Why Fall is the Perfect Time to Create the Optimal Gym Schedule

Thinking about making changes to your gym schedule? Here are the dos and don'ts to consider, and why fall is the perfect time to maximize your schedule!

Emily Beers
August 16, 2023
Why Fall is the Perfect Time to Create the Optimal Gym Schedule
Thinking about making changes to your gym schedule? Here are the dos and don'ts to consider, and why fall is the perfect time to maximize your schedule!

If summer and fall attendance in your gym is as different as night and day, you’re not alone. And what worked on your summer gym schedule might not be as effective as autumn sets in. So it’s the perfect time to work on creating the perfect schedule for your unique fitness business that your members will love.

Whether they’ve been on vacation all summer or just spent more time outdoors, chances are your summer attendance was lower than normal. Experienced gym owners understand that this isn’t a reason to panic. Instead, the strategy is to adapt as needed. The goal is to cater to the ever-changing needs of your gym community while ensuring you’re protecting your bottom line.

Creating the optimal gym schedule
Try these dos and don’t when creating the ideal gym schedule for your fitness business.

As gym owners ourselves, we get it! Check out the following list of dos and don’ts to manage your gym schedule like a boss this fall season.

The Dos and Don’ts of Creating the Ideal Gym Schedule.

1. Don’t Add for the Sake of Adding.

The key to making smart additions to your gym schedule is using data to drive your decisions.

For example, let’s say you’re contemplating adding a 9:30am class because you’re assuming it would be a popular option. After all, parents are dropping kids off at school and then probably want a workout, right? But do you have any data from previous years to support this assumption?

Further, let’s say you’re currently offering six classes per day. And looking at the number of gym member check-ins from this time last year, you’re only filling 50-60%. This data suggests there’s no reason to add another class to your lineup.

Stu Brauer, a PushPress partner and mentor with WTF Gym Talk, suggests a 90% utilization rate, or higher. This means that you shouldn’t consider adding classes unless you’re in the 90% and above utilization range.

2. Do Consider Adjusting Class Times.

On the flip side, continuing to run a class that’s underperforming, attendance-wise, can be detrimental to your overall gym revenue.

Consider that one class that’s been consistently low for awhile. It might be worth replacing it with a new time or even canceling it altogether. Before you think about adding new class times, is it possible to make adjustments to your current gym schedule?

Adjust class times with lower attendance
Consider adjusting class times that have lower attendance.

3. Don’t Survey Members Without Parameters.

When considering a class schedule change, gathering feedback can be a slippery slope if not done carefully. And this largely comes down to how you’re surveying gym members.

Ultimately, you simply want to be careful about how you’re framing your questions. Keep them focused and simple, and be transparent about your intentions for asking.

For example, watch what happens when you ask if anyone would like you add a new 9am class. You’ll likely get a plethora of yes responses. Because why not? Another class on the schedule is another option that they might attend. Possibly. Potentially. Maybe.

However, see what happens when you ask whether members would like to see the 8am class pushed to 9am. A specific question like this will give you a much more accurate read on the situation. And this allows you to make the appropriate choices when revising your gym schedule.

4. Do Use the Term “Pilot” or “Trial.

There’s nothing wrong with experimenting with a new class time without committing to keep it long term. And it’s perfectly okay for attendance success to dictate whether it stays or goes.

Once again, the most important thing for your members is transparency. Like a restaurant trying out a new dish on the menu, just be clear that your goal is to gage success.

Start with using the word “pilot” or “trial” to indicate that the change may not be permanent. Then, clearly outline your definition of success. For example, “If this class does not average eight people in attendance for the first six weeks, it will be removed from the schedule.” Then let people vote with their feet!

Pilot various class times
Pilot class times to find the ones that accommodate the most members in your community.

5. Do Determine the Problem You’re Trying to Solve.

As the saying goes, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

Before you go about making any changes, it’s worth pinpointing the problem(s) you’re trying to solve.

For instance, are you revamping your whole schedule because the summer months were slow? What happens if it was slow simply because that’s normal in the fitness industry? So instead of your scheduling being “broken,” attendance has simply been status quo for all the normal reasons.

With that in mind, it might be worth running your current schedule for the month of September. Then, if you’re still finding attendance to be low, it’s appropriate to make changes.

6. Don’t Let the Squeaky Wheel Bully You.

Have you ever made a knee-jerk reaction with your gym schedule based on input from one member? Let’s take Negative Nancy as an example. When she threatens to quit because you don’t offer a 7am class, do you think about starting a 7am class?

Instead, it’s worth finding out if it really was that particular class time, or if Nancy was just looking for a reason to quit.

The truth is, most people who are committed to the gym will find a way to make your gym schedule work, regardless of how busy they are. If they’re getting value from your gym, coaches and community, they’ll keep coming.

As Brauer explained, most people will arrange their schedules to accommodate yours, rather than quitting if your schedule isn’t optimal.

Let the majority rule for determining class times
Don’t let one negative member speak for the majority of the community.

7. Do Consider Adding Classes if Waitlists are Common.

As tricky as it may sometimes be, your goal is to help as many people as possible. And that sometimes means groups of people all aiming to be in the gym at once. So if your members are consistently getting waitlisted, it could be prohibitive to providing them with the ultimate member experience.

First, check the numbers and verify that data supports your desire to add another class or two. If so, celebrate this win because you’re obviously doing something right! And it might be time to add a new class time to your gym schedule.

Pro Tip: If you decided to adjust your schedule, use the power of automation in PushPress Grow to inform your members and help them set goals around it. Find out more by booking a demo with the Grow team today!

In Summary:

There’s a lot more to an ideal gym schedule than picking the times you think might work best for your clients. Over time, you’ll have the data to make calculated decisions that align with the goals of your business.

In the meantime, it’s okay to ask members for feedback, provided you survey them with the right parameters. Also, focus on the problems you’re looking to solve, so that you’re not just adding or adjusting for no reason. And definitely don’t let make revisions based on the loud feedback of one perpetually-unhappy member.

With all of this in mind, take note that fall is a great time to make the smart gym schedule changes that you’ve been thinking about. You may find these changes will increase revenue and retention, while helping even more members.

Emily Beers

Emily Beers is a health, fitness and nutrition writer. She has also been coaching fitness at MadLab School of Fitness in Vancouver, B.C. since 2009.

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