Many studio owners operate as part entrepreneur and part fitness instructor, running their business while also teaching class. And of course, teaching at your fitness studio comes with plenty of benefits. For starters, it gives you first-hand experience of what’s working for your clients, allows you to see how they’re responding to class offerings and helps you identify where you can improve. The downside? Taking time out of your busy schedule to teach means that you’re likely working longer hours than you’d be if you’d handed that class over to an instructor, giving you time to focus on other areas of your business.
Finding the sweet spot between teaching class and managing your studio can be tough to strike. To master the art of how to balance both, we asked a few studio owners for their insights on how to determine how many classes you should teach as a studio owner – and a few signs it might be time to lessen your class load.
Evaluate your workload
It’s easy to think that you have more time than you do. For Michelle McGovern, chief operating officer of Uforia Studios, outlining the musts of her business helped her determine how many classes she could feasibly teach per week. “By creating a list of must-do tasks (meetings, analysis, etc.) that keep the studio running, you can then figure out how many hours per week you have to dedicate to teaching,” she says. “As someone who runs a studio, finances are the number one priority for me to keep our studio successful! I use Trello to track everything on my to do list every week, which keeps me on task. I always make sure to get the most important things done first, then move on later in the week to less essential operations.”
Determine your personal bandwidth
Just because you have time to teach class doesn’t necessarily mean you should absolutely take on a certain number per week. “When I opened my first studio I was teaching four classes a day – sometimes 25+ classes a week – on top of trying to take care of all the other admin duties of owning a studio,” says Paul Michael Rahn, founder and CEO of SWEAT. “Fast forward a few years, and I have found the joy and balance in teaching a class a day which allows me to put the needed amount of time into other portions of the business.” To determine this number, Rahn evaluated his workload by constantly asking himself one important question. “Do you get pumped up to coach your classes? If not, that’s probably a sign that you might be burnt out,” he says. “I always take a step back and think about the quality of my own coaching. If I am burnt out, my classes won’t be as great, so I ensure I have the right balance to keep me motivated to coach.”
Do you get pumped up to coach your classes? If not, that’s probably a sign that you might be burnt out.
Consider your need for time off
In the event that you get sick or take a much-needed vacation, you’ll have to find coverage for certain areas of your business. As Katie Attebery, owner of Rush Cycle explains, the more classes you teach, the more your absence will be felt. “Reducing your class load helps from a risk management standpoint,” she explains. “If I get sick, want to go on vacation, get injured, etc. it’s going to be less disruptive to the business to have to find a replacement for three classes than 10. And if I’m the most popular instructor and I’m teaching a ton of classes, if I go down, will the overall business suffer? I try to reduce the likelihood of these scenarios as much as possible.”
Let your instructors be the stars
Maybe you have a large following from your time as a fitness instructor – or have built up a rapport with your regulars who come to class to see you, specifically. As Cora Wo, founder and owner of X-CORE Studio explains, teaching too many classes per week can actually present a challenge for your instructors. “It’s very important that clients don’t get too used to your style of teaching or all they’re going to do is play the comparison game, which won’t be fair to your other instructors,” she says. “Every client has their personal preferences for instructors – and if you are the one teaching 75% or more of the classes, that doesn’t allow your other instructors to flourish and grow out a following of their own.” In order to strike this balance, Wo suggests teaching less than 15 classes per week as a studio owner. “Balancing administrative and day-to-day duties, plus teaching, is quite the task,” she says. “You need the energy to provide great customer service and if you dedicate all of that towards instructing, you’ll never build the community and attract great clients due to lack of energy.”