Setting Up Outdoor Classes: The Ins and Outs of…

Setting Up Outdoor Classes:

The Ins and Outs of Outdoor Classes

As a studio owner, you may be faced with a second wave of closures. You've made the switch to virtual offerings to get by, but if your primary offerings were group classes, your clients may be itching to get back into a class-based atmosphere. Read on for the factors that you should consider when planning outdoor classes.

Why Outdoors?

For starters, transmission of coronavirus is believed to be much lower when outdoors vs. in confined spaces. So, any wary or cautious clients and staff who are itching to get back to their workouts, may feel much more comfortable when in a group workout setting that is held outdoors. This is because aerosol particles are believed to be the primary vehicle for transmission of COVID-19. If you are able to socially distance, have your instructors wear shields, have your staff wear masks, and maintain proper cleanliness and sanitation standards, your clients are at a lower risk of catching and transmitting coronavirus. While there is still risk involved, that risk may be more palatable to your eager clients who miss your brand and classes!

Location, Location, Location

While that nice park in the downtown area of your city might be appealing to “set up shop,” you’ll need to do a bit of homework first. Many city parks and open spaces do require payment or some type of scheduling in advance. To be safe and to ensure a smooth workout experience, research your local Parks and Recreation Department's policies and when all else fails, just give them a quick call to get your questions answered!

When talking to your city or Parks and Recs Department, ask about any special funding or opportunities. Some cities and parks are supporting their local studios by using COVID relief funding to help offset some of the cost. Examples we’ve seen are paying a flat fee per hour, a registration fee, or a percentage of the revenue you make from your classes. The most important thing is to ensure that you are following local, state, and federal guidelines. We don’t recommend that you schedule and set up your classes without first speaking to these agencies as you may be approached by officials during your class. 

Do you have a large parking lot and great weather? Consider setting up right in “your own backyard!” CycleBar’s Culver City location did just that.  In an interview with Inside Edition, the owner explained that about 60% of their attendees were “regulars” and the rest were people in the community who were trying the spin class for the first time after seeing them working out outdoors. Why is this so successful? 1. It keeps your branding and signage top of mind literally when working out outside of your studio. 2. The passers-by get to watch the workout taking place in front of your studio with your branding -this is good, easy marketing with a great ROI (return on investment)!

While a parking lot may be less glamorous than the beautiful studio you’ve cultivated, you may find that your clients are just as eager to participate in socially distant workouts for the experience of working out with your instructors again. You’ll need to keep a few things in mind when setting this up. You’ll need to work with your landlord, as they’ll ultimately have to approve this. Plus, you’ll be playing music potentially loudly and you’ll want to make sure that you have the proper approvals in place so you do not risk fines or fees. 

Don’t have a parking lot at your studio? Consider taking the route that B/SPOKE took and renting a nearby empty parking lot. Why we love this idea: you can still set up the lot to be similar to your classroom environment. This idea works well for those who have branded equipment to set up, such as bikes!

Pro tip: Work with the other tenants in your business complex if this makes sense for you. For example, that local coffee shop next door might be interested in setting up something outside as well so that your clients can purchase drinks or snacks after their workout. Supporting small business is so important during this time and even though it’s now a cliche, we really are all in this together.  

Insurance and Liability

Does your insurance allow for outdoor classes and are you covered? While your clients have signed waivers for workouts in your studio, you may not have included in your liability waiver to cover an outdoor space. You’ll want to make sure that attendees of the outdoor sessions also sign liability waivers prior to the start of the class. This protects your company and also ensures that your clients are made aware of the liability they are taking on by working out.  

Additionally, your city or local Parks and Rec Department may have their own waiver that your clients need to sign to allow for workouts in a community outdoor space. Quick Tips: Make sure your insurance covers this change in scenery and ensure that your liability waivers are also sufficient! If you’re unsure, it’s worth contacting your insurance provider to ensure that all your bases are covered. 

Equipment and Props

Depending on your class types and your business model, you may need to provide some workout equipment (e.g. bikes, rowing machines, pilates reformers, etc.) To ease the pressure

 of ensuring that equipment is properly sanitized (such as yoga mats, weights, blocks, and other “props,”), consider having your clients bring their own. You may also decide to bring equipment and/or props that clients can purchase if that makes sense for your business model (e.g. yoga mats, blocks, weights, etc.).  Further, you may consider creating rental kits that your clients can grab from you for a nominal fee.  

For the equipment that you are providing, be sure you’re 

reassuring people of the cleanliness and sanitation standards that your studio is practicing. Book times out between classes to allow for thorough and proper cleaning procedures to reassure your clients -and post on social media so they know about it! While it’s not necessarily the same as a barre, an easy way to provide a barre class is to have a chair set up for every client. 

Set up your workout space to create a classroom environment and experience (i.e. don’t just let attendees set up their mats anywhere).  If music is important to your brand, invest in a good sound system. You may also look into tents or “easy-ups” for shade if the area you’re in is particularly sunny or hotter.


Budget and Balance

So, how much should you charge per outdoor class? Unfortunately there is no magical formula to determine your cost per outdoor class. What it comes down to is budget and balance. Here are some things to keep in mind: 

  • How much are you paying in registration and other fees for the space you are using?
  • Are you providing equipment and/or props? What will cleaning time look like in between your classes? Before and after?
  • What is the value you are offering? How do these outdoor classes differ from your typical classes? 
  • You could opt for a flat fee for each class (similar to your drop-in fees) or a class pack (5 for $50)
  • Are your client’s subscriptions paused or frozen? Will you allow them to use their pre-purchased class packs for these classes?
  • What are your competition and local peers charging? What are others in the industry charging? 

While you may not necessarily be looking to profit from these classes, you want to ensure that you are not losing money offering these classes -otherwise you may not be able to continue these offerings indefinitely.

Get the Word Out!

You’ve done all the set-up, now it’s time to let your clients and community know! Use your email scheduling software and make social media your best promoter. Using Instagram and Facebook can be an effective way to let your clients and fans know that you’re back in action! While you’re at it, use your platforms to show your cleaning and sanitation procedures. Your clients will appreciate the care you are putting in to ensure they’re safety. As always, encourage your clients to bring friends, family, and roommates to your classes. 

Do you have retail or swag that you’re currently selling online? Bring a retail rack to the location so your clients can shop before and after. Pro tip: have your instructors “rock your retail;” afterall, they’re the stars of the show for that 45 to 60 minutes! Make sure you have an easy way to complete these transactions such as having a credit card on file or bringing your payment gateway with you using an iPad or something similar. 


Ready to back up your business decisions with data? Set up a demo with iKizmet to learn more!

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