form of a little video prepared with love that is a collection of all the photos from the year tied together with a special song.  One video hits hundreds of current students, and makes a wonder for of prospective students when shared publicly. I learned how to make my own videos for special “thank you” moments and it’s been so worth the investment of time.
  • What if you’re not a sappy person but you love your fit fam?  A little basket of protein bars on the way out, little kefir jugs, a fall/winter Hershey kiss can do all the mushy stuff for you.  Even little pint water bottles with a wrapping around them that thanks your students will leave everyone feeling warm and fuzzy inside.

Whether you are in the honeymoon stage with your group fitness family, or at the stage where you have seen your fitness family through many holidays and thanksgivings the true gift to them is PRESENCE not presents.  

A non-physical or symbolic expression that is uniquely inspired and specific to your fitness family, is a sign of that.  And that does more than anything you can ever buy with money.

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