Who determines your schedule? Your best clients. Your service must be convenient for them. But you can’t wait around the gym 24 hours per day. And selling 24-hour access devalues your real service (coaching).
If you’re just starting a new gym, do this:
Choose a location based on where your ideal clients live and work. Read more here: “Starting a Gym: Location, Space and Equipment.”
If your location is closer to their homes, determine how your clients commute to work. If your location is closer to their workplaces, determine the normal hours of business.
If you’re not sure which clients to use as models, just start with your location. Walk around to local businesses. When do they open? When do they close? Then walk through the local neighborhoods. What time do people leave for work? How do they get there? When do they get home?
Next, audit the businesses closest to you. When do they open? When do they close? Set up your schedule to start at least an hour before they open and end at least an hour after they close. Then their staffs can join!
You should set your earliest and latest appointments and class times to occur before and after office hours—because great clients aren’t going to be late for work.
Next, determine your midday appointment types and times.
If you’re closer to local businesses, you want a noon class that runs for 45 minutes so people can arrive at 12:05 and leave by 12:55, with a quick shower in the mix.
If you’re closer to a residential area, you want a morning class that gives people time to get their kids off to school—usually around 9:30 or 10 a.m. You also want an afternoon class for youths—usually around 3:30 or 4 p.m.
If you’re in an industrial area, far from your clients’ homes or workplaces, consider moving—or operate very early and very late.
Gym Scheduling: Weekends
What about weekends?
If you’re in a residential area, offer Saturday-morning classes for adults and kids at the same time. Sunday might also be a good option, but start a bit later. For me, 9-a.m. sessions on Saturdays (adults) and 9-, 10- and 11-a.m. slots for kids and youths have always been our largest classes of the week.
If you’re in a commercial area, you probably don’t need weekend classes unless your town is very small. No one is going to commute to the office area on the weekend—but if you’re just starting out, you might want to try one class for the first few months.
Adjust and Optimize
If you already have a gym, you should audit when your best clients attend (both for appointments and group sessions). Those are your priorities.
Fill those classes by working through the Seed Client interviews from my previous series and asking, “How can I get more people on the same schedule?” You’ll find that your Seed Clients’ connections usually live and work on similar schedules.
Know that you’re going to change your schedule. No one gets it right the first time, and your clients’ needs change, too.
For example, in the summer in Ontario, everyone leaves town for their cottage on Friday afternoons. But in the winter, the weekend classes are packed, while the midweek evening classes dip in attendance. And in 2020, our youth program has nearly tripled because all other sports are cancelled.
When it comes to your schedule, the only constant is change.
That doesn’t mean you have to work every hour on the clock.
Replace yourself on weekends first. Record exactly how you want your classes run, with checklists and timelines. Hire staff for their personalities and teach them to deliver exactly as you would. Then start to replace yourself in the evening appointment slots over time.
In the next post in this series, I’ll tell you how to change your schedule as needed.