How to Fill Empty Classes

fill empty classes

Filling classes can be a challenge, so it might be time to get creative. CrossFit Five Plus’ creativity was sparked by college students.

At the Box in Beverly, Massachusetts, Chris Welch shared there is an influx of 18 to 25 year olds in the city due to the amount of colleges in Boston. “It led me to wonder, why aren’t they coming to check us out?” said Welch, a co-owner of the gym. The answer? Price point.

But Welch didn’t want to offer a steeper student discount — CrossFit Five Plus had one in place — that would fill already full classes. “I thought to myself, well if we’re going to do it, how can we fill up the time slots that are going to continuously be open?” he said.

Currently, CrossFit Five Plus offers a discount to college students who attend either the 5 or 6 a.m. classes. Welch explained those classes weren’t going anywhere, and being already staffed, he wanted to fill them up. So, they got the word out to “real go-getter students” who were willing to wake up early. “We had a fair number of graduate and college students say, ‘Hey, I’ll give this a shot,’ because it didn’t break their bank,” he shared.

To figure out the price point, Welch said he met with about 20 college students. “I spoke with some students and said, ‘OK if I were to drop it off of the 20 percent that you’re already getting to be a full time college student, if I were to drop it another 20 percent, would that work?’ And it did,” he explained, adding the students have been a wonderful addition to their community.

In fact, two to three people on a weekly basis thank him for the opportunity that’s been provided to them. “They’re our most consistent members and they are great walking marketing because they’ve had life change as well while doing it,” said Welch.

However, what classes need filling can change over the years as your community does. Welch has seen an evolution — kids grow up and school-drop off times change, shifting what workout time parents can make — and has had to adjust. His biggest piece of advice when shifting around schedules is to communicate with members. He has had to take away classes, or trial-runs of programs have failed. Often, a member or two might react negatively; but, Welch said framing the change as a “what we’re offering you” instead can be quite powerful.

Ultimately, your goal is to provide class times that will best service your audience. It can be tricky, and might change over the years, but adapting is essential. “You’re tying to be busy when the rest of the world isn’t,” said Welch. “You’re trying to capture them with their gaps in their day.”

Bonus Tip:

It is easier to offer something new on your schedule then it is to take some away, said Welch. So, if you’re trying out a new program, do your homework and analyze if it will work. And preface its launch with the fact it might not work. “We have had soft launches,” said Welch. “We’ve put out word this is a trial, we’re trying it out for a month to see what kind of traction it takes and have actually been very open with our members, as in this may not stick.”

Heather is the editor for Box Pro Magazine. Contact her at