Create a Subbing Culture to Engage Your Instructors

    Jessica LaChance | August 11, 2021

Expert Robert Sherman shares tips for easing the headache of staffing your studio schedule.

Studio owners have always faced challenges keeping every class on their schedule covered. These difficulties are exacerbated by the need to hire, rehire, and re-engage their team of instructors in the pandemic-minded world. Jessica LaChance of Boutique Fitness Solutions sat down for a conversation with Robert Sherman, instructor development and management expert with over 30 years in the industry and a resume that spans roles and business models, to discuss tactical shifts you can make as a studio owner or manager to alleviate the headaches of filling your schedule.

Why discuss the importance of creating a subbing culture in your studio when your instructor challenges of the moment might seem so much larger and all-encompassing? Because how you handle schedule substitutions might impact your business in more ways than you realize.

Here are a few ways your substitution policies affect the success of your business:

  1. No fitness business is immune to the headache of keeping the schedule fully staffed.

  2. Constantly working to fill slots affects day-to-day operations and takes time away from revenue-generating activities.

  3. How you engage substitute instructors impacts overall studio culture.

  4. Managing your schedule plays a major role in intra-studio relationships (instructor-to-instructor, manager-to-instructor, or studio owner-to-instructor).

  5. Figuring out how to address subbing is especially necessary right now while many studios are still short-staffed.

You can watch the entire BFS Coffee Break Coaching Session with Robert HERE and schedule a check-in call with BFS to receive an exclusive invitation to our member-only live Q&A with Robert Sherman on August 17th at 2 pm EST.  

In the meantime here are some of the key takeaways from their conversation that you can implement at your studio right now:

Why creating a subbing culture at your studio is critical: 

  • It is unacceptable to have a class on the schedule without a teacher or to cancel a class at the last minute. This jeopardizes the credibility of your brand. 

  • Having a solid plan in place to keep your schedule staffed with high-quality instructors builds trust with your clients and members.

How can you make sure your schedule is fully staffed by qualified and enthusiastic substitute instructors?

  • Use the hiring process (or the re-entry to the studio process) to set the expectation off the bat that instructors are responsible for finding their own substitute instructors.

  • Create buddy pairings of instructors. Have your team members pair up to each have two names of “go-to” subs for their classes. Make this list the baseline criteria for getting on the schedule in the first place. 

  • Work to build an environment where your instructors feel that they are supporting the bigger picture. 

  • Set a studio-wide mentality that subbing is a benefit and a bonus and not a chore!

Creating a subbing culture not only helps you fill empty classes, it also helps build communication between team members, holds your team to a higher standard, creates an environment of credibility and quality, and opens up your schedule as a studio owner or manager to focus on brand building and revenue-generating activities.

Every studio is different and you will need to have policies that work for you, your teachers, and your clients. The bottom line is that it is crucial that you find a way to make sure that your schedule is full, your members are happy, and you don’t spend all of your time trying to fill your schedule. Creating a culture of subbing at your studio can help you achieve these goals.


Jessica LaChance is the Content Marketing Manager for Boutique Fitness Solutions. During her time as the General Manager of a five-location, multi-million in revenue chain of upscale Pilates studios in New York City, Jessica attended the first Boutique Fitness Summit in 2018, where she fell in love with the boutique fitness community at large. Jessica’s dedication to movement originates with her first love, modern dance. After graduating with a BFA in Dance from Marymount Manhattan College in 2010, she found a home in the wellness world to complement her dance career. Jessica transitioned to working with BFS full time in 2020, creating the perfect professional alchemy of fitness and a passion for connecting with people and helping to solve problems.

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