Making class timetable changes

A timetable change can be a stressful thing for a gym owner/manager to consider.

From time to time, you may be under pressure from some members to change your timetable, while at the same time you may be worried that you’ll disappoint other members if you do.

So how do you decide whether to change (or not)?

A framework for making class timetable decisions

  1. Step one: decide on a few different methods of data collection and how you will deal with the data once collected:

It is important to look at a few different sources of information. It would be a mistake to only speak to the most outspoken or easily accessible members.  Some sources worth considering are:

  • Members collectively: Speak to members in groups (e.g. after a class – a quick ‘show of hands’ question). Alternatively, you could survey members (although be aware of low response rates from surveys).
  • Members individually: a few specifically selected people that represent a cross-section of your membership: e.g. old and young, new and foundation, currently attending group classes and those not.
  • Prospective members: would any proposed new classes mean they would join?
  • Class data: Use class attendance reports from your software. What are the most and least popular classes, times, or programs? What are the outliers? Where are the opportunities?
  • Staff: Speak to staff (e.g. during a staff meeting: “are there any classes or class times we should consider reviewing/changing?”).
  • Trends in the industry and new opportunities/markets.
  • What other successful gyms in your area are doing.
  • Your own observations, views, and gut feels.

After you have chosen your methods, then decide how will you judge the data you receive, especially in any instance when it does not agree. For example, which carries more ‘weight’ in making your final decision: staff views, member views, your own views, and class attendance data from your software? The technique here is to either give different sources equal rating, or rank the different sources of data.

The question that you ultimately want to answer from this process (driven by your business mission/aim) will dictate the methods and groups you choose. Will a change help you to reach our business goal (healthier community, more revenue, more members, improved results etc)? For example, the sources of information may differ if your aim was to increase revenue versus having more members attend group classes.

  1. Collect the data

This may take a few days (or more). Try to avoid choosing a period where other things may influence class participant or views. e.g. not during a week containing a public holiday, or when there are other significant changes going on in the gym.

For the class participation data, look at different classes and different times, and over a long period (for trends, rather than just a month or two).

  1. Analysis

Condense your quantitative (e.g. class participation data) with qualitative (e.g. what members have told you verbally). Note any trends.

E.g. All groups would like a HIIT class on Tuesday morning at 9.30am. This is the most popular class on Monday and Wednesday at the same time. There is no consensus on whether we should run the same class on Thursday morning.

  1. Make the decision and communicate it clearly

Is there a clear consensus or motive to change?

If there is, then make sure you communicate any changes clearly to everyone (staff, members, community). This is where communicating your methods will help support your decision. If you do this, even if a member disagrees with the decision, can see the logic in your position.