6 Easy Fixes For an Overcrowded Gym

Aug 3, 2017 - 7 min read
Overcrowded square - Virtuagym

Picture this: it’s January and you enter your overcrowded gym. Most of your members are ferociously trying to stick to their new New Year’s resolutions.

Business is booming, right?

On the other hand, it’s terribly inconvenient for your members to complete their assigned workout plan  or to find a spot in their favorite class.

As you can imagine, those members will slowly start to visit less frequently. Before you know it, it’s February and half of them stopped coming at all.

An Overcrowded Gym is Not a Sign of Success

Whether it’s peak time in January or after-work rush hour, an overcrowded gym is not necessarily a sign of success. On the contrary, it can show that you can’t effectively manage the influx of people during peak times. Even though having an overcrowded gym sounds lucrative, it’s not sustainable in the long term.

Now, you’ll always have the issue with crowds at some points during the week or season. But, there are savvy ways of avoiding member irritation caused by an overcrowded gym. While getting your hands on wholesale gym equipment is a viable option, we’ve created an effective guide to helping you manage a packed gym.

Here are some of the most useful solutions.

1. Promote Off-Peak Hours

Gyms are usually crowded around the same hours every workday, between 5 and 8 pm. So why don’t you try making other opening hours more appealing? Encourage your members to visit during off hours by offering a special kind of membership package. By making those memberships cheaper you can easily attract more people. This could help you to spread the flow of people more evenly over the course of the day.

Senior citizens are a great target audience for off-peak memberships since they have a more flexible time schedule. See our  guide to tapping into new market segments  for additional tips.

A special membership could also be created for different days. Mondays and Tuesdays are traditionally the most crowded days. Fridays and weekend days often tend to be the more quiet days, so consider making them more popular with unique offers.

2. Introduce a “Workout While You Wait” System

The discount membership for off-hours is not completely going to solve the problem of an overcrowded gym. The majority of your members have a 9 to 5 jobs and can’t make it to the gym during the day. Therefore you need to ensure that your members have the best possible client experience, even in a busy gym.

A way of ensuring that your members have a pleasant time in your gym is to introduce a so called ‘workout while you wait’ system. While waiting for the right piece of equipment, provide your members with some exercises that they can do in between.

There are two different methods of introducing members to these ‘in-between exercises’:

  • First, there is the old fashioned way of handing members a print-out with exercises.
  • Second, and a perhaps more efficient way is with the help of technology. You can either make use of a  mobile app  to share these workouts as a low-cost solution, or install larger interactive kiosks for an even more high tech feeling.
  • Finally, to make it more comfortable for your members, consider laying down some extra yoga mats, or create a special waiting area close to the equipment. Explore all possible ways to keep your members active, even in a busy gym.

3.Teach Efficient Training Programming

Going to the gym is all about spending your time efficiently, and maximizing fitness results in the optimal amount of time. However, the moment your members get the chance to grab their piece of equipment, they will usually hog it like it’s their most prized possession.

Teach your members to do a large part (or the entirety) of their workout on one piece of equipment. This is better than doing just a couple sets and then heading back into the jungle to fight for another machine. You can combine this with shorter efficient workout plans. For example, why not try developing a workout plan that requires less time to complete and distribute these among your members.

Again, you can use a mobile app for this. But also try posting these workouts on social media or in your own club community. Using these effective workouts will require people to spend less time in your gym, while still optimizing fitness results. Now that’s a win-win situation!

4. Offer More Classes

Another way of spreading members more evenly over your gym during peak times is by offering more classes. Especially during the after-work hours, it’s wise to schedule more classes. Instead of hitting the normal equipment, your members might take a class. This will leave more space for other members to use the equipment.

Not all gyms have enough room to offer classes. So, if the weather allows, create outdoor classes – they’re consistently in the top fitness trends. Take your members to the park for a tough boot camp, find an obstacle course, or go for a group run. After a long day at the office, your members will appreciate spending some time outside.


Something that you should also take into account is that classes during busy hours can get full very quickly. This can also be a burden on your trainers. To solve this optimally, you need an efficient scheduling tool . Scheduling software can help you maintain a clear overview of the people that signed up for classes, track attendance, and manage last-minute calculations. More importantly, it can help you identify popular classes that need additional time slots.

5. Educate Members About Your Equipment

Dumbbells, treadmills, an/d benches belong to the most popular pieces of equipment in the gym. During peak hours all of them will be taken and there will be at least five people waiting (im)patiently for others to finish. Meanwhile, other equipment is barely being used at all. Some people don’t use a certain equipment because they don’t how to. This is where you step in.

Try educating members about the benefits of all the equipment that is available at your gym, instead of just the popular ones.

Start by creating ‘unconventional’ workout plans, that takes people to these lesser known pieces of equipment. This will definitely help with the issue of an overcrowded gym. Better-educated gym members will be achieving their fitness goals at a faster rate as well. As an added benefit, it can change up their workout regime to prevent boredom.


While fixing your issues with an overcrowded gym, try not to fall into the other extreme.

6. Use Real-time Access Control Data

Most gyms already use some sort of access control, usually with the use of a member card. With such a system, you can always monitor how many members are currently using your facilities. It also gives you access to real-time data about attendance frequency at your gym. All this information is vital to help your members plan their next trip to your gym.

For example, you can communicate your peak hours to your members via social media, your branded mobile fitness app or your member community page. This will allow them to adapt their schedule and find less busy times to visit your gym.

Key Takeaways to Help Fix an Overcrowded Gym

A crowded gym might seem like the gym owner’s dream, but it can have negative consequences for your member experience. You can mitigate overcrowding with in-gym tactics, like ‘in-between exercises’ and efficient training plans, or by taking your members outside of the gym with outdoor classes.

Even technology can offer you a helping hand in maintaining a healthy workout atmosphere in your gym. Scheduling software provides you with ways to divide your members into groups and access control data tells your members when it’s the right time for a visit.

Just remember, don’t get seduced into increasing your revenue by trying to bring in as many members as possible without considering capacity. The key to sustainable business growth is putting members’ satisfaction first.

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Dylan Plett

My name is Dylan, and I'm from the beautiful city of Amsterdam. I am a communications specialist here at Virtuagym. My greatest passion in life is table tennis!