Punch Cards Must Die!
Flexibility is a wonderful thing. A stunning split or a deep backbend can be beautiful. As anyone who has strained a hamstring can tell you, working too hard to be flexible can be a bad thing. In particular, I have found that being excessively flexible with pricing and student commitment leads to results that are as enjoyable as a pulled muscle.
For the first four years of the studio’s existence, I have sold punch cards. Punch cards have a three month expiration on them and I decided to stop selling them at the end of September. That means the last punch cards sold will expire at the end of December, 2015. This means that we will start 2016 as a membership only studio.
Most aerial programs feature something like signing up for eight to twelve weeks of classes. This class slot is generally one time a week, ninety minutes to two hours, and you pay up front. You basically shell out several hundred dollars to commit to Tuesdays 7-9pm for the next two to three months. There are a number of problems with this.
One time a week isn’t enough to make any kind of real progress in acrobatics or fitness. It’s also not particularly flexible if you can’t always make that time slot happen, you waste a lot of money and your glacial rate of progress will be even worse. Shelling out several hundred dollars upfront also kind of sucks if you aren’t swimming in cash.
Punch cards and unlimited memberships were my solution to these issues as well as a fairly large class schedule that people could pick from. What I have found is that my unlimited people flourish and make rapid progress. The punch card people really don’t make any progress and are a distraction in class.
There is a mindset shift between the two payment policies. People who buy a punch card only came on the days that the planets align and they feel like they are going to get a maximal workout since they don’t want to come and “waste a punch” on a day that they might be feeling off. Unlimited people come all the time and tend to do multiple classes to get the best return on their investment.
People don’t become fitness all-stars based on their “on-days.” What separates athletes from wannabes is pushing through and working out anyway on those days that you are a little tired, in a bad mood, and not feeling your best. My unlimited students still come on these days whereas the punch card people Netflix and chill.
Having strived for a long time to grow the student base as much as possible, I’ve realized I’d rather just have a smaller, dedicated student base. I only want success stories. This really is more about building a community and a fitness family and that’s really only achieved by regular attending students who make the commitment to attending the studio three times a week or more. Unless someone is doing something like eating their weight in cookie dough each week, I can pretty much guarantee success for people who come to the studio three or more times a week.
The focus on 2016 will also be on results. We have very exciting plans for partner acrobatics, Knotty Yoga, aerial, and stretching / massage. New people and minimally committed people are a distraction of energy from these results. New people who are committing to regular attendance are a worthwhile investment since they will get better quickly but people who attend four classes a month or less are just distracting attention from the students that make the studio so special. This is even more so in the skilled classes like the aerial and partner acrobatics classes. There is nothing worse as a teacher than having a partner acrobatics class with ten high level students who come several times a week and then that one random punch card person who shows up once every other month.
So goodbye punch cards… it’s been real. As part of this change, I am going to stop allowing drop-in / new students at any of the partner acrobatics and circus circuit classes. In fact, the only classes that will allow drop-in will be Wed 6-7pm Knotty Yoga and Saturday 10-11am Knotty Yoga. This is to reflect that the encouraged model for joining the studio will be to attend a New Member Orientation and then buying an unlimited membership at the orientation. Existing punch card holders, by all means come by in December to use up your punch card and hopefully decide to up your level of studio commitment