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Is cutting down number of classes a good idea?

Club owners never want to cut back on programming. Fear of members taking their time and money elsewhere because there aren't enough choices is always on owners' minds.

But, sometimes classes are sparse during slow seasons and the best choice for all involved - owners, class instructors and members - is to pare down. 

Q: Should our club cut back on its group exercise schedule during the summer? Attendance is usually down then, so it seems like a smart move, but we don’t want to upset members who go to the same classes regularly.

A: Yes! It’s absolutely necessary to cut back on group fitness classes during the slower months. For most clubs in the U.S., this time is June through August. If you do, some members may feel frustrated at first, so I recommend educating them about why you’re cutting back on your class offerings. In doing so,

I suggest that you inform them about industry averages for classes, and/or your own personal goals for the club’s group exercise program. Let them know what the numbers are, and that they are falling off due to seasonal low attendance.

You’ll find that your members will start to “own up” and pay attention when the numbers get smaller, and they’ll realize why you’re cutting back. They may then start to encourage other members to attend regularly to keep these favorites on the schedule. In addition, it’s good to cut back so that when you bring back certain classes in the fall, there’ll be some excitement in the air! It can be a win-win: Management will appreciate your being aware of the club’s bottom line, and members will look forward to the return of their favorite classes. 

Anne Whiteside
Program Director
Yakima Athletic Club
Yakima, Washington

A: The old adage, “You can’t please all of the people all of the time,” holds true when planning any group activity, and this is our biggest challenge when creating our class schedule. In the summer, there’s always a drop in the numbers and it’s acceptable to reduce the number of classes. One idea is to combine them.

For example, if you offer a step class and a toning class that are both popular, then why not put the two together with a circuit-style format, and call it “Step ’n Tone”? This way, the steppers are happy their class hasn’t been canceled—and they get the benefit of some strength conditioning.

Also, why not shorten your 60-minute classes to 45 minutes, or even 30 minutes? A great class is always one that zones in on the core, such as Ab Blast or Summer Abs. Offering a non-stop 30-minute boot camp followed by a half hour of core exercises could easily replace two one-hour classes—and satisfy your members. This is a time to really promote the benefits of variety by trying new classes and other things at your club. 

Frances Michaelson
Muscle Up, Inc.
Quebec, Canada



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