Fitness Industry Summers: How to Make the Most of a Slow Season

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Fitness Industry Summers: How to Make the Most of a Slow Season

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If you own a boutique fitness studio, you may be feeling the familiar "summer is coming!" stress. If you know you tend to trend downwards between June and August, take a deep breath- You don't need to throw money into the internet in a last-ditch effort to attract a flood of new clients who aren't looking for a studio right now. I regularly tell my studio owner clients to fish when the fish are biting (aka, don't advertise when no one is looking), and that advice can help put the year into perspective for you.

According to studies, July is the lowest month for fitness industry attendance and revenue. It makes sense. Especially if you're a northern studio with harsh winters, your ideal client wants to be outside during the short summers. So, what do you do in the meantime? There are a few options, depending on how you want to operate.

1. Rest.

I know it's not the advice you were expecting, but when was the last time the studio took a break? I often recommend that American studios close on the 4th of July week or weekend because it's usually the lowest attendance all year. Wouldn't it be nice not to have to think about whether your teachers need subs or field any last-minute emergency requests? Your clients will understand the break; they're probably not planning to attend either, and if they were, they can take a few days off. Here's a sample client announcement, "It's important to us to prioritize whole body wellbeing, and that includes rest. We'll be closed this weekend so our teachers can spend the holiday with their families. We hope you do the same. See you on Monday!"

2. Renovate or Refresh.

This still involves closing your doors for a few days (which saves payroll costs) so you can do a studio refresh. Maybe the walls need to be repainted, or you could bring in a deep cleaning service to scour those floors that are getting a little dingy. You could order a new vinyl decal for the wall or scrub the mats that are starting to smell. I love a good summer refresh, and your clients will too. You still get to give your staff a few days to a week off- unless they want to save hours and help- and your studio gets a much-needed reset. The best part is that clients aren't going to whine a bit about the dusty bathrooms getting steamed or a new cubby system going in.

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3. Sell Summer Specials

On to the advice you were likely expecting. Summer doesn't have to be a drag. Hopefully, your clients are on recurring memberships, so you're not hurting for cash, but I love to offer a summer-only sale to boost revenue and capture the few clients who are looking to join in the summer. Here are a few ideas:

  • Christmas in July: a three—to five-day sale on just one or two packages, like a 20-class pack, that you don't normally sell.
  • 99-Day Unlimited: There are 99 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day, so this is a fun pass for teachers, seasonal folks, or anyone who wants to stay accountable during the summer. It's essential that your pass isn't significantly lower than your current member rates, or they could ask to pause. If it is lower, remember to segment your email campaigns so current members don't get the sale.
  • Summer 25 Class Pack: similar to the 99-day unlimited, but for clients who will be gone for a few weeks and don't want to "lose" their unlimited package during that time. There are 14 weeks during the traditional summer - although depending on your local school start and end times, you may need to recalculate. A 25 package lets a client take class 1.75x per week between Memorial Day and Labor Day and solves the "but I'm going to be on vacation for two weeks!" argument.

4. Bring a Friend Month

there are pros and cons to this one because many of the friends your members bring to the studio during the summer are visitors who won't stay past their trial. If you're willing to take the risk (or you really want to fill quiet spots during the summer), then bring a friend month is a smart strategy. Make sure your details are precise and consider a reward like a free month for whichever has the most friends sign up for a long-term package.

5. Host a Challenge

There are a ton of fun challenges to keep your members engaged over the summer. The goal is to make sure your clients want to come in and don't totally fall off the fitness wagon, so make it fun. Try:

  • # of classes in # of days (like 15 classes in 30 days)
  • A team challenge
  • Bingo
  • A choose your own goal- where clients pick how many classes they'll attend in the period
  • Attendance blast- whoever takes the most classes during a period wins.

Get creative this summer, but don't overcorrect. Often, studio owners are so concerned about a summer slump that they throw out too many overly cheap packages and either train their clients to wait for flash sales or end up losing money on the per-person rate. Don't be afraid to decrease your class schedule to save on payroll costs, and remember to breathe. Ups and downs are normal in this industry, so we want to ensure your memberships help you weather any summer storms. 

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About the author:

Niki Riga
Industry Expert
Limitless Studio

Niki has been a client, a studio owner, and a coach in boutique fitness for over a decade, and she can’t think of an industry she'd rather be in. Her favorite part about coaching and studio ownership are the same: she loves supporting clients as they push past their limits and achieve their goals. Niki became a coach because she was regularly asked, “how did you do that!?” by other studio owners who were drowning in the day-to-day responsibilities of business ownership but didn’t have the support to grow their studio to its potential. She created Limitless Studio to partner with owners who have a vision for their business and are ready to implement systems to build the studio of their dreams.