A version of this article first appeared on the fitDEGREE blog

As the new season approaches, so does the familiar task of creating the next group fitness class schedule. There are so many considerations. Which classes will make the cut? When will the instructors be available? Which time slots will please the most participants? How will budget constraints limit new equipment purchases and licensing agreements?

With this daunting task looming over your head, you may think that the simple “copy and paste” tools are your best friends, but don’t let the ease of duplicating and updating last season’s schedule fool you. Before you hit paste, stop to consider these three factors that will help you optimize your campus’ schedule and drive more participants into your team’s fitness classes.

The classes

Unlike the mundane meetings and daily appointments that add stress to your participants’ lives, your group classes should provide a fun and energetic outlet that they can genuinely look forward to.

If students, staff, and other participants don’t like the classes your department offers, they’re not going to turn up. It’s as simple as that.

To help increase class participation, it’s important to stay current with the latest trends—are you offering barre, yoga, or spin options? But increasing participation is not always as easy as bringing in new classes. Many programs require specific licenses or equipment and the expense of the latest class may present a real hurdle for departments, especially in an environment of shrinking budgets.

Due to the additional costs, it’s important to track class participation and determine if the time and money devoted to the class is worth it. Efficiently and accurately tracking class attendance provides you with reliable information to help identify the most popular classes and determine which will help produce the best returns.

The instructors

The importance of quality group fitness instructors cannot be overlooked. They represent your brand and oftentimes are the primary representative of your rec center a participant interacts with. They must bring an energy and enthusiasm that excites participants enough to go and tell their friends about it. Word of mouth marketing is the best way to grow your participation numbers.

An interactive experience is what can separate your group fitness class from a living room workout. By tracking your instructors’ class attendance and retention rates you will be able to place your instructors in classes and times that result in the more successful outcomes for them and for your rec program.

The time slots

It’s important to establish a profile for your target market when creating a group fitness class schedule. You must first understand participants’ lifestyle habits—such as the most convenient times for them to exercise—before you will able to create a participant-centric schedule. Being able to easily reference statistics such as daily “Check Ins” will reveal the high-traffic times that reflect when your participants are likely to come to your facility.

Take the guessing game out of the equation. By tracking attendance categorized by tailored demographic information, you can create a schedule around times that are most convenient to target participant groups.


To create an optimized group fitness class schedule takes trial and error. But you can help yourself by having reliable data; by tracking attendance rates you reveal popular classes, effective instructors, and convenient times for your members.

Specialized software allows you to easily collect data needed to identify where improvements for future schedules can be made. Is your current software up to the test? Small adjustments can raise group fitness class attendance and thereby increase revenue. And, more importantly, they will increase participant satisfaction.

To find out more about one way to track your group fitness class statistics, visit the website of NIRSA Associate member fitDEGREE.

  • If you are interested in highlighting your campus or a NIRSA member’s achievements on your campus, pitch us your ideas.

Nick Dennis is currently the CEO of fitDEGREE, a NIRSA Associate Member since 2015; he can be reached at nick@fitdegree.com.