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Managing Class Sizes

Managing class sizes is important for profitability, safety and client comfort.

Managing Class Sizes

Group classes are popular across fitness disciplines. A good-sized group has its own energy which can help encourage all participants and reassure the more introverted members of the group. Trainers, instructors and facility owners also like to see a full class because it represents better compensation.

So what does it take to manage your class sizes properly?

Optimize timing

Not only is it important to discover the ideal time slots for your clients, but you also need to think about class length. The key is to choose times when the maximum number of people are available to attend and stay until the end of the class. It can take some experimenting to figure out what works best, but careful attendance tracking can help you discover patterns and make adjustments as needed. Be alert to seasonal variations that may be needed in your schedule, for example, as children go on summer break or back to school.

Maximize awareness

Make sure you are communicating your class schedule effectively and continuously, through signage, marketing and word of mouth. If you work somewhere with multiple instructors, coordinate to share each others’ class schedules. Any time you lead a workshop or substitute teach a class, be sure to promote your regular class times. You never know when you might have made a connection with a potential student who would like to learn more from you.

Make class engaging

Once you’ve drawn a good crowd of regulars, capitalize on the positive energy of the group to keep them coming back for more. Connect with your students and make sure they know you’re there to help them achieve their goals. Consider adding activities where students interact with each other so they will feel a sense of belonging to the group and be more motivated to come back on a regular schedule.

Figure out your limits and options

If you do everything right, you might find yourself in a position where you’ve increased your class size to the maximum and perhaps slightly beyond. Conversely, you may discover that no combination of factors is enough to produce a well-attended class at a certain time. Decide what your minimum and maximum class sizes are and adjust your schedule to facilitate the number of attendees that works best. Also, be sure to have a plan for handling an unexpectedly over-packed class, perhaps by dividing it into two spaces or offering an extra free class to anyone who arrives after a reasonable cutoff number has been reached.

Keep safety in mind

Remember that one factor that limits maximum class size is your students’ safety. Just last year, an overcrowded yoga studio was a factor in a serious accident that led to a lawsuit against the instructor. In any type of group exercise setting, inadequate space between participants can be an accident waiting to happen. If you find that certain classes are frequently over-full, figure out a plan to safely accommodate all the students going forward.

Protect yourself

If despite your best efforts someone does get injured in your class, make sure you have professional liability insurance coverage. It’s less expensive than you may think and it can cover you for the cost of legal fees, judgments and settlements, and even lost wages due to time spent defending a claim.