CrossFit is all about community and getting better together. Anyone can sign up for a standard gym, but a CrossFit gym is an entirely different experience. Without classes, it’s just not the same. Building your class structure as an affiliate gym owner is imperative to your success.
It not only gives you a sense of scheduling, but it tells your clients and prospects what to expect. It tells them you’re organized, you mean business, and that you have a schedule they can wedge into theirs.
Having a class schedule isn’t about being perfectly available for everyone 100% of the time—it’s about letting athletes know when you can provide them with value. This is what you need to know.
Importance of Proper Scheduling
Scheduling and revenue are close siblings. If your schedule is all out of whack, your earning potential suffers immensely and your gym quickly becomes inefficient. Here are all the reasons that it’s important to create and adhere to a proper schedule:
- Determining Maximum Potential Revenue: Your class costs X, you can run X classes per day, so you multiply those two numbers to get your maximum potential revenue for the day. This doesn’t include costs like instructor pay, but you want to earn as much revenue as possible, settle your debts, and collect the profits. Without having a proper class structure in place, you have no way of knowing what your maximum potential is, and therefore you can’t find an average percentage of actual classes being taken. If you have the capacity for 100 slots throughout the day, and you average 60-70% of those, you can reasonably account for that number in your financial projections. If you don’t have structuring, the money fluctuates and you have no knowledge of what you could be bringing in, and what you do bring in on average.
- Figure Out Per-Class Operating Costs: Starting a class without knowing the bare minimum that you need to at least cover the expenses is a fool’s errand. Every class has expenses. You have to consider the instructor’s time and benefits, the cost to cool the room(s) for the class, and cleaning supplies/labor to clean and deodorize the room afterwards. You could even think further about how much water is consumed from your water coolers in the class or as a result of the class participants, security, electrical costs, and more. You can be as dynamic and specific about operating costs as possible, and generally, that’s a good thing. It allows you to cover your costs in full, and do a proper risk assessment and analysis of your class operating costs. This is how you optimize your class as efficiently as possible.
- What’s Your Break-Even?: Once you determine how many clients per class you need to break even on your costs, you’ll know the bare minimum that you require to keep operations going. However, this number normally doesn’t factor in rental costs for the gym, paying yourself, and paying other staff. Since class revenue is a big part of where gyms make their money, it’s imperative that you know your break-even point and make sure you’re making at least double that to help other parts of the business. CrossFit is all about the classes.
You want to consider the break-even point, but don’t live and die by it in the beginning. If your marketing efforts are strong and you can see improvements that are scalable and trackable, you owe it to yourself to keep pushing forward and tip the scales in your favor. Don’t just give up the idea of classes early on.
Specialty Classes to Consider
It’s possible to set up a great class structure and system, only to fall flat on your face. It’s not always feasible to just assume that your classes will get sign-ups. Sometimes, a community can have a completely different class interest.
If another CrossFit gym in the area is already hosting classes, you should step it up with speciality classes. That gym has already established itself and became a brand that people like, know, and trust (if they’re doing it right, at least). Don’t compete; diversify.
- CrossFit Gymnastics: CrossFit gymnastics is a two-day course designed to help with beginner, intermediate, and advanced-level training. Gymnastics incorporates some elements of weightlifting, though you’ll mostly be doing resistance training to use your own body weight as a force to improve muscle development, and improve flexibility. It’s not your typical gymnastics program; it’s better.
- CrossFit Weightlifting: Normal weights are boring. CrossFit makes it fun. Another two-day course with beginner, intermediate, and advanced-level training, it involves live coaching and shows you how to effectively and rapidly learn weightlifting. You’ll improve your technique, become stronger, and learn all about weightlifting safety at the same time. It’s one of the best courses that CrossFit offers.
- CrossFit Aerobic Capacity: Aerobic capacity is typically a one-day course that helps coaches connect with athletes, and helps users determine their performance level while also improving flexibility. These courses aren’t something most gyms typically run, so it could be a great way for you to bring in new customers, and upsell recurring gym access memberships to them.
The best part about offering specialty classes is that you’re listed in the directory on CrossFit’s website. Basically, free marketing and traffic. CrossFit.com receives an average of 2.25 million unique monthly visitors to their site every single month.
With location features that most people enable, local athletes will be shown your gym under the directory when they search for a class. For some context, 2.25 million visitors is 27.5 million people every single year. It’s a big deal.
How Class Schedule Impacts Your Financial Model
Beyond what we discussed earlier, class scheduling is extremely important in your financial model. Let’s talk about the more in-depth ways that it affects and impacts your bottom line.
- CrossFit is Mostly Classes: Yes, you’ll have a gym and gym equipment, but the main reason that people gravitate towards CrossFit is for the classes. It’s the same reason that people gravitate to Gold’s Gym for bodybuilding, even though you can find the same machines at Planet Fitness. It’s all about the experience and benefits; that’s what you’re selling. Because CrossFit has founded itself on.
- Fill Rate: Simply put, the more classes, the more money you’ll make. But it’s not feasible to assume that you will always fill up every single class. Instead, you need to understand what your fill rate is. If you cannot fill up a class, but you can average a 70% fill rate in each class, you’re not doing half-bad. It’s better to have six classes at a 70% fill rate than it is to have three classes at a 100% fill rate. Why? Because with those classes, you may be paying less time for an instructor, but 100% means you’ll have to turn down newcomers, and they’ll just go sign up for another gym. If you can host a few more classes (which at this point since you already have a trainer, it’s not wildly expensive to add more), and fill them up most of the way, you’re reducing scarcity while accommodating more time slots for members.
- Everybody’s Schedule is Different: Hosting classes is tricky. It’s not about what’s most convenient for you and your trainer(s). It’s actually about what’s most convenient for your members. Are they able to make a 1:00 PM class? Are they working the nine-to-five grind and can’t get there until 6:00 PM? Are you going to offer classes that late? This is where market research and understanding your demographic really comes into play. Your scheduling will not dictate availability; it should bend to the availability of your average clientele.
Scheduling isn’t easy. It has to work for you, your trainers, and most importantly for your members. This is why we need to understand our surroundings, and how they dictate scheduling.
How Does Your Surroundings Dictate Schedule?
Different surroundings will immediately tell you about your market. It’s a very assumptive method, but one that works most of the time.
Let’s take a look at suburban-dominant areas, since they’re entirely different from our second model, corporate city markets.
Are you in a low population density area? You’ll have more direct competition even if there are few other gyms.
Low population also means lower rent prices, which could either mean lower median wages in the area, or it could mean that the local residents have more spending money. It depends on the development of the area.
You’ll run into a low of early morning and mid-afternoon availability most of the time. However, these demographics tend to enjoy their evenings, so they won’t be the type to stroll in after a nine-to-five job and workout before heading home.
But what if we look at the corporate city markets?
These areas are much more dense, and as a result, there’s a higher pool of prospective clients. That will correlate to your rent being higher, their rent being higher, and availability being a constant power struggle.
If they have availability, you have to market to them twice as hard just to tell them why they should choose your gym instead of another gym.
Corporate city markets have more apartments than houses, less room, and often less parking. Everything is more competitive, and your midday classes will be much smaller. People will likely be at work, so your early morning and late-night classes will be the most popular.
Many members in these areas will have more disposable income than suburban areas, though. Renting an apartment and working in an area with more competitive wages and salaries means less operating expenses for a higher wage.
Example of Successful CrossFit Gym Schedule
You want to develop an amazing schedule that will accommodate all of your members' needs. Unfortunately, that’s a pipe dream. You have to settle for the needs that you can meet, and make sure it works for your gym as well as your members.
Remember, this depends on your demographic and the classes you offer, but it looks something like this.
Monday through Friday
6:00 AM - Early morning workout-of-the-day style class with instructor
7:00 AM - Early morning workout-of-the-day style class with instructor
8:00 AM - Workout-of-the-day and open gym time
9:00 AM - CrossFit Aerobics Class and cooldown, plus open gym time
12:00 PM - CrossFit weightlifting class and cooldown, plus open gym time
4:00 PM - CrossFit gymnastics class and cooldown, plus open gym time (after school)
5:00 PM - CrossFit gymnastics class and cooldown, plus open gym time (after school)
6:00 PM - Workout-of-the-day and open gym time
7:00 PM - Workout-of-the-day and open gym time
Of course, your schedule is going to look completely different during the weekends. Some CrossFit gyms don’t even host a lot of classes around this time, and leave most of it up to open gym time.
Saturday through Sunday
7:00 AM - Open gym time
10:00 AM - Workout-of-the-day and open gym
12:00 PM - Workout-of-the-day, then open gym until the end of the day
Weekends are typically when people want to relax, even if they’re staying in a groove with their exercise. They don’t want a structured class. Their weekdays are already structured with school, life, work, and other things. They want open time to deliberate their workout on their own, so most of it should be open gym.
Stick to a Schedule and Increase That Revenue
It isn’t enough to just make up a schedule and stick to it. Find the busy times, find the niche communities in your gym that need specific times, and make your schedule make sense for the community you’re servicing.
If it makes sense for them and it provides them value, you’ll practically get sign-ups with little to no effort. Make it convenient and structured at the same time.