Do Not Underprice Your Kids Programs!

A young athlete sits on the floor and sulks while peers perform fitness activities behind her.

Here’s a specialty-program revelation that might save you thousands of dollars:

Programs for kids should cost more than programs for adults.

This is a known fact in the sports, gymnastics, cheer and martial-arts worlds.

But for some reason gym owners never got the message.

I personally discounted kids programs at my gym for no good reason, and many, many gym owners have made the same mistake.

Here’s why you should charge more for kids programs.

A head shot of writer Mike Warkentin and the column name "Pressing It Out."

If you make an appointment with a general practitioner doctor, you can expect to get in sooner than if you make an appointment with a specialist. Special expertise is rare and in demand.

Same deal in the gym: Great kids coaches and programs are highly specialized. Kids aren’t small adults. They’re completely different, and leading them requires a different skill set. It’s not easy to manage rangy, often moody kids who might prefer AI and a VR headset to a kettlebell.

Anyone who has ever taught a kids class knows this—but many of us still discount these sessions for some reason.

There’s more: With kids, you have increased safety concerns. Things that are obvious to adults are not obvious to kids, and greater supervision is needed. I once saw a visiting kid climb up on a plyo box, stick his finger in a hole in the squat rack and jump. He had picked a low hole and avoided injury, but I’m sure you see the point.

Growing kids also move differently from session to session, and you must watch them like a hawk. A kid who has a great squat most of the time might take big step back during a growth spurt and get buried under a light bar that was lifted with ease a month ago. And puberty brings all sorts of other considerations.

In reality, kids coaches must have the skills required to work with three very different groups: tots, teens and the “in-betweens.” If a coach uses physical testing with a tot, you’ll have tears. Try a fun fitness game with a teen and you’ll get eye rolls. Only some kids coaches are great with all three groups.  

Then we have equipment needs: Most kids don’t use the standard 15- and 20-kg barbells. To run a great kids program, you’re going to need light fitness equipment, and a good program probably includes some fun stuff like parachutes, scooters or other “fitness toys.” You might even need paper, markers and other supplies to keep some age groups engaged.

Class prep is also more involved. It isn’t just putting together a warm-up that fits before 5 sets of back squats. Your kids coach will need to be much more detailed, perhaps including games and back-up games if the first game is “booooooring.” Crowd-management skills are tested ruthlessly in kids classes.

With all that in mind, it should be clear that a single skilled coach might not be able to handle more than eight kids even though he can manage more than a dozen adults with ease. That alone suggests your rates for kids classes should be higher.

I could go further, but you get the point.

Charge for Value

It’s so tempting to run a kids program for about $100 a month, especially when you think “I should give current members a break if they sign their kids up.” But a rock-bottom rate doesn’t reflect the value you deliver in a world-class kids program.

And remember that fees for kids sports can be very high. Hockey registration fees start in the mid-hundreds and rocket in the thousands very quickly.

I’m not suggesting you gouge parents, only that you don’t undercut yourself.

Kids programs provide incredible value: They teach young ones to move and develop a lifelong love of fitness. They give parents some much-needed time off. They help kids build self-esteem, accomplish athletic goals and avoid diseases related to inactivity.

Isn’t all that worth more than $100?

Chris Cooper’s new guide will help you sell out a kids program. To get it, follow the instructions here.


One more thing!

Did you know gym owners can earn $100,000 a year with no more than 150 clients? We wrote a guide showing you exactly how.