[Updated April 2020]  I’ve been amusing my Facebook friends for the past year or two with my all too frequent posts about the latest problem I encountered in my (apparently eternal) search for an effective and affordable online scheduling system for my personal training business.

In the 2+ years since I opened my own personal training studio in Ottawa, I think I have been through 5 different online scheduling systems, and have test-driven over 30 of them. We moved to the most recent one on January 2nd of 2014. Here’s my schedule system Facebook post from yesterday (8 days after we launched this one):

Apparently the saga of me and my scheduling system continues. This is starting to feel like a bad sitcom. The crack in the great new system? The $260 extra usage fee charged this month. Apparently they define the number of appointments per month as the number of appointments you create that month and not the number of appointments that are booked in for that month. Head explosion imminent.

Ya, that wasn’t great. And so it’s back to the drawing board, or more specifically, it’s back to my collection of notes about all of the systems I’ve tried to see if there are some I should revisit now that I’ve seen that perfection doesn’t exist. It occurred to me that this collection of notes may be a valuable resource to others who are trying to pick scheduling software, so I decided to share it here.

April 2014 Update: After the extra billing fiasco with  appointmentquest.com, we moved to http://www.appointment-plus.com and based on the first 3 months, I have very few complaints. We have also had many clients volunteer that they love it as well. I highly recommend it. Details below…

[April 2020 update: We are moving on from Appointment-plus.com. For the first 5 years, they provided a good solution for us, but in the past year, their customer service has become terrible. One bug took about 6 months to fix, and with other issues, it became common to require multiple emails to their support team when there were issues, often because their team was not actually reading the tickets, and instead sending recommendations that seemed similar but weren’t. Had they just taken the time to read the ticket, this would have been evident. This was fine for a while, but as it happened again and again, it got tiring. The final straw was the realization that there are big holes in their system logic (if an appointment is set to last 30 minutes, and someone books it with a resource at 9:am, the system isn’t smart enough to prevent someone else from booking at 9:15am. 

So it’s time to move on. It looks like Rhinofit is going to meet our current needs as well or better than appointment-plus, and at about half the monthly cost. Hopefully with better customer service, although time will tell.  ]

The systems

The following list is in alphabetical order and is a copy of the notes I made for myself. It reflects how well I think these systems worked for my business needs at the time I reviewed them.

1. It is entirely possible that these systems have improved since I reviewed them, or that I misunderstood in some cases. These were just my impressions and should not be taken as accurate descriptions. Also note that the prices may be out of date.

2. My needs may be a bit trickier than yours: we offer semi-private training (up to 3 ppl at once), most of our clients are booked in for the same time/day each week so we need recurring appointments, we also offer some classes (up to 8 ppl), and we have assessments that are 1 person at a time and only 30 minutes. Our sessions also start at specific times (e.g. 430, 530, 630 but not 5 or 6). Some of the systems that I dismissed may be perfect for someone whose logistic needs are easier.

3. There may be some cursing amid these notes. What can I say, I have put in the time to try over 30 systems! There were periods of crankiness. I’m not sure I should apologize for that. I suppose I could have edited but I didn’t. So if reading the F-word offends you, then maybe don’t read the rest of this. Don’t worry, this isn’t on par with Wolf of Wall Street.

  1. http://www.acuityscheduling.com/signup.php
    • Thumbs up!
    • Using it…meh…
    • 20/mo – have to use multiple…
    • Qs:
      • Get rid of Custom strength on embedded form
      • Change form for client so that it says “pay now”, “pay later”, “already paid”
      • Change form for client so that it doesn’t have an option to “edit form”
      • Insert capability for recurring bookings.
  2. http://www.appointmentquest.com/ ($45.99/mo)
    • Implemented this one and it was pretty good.
    • But didn’t like that it just sent appt request to outlook, not just an email.
    • and then the whole extra $260 dollar bill at the end of the month without so much as  courtesy “did you know you’ve surpassed your monthly limit” thing.  I thought only cell phone companies used that approach to gauging, I mean billing.
    • We cancelled on account of that billing issue.
    • I don’t recommend this product because of how they dealt with it.
    • Their customer service is also weak – not very responsive.
  3. http://www.appointment-plus.com/  ($69.99 USD/mo)
    • Initial thought: Does groups and recurring, but seem to only be able to set one max size limit – I need 2: one for classes and one for semi-Private. I retried it on the suggestion of a friend.
    • It turns out you can set multiple clients per session but not with the default setup – you have to email customer service and have them change the setup to accommodate that. Stupid approach, but the rest of the system is really great, so worth going that little step.
    • Base price has 500 apts (per month) max but 501-1000 is only $20 extra.
    • Setup seems overly complicated. For example setting up a split shift is much more complex than it should be.
    • Doesn’t allow you to upload your client file, but does provide the option to pay them $75 to upload it. Ridiculous. This should be a simple click to upload, particularly since they give such a detailed explanation of how to format the file. Hello, it’s 2014. We ended up manually uploading as we only had about 60 clients. The process is pretty easy.
    • Our schedule is such that in the morning clients can book at 9, 10, or 11, but not 930; and in the afternoon clients can book at 430, 530, 630, or 730, but not 5, 6, or 7. If they book midway, that effectively block two spots for one session. Initially it looked like this wasn’t doable, but it is. Back to the clumsy setup comment above. But worth it.
    • So far we have had only positive comments from clients.
    • They have both an android and an ios app.
  4. http://www.appointment.com/
    • Tried but can’t recall what I liked/didn’t like.
  5. http://www.appointron.com/
    • Their website doesn’t work (failure on #features. If they can’t get that right…). And not sure about calendar integration for clients – ask?
  6. http://www.bookeo.com/
    • Sign up for classes one at a time (no recurring)
      • Use-fucking-less
  7. http://www.bookfresh.com/pricing/ ($20/mo)
    • Has billing too, but can’t seem to set up a schedule of activities that people sign up for
  8. http://www.bookinglive.com/
    • 100 pounds/mo min. um, no.
  9. http://www.bookitlive.net
    • Looked awesome until…clients don’t login. 🙁
    • And booking a session (not recurring…) gives one person option to book for all the spots.
    • Use-fucking-less!
  10. http://checkappointments.com/
    • Don’t want to jinx it but seems to be…jackpot!!!
    • cust service is great
    • can’t upload client list (but can get them to
    • No status field for clients. So I’ll likely delete when someone leaves.
    • No real financial management (not sure I wanted that though as all others were only partials)
    • And reports look like I’ll be able to use them easily for tracking, so I’ll be able to simplify invoicing,but still remain in Excel (which I kind of want to do).
    • had to set up my own welecome email to clients and set their passwords for them
    • UI is beyond terrible.
    • Internal logic is not dependable. eg. if I reschedule someone from Tues 430 to Wed 530, schedule shows the person is now at 530 Wed, but when someone else tries to book in, the system shows them that tues 430 is full but Wed 530 is open. HUGE problem.
  11. http://www.checkfront.com
    • Per booking monthly fee means it will be >$200/mo
  12. http://click4time.com/
    • Maybe? Sent an email Sep 16 with qs.
    • Like not obvious how clients login / intro
    • Were errors in an email confirmation
    • Can I pay trainers with this?
    • Rates per session, not per month. didn’t see membership options
    • No client discount options
    • Marketing bonus calc?
  13. http://www.ezfacility.com
    • Starting at $150/mo.
    • More than 2x higher than the others.
    • No.
    • Not sure if it fits the bill
  14. http://www.ezytrainer.com/
    • Free one is up to 10 bookings. Premium is $20
    • Not a real option. Scheduling is VERY basic.
  15. http://www.fullslate.com/
    • Awesome except shitty on financial and…
    • clients don’t log in, so once again I’m the go between. Fucking useless.
  16. http://www.genbook.com/
    • Doesn’t do 3 clients at once
  17. http://www.getinform.com/personal-training-software/
    • Looks like clients don’t login
    • Don’t want to waste time to find out…
  18. http://www.graceschedules.com/features.asp ($9.50/mo)
    • extra init cost to tie to paypal and to website – but maybe worth it?
  19. http://gymassistant.com/
    • computer-based; not web based. No thanks. purchase too – how’s the support? Not networked..
  20. http://www.hitappoint.com/features/
    • Maybe, but download so can’t try it first.
  21. https://www.mindbodyonline.com/ (70/mo)
    • Ask if I can add new program types (e.g. training or semi-private training)
    • Are there ways to skew people toward sessions that already have 1 or 2 ppl vs those with none? (maybe not a big deal)
    • Has FB integration.
    • Very clunky: “makes me want to gouge my eyes out”
  22. http://www.myclasspro.com/
    • Downside – all payments to paypal. Wtf?expensive!
    • One-off apt or one-off bootcamp signup – not really recurring
  23. http://www.myvolo.com/
    • Every 2nd session was ugly
    • no mobile app
    • Couple others I didn’t like – can’t recall now. worth re-investigating?
  24. http://www.planyo.com
    • Pricing structure is per “resource” which would be each training session – so 200+ per month – making it close to $500/mo. BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
  25. https://rhinofit.ca/
    • No cal integration
      • But reminders.
    • Can’t use it to track trainer hours?
      • Fast forward a few years, and this is no longer a requirement for us
    • No recurring (they are adding this)
      • Added this for me – great service!
      • Doesn’t work for every 2nd week
        • only 1 of 120 clients for us, so not a big deal
      • Doesn’t have “forever” option
        • moved to doing up to 6 months anyhow
    • 4 weeks vs 4.5 weeks is a pain for invoicing
      • I’m now okay with monthly and I like that they have a ‘max classes per period – so I let them do up to 26 for 6 months. Win.
    • Integration to website – I asked about customizing theirs (it’s so bland) but he pointed out that most people just embed it in their own (better – why send my clients to another site – more to my site = google traffic
    • Default – no bookings more than 31 days out. good
    • Default – no cancels less than 24 hrs out. good.
    • Can’t prevent bookings less than 24hrs out.
      • `this was a problem for us when we were less full, but now it’s fine – in fact it’s good.
    • Can’t see what sessions clients have coming up
    • Can’t add a class – only monthly membership
    • Deleting a user doesn’t delete their classes
    • Can’t do batch edits for clients
  26. https://www.schedulething.com/
    • No go – can’t do recurring. One password for all – can people edit their own?
  27. http://www.simplifythis.com/
    • Has billing too, but can’t seem to set up a schedule of activities that people sign up for
  28. https://www.schedulicity.com/
    • Have to use classes for 3 people (ok)
    • But can’t have clients sign up for entire recurrence or # of recurrences – only individual classes (dealbreaker).
  29. http://www.setster.com/ (20/mo)
    • Expandable to multiple providers and locations
    • Can’t seem to handle 2 service offerings – just chugs away for ever when trying to select 2nd offering.
    • Either require payment or not – no option for payment
      • Their suggestion is to make different options in the service  section
      • Eg – “session – monthly pmt…”
    • Will work with freshbooks for invoicing – look into that for next step.
    • Doesn’t seem to have proper calendar syncing – have to do a whole rigmarole to sync with outlook – only does it online through microsoft.com..no thanks.
    • No client login so they can only reschedule recently set apts
  30. http://skedge.me/
    • Looks nice, but can’t do $$$ inclusion
    • $29.95/mo
    • – just got an insecure content notice and to recommend not loading it. Not cool!
    • Staff doesn’t seem to show up in calendar.
    • Groups are either one or all – to be set at creation. FUUUUUUCCCCCCKKKKK
    • But I can set 3 people per type
  31. http://www.supersaas.com/
    • Payment based on # of upcoming appointments and each recurrence counts as 1. therefore prohibitively expensive. Actually , less than mindbody
    • Financial integration with paypal only
    • New client process is sucky
      • Either I have to send an email with the login info or anyone can create an account. no option for an intro email to be sent out once I’ve created an account for them
    • Problems
      • No confirmation for sessions booked by the administrator
      • No notice given to the client when a session is deleted
      • Email is sent instead of a calendar booking, so no option for them to actually put this in their schedule???
    • There is an option to download an ical for the individual session – before booking
    • Why is every fucking tool a piece of shit????
    • Sessions booked by administrator do not get linked to the client????
      • What a fucking piece of shite.
    • Syncing to outlook doesn’t work – doesn’t sync
      • Syncing to google only shows that there is a class – no details about who/if someone is in it.
  32. https://www.simplyappointments.com/
    • Maybe – but entering data to sign up has flaws in the form (takes partials from what I entered) not a good sign
    • Doesn’t seem to do multiple clients per session
  33. https://www.timecenter.com/
    • Very little detail about clients (okay?)
    • Does have sign in
    • Doesn’t have recurring sign up. Nope.
  34. www.web-appointments.com ($9.99 / mo)
    • I moved on without notes for some reason
  35. http://www.zenplanner.com/
    • Can’t seem to define # of people in a class. What the f??
      • Can – just after saving
    • Not sure if it does recurring.
      • It does, but it’s clumsy. And can’t see if I can do every 2nd week.
    • Removing client from one spot out of a class is either difficult to figure out or nont possible
    • No 4 week option
      • Okay with this now – going monthly
    • Can’t seem to edit appointment reminder frequency for individuals – or at all
    • Pay set up for trainers is not good
      • Options are % of bill or flat fee per hour. I want to give percentage of bill plus percentage of hourly.
      • Therefore no better than it not being an option


  1. Hey Felice, sorry for the delay – clearly I’m not doing a good job of minding my blog site lately! We’re still using appointment-plus. It’s a bit expensive, but it pretty much does exactly what we want, so we keep using it.

  2. Elsbeth: This is an amazing line up of the various, and seemingly all unsatisfying, online booking classes for gyms. I have been following you for quite some time as I find your advice and thoughts invaluable. We are in the process of setting up online booking for classes in our private gym. As of 2019 what system are you using and are you happy with it?

    Was going to go with mindbody but the training process if overwhelming and the cost is high as well.

    thanks for your time,

    Felice O’Ryan
    Raw Sports Performance

  3. Thanks Caitlin. I’m very happy with the system I am now using (appointment-plus). That said, I will update the post above to reflect your new pricing (which fyi is still almost twice as expensive as I am currently paying).

  4. Hi Elsbeth,

    Very interesting post! It’s great that you’ve done your research rather than sticking with the first piece of online booking software you find.

    I’ve noticed you said Booking Live’s prices start at a minimum of £100 per month, but we actually offer a £50 per month plan.

    From what I can see you’re looking for a booking system for your personal training business. We specialise in features such as membership management and assigning resources, including equipment and staff members to bookings. I think this page: http://www.bookinglive.com/leisure-management would be useful for you.

    I’m more than happy to answer any questions you may have, or to discuss your booking requirements further. I hope you find the right booking system soon.


    Booking Live

  5. You’ve just blown my mind. It’s funny – I don’t consider myself conservative or unwilling to change, and yet I have so far been completely unable to make a pizza without tomato sauce. Soon!

  6. Reading through your article i found the same frustrations as you when trialling some of the software that you have reviewed.

    I have recently trialled Mystro for my business and find that it caters very well the the needs of my business.

    I have a wellness clinic with a naturopath, herbalist, massage therapist and podiatrist and i am able to add them all as individual businesses from the one account.

    They are in the process of releasing customisable access levels which will allow me to create access permission for each service provider in my clinic as well as my users i.e receptionists.

    It works well for me and they have a lot features that will be releasing soon so could be a software to keep an eye on.

    If you want to check it out here is the link: https://www.mystro

  7. What’s up, I just noticed that occasionally this webpage renders an 404 error. I figured that you would be keen to know. Thanks

  8. GREAT post. Very helpful. Have you looked at Bookingbug? It *seems* to offer all the things you’re looking for on the customer side of things. Not sure about the pay-trainers side. (I’m not saying it’s good … just noticed that it’s not on your list.)

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