Even the busiest fitness studios suffer from a dip in attendance during the summer months. With vacation season in full swing and outdoor after work plans filling up calendars, class members will likely be missing from their signature spot for a few weeks out of the season. And with the beautiful summer weather shining in through your studio windows, well, can you really fault your members for opting to take their workouts outside?
The good news: There are a few things you can do to help make up the difference during the slow months of summer in order to attract new and current members. We asked a few fitness instructors and studio owners to share their best tips and advice for increasing participation and getting more people through the door. Here’s how to bolster class attendance throughout the summer.
Run summer-centric specials
It’s just a fact that summer calls for us to wear less clothing in order to keep cool. So why not use the season to your advantage by running workout classes and specials focused on getting your members ready to strip down and hit the beach in all their glory? “Use the whole ‘it’s summer’ thing to your advantage by running a bikini boot camp marketing campaign,” says fitness instructor Grace Albin. “Motivate studio members to come in more often by placing a sign in the lobby about a six-week bikini boot camp that is a summer special.” Albin says marketing the class via email for the members who haven’t attended class in a while can also help bring them back in.
Take your class outside
If your members are taking their workouts outside, why not go with them and meet them where they want to be with a new workout? “This year, I started teaching classes outdoors during the week,” says Michele Gordon, creator of Cardio Sweat Party. “When it’s nice outside, that’s the only place we want to be. The classes are extra special as they’re only done for a few months of the year, the change of scenery is rejuvenating, and the new location is inviting to new clients and member’s friends. I launched a referral program so my current clients can get free classes by bringing friends, and offered discount packages for those who pre-paid for the outdoor workouts. Once your clients fall in love with your outdoor workouts, they’ll continue to follow you all year round.”
Rework your class schedule
The most convenient days and times of week for your members to work out inevitably changes during summer. Weekends are packed with beach plans and mini getaways, and after work hours are spent taking advantage of the weather outside. Gordon says that adjusting your class schedule to reflect your member’s summer priorities will help keep your classes full. “I personally don’t teach classes on the weekend as I know that’s when people travel and go to the beach,” Gordon explains. “The weekends in NYC are typically slow, so by hosting outdoor workouts during the week, I get more bang for my buck. That being said, by hosting classes on the weekend mornings, you can promote working out before the beach, etc.” Other gym-goers may also benefit from work perks like summer Fridays, so consider adding a 3 or 4 pm class on Friday to kick off the weekend.
Host a free event
Sometimes you just need to reignite the flame with your members by offering a free class outside — and allowing them to bring along the friends that they were going to spend happy hour with in order to seal the deal. “I like to host more free events during the summer to gain visibility for my HIIT IT! High Intensity Interval Training workout and to meet potential new students,” says Daphnie Yang, certified personal trainer and creator of HIIT IT!™. “I have found the best way to market free events is via email and social media. I always encourage students to bring friends!” As far as securing a space goes, do some digging into the regulations of your local outdoor parks and spaces to see what would make the most sense for your class needs. “The NYC Parks Services allows you to host events and workouts outdoors in any NYC park sans permit if you’re expecting under 25 people,” says Yang.
Create hype with a new instructor or challenge
Knowing that summer is the season for travel, fitness instructor Ashley Pitt says that hosting a class taught by a guest instructor who might be in your area can generate buzz to get members to come in to take their master class. “Try bringing in guest instructors from other cities to teach at your studio and really hype up the event,” she suggests. Another way to keep members coming to class consistently is to offer a season-long challenge that results in the highest participators winning something come the end of summer. “Run challenges that run just for the summer months to encourage people to take more classes in order to be entered to win some big prize,” she says.