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Planning a perfect group course in 3 steps

A group course is one of the services available to fitness and wellness centres and it stands for all those activities that are to be performed in a group.

There are many types of group courses, though they can be easily divided into two macro categories:

  • Pre-choreographed activities, which are developed through structures of pre-set lessons with respect to certain specific training parameters
  • Free style activities, i.e. those related to the work of the reference trainer, who independently sets and coordinates the programming of the training.

The basics of a group course

There are three basics for a group course, and you need to know them to understand how to manage these activities properly.

  • Trainer: In all these activities, there is a reference trainer to manage the development of the lesson. The trainer is the reference point for the group, provides work commands, is the example that facilitates the execution of specific exercises, but he is also a motivator that engages each participant in completing the training in the right way and to achieve his/her goals.
  • Group: This is a significant feature for those who choose this type of activity, because group sharing allows you to alleviate the fatigue of training and motivates the individual to train constantly and frequently. In a group, people share a training experience and do not feel alone on the long road to achieving their goals.
  • Music and type of activity: These elements allow you to build the activities in a group course. They are also those elements that help to define the characteristics listed above and that provide a strong motivation to those who participate, helping to create a unique training session each time.

From the basis of a collective course, we can understand that we are talking about a proposal of services that must propose a unique training experience. The proposal must be able to balance these three basics, in order to meet the needs of all the participants.

The 3 elements for the planning of the collective course

Keeping in mind that the focus of a group course is to keep the number of presences as high as possible, it is necessary to plan the structure of the proposals of each fitness centre to align it as close as possible to the needs of its users, while generating the income necessary to maintain and increase this organisation.
We then define the three elements on which to focus the organisation of the service of collective courses:

  1. 1. Analysis of the needs of the users of reference
  2. 2. Planning of a balanced and structured offer of activities
  3. 3. Calculation of the expenditure budget for the definition of specific objectives

1. Analysis of the needs of the users of reference

As a first point it is necessary to define the types of targets for each collective course, the first point is to identify consumers in groups defined by specific characteristics. To do this, it is necessary to start from an understanding of the users that are currently attending our centre and the potential users we want to entice.

In fact, targeting does not only identify groups of users who share demographic characteristics (such as gender, age, marital status) or sociographic characteristics (qualifications, profession), but also (and above all) aspirational criteria, such as frequency and training objectives.

The analysis of one's own target must be corresponding to the needs that the group course aims to satisfy. It is therefore equally important to define the characteristics of the course taken into consideration, to highlight the most important points to attract the target audience.

Considering these details allows us to develop a proposal suited to what consumers expect, as well as highlighting such elements in our communication as a characteristic of value and innovation.

2. Planning a balanced and structured offer

The analysis carried out previously determines the second working point. The analysis of the target audience provides a precise result of what needs to be included in group course planning.

Moreover, given the multiple presence of types of collective courses, it is necessary to subdivide these courses by macro groups, so that each group, before each course, is addressed to a specific target.

The identification of the groups of activities must be organised according to the needs of the targets previously analysed. In this way, we obtain a balanced structure of work areas in the plan of group courses that satisfies a greatest number of different users.

3. Calculation of the expenditure budget for the definition of specific objectives

The ultimate goal for a gym or fitness centre is for these group courses to be profitable. To do this, it is necessary to evaluate the sources of revenue and those of cost.

First, the general business plan of the fitness and wellness centre should be considered, to understand what kind of incidence the cost of a specific collective course has compared to others. Once analysed, it will be possible to outline the amount of revenue to maintain the course throughout the year.

The reference objectives of monthly sales will thus reflect precise planning rules, dictated by the type of proposals in the price list and the commercial strategies of the period. To be able to support the return on commercial results, it is necessary to go and define a winning course plan organisation.

Starting from the fixed cost of the service, it’s important to consider the revenue elements for each type of course: the available spaces that define the objectives of attendance.

The spaces determine the possible alternation of different activities in the different time slots and consequently the presence of different users. First, it is necessary to define for each available space the maximum number of users that can fit in it. This parameter thus defines the maximum capacity of each space and can be defined taking into account two characteristics: the available square meters and the equipment needed to run the collective course.

Aquatic bodyweight activities need a further specification: for this type of activity, a greater space must be considered for each single presence, as the movements imply a movement of water that could disturb the execution of the exercises.

Maximum presence capacity cannot be considered as an objective to be always reached with all types of courses and in the most disparate time slots. In fact, we know very well that the potential of users’ presence in the fitness and wellness centre varies dramatically, since in the day there are time slots more easily attended than others.

Before defining the objectives of attendance of a group course, it is necessary to analyse the total frequencies of the centre, to understand how these are distributed within the week and to assess where there may be room for improvement. At this point, the definition of the attendance objectives of each group course should be defined, starting from the maximum capacity value, i.e. the objective to be achieved during the peak hours of the centre. The objectives of the lessons in the other times of attendance will be determined in proportion to what is the incidence of the other time slots, trying to stimulate a growth in frequency through this planning.

The benefits of planning a group course program

The careful planning of group courses allows an evaluation of the trend throughout the reference period, which allows you to coordinate the progress of collective courses in a way that is extremely useful for the achievement of objectives, including commercial ones.
The planning also allows the definition of the useful way to optimise the management of the service and make it much more attractive to those who attend it, thus improving the financial gains from customer acquisition and retention.

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