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Group X: Last-minute Canceling

Joseph Duffy

shutterstock_60838927To cancel a class, or not to cancel a class — that is the question. Nothing brings me more stress than an instructor calling or e-mailing me with a last-minute sub request. It is my policy that I receive at least 24 hours notice, but I recognize that emergencies do happen in the eleventh hour. It is the program director’s job to keep the schedule flowing no matter what. Here are some ways to make sure you never have to cancel a class.

Given that your sub situation is indeed an emergency:

1. Keep your sub list current. Remind your sub instructors that if called upon to sub several times with no positive reply, they run the risk of being removed from the sub list.

2. Constantly recruit instructors. I audition at least once a week. There are some hungry instructors out there. Get them on your list for these kind of emergencies.

3. Look within existing staff. Find out if there are members of the personal training staff that can sub a class in a pinch. It is good exposure for them.

4. Have a fail-safe. If tapping all of your resources fails, it is time for the fail-safe. You must be prepared to sub a class when you have exhausted all of your resources. If the class type is not a discipline that you know how to teach, you can always offer the members a choice — a class that you do know how to teach or no class at all. Nine times out of ten, the members will not only choose the other class format, but will enjoy the change of pace and thank you afterwards.


Joseph Duffy has been in the fitness industry since 1990. He has taught group fitness classes at multiple clubs, and currently is the director of group fitness at Boom Fitness. Duffy has his own consulting business that assists owners with building group fitness programs from the ground up, as well as providing scheduling and staffing input. He can be reached at jdny1@me.com.


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