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Fitness club: the monitoring report of collective courses

Group Courses: the offer of group lessons that are normally offered by the fitness centre.

The creation of these activities in the United States dates back to the early 70's but it is 1982, the year in which the famous actress Jane Fonda baptizes its official start-up through the production and distribution in VHS of her Aerobic Dance Workout that allows the general public to learn about the possibility of doing aerobic exercises, simply and rhythmically to music.

Since then, the diffusion and growth of these activities have seen innumerable evolutions and nuances, reaching different targets according to the orientation that ranges from the initial trend of dance applied to fitness, to the insertion of exercises for toning with and without small tools.
The gyms that had initially only the equipment room since the late 80’s, had to adapt and began to devote a space to propose a schedule of collective courses and capitalise on the excited anticipation from new customers. Changes included new layouts of emerging fitness centres, with new audio systems, mirrors on the walls and small tools being incorporated.

The success of a group lesson has always been measured by the number of participants, and a good entrepreneur is obliged to go further and validate their success from an economic point of view by adding to the physical space of the classes. Without forgetting the costs of remunerating teachers, there became a growing need for a tool of control and analysis: a report controlling the group courses.

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Initial investment and fitness centre maintenance costs

After evaluating the initial investment for setting up and the current expenses for the maintenance and cleaning of the so-called course rooms, the most important step is the definition of the annual expenditure budget that the fitness company can allocate to the fees for teachers and the resulting number of lessons that the centre can offer during the season:  the formula was budget / average cost per hour = number of courses.
It may seem obvious but this should be the criterion and not the dangerous calculation of how much the sector costs, since to be competitive it is necessary to propose a minimum number of classes with a schedule. Collective courses must not be a simple item of expenditure, a "due cost", but they can and must be a controllable investment and for this reason an analysis method is built.

Measuring the effectiveness and performance of a fitness centre

Therefore, during the budget, we quantify the budget of personnel costs that the activity can sustain and the part of this value that is allocated to the fees for teachers of group activities; in what percentage it can affect the total costs must be defined by the business model that will see a greater or lesser orientation towards this sector according to the choice of positioning. Once the spending budget has been established and the planning is organised with a proposal and teachers, the manager's task moves towards effectiveness, i. e. the number of users that the collective courses sector will be able to serve and consequently attract and retain. This control is simple when the subscription proposal is linked to the sectors of attendance so, for example, it is possible to buy a subscription for training in the tool room or for group courses, but the situation is complicated when all-inclusive formulas are proposed or that in any case cover more than one activity. In these cases, the element necessary for evaluation becomes the number of participants in the lessons and this is why teachers have always been asked to compile a simple paper table in which the number of students present at the lesson is recorded.


The criticalities of this method are obvious but not so are the solutions, in fact teachers can forget to count those that are present or to mark the number in the table, without considering that it is difficult to guarantee the authenticity of the entered value. The alternative can be technological with the installation of video cameras that allow counting from offices or reception, but it is necessary to remember to do so, certainly more reliable is the installation of a simple people counting system that through two counters and management connected software allow you to verify the actual inputs in the class and get this data that is so sought after. Over the years, different methods have also been successfully applied, for example, based on the photographic shot programmed by the video cameras or providing recognition or token at the reception, to those who wish to attend the classroom, but all this requires people, time and therefore additional expenditure in our dedicated budget.

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Another weak element of the count is linked to the fact that it is not possible to trace who these participants are and distinguish who, for example, attends more than one lesson on the same day or is present every day in the same time period from those who maybe insert one or two classes per week within their own training schedule.
In order to overcome both problems, the most effective solution today seems to be to require the reservation of the participation to be carried out exclusively through apps or totems inside the centre and not by telephone, since they would have to devote human resources again in addition to occupying the telephone line unnecessarily.

How to evaluate the effectiveness of choices

Perfect, but once we get these numbers, how do we use them and how do we assess the effectiveness of this sector of the centre?
The values must therefore be included in a simple but effective report that can provide the manager with a precise and immediate picture of the results and performance over the period. The instrument should provide for at least 3 sections to be evaluated on a monthly basis:

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1. Budget
According to the budget planned for the month or forecasted result of the monthly division of the entire annual item, such as the actual expenditure given, it can be subject to change due to holidays or situations that determine the reduction or suspension of the offer as well as for special events or master classes that on the contrary increase costs and again the use of teachers for substitutions with rates different from the estimated holder. So a sheet, if you decide to use excel, can provide evidence of the actual expenditure of the month compared to the budget.
2. Monthly Attendance
A simple but detailed grid within which to insert the numbers of attendance at lessons over the weeks and which allows a quick and intuitive evaluation of the performance of the same month compared to previous months or changes in the hours, teacher or activities that the centre will have implemented.
3. Context
A further section in which the activities are subdivided and present by macro categories (e. g. toning, choreography, body and mind etc.) but above all the relationship between the total number of participants in the lessons and the total walk ins to the centre.
With this data it will be possible to analyse that a certain percentage of those who attend the centre (e. g. 40%) attends the group courses and of these, half (e. g. 50%) carries out toning lessons. The centre bears a cost equal to X, compared to cost Y that it bears for choreographic lessons attended by a certain percentage of participants in classes that represent a different percentage of those who attend the centre and still different of those who are enrolled.
This tool will allow a more careful and objective evaluation, as well as giving the manager the opportunity to explain the teachers' work in the periodical moments of performance overviews that we consider fundamental.

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