Like clockwork, January brings new year’s resolution crowds rushing to join gyms and fitness studios ready to make lifestyle changes. It’s a great boom for business, but it’s important to manage these crowds to ensure that client experience remains high while accommodating for more people.
How do you manage crowds during the resolution season? We have some tactics you can employ to make sure that everyone feels cared for even with the uptick of clients working out!
Increase Waitlist Capacity
One simple trick is to increase the waitlist capacity for your classes. At their high-intensity Pilates studio, Fierce45 in Denver, CO, director of marketing and strategy Laina Ballantyne shares that they, “typically increase waitlist capacity from 5 spots to 10 for all classes, so there is a greater chance waitlisted students can get in.”
Adding more slots for your waitlist means that more people can sign up and get into class when others cancel, which is a smart trick to manage the resolution crowds when classes fill up faster but also thin out faster, too! Even just giving someone the option to sign up on the waitlist—whether or not they get into the class—can give a sense that you have accommodated them in some way! They may even decide to come to the gym or studio (if that is an option) just in case they get into class last-minute.
Add Classes to the Schedule
Another tactic is to add more classes to the schedule during resolution season. At SWEAT in Chicago, IL, CEO and founder Paul Rahn does this to manage the increased number of clients coming in for a workout. “We ensure our programming is created to accommodate additional walk in traffic so we avoid turning clients and new clients away.”
Ballantyne agrees, sharing that at Fierce45, they will add extra classes on weekends and during the mid-day on weekdays to give the new and current members more options and to reduce crowding. This is especially important if you have a lot of classes that are set up for walk-in traffic without an online sign-up that will limit the number who can enter. If you give more class options, the crowds can be spread out, and it won’t feel cramped and uncomfortable. It will also allow instructors to provide a better client experience during class, which is especially important for people who are there for the first time!
Increase Your Stock of Supplies & Retail
When your gym or studio is packed, it can be a good way to draw people in because passerby will notice it’s a hot spot for fitness! However, you don’t want an overly crowded gym that might drive others away for fear they won’t have enough space to exercise comfortably, or a studio with bare shelves in your boutique, or not enough towels and supplies for everyone.
This is why Rahn recommends that you up your stock in anticipation of the resolution crowds at your gym. “We focus on having enough supplies and retail to accommodate the additional traffic to keep the experience at top level for each client, including making a great first impression on new clients.”
Plan ahead and be prepared for more foot traffic and more clients who deserve the same treatment as at any other time of the year in order to keep them coming back! If you need to stock up on energy drinks and bars, extra towels, shampoo, equipment cleaning spray or wipes, yoga mats, toe socks, or whatever else you may need, do it! You can always keep any extra supplies on hand for later, but you can’t make it magically appear when you run out and need it most.
Keep Management Around At Peak Times
Training your staff to handle the resolution rush is key, but you should safeguard against any major issues by having management staff and higher-level staff working at peak hours. Especially if you have recently hired front desk staff for the new year, it’s a good idea to have someone on-site who can handle any issues or answer tough questions if they arise during a rush.
Rahn takes this approach at SWEAT sharing that, “at peak times, our management and ownership are on hand to support our desk staff in directing traffic in studios, available to answer questions for new clients, and building relationships with our members.”
Try to make rounds, introducing yourself to clients and asking how their experience is going to add an extra personal touch.
This can make the difference during this time of year because gym and studio managers and owners can ensure that the client experience is top-notch for everyone while also assisting front desk staff and instructors who may need the extra support while dealing with so many new clients. Being onsite will show both new and returning clients that you really care about your facility and enjoy being there, too! You could even try to make rounds, introducing yourself to clients and asking how their experience is going to add an extra personal touch.
Plan Classes for Larger Groups
Finally, an important tactic to keep everyone happy during the resolution season is to plan classes with larger groups in mind. On this point, Rahn explains, “We train our trainers to be very specific on the set up of their classes to ensure it doesn’t ‘feel’ crowded. They are trained to be organized and educate the clients in staying organized throughout the 60 minute classes. That greatly helps keep the flow of traffic manageable.”
This might mean taking a different approach for group fitness classes. For example, if you don’t have enough punching bags for everyone to have their own in a cardio kickboxing class, design the workout so that people need to partner up for exercises or focus more on foundational exercises that don’t require the bag. Be creative and take an approach that will allow you to maximize your use of time and space for extra people showing up!