As a fitness entrepreneur, you may have noticed that Fridays are clients’ least favorite days to exercise. Your studio is packed on Mondays but nearly empty on Fridays—especially in the evening. Why?
Activity-tracker maker Jawbone® collected data from more than 100,000 U.S. users over a 1-year period. The findings: The largest percentage of cross-training, strength training and indoor cycling classes took place on Mondays, for both men and women. Participation ebbed as the week progressed and bottomed out on the weekends, when many people were enjoying outdoor activity. Friday was the lightest day for exercise, overall (Mandaro 2014). The take-home message? Monday is perpetually January 1, something Jawbone’s vice president of data Monica Rogati referred to as the “new week resolution effect” (Mandaro 2014).
Perhaps you’ve noticed the same phenomenon in your own facility and wondered what you can do to increase Friday-night participation. Read on to learn how you can drive up numbers at the end of the week.
Generally speaking, most people don’t welcome a difficult workout on a Friday evening. By then, the common 9-to-5 person—let’s call her Jane—is exhausted. She wants to feel comforted. Her body is tired, and her mind is fatigued. Her mindset is that she will “reboot” her workout regimen on Monday.
Jane is normal, not the exception. She looks forward to the moment her workweek is over. On Friday, she may be thinking, “Thank goodness it’s Friday. TGIF! My couch! A movie!” Or maybe she’s thinking “TGIF! Dinner, drinks, friends!” Maybe she plans to meet friends for happy hour, where she’ll get to relax. She’s looking forward to feeling that joy.
To lure Jane into a fitness setting on a Friday night, you need to offer something that’s (almost) as enticing as her normal, relaxing Friday routine. Happy hour does have a place in the fitness studio! Just replace alcohol with something that is healthier, inexpensive and pleasurable—an athletic activity or other entertainment. Help Jane shift her mindset from “TGIF! Pass the martini!” to “TGIF! Yoga. Chillaxing, tech-free, with friends!” Or “TGIF! Zumba®. Laughter, dancing, fun!”
The concept of happy-hour fitness classes, typically (but not exclusively) offered on Friday evenings, is picking up speed. When people hear “happy hour,” they make a positive association and expect a good experience. If you “serve” fitness classes (instead of alcohol), participants benefit from endorphins’ euphoric effects—a much healthier substitution!
Yoga is one great happy-hour option for Friday nights, and there are many yoga experiences to choose from. However, you could also offer Pilates, barre, self-myofascial release, stretching or a fusion class. Alternatively, myriad dance options will provide fun, upbeat, celebratory vibes. Think about it: If you throw a fitness party (not a boot-camp class), participants may be drawn to your barre studio rather than the neighborhood bar!
Happy-Hour Fitness Class Planning
If you’re interested in implementing happy-hour programming, first secure instructors who will commit to one or more Friday evenings per month. Be mindful whom you ask: Remember that intense formats, such as weight training and cycling, are most popular at the start of the week. Next, determine the formats you wish to offer. Schedule classes that offer relaxation, friendship and/or entertainment, so that even the most-exhausted “Janes” in your community will want to participate.
There are three keys to successful Friday-evening classes:
- Make each class a special event. Pique interest by scheduling a different format for each week. When participants believe that a class is available only on an occasional (maybe even random) basis, they’re more likely to attend. After all, they don’t want to miss out! Tip: If you offer just two happy-hour classes per month, spread them out and vary the formats. For example, offer a yin-yoga class the first Friday of the month and a Broadway musical dance class the third Friday.
- Promote, promote, promote. If possible, figure out all your happy-hour events for the month and post the information on your group fitness calendar and/or bulletin board. Members like to see what’s coming. Then, as each Friday night approaches, create a buzz! Heavily promote your Friday-night events at least 1–2 weeks in advance. Ask your instructors to announce the happy-hour offerings during their regular classes. Hang signs or posters around the facility, and regularly post on social media. Get participants talking! Word-of-mouth marketing is still powerful.
- Offer freebies. Yes, people still like getting freebies! Consider giving free T-shirts or water bottles, or do a simple opportunity drawing (maybe you can secure a free massage from a trusted professional who could benefit from the cross promotion, or offer a personal training session). Promote your incentives and, since happy hour is all about friendships, allow participants to bring a guest. This is a great opportunity to find new members.
It may take some trial, error and hard work to figure out what works best for your facility or studio, but offering happy-hour classes on Fridays provides many benefits—including the chance to promote and build your business.
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