It may have been the longest winter ever, but warm weather has finally arrived. Most people are overjoyed about the pleasant temps – but it can be a bittersweet time for studio owners. Convincing people to stay inside to work out at your studio is challenging in the summer – many studios see a significant drop-off in attendance, when even the promise of a toned, beach-ready body can’t compete with the lure of a leisurely jog in the sunshine.
After interviewing several former and current studio managers about their most successful tactics, we’ve put together a few tips to keep your clients coming back to class, even when the sun is out.
1. Incorporate the outdoors. Everyone wants to be outside when the weather is nice, especially if your studio is located in a climate with only a few warm months. The benefits are endless – a healthy tan, some Vitamin D and no air conditioning costs, among many others. Use this to your advantage by hosting outdoor classes whenever possible. If you’re in a city, expand your studio to parks, plazas, rooftops, and other open spaces. If you’re in the suburbs or a more rural area, you can take your pick of pastoral scenery. This can also have the added benefit of freeing up studio space, so you can hold more classes at once. Does your studio have a terrace or a usable roof? Those can be great places to hold classes – your clients will have ready access to all the amenities your studio offers, while enjoying the fresh air. If none of these options are available to you, opening your windows and doors can offer the pleasure of being outside without the inconvenience of moving all of your equipment.
2. Build your classes around an event. Tons of races happen in the summer – marathons, half marathons, triathlons, Ragnar Relays, Spartan races – you name it, and people are training for it. Offer a series of classes that help people train or cross-train for different events, with adaptable activities depending on fitness levels. Injuries are rampant while training for these types of races, especially among new participants of endurance events, so be sure to emphasize the injury-prevention properties of a Pilates-strengthened core or a barre-toned behind.
3. Turn your classes into a social activity. There’s something about the summer that makes us want to become social butterflies. Even those of us who spent the entire winter inside watching Netflix are suddenly looking for outdoor food festivals or group kayaking events with strangers. It can be a huge draw for customers to incorporate these kind of events into your class schedule. This can start on the most basic level – for instance, partner a yoga class with a trip to the local farmers’ market to help your clients pick out great smoothie ingredients. This involves little extra work or cost for your studio and creates a fun atmosphere. If you want to get more advanced, you can partner with other local businesses to offer activities in your own studio. A juice tasting after class or a happy hour on a rooftop can be fun ways to strengthen your relationship with your clients. Even non-summer-related events can be huge draws – offer live music during a yoga class, or a DJ during bootcamp, for instance.
4. Summer sales and specials. Summer is a great time for promotions – if you can get a user hooked during the summer, retention during the winter months will be much higher. Offer a buddy pass or a buddy discount – a member can bring along a friend for a lower price. You can also take this opportunity to shift your schedule around: morning classes are more popular in the summer because people tend to have more engagements in the evenings, so make sure people have a reason not to hit that snooze button. Summer is also a great time to ask your most popular, rock-star teachers to guide a workshop or pick up some specialty classes – anything to motivate people to get in the door.
Summer is the perfect time to really engage your clients – the opportunities for fun social- and community-focused events are endless. With a little flexibility, and some creativity, your classes will be more popular than ever – and then you, too, can welcome the warm weather like everyone else!