Operations

Build the Optimal Class Schedule for Your CrossFit Affiliate Gym

Your class schedules will either make or break class sales and attendance - this is what you need to know to make the most out of your class structure and get paid

Sam Karoll
September 6, 2022
TLDR;
Your class schedules will either make or break class sales and attendance - this is what you need to know to make the most out of your class structure and get paid

You have six classes a day, all with the same energetic instructor, whom you pay a lot of money because they’re really good at their job and converting customers. But nobody shows up to the classes. Even as your gym gains more members, class attendance is low, and then before you know it, people start canceling their memberships. What gives?

Your class schedule may be the problem. If your current class structuring model doesn’t offer available for your demographic, then you have a huge problem on your hands. Classes are one of the major ways that CrossFit gyms earn their revenue, so what do you do? We have a few suggestions on building your CrossFit class schedule that should help you out.

Make a Schedule That Optimizes Your Costs and Their Time

In an ideal world, every business could provide the perfect solution to their patrons or clients—but we’re far from an ideal world. The balancing act is finding out how to optimize your costs so you aren’t hemorrhaging money while also giving your clients a great schedule system that works for them (and your trainers).

In this tightrope act, we’re going to first approach it from a financial aspect, then find out how to make it the best possible schedule for your clients without letting go of profits and mitigate costs. Let’s get into it.

Determine Monthly Class Rates and Average Class Sizes

What do you charge for the average monthly class? If someone gets two classes per week and they sign up for a month, what does that rate look like for your business? It’s not enough to just say rates - instructor rates + total class size = profits.

If only it were that simple. There’s a lot that you have to factor in if you want to truly get value out of the classes you provide while also pulling profits. Let’s talk about what you need to know.

  • Average Power Consumption: You have to cool the room, and in a gym with high ceilings, that can add up. You’ll have 10 to 30 people in a room all heating the place up, so how much will it cost to cool that room for a half-hour? If you cool the entire gym for 40 hours a week (just as an example), you should factor in those 30 minutes in that CrossFit class into your total expenses.
  • Instructor Cost: Your instructor can be paid in a multitude of ways. Sometimes they’re paid minimum wage plus a certain dollar amount for every head they have in their class, which can motivate them to market for you. This increases their maximum earning potential and means you aren’t paying a high cost for a small class size. However, at a larger scale, this practice can actually cost you money. If your marketing efforts are great, your instructors will basically get extra money for your efforts. There are many ways to pay them, but either way you have to factor it in.
  • Janitorial Costs: Someone has to clean the room in between sessions, otherwise it gets musty and there’s sweat on the mats and the floor. Do you have a dedicated janitor or maintenance person on-hand? Most gyms should have janitorial staff to help keep it clean throughout the day and keep unwanted odors at bay. Factor them into your class costs.
  • Average Class Size: Using gym management software like PushPress, you can see how many people are attending classes and at what times. As you gather data, you’ll know which times are your most lucrative for classes. You can either work to increase the maximum class size or add another class at the same time with another instructor. Without the data to run off of, you won’t know your ideal times and how it impacts your demographic. Data doesn’t lie, and it may shed some light on your buyer personas that you previously thought you knew about.

Determine Individual Class Operating Costs

You want to factor everything in on a monthly basis of course, but it’s also ideal to make sure that every single class is profitable. Think about it: if 20% of your classes cost you more than they make you, removing that 20% of classes will overall increase your class profits while reducing labor.

However, at the same time, those classes may be the only time that your clients have time to attend. If you cancel those class times and they cancel their memberships, it quickly adds up to a net loss. Make sure you understand what each individual class time brings to the table, and optimize the less profitable classes by either reducing costs or understanding the unique value they provide.

Determine Your Break-Even Point for Each Class

Let’s say you run 6 classes a day, so 30 a week. Take the monthly expenses of your instructors, electricity, janitorial costs, etc., and add it up. Now divide it by what it costs for each individual class.

Your expenses are divided into 120, in this example. What did you come up with? That’s your break-even point for each individual class. If it costs you $40 for the facility to operate and run that class, and it’s $20 per class, you need a minimum of two participants to cover the expenses of the class.

Now you need to figure out how to improve each one of those classes to be as profitable as possible without taking away any level of quality from it. Those classes could be the reason that someone brings in their friend or relative to try out the facility, earning you a new member that may be more profitable than they are.

It’s important to have zero loss in quality, otherwise, it will negatively impact the view of your gym as a whole.

Understand How Your Location Affects Class Scheduling

Location really is everything, especially with a gym. Convenience is king, so if you’re really hard to get to, you better have an amazing and unique selling point that pulls people in. These are some ways that your location can affect class scheduling and what you can do about it.

  • Public Transit Proximity: Not everyone who goes to your gym will arrive in their own car. If you’re in a dense city area, public transportation may be responsible for the majority of how your gym members get to you. This is especially true if you have gym members who go to the local high school, college, or work in the downtown area. How close are you to public transportation? It could make your gym memberships skyrocket purely out of convenience. This is also important because your CrossFit classes can be set up for the perfect amount of time between train and bus schedules (with some time to account for walking to your gym).
  • Bad Entryway: In a less dense area, more people may travel by car. But what if your gym is extremely difficult to get into from the main road? Some businesses will build a mirrored location directly across the street purely to get traffic and customers from both sides of a big and busy road. There’s a liquor store and visitor center on the New Hampshire border with an exact replica across the road, so people can stop in whether they’re entering or exiting the state. You’re not going to build two gyms, but the whole point is that you have to understand how convenience and ease of access plays a role in whether you’ll get a healthy influx of clients or not. People already have enough to do every day—stressing out about getting into your parking lot shouldn’t be another worry on their list.
  • Visibility: When you can see something, it feels closer to you. “It’s just on my way home from work” is a great reason to join a gym, because it saves you time and it’s right there on your normal path. It’s visible. If you’re down some back road where nobody is going to see you, it will impact your traffic and make it harder to know which class times work for your bottom line.

Setting Reasonable Class Hours and Frequency

Now that we know where the money is and how we’re going to make these classes profitable, it’s time to figure out how many hours you’ll be paying your instructors, how many classes you’ll have each day, and what those ideal hours will be.

Keep in mind that these ideas revolve around normal gym operating hours. In previous posts we’ve talked about unique selling points, such as 10:00 PM and 11:30 PM CrossFit classes for nurse shift changes, etc. You have to find a way to make this work with any selling points that alter your gym operating hours. With that in mind, let’s proceed.

  • Find Your Demographic’s Hours: Some towns are all asleep by 9:00 PM. Some cities never sleep. Where are you located and what kind of hours do the inhabitants keep? Which hours would work best for that demographic? Let’s approach that before we know what the hours are going to be.
  • Set Frequency: How many classes will you have each day? Keep in mind that there needs to be time in between classes to clean the room, deodorize it, and for your trainers to have some rest so they don’t overwork themselves. Take into account how many instructors you have, how many rooms you have for classes, and what your true capacity is. A little trick to set your frequency is to hit up the data in your management software like PushPress. What are your most active hours? Which classes have a really small attendance list, and will you be able to pad that with offers or should you cut out these classes and focus on your busier times? The data will tell you how often you should have classes.
  • Not All Gym Hours: You don’t need classes to be live during every single hour that gym is open. That would be a bit nuts. Instead, find out which hours your gym members are most active. You’ll have your early birds that show up when you open and hit the racks before work, some latecomers who show up a half-hour before closing, but those aren’t your ideal class participants. Most classes seem to be active between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM, though your times may vary. It all depends on your demographic and when they’re most active in your gym.

As an added note, you want to make sure your instructors have a predictable schedule while you figure out when to hold classes. If you want to add two or three extra classes to their schedule each week and test that for a month to see if it’s profitable, that’s okay, but know that closing out those classes later if they’re not profitable will mess with your instructor’s income.

Talk to them beforehand and let them know it’s a test period, and understand that they’ll get used to this schedule and level of income. You don’t want to tick off your employee just because you experimented and found that something didn’t work. Keep that in mind while you proceed.

Set Your Schedule Up for Success

A schedule seems like a simple thing to set up, but now that you know how much it can impact your business, we hope you’ll be able to make a schedule that fits your needs, your trainer’s availability, and brings in more attendees (and fewer membership cancellations).

Listen to your clients, understand their needs, and be willing to move schedules around if your staff can accommodate. We sometimes think about when we want classes to be as owners, and not what the client or user needs. Sometimes we just don’t know, but now’s your chance to find out.

Sam Karoll

Sam is our Community Manager for PushPress. He also owns and operates Xplore Nutrition, a personalized nutrition coaching service designed "for your lifestyle and goals by a Coach who's always available."

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