What is Fitness Class Management Software and how can it be used effectively by independent gyms and fitness clubs?
In today’s blog we will be tackling one of the most important technical issues for an independent gym or fitness club to get right.
Or more specifically, Class Management Software. The days of keeping track of classes on a blackboard have passed! (Though you can keep doing it for the retro-aesthetic if you want!) We are looking for a method of fitness class arrangement that can’t be completely disrupted by a board-eraser/rubber.
Much as with Gym membership management and access controls, the discipline of class management has been revolutionised in the last twenty years. Gone are the reams of paper and notice boards as the sole method of communication.
Now the market has expanded, there are multiple providers of powerful software that enable an independent gym to organise and maintain a complete class booking system on a significantly reduced budget.
This software empowers gym and fitness club management with fast, reactive, and efficient means to handle bookings, payment, scheduling, rescheduling, and customer service.
The centralisation of these tasks into a single piece of effortless and intuitive software can help revolutionise the amount of time and energy required to organise multiple classes in an active independent gym or fitness club environment.
The drain on staff hours that used to come with the endless organising, rescheduling and liaising between instructors and class attendees can now be diminished and made manageable.
With this in mind, we will be looking at the top features of fitness class management software and why it is a must-have for any independent gym or fitness club, whether they are looking to expand their class offering by freeing up capacity, or cope with their existing class structure that has become too unwieldy.
A Unifying Force
Perhaps the most impactful selling point of fitness class management software is how it can act as a central hub. Class management can, with very little warning become a quagmire. It is not uncommon that we hear horror stories from independent gyms and fitness clubs, usually concerning how they needed to reduce the number of classes or the scale due to the flaws in their approach to organising and administering the classes.
Given that once a class schedule and scheduling system is introduced, it is meant to run constantly and consistently week after week, it is to be expected that even the slightest miscalculation in setup might result in significant inconvenience, either for the staff, the instructors, or the membership themselves.
This is where fitness class management software can set independent gyms and fitness clubs off on the right foot with their class scheduling endeavours.
By unifying every aspect of class management within a professional, tried and tested structure, the chances of these systems spiraling out of control is dramatically reduced.
With all the necessary information not only to hand but easily changed, updated, and amended, the process loses a lot of its inherent risk for spiralling out of control.
With fitness class management software that allows gym members and staff alike to be reactive and proactive, the pitfalls of class management for independent gyms start to fall away.
Class booking applications and software to suit any independent gym or fitness club
With our twenty-five years of experience in the fitness industry, we know better than most that every independent gym or fitness club is unique.
This is why we recommend only going for fitness class management software that can provide the necessary flexibility to accommodate a broad range of classes and facilities.
Luckily many pieces of fitness class management software, including our own, are versatile, allowing staff to balance class-subscriptions, packages and bundles, single class payments and recurring payments, as well as discount codes.
This is vital for ensuring that the payment infrastructure is connected to the fitness class management software and therefore has the flexibility to deal with the preferred method of payment for both the gym and the membership.
Payments: Contactless, Online, App-based, Direct Debits
This brings us to our next interlinked feature which is a must-have for all fitness class management software.
As touched upon above, the ability to integrate a payment environment safely and securely is a must.
Ideally, this should go beyond just web-based online payment as well. Post-Covid it is expected that fitness class management software should be able to handle not only app-based payments but also contactless.
One of the main functions of fitness class management software is to make transactions as smooth and accessible as possible across the potential desires of an independent gym’s membership base! Different members will want to pay in different ways for their classes and the software and its supporting app must be able to facilitate as many as possible.
Software designed to suit and assist any Instructor
As with members and staff, there is no point in having fitness class management software if it does not exist to aid the instructors.
The most sophisticated piece of software in the world won’t be worth the price point if no one in a gym or fitness club can use it.
That is why fitness class management software must be usable by all parties, not just staff and the membership of the facility.
Without this, the risk of further complications and the unnecessary transfer of information between staff and instructors.
This is a factor that often leads to the disintegration or discontinuation of effective class management structure in our experience, so it is important to find an app that removes the incentive by empowering the instructors appropriately. This can be achieved by giving them limited but direct access to the class management software.
It is every bit as vital that they can manage their clients and class members in an independent but controlled virtual environment. By using fitness class management software that allows for payment, communication, alterations, and information requests, a significant amount of stress, hassle, and time commitment can be eliminated from the process.
With the right fitness class management software, an independent gym or fitness club management will be able to confidently oversee their class scheduling system while being assured it is still in the hands of their staff and instructors.
A Powerful Retention Tool: Engaging and Communicating with Members
Deeply connected to the previous feature, we also thought it was worth referencing that the features of a truly impact fitness class management software suite will help empower members and aid retention.
When looking for which fitness class management software to use, it is important to look for features that allow instructors and staff to communicate with the members regarding the classes they have signed up for.
In our experience, it has been proven time and time again that members who receive bespoke, pertinent communication (not just spam!) about the classes they have signed up to are more likely to attend.
Sometimes a bespoke message from an instructor or trainer can be all that it takes for an otherwise reluctant member to go to that Friday Barre class. And a member that goes to that class is that much more likely to keep their gym membership!
It is a simple example but a powerful indication of what we all know communication can do when it comes to that all-important mission of retaining membership numbers.
It is an easy, efficient, and effective way of fostering a sense of belonging and community outside of the four walls of a fitness facility. A class will normally only last 45 minutes to an hour but with the ability for instructors to communicate it is a way to make that class feel like a more tangible part of the members’ life between sessions.
Virtual Workouts and Fitness App Integration
The dual-rise of Virtual Workouts and Fitness Apps had begun before the Covid-19 pandemic, however, both skyrocketed in popularity as a result of the lockdowns.
While the popularity of virtual workouts has not maintained their lofty highs from the now surreal lockdown, they are still much more popular than before 2020.
This trend especially applies to millennials and Gen Z, who, as we have covered in other blogs recently, now make up the vast majority of gym and fitness club members.
With these two developments in mind, it is no wonder that the desirability of virtual workouts and recorded classes has increased significantly in the last half-decade.
Much like the communication feature we discussed earlier in this blog, virtual workouts allow for an independent gym or fitness club to project their influence and reach well beyond the four walls of the fitness facility itself.
Virtual engagement is now being seen as a powerful retention tool for the younger generations. They are tools that suit many of the values and capabilities they hold dear, whether it is working from home and then immediately partaking in a virtual workout or relying on their phone as the sole point of virtual interaction with their gym.
As larger chains start to adopt more and more virtual and fitness app services, independent gyms and fitness clubs mustn’t be left behind in their choice of fitness club management software.
Data Analytics, BI and Exporting Reports
And here at Ashbourne, we know the importance of software that doesn’t just deal with business-as-Usual but is capable of raising an independent gym or fitness club’s operations to the next level.
That is why one of the features we advocate for most keenly when it comes to fitness class management software is data.
While everything we have covered up until this point is necessary, desirable, and important for a modern gym or fitness club looking to get its fitness class scheduling system under control, we don’t believe it is enough.
As with every aspect of modern gym management software, whether it is membership management, access control, or fitness classes, we believe that that software should be giving the staff and management valuable feedback.
Whether it is monitoring the correlation between attendance and price-point, the popularity of a certain time slot or class, or simply understanding the total number of members engaging with the fitness class system, a truly powerful piece of fitness class management software should be constantly working for the gym or fitness club. Gathering information that can be easily exported and turned into meaningful, usable data.
Without this, valuable data such as the preference members have for certain classes, the waxing and waning popularity of classes across the weeks and seasons, and the impact of the peak hours on the class system, all of this gets left on the table, fated to disappear into the void.
Given the cumulative effect that this can have, we believe that analytical reporting features are a must on any piece of fitness class management software.
As ever in business, it isn’t just what actions are taken, it is what actions are not. Without sophisticated reporting capabilities, data and feedback will be left on the table every week, every month, and every quarter.
It is these data-driven decisions that can make a profound impact on the course that an independent gym or fitness club’s class offering will take. Without the ability to collect anything other than anecdotal evidence, the inability to react to otherwise obvious patterns is vastly diminished.
We hope this blog has helped impress just how vital fitness class management software can be for an independent gym or fitness club, as well as reinforcing what features can truly make a difference.
It isn’t enough just to purchase any piece of fitness class management software, it is about picking the right one for the right club.
Here at Ashbourne Membership Management, we believe we have created a complete suite of software that can handle fitness class management as well as elevating a host of other areas vital to the business-as-usual running of a fitness facility.
Whether it is assisting with access controls, BI interfaces or membership and payment, Ashbourne’s software is capable of unifying the key (and often disparate) functions of a gym or fitness club into one environment.
So whether you are just interested in resolving some troublesome class scheduling issues or want a complete suite and a partnership that will help take your business to the next level, click here to arrange a demo today!