I own a small (400 member) 24 hour health club and we have charged for classes since the day we opened 5 years ago. In celebration of 5 years we are considering switching to free classes. Our reasoning is to increase the number of paying members, increase the size of our classes (currrently we have about 4-6 averaging in every class) and broaden our market base. Our current class goers love the classes and feel they are a great value, but we are competing with the free classes at our local Y and the fee based boutique classes at the smaller gyms in town. Doing so will result in a 15k per year drop in revenue for us which is super scary! (That 15k could be recovered by signing up 26 new full price members.) Has anyone ever had experience with this? Are we crazy? Any advice on how to implement this successfully?
Are you running in the black now? I mean, are you profitable?
How easy do you think it would be to get the members to make up the $15,000 drop in direct revenue?
I like your idea of charging a competitive but higher than $5 rate for small group training, then reducing or eliminating the fees on your less specialized classes. You’re right, Zumba classes are a dime a dozen (and I’m a Zumba instructor) so it makes sense that your classes are small.
Do you have enough space in your group-ex room to accommodate the additional members you would need in order to be profitable with bigger but free classes?