Launching outdoor fitness classes can be a win-win situation — clients get to enjoy a change of scenery and a hit of Vitamin D, while you freshen up your studio or gym offerings and capture the sun-loving crowd. Students and instructors alike enjoy ditching the treadmills, machines and dumbbells for some scenic views every now and then. And while not all group classes permit the ability to break a sweat in the great outdoors, the ones that do can use warmer temps and sunshine to their advantage.
While there are major benefits for sweating it out outside, considering the details and planning ahead can’t be overlooked. Don’t wind up wishing you hadn’t left the gym — read on for common pitfalls to avoid when launching outdoor fitness classes.
Mistake: Not checking ahead for location permission
Before you tell your clients to meet you outside at a specific location, be sure the property is fair game for a workout. The last thing you want is to have a class show up, only to discover the property is private, fitness classes aren’t allowed or need a permit.
For example, while places like schools and parks may have the most ideal outdoor areas to host class, they could also be the most restricted. Check in with your local parks department, school district and other community organizations before you set your class location in stone.
You should also consider how busy the area you choose is depending on what time of day your class will take place. If it’s a popular park destination at noon or a packed track in the evenings, you’ll want to have a game plan for working around other people using that spot.
And remember to not overlook things like space, shade and accessibility to water. Staying safe during a workout should always be the number one priority for you and your class.
Mistake: Not getting specific about directions
Once you do have a location in place, communicate clearly to your class how to get there and exactly where you plan on meeting. You don’t want something as simple as a miscommunication being the reason for a lackluster customer experience. You also don’t want to deter them from attending future outdoor workouts.
Identify a time and place to meet and stick with it. If directions seem to be too confusing for this location, or there isn’t adequate parking nearby, consider choosing a new site. The less hassle for your clients, the happier they’ll be — and the happier you’ll be, too.
Mistake: Not marketing your outdoor sessions
For outdoor enthusiasts, planks at the park or yoga on a rooftop are immediately enticing experiences. But for regular studio-goers, working out in the outdoors may not have the same appeal. When you’re considering launching outdoor fitness classes, you want to get your audience excited about the change — and ensure your ideas suit your clientele. Just as you’d market a new offering on your schedule, remember to publicize and create buzz for your outdoor classes.
Mistake: Not adapting to the environment
Having the right equipment for outdoor workouts isn’t just about having enough weights or jump ropes available for everybody in class. It’s about having the right gear for the location. For your own transportation purposes, try to plan classes that need the least amount of equipment to complete. You don’t want to haul your entire arsenal of kettlebells across town, and then have to unload them and reload them after class.
Create routines that allow you to use the space you’re in. Are there benches or stairs nearby? Throw in some squats or decline push-ups to your workout. No matter where you are outside, there are always ways to incorporate both natural and man-made landscapes into the mix. Plus, the whole point of being in the outdoors is leaving the gym behind, and that’s not possible if you insist on bringing the gym with you.
Also, be considerate of the surfaces you’re holding classes on. If your clients aren’t used to doing sit-ups or push-ups in grass or on concrete, consider bringing mats for everybody or at least suggesting that they bring their own. Outdoor workouts should be fun twists to your already stellar classes, not something everybody is going to get hurt doing.
Mistake: Not having a backup plan
And last but not least, look to the sky. If the weather is going to be a total washout or if storms are in the forecast — or if the weather near you is just unpredictable — then you’ll want to have a backup plan in place just in case.
If your plan for bad weather is to hold class indoors at your gym or studio, then be sure to communicate that clearly to your class ahead of time. No matter your plan, express it explicitly, and always know where you can take your class to shelter in the event of inclement conditions.